*Trigger Alert* There is mention of loss of life, and reference to female reproductive anatomy.
When my chest scans were finished, I was taken back to my room, where Eric was waiting on me. We talked and prayed, and I cried. Eric got into the bed with me and just held me. That was one thing that just kept me afloat. A couple hours later a man came in to do my EKG and I joked around about the sticky pads they stuck all over me. It helped to stay playful and silly because I was trying not to lose it. All of my scans came out perfect, my chest x-rays and the EKG. The surgeon we had spoken with earlier that evening came into the room and checked on me. She told us that me choosing to wait may have been a really good thing because the surgeon working the next morning was one of only two surgeons in the hospital who performed robotic surgeries, which would be much less traumatic on me physically. She told me not to get my hopes up, because they did not know the schedule for tomorrow. But she said that if the room was clear, he might be willing to do the surgery that way, rather than cutting into me through my original cesarean incision. I was still praying that God would move the baby before morning, but I told her that sounded much better to me than the “old fashioned” way. She told me that she had already called and told him about me. She was so sweet, and asked if I needed anything, but I couldn’t think of anything else. They had done so much for me as it was.
When one of my friends found out what was going on, she came up to bring us a charger for our phones. She stayed for a little while and talked. The nurses came in around midnight to make sure I was no longer eating or drinking. They hooked me up to a slow IV for hydration for the surgery, and checked all of my vitals, which were good. When they left, Eric and I got into the bed and fell asleep together.
The next morning all of the new shift nurses already knew about our situation, and were so kind and sympathetic. They got me very early to go for the ultrasound, and I was praying the whole time that he would be in the right place. I was mentally shaming myself for not staying up all night praying for God to move him. As we were leaving the room, the surgeon came in to introduce himself. He shook my hand and Eric’s, and he said, “Have your ears been burning, because a lot of people have been talking about you all night.” And I responded, “A lot of people have been praying, too.” He explained that he had spoken with the surgeon that had worked the night before, as well as the high risk prenatal doctor I had seen, and also another surgeon who did the robotics. He said that together, they had come up with several plans of approach for the surgery. He said that he wanted to talk to us at length, and they were still waiting to take me to the ultrasound, so he wasn’t able to right then, but he promised to come back.
Eric walked with me, holding my hand as I was wheeled down the hall to the ultrasound again. I truly believed, with every fiber of my being, that God had moved the baby during the night. When we got to the room, the same tech was there that had been there the night before and done my scan. She was in a hurry, I could tell. I think they had brought me in before they opened their schedule to others, and she was trying to get it done. The high risk doctor came in with us to watch, and they had some muffled discussion. Eric and I were squeezing each other’s hands as we watched. I could tell right away that he was still in the same place. My heart ached so badly. I asked the doctor, just to confirm, and he said that he was still there, and showed us again, the bulge where he was pushing the sides of my uterus out. He looked me right in the face and said, “You are doing the right thing.” It didn’t feel like it at all. I cried all the way back to the room.
I was still bawling my eyes out when the surgeon came in. He just sat quietly in the rocking chair in the room and waited on me. He didn’t interrupt, he wasn’t pushy. Just his presence seemed to exude such peace over me. Finally, he asked me if I had any questions. I asked him if there was anything else that we could do, and he told me again, the two options, surgery or chemicals. He drew me a picture of my uterus, and the line near the bottom where my cesarean scar was. He explained how the baby had embedded into the far outside end of the scar. He drew a picture to explain it. He then drew pictures to show me what approach he thought that he would take. He said that the other robotics specialist had cleared his surgery for that day so that they could both be there. He explained that the other doctor had done a robotic surgery on a cornual ectopic pregnancy, which is when the baby embeds right at the entrance from the tubes in the uterus. As he spoke, I felt that I began to understand things a bit better, and I really began to have a peace. He was unbelievably amazing.
I asked about the risks and what to expect from a robotic surgery. He said that there were some risks in moving my bladder, which was directly in front of the baby, but reassured me that he already had enlisted a urologist to accompany him in surgery in case I needed assistance in that area. Everything that could go wrong seemed to be already prepared for. When he had received the call from the other surgeon the night before, he had done a ton of research, and had been preparing for me. This was such an amazing comfort! No rushing, no last minute fly-by’s, nothing for me to fear. The recovery time for this type of surgery was minimal, in some cases less than a week before returning to regular activity and even work. This was good, knowing that I would be home alone with my four kids during the hours that my husband worked. My older kids could tend to themselves, as well as help me, but my 3 year old was a big concern. Knowing how difficult my recovery was from my cesarean, where I could barely stand or roll over, I was happy to hear that this type of surgery was not going to be as traumatic.
I’ll share here a little more information without quoting directly, for easier reading. These are other things that he mentioned regarding my situation: A cesarean scar pregnancy is extremely rare; only about 1 in 2,500 pregnancies might develop as ectopic cesarean scar pregnancies. They are still so rare that an obgyn might go their entire career without ever seeing one. Most of these types of pregnancies naturally come to miscarriage before it becomes a danger to the mother. As I mentioned in my other post, there are two types, one where the baby is embedded toward the inside of the uterine lining, and can grow into the womb over time, and the other where the baby embed deeper into the muscle, putting the integrity of the scar tissue at risk of rupture. In my case, especially because I was at this point 7 weeks along, I was especially at risk of rupture. I asked about moving the baby, but the reason they couldn’t was because once it is embedded, all of the tissue around it becomes its primary blood source. They would have to inject a chemical that stopped blood flow around the area that they cut out so I would not bleed out. Just doing that would have killed the baby. The doctor explained that while he understood all of the pain I must be going through, emotionally, he was honored to be able to attend to me because my situation was such a rarity. He said that I was the hype of the hospital.
After we had decided that the surgery was clearly the only option that we had, I told the doctor that one of the most difficult parts of this for me was knowing that I was ending a beating heart. He seemed very sad and somber, and he said that he completely understood, and that he was, in every way, pro-life. He said that he would always encourage people, in cases like mine, choosing between mother and baby, to choose the mother. He reminded me, as my husband had, that we had four living children who depended on me. It made sense. It still hurt though. I told him that I was still believing for a miracle, and I asked him, “If you get in there, and you have even an inkling of doubt, or see anything that looks like this might not be what we think it is, or that the baby could grow without harming me, will you continue, or would you stop the surgery?” He looked me right in the eyes and said, “I would absolutely stop the surgery. And I would praise God.” This felt so good to hear.
He brought up the fact that we had said that we had been praying and believing for a miracle, and he asked if he could bring up something outside of professional conversation, and we said yes. He asked what faith we were of, and we told him that we are non-denominational Christians. He confided that he was too, and asked which church we went to. We told him (our church is a very small up-and-coming church), and he seemed to have heard of it, but couldn’t remember where he’d heard of it. He then told us that he was a part of a wonderful church, and named it. We couldn’t believe our ears! Our church had been offered to share in a wonderful church building by a much bigger church who “wanted to help a startup church, as a blessing”, and his church was the church! We brought that up, and he seemed pleased to hear the connection. The more we spoke with him, the more at ease we both felt with the decision. I trusted him when he said that he would be looking for a miracle when he was in doing the surgery, and would not unnecessarily operate if he saw cause not to. I can say with 100% confidence that this doctor was not here that day on accident. I know that God lined everything up in advance.
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:8
He left in order to attend a birth, and Eric and I were left to spend some time together. We prayed and cried, but mostly, we trusted. I felt so much better after going through everything with this doctor. A little before the surgery, the surgeon came back in and sat with us for a minute. He asked if I was ready, and I told him I was about as ready as I could be, so not really! He asked if he could pray for us. We were floored, but of course, we accepted. He prayed over me, the baby, and for the surgery and for himself and the other doctors. It was moving and eloquent, and it brought me even more comfort. Again I say, I know that this whole situation was orchestrated by my amazing God, and this man was here this day just for me. My Father’s love for me is just astounding. Even when I cannot understand the why’s, I can see His hand clearly.
Eric’s father came to sit with him, and we all made light conversation and joked around a bit. Then the transport came to get me for surgery. Eric walked alongside my bed as they wheeled me through the halls. He had to stay behind at the elevators, but he kissed me and squeezed my hand. They took me down to the anesthesia room. All of the nurses there were friendly, and in making small talk, found out why I was there, and they all sought to comfort me. The anesthesiologist came and personally spoke to me, explained the process to me, and answered a few questions that I had. They gave me a sedative to help me begin calming down, and I began to softly sing praise and worship songs to myself as I waited. This room was similar to the creepy dark room I’d been in the night before. There were two rows along the walls for beds, with curtains drawn back against the wall since there was no one else in there but me. The nurses’ station was right in this room though, and there were at least a dozen nurses and doctors running around and getting on computers. I closed my eyes and just sang to myself.
It is well, with my soul. It is well, it is well, with my soul.
One of the nurses ran a second IV line for the medication because the robotic surgery would have my arms held under plexiglas cuffs, and they wanted to make sure they had access to both arms, if necessary. She joked about a scar on my hand, and asked me how I got it. I told her my hand had gone through a window. She said, “Oh, so you punched it?” I laughed, and said, “Actually, yes.” She got tickled at that. She said she always assumes the worst out of scars. She offered to show me one on her leg where a goat had rammed her with its horn. The other nurses giggled and said I should have seen her come to work that day. It was nice talking about silly things to keep my mind off things. They gave me more of the sedative, and this time I went to sleep.
When I woke up, I was in a recovery room, a large room, with a lot of other people recovering from surgeries. My chest and throat were on fire, and I felt like I was choking on phlegm. I couldn’t breathe, and every time I coughed, it hurt. The nurse looked like she was confused. She asked me if I smoked, and I told her no. This woman was the only person I had come across the whole time who I felt was not a good fit with her career. I later did research and found out that intubation, which was used in my surgery, commonly causes throat pain and chest congestion, and can even lead to pneumonia. No one explained this to me at all! I coughed and coughed, and could not catch my breath; it was terrible. The nurse finally gave me a breathing treatment, which helped some. She asked me a few questions and then sent someone to come take me back to the room.
The surgery ended up getting pushed back some. It was supposed to be at 1 p.m., but Eric said they called the room around 4 p.m. and let him know that they were just beginning. I remember looking at the clock when I came back into the room, and it was 7 p.m. The nurses gave me some pain medicine to keep me from hurting. I was still very tired and out of it, but Eric said that after the surgery, the surgeon had come in and shown him a photo of my uterus, where you could see the baby bulged out. I joked with Eric about it because when I had my cesarean, I had panicked and would not let him look at my “guts”. I made him put his cheek to my cheek; that was the only way I could stay calm enough to make it through all of the fear of the surgery. I said, “Well, you finally got to see my guts!” I don’t think I’ve mentioned how incredible my husband is yet. Man, oh man. I love my husband so much. He is such a blessing to me.
The doctor came in a few hours later to check on me before he left, and I HAD to ask if I could see the picture. He showed it to me, and explained what everything was. Who knew guts weren’t all pretty pink and red? Ick. It was interesting, though. He said that the heads of the robotics departments from the two major cities within a couple hours’ drive had come to witness the surgery. He said that everything had gone perfectly. During the surgery, he had located the tunnel, caused by my cesarean scarring, that the baby had travelled through, and he was able to sew it closed so this would not happen again. I hadn’t looked at the incisions yet, but he showed them to me. I had four dots that were about dime size on my stomach (one was in my belly button, which I found accidentally during my first post-surgery shower- ouch!). He thanked me for the opportunity to do the surgery, and told me that I was a local celebrity at this point. After he left, I pretty much slept all night. Eric slept in the bed with me until the early morning, when I kicked him out because I couldn’t get comfortable.
My pain was worse when I had a full bladder, so I had to be conscious to pee as much as possible, because my bladder sat right on the wound. Aside from that, my initial recovery was about 5 days of pain requiring the prescription pain meds. By the sixth day, I was down to only having to take a pill before bed or when I woke because sleeping hurt my stomach. I found out the hard way, the very first night home, that my body was not ready for “real” food. I was on a mainly liquid diet for the first week, which helped me kick start some weight loss. I had lost twelve pounds in one week. The recovery was so much better than the cesarean. Emotionally, I struggled a lot the first week or so. I felt a lot of guilt and shame for what happened. I felt I had been selfish by choosing my life. I felt if I had more faith, the baby would have been fine, and so would I. I was really struggling with the moral dilemma of it. So, even though I was healing physically, my heart was still sick. (I also still have a bit of a sore throat.)
Please stick around for the conclusion. I know this story is difficult to read, but there are things that God has shown me through this experience.