This is a highly personal story, and I hope that casual readers will forgive me for oversharing. This was, however, part of my life in a big way. *Trigger Warning* Prenatal life loss, female internal reproductive anatomy discussed in detail.
We arrived, me bloated full of water. I hate that part. They got me back there very quickly, but for some reason, they had me down as being in the second trimester, so I ended up having to wait until they got the special ultrasound (transvaginal) machine ready. Eric and I watched HGTV and joked around lightly while we waited. Finally, they arrived with the right machines, and I went in, but they would not allow Eric in, which really upset me. I was alone in the room with the tech. She had the screen turned away from me, and was taking a hundred pictures, but wasn’t really talking to me. She asked the obligatory cramping and bleeding question. No, no, no. No cramping or bleeding!! The more silence, the more photos, the more cramping and bleeding questions that she asked, the more on edge I felt. I tried to ask what was going on, and what she could see. I tried explaining that we had been praying, hoping she would feel sympathy and let me in on what was going on, but she explained that only the radiologist can interpret the ultrasound for us. I began to be afraid, and I desperately wanted my husband in the room, but soon, it was over.
I got dressed, and she had me wait in the hallway waiting area with Eric while she spoke with the radiologist. I was hoping he would come and speak with me, but instead, after several minutes, she came back in and said that they had called the ob doctor, and she was expecting me. I told her that I understood that, and that my appointment with her wasn’t until 2 that afternoon. She looked uncomfortable and told me that since they had already spoken with her, I should go straight over. Alarm bells began ringing. I started realizing my miracle probably wasn’t happening. There was no joking as we walked back to the van, and my heart was just sinking in fear.
As we drove across the city to the other doctor, I began researching possible “false pregnancy” causes. I felt like maybe I wasn’t really pregnant, and what I was experiencing was something else, and that was the cause of the alarm. This, of course, yielded dozens of terrifying things, including tumors and cancers. I had completely convinced myself that I was dying of cancer by the time I got to the doctor. I was scared and out of my head, and started an argument with Eric that left me feeling emptier. I went up to the waiting room of the doctor, but the previously chipper secretary wouldn’t meet my eyes, and said that they were still waiting on the full report to come in. She told me to come back in an hour. I went back to the car, crying and afraid. Eric was still angry, and was sulking. So I sat, devastated, for an hour in the car, waiting on the results.
Eric came up with me when I went back up. They called me back, and we waited a little while, across the room from one another. When the doctor came in, she spoke calmly to me, and explained that they had found the baby, and he was measuring 6 weeks and 4 days (just about right on target), and they had located a heartbeat. I immediately let out a huge breath of relief and began crying, because this meant it was a baby, and not cancer. I reached out for Eric, and he came over, and I held onto him for strength. But then she went on to say that the baby was located in the endometrium, or muscle surrounding the uterine cavity, instead of inside it, where he was supposed to be. She said that without the scans, she couldn’t really tell me what that meant. She had called the high risk pregnancy doctor at the hospital, and they were waiting on us to arrive there to talk about our options. I was shaky and terrified, but simultaneously relieved because I wasn’t dying. She hugged me on the way out, and I asked her to pray for us, and she assured me that she would.
We had not eaten yet, so we stopped at Subway. I really felt a renewed hope at this point, and felt like everything would be ok, I would just have to be on bedrest or something. This high risk doctor was sure to have seen cases like mine before, and things would be ok. We both relaxed, and weren’t mad any more. Eric and I held hands and talked and laughed. When we finished eating, we called our friend, who had the kids, and she said that she was so relieved that she had agreed to take them all day, because Eric would not have been with me through all of that if he had been watching the kids for the doctor appointment. I thanked her and agreed. (She really is a wonderful friend, a true friend, willing to do anything… I’m grateful for her being in my life.)
We arrived at the hospital, in high hopes, and located the high risk prenatal doctor. We had a million forms to fill out, and we had to go to a large waiting room to wait on them. They were fitting us in, rather than having given us an appointment. After about an hour, they called us in. They took my blood pressure, which was great, and all of my vitals, and then sent me to see the ultrasound tech. I had to, for the fourth time in three days, strip down for an ultrasound.
This is so hard to write. I got to meet my baby.
Eric and I held hands as she swished around and got good angles to take pictures for the doctor. She explained everything as we looked at it. And there he was, perfect… his tiny, flawless heart beating. She took a recording of his heartbeat, and it was in impeccable rhythm. I was completely washed in love for this precious child. Eric asked the tech, “Is that my boy?” She said, “Well, that is your little peanut. It sure is.” The doctor came in and looked at the ultrasound with her for a while, and then left. I was told to get dressed, and then we were led to one of the rooms. We sat waiting, expecting the doctor to come in and explain how we would handle this high risk pregnancy, and maintain it, healthily. This was not the news that he came in with.
We waited for what seemed like a long time. When he came in, he had already spoken with several other doctors. He explained that the ultrasound had shown that I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, but not a typical, tubal pregnancy, a very rare type- a cesarean scar pregnancy. He explained that although this was very rare, and little known, there were two types of cesarean scar pregnancies. There are those that implant toward the center of the uterus, along the scar tissue where they can grow into the uterine cavity as they get bigger; the second type was where they embed toward the outside wall of the uterus, which puts the scar at risk of bursting because there is no room to expand. The doctor went on to explain that not only was this pregnancy the second type, but he showed on the scans where the baby was already so big that the side of my uterus was expanding out, bulging around him. This put me at risk of uterine rupture, not only as he grew, but even right away. Guess what he asked me? Any bleeding or cramping?? It sounded horrible and scary… but he had not gone on to say what I was fearing most, so I asked, “So, what does this mean?” He said that the options we had were to cut a triangular wedge out of my uterus and sew the two wide sides together, removing the baby in the process, or to inject a deadly chemical into the gestational sack and wait for it to kill my child.
I was gutted.
I had just seen my baby’s perfect and healthy heart beating, his life so evident on the black and grey screen. They were telling me that my only option was to kill my own child. To kill the baby that God had placed inside me. I began crying. Begging him, pleading. Surely there was another way. He told me that I could get up and walk out right then and there, they could not stop me, but that every minute I waited, I could rupture and die. He showed me the scan again, for emphasis. The bulge, now so much more evident, glared at me threateningly. I could die, or I could kill. Those were my choices. I couldn’t even bring myself to accept either option. I hated my body. I hated the doctors who had pushed for me to have a cesarean, when I later learned that breech births were not uncommon or difficult in most cases. I was angry at God. I was angry at the baby. Why was this happening to me?
The doctor said that he had already spoken with a surgeon, who he was going to send in to speak to me. I cried and cried. I told Eric that I could not do this. God could move the baby. He called his father and tried to talk his way through his own thoughts and confusion. I called my friend who had been praying for a miracle for us. She told me that despite what the doctor said, she knew God could fix it all, and she would not personally choose the surgery. When Eric got off the phone, he told me that he wanted to encourage me to go through with the surgery because he could not risk losing me. We have four kids who need me, and that he needed me. Ultimately the choice was mine, and it made me sick knowing that I had to decide between horrible or worse than horrible. My head was spinning. The surgeon came in and asked if we had questions. She tried to help me rationalize things, tried to walk me through the options, but no matter what, they were encouraging me to not only go through with the surgery, but to go ahead right away and be admitted for surgery that night. She left and gave us time to talk. I still felt out of control and scared and confused. I just could not wrap my head around surgery right away… I wasn’t prepared at all. It felt just like my cesarean had felt… rushed and unnecessary. I was panicking.
When she came back, I asked several things. Being overweight, I was afraid that I was at higher risk of complications during anesthesia. I asked for heart and lung scans. She agreed to do a chest x-ray and an EKG. I told her that I did not want the surgery that night, so she asked if I would be willing to stay the night at the hospital, that way if there were complications or I had a rupture, I would be right there to be cared for. I agreed to do so. I asked if they would promise to do one more ultrasound in the morning, before the surgery, because I had to cling to the hope that God would move the baby. She agreed to make sure they would do that, as well. She was giving me everything I was asking for except a miracle. I was depending on God to do that part. We were taken straight to a room on the labor and delivery floor, without having to do any registering or anything; the nurses had taken care of it all. I called my dear friend who had the kids, and she agreed to keep them until we were ready, which was such a blessing. Eric asked me what I needed from him, and I just said that I didn’t want him to leave my side.
And he didn’t.