Before I start to tell you more about this pregnancy, I need to go back a little bit. I have to say that it’s not my first pregnancy. I’ve been wanting to talk about it but I had to take care of myself first. Not to mention that it’s easier to talk about it now that I’m pregnant again and things are going well. I am not sharing this story for you to feel sorry for me, but because it’s something that happens and I hope it will help other women…
I first got pregnant in August 2011. I diligently waited several days until after my period was due. We were thrilled at the positive test, but also wary: I had started spotting. The spotting turned into bleeding, so I ended up in the ER not knowing what to do. They sent me home with “Threatened Miscarriage” papers, the concern that my HCG were pretty low for five weeks and that nothing could be seen on the ultrasound. I was to follow-up with my Gynecologist. The numbers went up, but not by much. I was still hopeful though, call it denial.
Ten days after my visit to the ER, I had a second ultrasound, there was nothing in the uterus. I remember spending 20 minutes crying alone in the office for the loss of the child that could have been. But then the Dr. came back in and broke the bad news. In a matter of seconds I went from loss to fear for my life. It was an ectopic, a pregnancy where the embryo attached outside of the uterus, a tubal pregnancy in my case. I had done enough research on bleeding during pregnancy to know that it is a serious condition. It thankfully only happens in less than 2% of conceptions. Symptoms can include abdominal pain (often on one side) or cramping, vaginal bleeding and if the ectopic ruptures severe abdominal pain, possibly feeling dizzy or faint. Because of the risk of rupture of the tube, there is a risk of hemorrhaging.
I can not tell you how thankful I am that this was caught early. I was lucky that surgery was not necessary and that I kept both my tubes. I was treated with a shot of Methotraxate and told to stay off folic acid, exercise, alcohol and intercourse (food was the only coping tool I was left with). It was hard not to run, I even had a race planned the next day, my DNS, which I had to cancel. My HCG levels were to be monitored regularly until they dropped below 5. Until then I felt the threat of a rupture every day. It was a scary and stressful time for both my husband and I. He didn’t necessarily understand it all either. He was mostly scared for my life. I was too, but I was also scared that I may not be able to have children. What if it meant something was wrong with me?
I found solace in an ectopic pregnancy forum. It was my lifeline, to share with other ladies what I went through, to see hope with those who recovered and went on to have children. I needed to be able to speak with them, share feelings as we comforted each other. I was angry when I found out a co-worker was not only pregnant but due when I would have been. I wanted to be happy for her, but it hurt, deeply. Why me? She just got married and there she was in her glowing pregnancy when I was coping with loss after trying to convince my husband to have kids for two years!
I couldn’t bear to read anything pregnancy related for a few months. I needed to heal. But, little by little, I was able to let go of the anger and the pain got duller. I couldn’t forget though, even physically the scar tissues reminded me of what happened. But I was surrounded by a few wonderful people who gave me support and love. I focused on my job and running to take my mind off things. One day, about three months after, I found myself reading a pregnancy blog and realized I was ready to try again.
By then I had already met with my general doctor back home in France. After going through a full panel of blood tests she had prescribed several supplements to make sure all my body’s needs were met. I was also seeing my chiropractor for regular adjustments and she had recommended we get a brand new mattress because she felt my pelvis wasn’t aligned and our old bed wasn’t helping. My husband had me wait another cycle to make sure the supplements would have taken effect before we really tried. With my history of long cycles, it meant that we didn’t start actively trying until March. Ultimately I don’t regret it. Doctors do recommend to wait 3 to 6 months after an ectopic to let the scar tissues heal and the folic acid rebuild when treated with methotraxate. I was training for a marathon at that point and it wasn’t a huge surprise that the test came out negative. After my race I took it easy wanting to give it the best shot…
Today, as I am entering the second trimester of this pregnancy, I know how lucky I am. Loosing a pregnancy is hard, no matter the reason. But it taught me something: life is precious. To become pregnant and carry a child to term is a true miracle and one I promised myself I will never take for granted.