In November, I became part of the one percent.
I don’t mean the super rich one percent (if I did, this article would be a much happier one — one that listed all of the ways I was using my newfound wealth to ensure a Trump presidency never exists). Instead, I am part of the 1% of women whose pregnancies are ectopic or molar.
My husband and I were thrilled to discover that we were pregnant, having tried for some time. We planned to have an adorable unveiling of our pregnancy to the family at Thanksgiving. I Pinterested a million different reveals for when we found out the sex, and for announcing to our friends. I looked at baby products on Amazon and started creating a list of what we would need.
At about eight weeks, I went to the bathroom and discovered I was bleeding. Terrified, I went to my doctor, and called my husband, telling him I thought that I was losing the baby. The most painful vaginal ultrasound in the world revealed nothing in my uterus. Our embryo had not made it all the way to the uterus and had implanted into my fallopian tube.
I listened, feeling more and more removed from everything, as my OB explained our possibilities. All I remember saying was, “Fuck.” And then apologizing for swearing. In hindsight, how ridiculous to apologize — I’m pretty certain that no one begrudged me.
Ectopic pregnancies are not only not viable, they can literally kill you, and have to be ended quickly. I was lucky that my tube hadn’t ruptured, so we had some choices. It came down to two options — we could use methotrexate, a chemo med, to chemically end the pregnancy, or we could opt for surgery. We were cautioned that surgery usually results in removal of the tube, and, hoping to get pregnant again someday, we chose the medication.
It’s a very surreal feeling to have a very wanted and loved pregnancy and know that continuing it could kill you. Making a decision to move forward with ending it was incredibly hard. Of course, I understood, logically, that this pregnancy was not viable and there was nothing I could do to make it that way. Emotionally, the guilt and remorse was killing me. I felt like I was actively murdering my child. I remember sobbing that I was so, so sorry, over and over in the middle of the night, apologizing to the baby I would never get to meet.
Forty-eight hours later, I felt like I was dying. My OB warned me that I might feel some worsening pain with the chemo med, but this was an amount that made me wonder if dying would maybe be preferable. If I was even a second late on taking Vicodin, I felt like I was being gutted. My husband had to help me to the bathroom. I couldn’t stand up straight. I went back in to see my OB, who figured that it was just the aftermath of the meds, but wanted to do some tests to make sure.
The tests revealed that the medication had basically no effect whatsoever. I would have to have surgery after all, and as soon as possible. Once more, I had to intentionally take steps to end my pregnancy, and, once more, it was incredibly hard.
It was made harder by the fact that I had Googled ectopic pregnancy the night before. I came across an anti-choice website stating that ectopic pregnancies could totally be continued and the baby could grow in your abdominal cavity after the tube ruptured. You could get supportive care to maybe not die when that happened. Oh and, also, you were probably a selfish and terrible murderous asshole if you didn’t do that. This is BS, and it’s BS that the pro-life movement itself generally doesn’t espouse. It still hurt a lot to read it, and made me momentarily question everything.
Surgery was fairly easy — it’s a laparoscopic outpatient procedure. I actually felt physically better pretty quickly.
The emotional part has been a lot harder, though. Telling our families that the pregnancy that they didn’t know about was over was difficult. It felt as though something had been stolen from me, but it didn’t impact anything else. Normal life kept going on, but I was stuck.
Between 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and 1-2% percent are ectopic or molar pregnancies. This is something that many families experience at least once. Although I wish that I wasn’t in either of those percentages, those who were never hesitated in opening their hearts to me. While there were the people that minimized how we felt, or were too uncomfortable to acknowledge it, or assumed that I needed perspective on my feelings because it wasn’t that bad, these people never did.
If you experience a loss of some kind, please know that you aren’t alone. Your baby was loved and valuable. You don’t have to bottle your emotions up. There are many of us, and we will mourn with you.
For support, you can find The Hummingbird Network on Facebook (there is a page and also a closed group.) It is run by one of the most amazing and caring women ever, and is full of people that will listen with you, cry with you, and help you to find any resources that you need. One in 5 women experiences this type of event, and it shouldn’t be silenced.
As for me, although I am still sad, things are far less raw. Each day is a little easier. There are still some bad moments — finding out that someone I knew had the same due date as I would have? Particularly gut-wrenching. I just keep moving forward, because that’s really all anyone can do.