i’ve written, and re-written this post about a hundred times. i type, and erase. type again, delete. i first wrote a brief synopsis of everything, to save you the time reading this novel, but it doesn’t tell the story right. truth be told, nothing sounds “right.” i can’t explain everything that happened, because, well… it was a whirlwind. however there are some things i will certainly never forget. and since you have been with me since the beginning, it’s only fair to tell you how it ends.
friday night, in the middle of my graduation dinner surrounded by my family, i nearly passed out at the table. i had felt fine all day, it was graduation, i was ecstatic. and then all of a sudden at dinner i felt sharp abdominal pain. the room started spinning, cold sweat running down my back. i excused myself and, wobbly on my feet, had amazing husband help me to the bathroom. there was so much pressure in my abdomen. maybe i just needed to go to the bathroom. gas pains, sure. i sat there in the bathroom stall for close to 20 minutes, but nothing happened except sweat and cold chills. i looked down, i wasn’t bleeding. but the pain was not abating. my sister came in to check on me, told me i look white as a ghost. she offered to take me to the ER. i laughed it off. she’s overreacting, i’ll be fine. after some time the dizziness stopped, so i collected myself and she helped me back to the table. but the pain was still there, constant pressure. i tried to explain to my mom and mother-in-law what i was feeling, as i couldn’t hide the look of discomfort on my face. we all forced a laugh, it was probably constipation from pregnancy and the progesterone supplements, and on and on. i’ll feel so much better once i can go to the bathroom. we laughed.
dinner was served. i took one bite. waves of nausea started to wash over me, the dizziness was back. i turned to amazing husband and said we need to leave. feeling guilty, as this was my celebratory dinner and here i am leaving it early, i apologized to my family and we headed home. the pain was getting worse. rubbing my belly constantly, we drove home in silence. he was worried, i could see it on his face. i was worried too, i didn’t know what was going on. we drove past the hospital on the way home and he offered to stop. i told him to keep driving. i’ll be fine. we got home, put amazing son to bed, and i laid on the couch.
but the pain was not abating. at. all. i was getting scared. i texted my friend, who had experienced lots of pregnancy-related GI issues, to get some advice. i thought about taking medication to help me go to the bathroom, you know, because it felt like that would solve it. and after some talk, she told me to call my OB.
looking back now, that simple text message saved my life.
i called the on-call OB. i briefly explain my symptoms, how early i am in pregnancy, and mention my history of ectopic. she told me go to the ER. she is now the 3rd person to tell me to go, and i don’t know, maybe because she is a doctor i finally listened? i think all along i knew something was seriously wrong, and i didn’t want to believe it. we woke up amazing son and got in the car, dropped him off at the in-laws and headed for the hospital.
on the way i turned to amazing husband and tried to break the silence with terrible humor. “one day we will look back on today and laugh about how i went to the ER because i couldn’t poop.” and we mustered awkward laughs and drove on in silence. deep down we were terrified.
the pain was getting really bad now, waves of sharp heat radiating through my belly. i was taken back into triage, vital signs were stable, told the RN what was going on and my pregnancy loss history. they drew blood right there to test HCG levels, among other things. ordered an ultrasound to look for baby, and sent me back to the lobby to wait. the ER was full. of course. no beds.
so we sat there. and sat there. nausea was back. the room was spinning. the pain was out of control. i was moaning, grabbing my belly. we sat there. and waited. it had been an hour now since we arrived. something is seriously wrong. i saw a man come up to me with a wheelchair and ask me to get in, we were going for ultrasound. finally. i stood up.
and the room went sideways.
the next thing i recall is hearing my husband yelling for help. i am slumped over in the wheelchair, being rushed into a room. i open my eyes and see a nurse, her eyes wide. she is on the phone with someone yelling “BP 56/31” “i need a room” the lights are brighter than bright, it feels like i’m flying through the hallway. i hear the paging system “code emergent, room 33”. the wheels on the chair are rattling. i am lifted into a bed and all i hear are people talking loudly and moving quickly. i am room 33.
my clothes are cut off. “you’re going to be okay hun””we have to start some IVs, this might hurt” “get me saline!”
i can’t feel anything. my hands are numb. where is my husband.
where is my husband??
i can’t see him. all i see are nurses. everywhere. all i hear is ringing in my ears.
i think am going to die. i am going to die. i am panicking. i start sobbing.
the doctor is here now. cold gel on my belly, she is pushing down with an ultrasound probe, hard. the pain is unbearable. she is staring at the screen, “i see lots of free fluid, i need blood!” i am getting more IVs. the pain. my belly. oh my god the pain. where is my husband? i am calling for my husband, i can’t see him. the doctor is back, “it looks like a ruptured ectopic.” husband is next to me now. his face, he is so scared. i am sobbing. i grab his hand and don’t let go. i am shaking so hard i am rattling the bed.
things are moving fast. people are in and out. so many people. i am feeling less dizzy now, the room is rightening itself. “pressure is better” i look up and see multiple liters of saline infusing, there are blood bags hanging, and finally i am getting some pain medication. sweet baby jesus, thank you. the ultrasound tech is here with her big machine. she has to do a transvaginal exam. the probe is no doubt coated with cactus spikes. everything hurts. i ask for more pain meds. please. “i don’t see baby in the uterus.” the air is sucked out of my lungs. all she sees is blood in my belly, from my ribs to my pelvis. my right ovary is swollen with clots. doctor asks me for my OB’s name, i need emergency surgery.
this isn’t real life. this can’t be happening. someone, please wake me up. now.
another doctor is here. on-call OB, the same woman on the phone who told me to go to the ER. i look at her and say “hey, remember me?” and we muster an awkward laugh. her face is serious. she is staring at the ultrasound screen, but not convinced of what the tech is telling her. my HCG level is 2100. we should be able to see where baby is. but all she sees is blood. she tells me i need a laparoscopic surgery (again), fearing ruptured ectopic. she needs to stop the bleeding. i beg her to save my only tube. she is calm, she has kind eyes. she promises me she will try her best. please.
i am getting more pain medication. please god make the pain go away. the room is less wobbly and my vital signs are better. but the reality is sinking in. this is going to end badly. my best friend is here now, i am relieved. there’s something calming about having her there, and i am thankful that husband won’t be alone when they take me away. i don’t want him to be alone in this.
they wheel me to OR. i say goodbye to amazing husband and tell him i love him. he is crying. i am a mess. there is lots of activity in the OR suite, i am moving, arms are being strapped to boards, and the anesthesiologist puts a mask on my face.
it’s 4AM. i am groggy, feels like i got hit by a truck. i am in my hospital room now. i instinctively put my hand on my belly, it is sore but not nearly as painful as it was. amazing husband is here. he tells me surgery was long, but i did well. OB told him she had to remove a liter of blood from my belly. ONE LITER. and when she finally could see my uterus and tube, my tube looked great. there was no overt sign of ectopic. tube was intact, she saved my tube. what she did find was a hemorrhagic corpus luteum. (science lesson time: the corpus luteum is the remains of the follicle that put forth the golden egg; it purposely stays on the ovary and secretes progesterone for the baby’s development until the placenta is formed, at which time the corpus luteum disappears/bursts; it is not supposed to hemorrhage). mine had hemorrhaged and i was bleeding out. she told husband that baby was almost certainly in the uterus after all, but too small to see on u/s, especially with all the blood clouding the images.
oh my god. baby was actually where it needed to be!
he left the worst part for last… the trauma to my body, the severe low blood pressure, the loss of the corpus luteum and the internal manipulations she had to do in surgery will almost certainly cause me to miscarry.
i can’t breathe.
i looked at amazing husband, my eyes filling with tears. there was nothing to say, we let our tears fill the silence. went to bed, exhausted, begging dreams to replace the nightmare that had just transpired.
fast forward to today. after a record-breaking godawful mother’s day, i am numb. it’s like i was watching someone else’s life unfold on a movie screen. not mine. this is the stuff of lifetime tv movies. and then it hits me, no, this is absolutely my life. please don’t let me confuse you, i am incredibly grateful for the support and timely advice of my friend to call OB. immensely grateful for the OB who told me to go to the hospital (and get over my stubbornness that i would be “fine”). and to amazing husband and all the hospital staff that saved my life that night, i will always be indebted. had i remained stubborn and stayed at home, i shudder to think of what would’ve happened in my home. would i have even made it to the hospital? these are thoughts no one should have to think. i’ve never been more frightened in my life. ever.
waking up today in my bed, as i turn and see my sleeping love next to me, i thank god that i have that gift of life. nothing is more important than being able to be here for amazing husband and son. nothing. and yet as grateful for my life as i am right now, i am beyond heavy-hearted. i am traumatized over these events. traumatized doesn’t even come close to describing this. there are no words.
we are losing the baby after all.
HCG fell to 1100.
how do we bear this? i am forever broken.
there are no more words.