Things are gonna get real personal today so I apologize in advance, but don’t worry, I’ll be back in full force with the kitchen reveal on Monday(!!!!).
A personal post is long overdue, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever posted a truly personal post and many of you asked for that in my reader survey, but really this is more so a post that I have felt deeply compelled to write in hopes that our story may help others facing the same situation. It’s been written and rewritten for two months now, so here goes, all 2200 words of it.
Up until I met my husband over seven years ago, I wasn’t sure if I wanted children. I said on many occasions that I didn’t and I definitely did not have the draw or connection to children or to being a mother that many had at my age. I was uncomfortable around them, had no clue how to talk to them, and didn’t know if I could handle that responsibility. Then I met Matthew, we got married, and shortly thereafter something clicked. Somehow, after 31 years of never really wanting children, it was suddenly on my mind and I wanted nothing more than to be able to give that gift to Matt and have an adorable little version of him.
I didn’t bring up my feelings for a good while and when I started to, it was met with surprise and questioning which I didn’t really expect. Yes I had said for years I wasn’t the biggest fan of children, but why was it so blasphemous that I changed my mind?? I’m sure many of my friends and family didn’t believe me for the better part of that year, until we could tell them we were actually trying. Only then did they start to believe and accept that I wanted it. It hurt, but it didn’t really matter what anyone else thought. We were excited and hopeful to do this family thing.
Being an OCD scientist-brain, I delved directly into charting my cycles and using ovulation kits. Not because I was desperate, just because I like to be in control and this stuff has fascinated me ever since Genetics class in undergrad. After about nine months of trying I was starting to get frustrated and lost it during my annual exam. My OB/GYN referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist here in town to start checking things out. Many lab tests, many visits, and about two months later we decided to both start taking something to promote our chances; me on Clomid and Matt on a supplement as well. But we grew increasingly frustrated with our doctor and the lack of compassion of him and his team and started to feel lost.
Over lunch with a close friend expressing my frustrations, she referred us to a doctor in San Antonio who she used and loved, and I scheduled an appointment that same day. After the first visit a couple weeks later, we loved him too and were MUCH more confident in his office’s abilities. We continued with the medication we had been taking but decided to go ahead and proceed with trying intra-uterine insemination (IUI) to help increase our chances and because we were so tired of waiting. In March of this year we tracked, tested, and timed our first IUI treatment. Afterwards were the most stressful and emotion-filled two weeks I had ever been through, but it didn’t work. We were bummed, but knew it can take a few times before a success. We planned to try again in April.
But we missed the window to get up there for an IUI in April so we had to have a “normal” month. I was pissed but we just kind of wrote that month off, continued with our meds, and started planning to resume with another IUI in May. We kept busy with family visits and my birthday and a few libations…then lo and behold on May 2nd there was a word I had never seen on a pregnancy test before, “Pregnant”! I got in for blood tests that day which surreally confirmed that this was really happening. Our anniversary was May 4th so it was perfect for me to tell Matt the next day, then it was Mother’s Day the following Sunday so we decided to go ahead and tell the fam while they were here. Mother’s Day has killed me the last two years so it was nice to have some positive news for this one and actually get to feel what it was like to celebrate it. Everything was on track and our 6 week ultrasound was scheduled for May 17th in San Antonio. We couldn’t believe that we had done this…and that we had done this ON OUR OWN! I told Matt and my best friend shortly after finding out that I felt like I was an oyster with a little pearl forming inside me, so we referred to it as our “Pearl”.
May 17th is another day I’ll never forget. We headed up to San Antonio for our 6 week ultrasound and stayed with my mom. We were so anxious and nervous, and for some reason I just had a weird gut feeling that something was going on, but I kept it to myself of course. The next morning, we waited hours for the doc but finally got all set up in the room and eagerly watched the screen when he started. But he didn’t say much… and I didn’t see much on the screen. I knew what that was. It was nothing. He finally says “I’m sorry, but it looks like whatever was there is no longer developing”. After a short pause he goes on to explain that I will miscarry and the full details of what to expect. In that timeframe of about five minutes we went from what was to be the best moment in our life to the absolute worst. I’m a biologist, I KNOW these things happen out of our control and are for the best, but I still lost it of course. I hadn’t felt that horrible of an emotion since I lost my father…and now we lost Pearl. The doctor said if nothing had happened in a week to call them and they would get me started on the meds that take care of it. So for the next week, we waited, and mourned. I wanted to just get it over with so we could move on.
But nothing happened. I started Googling things, against everyone’s advice, and started second-guessing their call that there wasn’t anything there. I still had all my symptoms and was testing a VERY strong positive on a pregnancy test, and just had an insanely strong feeling something strange was going on, that Pearl was still there. Since they hadn’t mentioned doing another ultrasound or lab work before giving me the meds, I wanted peace of mind either way so I called my OB/GYN here, told them what was going on, and they agreed to do labs and another ultrasound that afternoon. I was just praying that Pearl was hiding, or was too small a week ago… something, anything. The second ultrasound took a really long time and the tech kept pushing on my left side and holding it still, so I knew she was looking for a heartbeat which gave me hope, and then I saw the screen again…and it was the same nothingness.
By then it was 5:30pm so I figured they’d set up a followup appointment with my OB/GYN the next day to discuss results but instead they took me directly over to her, she had already left for the day and come back for this. That’s bad. As I sat in the room shaking for what seemed like an eternity and running through all sorts of scenarios in my head, she finally came in and said words I had been praying to hear “There is still a baby”….but they were followed by the words “it is in the tube”. Pearl was ectopic. Flashing back to that Genetics class in undergrad once again, I knew what that was, knew that it is a rare condition, and I knew that it’s really dangerous. I went completely numb and scared. I’d had no pain, no bleeding, no NOTHING to suggest this and WHY DIDN’T THEY SEE IT A WEEK AGO?? So.many.questions. There was no time to cope though, she said to call Matt (poor guy didn’t even know I was doing a second ultrasound), that she was admitting me to the hospital right then so I would be monitored in case it ruptured, and would do surgery in the morning to remove it and my tube. She explained that there are meds that can take care of an ectopic which can potentially save the tube, however, Pearl was now seven weeks and two days along and had a heartbeat therefore the meds were actually more dangerous now. The fact that “she” had a heartbeat killed me the most. The heartbeat we were so desperate to see a week before was there. I was so scared. Scared of the surgery, scared of being in the hospital for the first time, scared to tell Matt, scared to lose my tube, and scared for the little Pearl in me that had no clue.
My doctor took me to the
disgusting ER and Matt showed up as they were admitting me. I felt so much more warmth and safety when he walked in, even though I knew he was so scared and sad as well. We got settled in and could finally have some space to deal with all of it, then told the moms so they could plan to head into town the next morning before my surgery at noon. The next morning I was even more scared because it was my first surgery ever, but mainly was just sick to my stomach because I knew what was about to happen. Like when you have to take your pet to the vet to be put down and they have no clue and you feel horrible because you’re taking them there. Morbid I know, but that’s where my mind went. The surgery team was AWESOME and my amazing doctor was doing it so I knew I was in good hands, but it was just all so foreign and scary to me. The surgery only took maybe an hour or so and I was back in the room around 2pm. A few hours later I was able to be discharged and settled in for a few days on the couch and some Whataburger after not eating for 24 hours. I was sore from the incisions and generally bummed of course, but Matt took care of the house, the moms helped out, and after a couple days I felt much better physically. We had so many sweet, sweet friends wish us well and send beautiful flowers that week, it meant so SO much.
I was completely healed at my two week checkup and now am totally back to normal. My doctor said everything else in there looked great and has given us the all-clear to resume any medications and start trying again after my next cycle. We are still grieving and it’s still all I think about, but we are more determined than ever to get pregnant again. We are hopeful since we know we can do it on our own, we know that I can carry a baby at least to 7 weeks, and we know that many women have gone on to have successful pregnancies with just one tube. We will never forget our Pearl but know that this WILL happen for us some day in some way.
I want to share my story, not for any sort of sympathy, but to encourage anyone else to seek help in their fertility journey, do not be ashamed for any help you do have to seek, and when you’re finally pregnant, go with your gut feeling that something may be wrong, question what the doctors may be saying, and do not hesitate on getting second opinions to ease your mind and be as sure as you can about what is going on with you. If they aren’t seeing what they should be seeing in your early pregnancy ultrasounds, PLEASE talk to them about ectopics. I am so SO lucky that mine hadn’t ruptured yet (I have no clue how it hadn’t) but unfortunately it was caught too late to save my tube, plus rupturing happens all too often and can cause horrible complications and even death. Do not waste any time in seeking answers and insist that they take you seriously if they’re not, or find a doctor who will.
To any of you out there who have experienced this, my heart goes out to you. No matter what your journey was like before, it is different now and you were parents, be proud of that and remember that child. Allow yourself to grieve, and grieve together because it is a loss for both of you, but stay positive. You are crazy strong and I wish with everything in me that you will all have beautiful rainbow babies in your arms soon.
And hopefully someday soon there will be a much more positive Part II to this story to post that I’ll get to share with all of you…