For many reasons, primarily being concern for my children, I have not shared this very personal part of my life with my readers. However, I have heard of more and more women are seeking information and spiritual support after suffering a miscarriage or ectopic or a still birth. If you are a personal friend of ours, our younger children do not know about any of these pregnancies or losses. We did not see that at the time this would have been healthy to share with them. I know many families feel differently, but it seems like the right decision for us.
In August 2007, we suffered a miscarriage. This was our second miscarriage. The first one occurred in 2002. This was emotionally very painful. I did not despair, however. We had four beautiful children, and life was moving pretty quickly. My mourning period was rather brief. In retrospect, I really just tried not to dwell on it much, which was probably not the healthiest way to handle it.
In October 2007 I was in the middle of a very busy time. I was teaching several classes and running a Mom’s retreat here locally, and I started to have some rather sharp pains on my lower right side. I started to pass some blood in my urine. I was only mildly worried because I was half convinced that perhaps I was passing a kidney stone or something. I had my regular menstrual cycle on October 7th and this was only October 23rd. It never occurred to me that I could be pregnant. I ignored the pain for a few days, but the passing of blood in my urine, then in my stools was becoming more troublesome. Finally, the sharp pains increased to the point that I could not sleep through the night. I was positive I was passing a kidney stone and went to my OBGYN the following morning. My regular doctor could not get me in, and I figured I would just need some pain medicines, or perhaps antibiotic for a kidney infection. When I arrived, the nurses took my urine, saw the blood and said it was more than likely a UTI, and planned to write me a prescription for this. I asked if a doctor was available just to confirm all this. Fortunately one did see me. When she pressed on my back, it hurt pretty severely, so she sent me to the emergency room straight from her office. After sitting there for seven or so hours, the ER nurses took my blood. After about 9 hours I saw a doctor and he asked “How far along are you?”
I responded that I was not pregnant, and he looked troubled and sent me for an ultrasound. There they found a “mass.” I was whisked back to the Emergency Room where the doctor said that the cause of all the pain was the mass, and that there was a possibility it was an ectopic pregnancy. I had no idea that an ectopic pregnancy has no “cure.” You cannot move an ectopic pregnancy to a new location and have it survive. But this was not really explained to me. Perhaps he assumed I knew what this meant. I was admitted to the hospital. I refused any pain medicine. I was thrilled that I was pregnant, and again so soon after the miscarriage. Overnight, my pain got a little better. When my OBGYN came to the hospital to see me in the morning and I told her I was feeling much better, she looked alarmed and told me that I was going to surgery immediately. She left to make the arrangements, and I was in a complete state of confusion. Was it the mass? Would this hurt the baby? Would medicine for surgery hurt the baby? If I am feeling better, why would I need surgery?
The nurse came in the room, and explained that the pain going away meant that the tube that had the mass in it had probably burst. There would be a temporary relief that would make the pain seem like it had gone away, but that it was fatal for the mother if a burst tube is not repaired. I could bleed out internally.
As I was wheeled to surgery alone (my husband was taking the children to different places to be watched for the day and trying to get there before I went to surgery) it occurred to me that I was not sure if my doctor understood that I wanted to protect the baby at all costs. I held her hand and looked her in the eye and said: “If there is a baby, please do everything you can for it, to help it make it. I do not want anything removed that does not have to be.” She assured me that she would do whatever she could to protect or not disturb the baby if it were at all possible.
When I woke from the surgery, I was still under the impression that the mass was what had burst my tube and the baby was along the other tube somewhere. My first question to the nurse was: “Is the baby okay?” Sadly, she said, “No, your tube was burst, the baby was not able to be found, and you were bleeding a lot into your tummy. You are fortunate to be alive.” I did not feel fortunate. I did not feel anything. I was confused. I was still not sure what happened. “So are you sure the baby is not alive?” “Yes, I am sure. I am sorry.”
Over the next two weeks my body went into emotional overdrive. I would not take any pain killers because somehow I still thought maybe they were wrong about the baby. My pain was not terrible, but it was constant. I would have sobbing times where I would just start absolutely sobbing uncontrollably. I did not even feel that pained emotionally, but my body kept doing this.
I had three incisions. Two of them did not hurt much, but the one through my belly button hurt quite a bit. The three incisions were caused because I had lost so much blood, that she wanted to scope and look around to make sure nothing else was bleeding. I had what seemed like a heavy menstrual cycle, and it lasted for a little over a week. I was 7 weeks pregnant at the time I lost this one. My right tube was completely removed during the surgery. I was told this would only decrease my chances of getting pregnant again by 10%.
Over the next few weeks I had to keep going back to the OBGYN for blood work to make sure my HCG level dropped to normal (not pregnant) levels. That was hard. I did not want to sit in the waiting room with pregnant people. It made me want to cry just being there.
After this surgery, I was advised not to have “relations” with my husband for a period of four weeks. We did abstain as advised.
In late December 2007 I started having some pregnancy symptoms. I had not had a regular cycle since the ectopic, so for awhile I ignored them. Then I took a home pregnancy test and was shocked to see a positive test. I went to the doctor the very next day for HCG blood work, and by that evening was told I was miscarrying. The grief was enormous, but I kept it mostly to myself. I did not have the huge physical and emotional waves and shocks of pain like I did after the ectopic. It was close to Christmas, and so many festivities were going on that I tried just to “do the next thing” and let it be over.
I still get weepy when I hear about friends who are pregnant. I was nearly a basket case when a very dear friend of mine lost a baby to a miscarriage a couple of months ago.
Another physical thing I did not expect is that for several months, I only had a menstrual cycle every other month. I also gained weight despite exercising and eating well. This weight gain was rapid and I still have not been able to get it off. I try harder at some times than others. This troubled me a lot at first, but then I researched it over the net and found many, many women gained weight and were unable to lose it during the several months after a miscarriage or ectopic.
How did I get through it? Well, I rested as much as I could. My husband took off work for a week after the ectopic and stayed there to help me. I also kept reminding myself over and over that the Lord would use this for my good because I love him, and that is promised in his Word. Yes, I know every Word is true, and God is GOOD, all the time. Praise Him, I know that in my soul, in my mind and in my heart, so I never did despair. I never got angry with God or questioned God’s wisdom. I was enormously sad. I did get angry with the father of lies and I let him know that he could take every baby I could ever conceive again away from me and that I would STILL praise God with all my heart. I know this was a time of testing and refining, and I am so thankful that I came away from the spiritual battle related to all of this victorious.
I still do not know or understand God’s purposes, but He is, after all God, the great giver of life and when or if he so desires, he will tell me.
Many have asked me if we still would like more children. Of course we would. There is no option but to receive and delight in each and every blessing from the Lord, even if I only get to carry them briefly.
I hope that reading my story will help others perhaps know that what they are going through if they are going through recovery from an ectopic is normal. I tried to research, but found precious little that addressed what happened to me. I cannot find any good books on this topic to offer mothers going through pregnancy losses, but I do know that God is right there with you. He is holding you in his arms, and weeping with you. Your pain is not hidden from Him, and he will sustain you.
As I write this, I have four perfectly healthy children, ages 3-18. I have four more in heaven. Who knows what the Lord has in his plan for our family, but I have little reason to complain. I know many women who would love to have just one baby survive, and I have been blessed with four. This is what I try to remind myself during these days when I catch myself thinking about how old the baby would be that was due a couple of months ago, or when I get those free formula coupons that get sent to mamas with new babies, or when a friend has a new baby. I have so many blessings, and have no need to despair. If you are currently suffering from a loss, try to look for your blessings and dwell on the many truths from God’s word regarding his undying, unending love and compassion for you and your small ones in heaven.