A Healing Story

This is an extremely personal post in a mere 1,460 words and without a single picture. It’s long. It’s ugly. It’s heart wrenching (for me). But, it’s not a secret and I need to get it all out in the open for me to be able to heal. Buckle in, folks. It’s a long one.

Last Thursday I underwent an emergency surgery. It was painful, it was emotional and, more than anything, it was scary.

Alex and I have been trying for a baby for a while now. It’s certainly a private matter and a conversation that I’ve tried to keep to a few of my very close friends and family members. Yet, we’ve been married for a year and a half (today actually!) and we both clearly want kids, so it’s obvious to us that people have been speculating.

Two weeks ago I found out that I was, in fact, pregnant. Words that I’ve been waiting to hear for what seems like an eternity. I bought a cute little “Daddy Loves Me” outfit, wrapped it up, set up the video camera, and surprised Alex with what I thought would be the best surprise of a lifetime.

For a week we let ourselves dream about whether we’d have a boy or a girl, how we were going to tell our families, and how our life would change when we became parents. We came up with schemes of how to keep the news  from those close to us until we were ready to spill the beans. After months of disappointment, I was beaming from ear to ear.

Something wasn’t right though.

(If you’re squismish… or a guy… or really don’t want to hear about female reproductive organs… here’s your warning. Please stop reading now.)

My HCG levels were rising like they should, but something was just wrong. I was bleeding. Not a lot, no. But seeing blood when your insides are inhabited with a baby, is nothing less than terrifying.

I went to the doctors immediately. “Your levels look good, your still fairly early on – it could be implantation bleeding, some women never skip a period, some women bleed throughout pregnancy — you’re fine.”

Obviously someone was looking out for me though. Even though I was told that everything was fine, I went to another doctor. My OB/GYN thought my ultrasound looks suspicious and referred me over to a radiologist for more of an advanced test.

I knew it wasn’t good when words like “STAT” and “Emergency visit” were spoken between doctors on the phone. The radiologist was unhappy with what he saw on the scans and actually came into my room and examined me himself. After three doctors checked me out and I went from one doctor’s office to another to another, I finally got an answer.

I was having an ectopic pregnancy.

And for someone who has been obsessively googling anything related to pregnancy for the last year, I knew that it meant one thing – a complete disaster.

I’ll break it down for everyone else though. Basically, there was something wrong with my tube that prevented the fertilized egg from making its happy way down and implanting itself correctly into my uterus/womb/kangaroo pouch. So, instead of having a happy little fetus growing in the right place, my little one never made it that far and began to grow in my tube. Close your eyes for a second and visualize a 7 pound baby in a small, narrow tube rather than in a big, comfy womb. Doesn’t seem possible, does it?

There is absolutely no way to save an ectopic pregnancy and make it viable. Additionally, the only way to remove it at my stage was with an emergency visit to the operating room.

This all happened within a couple of hours. Here I was – I woke up, thought I was happily with-child, went to the doctor, got a bunch of tests done, found out that not only was I going to lose said child, but I needed surgery to do so, and (here’s the kicker) may lose a fallopian tube in the process.

I was a big ball of mess. We’re talking about the ugly sob here. There was a lot of the “why me,” and the “poor me,” and the “what happens if I don’t wake up,” and the “what if I can never have a baby” going on in the car ride to the hospital.

I also found out that the reason that I had been bleeding for… oh.. I don’t know… two weeks, was because my fallopian tube had burst. Trivia question: what could have happened if I didn’t get surgery with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy? Answer: died.

My doctors, surgeons and nurses were excellent and I made it safely out of surgery. I couldn’t be more thankful for those who study and practice for years and dedicate themselves to making you and me healthy again. However, my tube was damaged and irreparable. If they tried to “patch it up” (for lack of better words), anytime I got pregnant from that side – it would happen over and over again.

The saving grace is that, well, for starters I’m alive. Also – they checked my other tube and they didn’t see any similar damage, so I should still be able to have a healthy pregnancy and carry it to term. What it means is that I’m going to undergo lots of testing when we do start trying again to make sure the fertilized egg implants itself correctly in my uterus. We’ll have to wait a couple of months before attempting to get pregnant again to allow my body time to heal.

I’ve been in a lot of pain since the surgery and stuck in bed. I recently was able to get out of bed on my own. Yesterday I actually spent more time out of bed than in bed, but I quickly get dizzy and faintish after standing for too long. Each day gets better though; I get more mobile and am in less pain.

I’ve had lots of visitors, phone calls, emails, texts, flowers, lunches delivered and all kinds of goodies (i.e cookies, cheesecake, chocolate covered strawberries). I’m not kidding. My family and friends have treated me like A QUEEN. Thank you to everyone! Your support, kind words, and thoughtful actions have helped me get through this hard time.

Honestly though, I haven’t allowed myself time to grieve. Not only did I get an emergency surgery that I’m recovering from, but I lost a pregnancy. Every time I think about it, I start to tear up immediately. A baby. Something I’ve wanted for so long, is gone. I know that right now I really need to let my body recover, so I’ve been trying not to allow myself to think of the emotional aspect. I appreciate the calls and well wishes so much, but I’ve also been avoiding talking to a lot of people. I apologize if I haven’t gotten back to you yet, but it’s hard to talk about right now without getting upset.

I write this all for me. It’s a way for me to heal and put all my crazy emotions into words. Maybe by writing it, the shock of reality will wear off and I’ll finally be able to mourn.

I write this for other women who may be going through something similar and for them to know that they aren’t alone. You may feel like you have no one to talk to and that no one has any idea what you’re going through. I promise you though, we’re out there.

I write this for people who like me thought that the path to having a baby would be as easy as deciding you were ready. It was research and knowledge that made me go back to the doctor, which in turn saved my life. Knowledge really is power.

We all experience loss. We all have hardships that we overcome. We find a way to pull through. We grow. We learn. Our paths take a new direction and we find a new happy ending.

A last note: I wanted to say thank you to my wonderful husband, Alex. I know he was just as terrified and upset as I was throughout the ordeal. He’s been there to help me get out of bed, shower, and even go to the bathroom. He’s dealt with me being in a good mood and optimistic. But more importantly, he’s been there when I’m sad, emotional, needy, and distant. He says that, “it’s his job” and that it was in our vows, of course, he’d take care of me. But… he did more than he needed to and I could never say thank you enough. I LOVE YOU.

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30 thoughts on “A Healing Story

  1. This is a scaring message, but that’s good and bad news, lucky you can still count blessings. I think of you both and wish you wel.
    Henk

  2. Michelle, I’m so sorry to hear that this had to happen to you and your baby! I am very happy to hear that you made it through surgery safely though and that you’re recovering well! I can’t imagine how difficult and emotional things may be for you and Alex right now, but everything will work out in the end. It’s great that you are still able to get pregnant in the future. I can’t wait to meet the little one when it’s that time. 🙂 Stay positive, girl!

  3. Wow. I’m so sorry you had to go through this but thankful the doctors caught your burst tube in time. Prayers to you and Alex and hope you have a successful pregnancy in the near future. Love love love you sweet friend. ❤

  4. Michelle, I am so sorry to hear about this. Hope you’re on your way to recovery and are feeling better. I know you guys will be wonderful parents someday. All the best,
    Alex O.

  5. Michelle,
    You are so brave to tell your story to all that follow. Please know that we are all thinking of you and Alex and our hearts break for you. We love you both and hope that you are feeling stronger everyday. Take care and we will see you soon.

    Anissa

  6. Michelle
    I know how hard this must be for you & Alex. I continue to keep you both in my thoughts! You are such a strong woman and I know you will come through this and be an even stronger person – like your Mom!

    Lots of love!
    Kristine

      • We did have fun – thanks!! Think we need Cathy to get a bigger house 🙂 Or I did mention to Blinky that we may be interested in renting his house for a weekend this Spring…even if we didn’t have a bachelorette party to celebrate!

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  9. Thank you for posting this. It does help to know that other people have gone through similar things (though mine was not an ectopic pregnancy). I’m sorry you had to go through this and it’s been difficult. How are you feeling now?

    PS – what part of Maryland did you grow up it? I’m from Rockville/Bethesda, though I don’t live there anymore.

    • Lee, I’m so happy that my story helped! It’s such a hard thing to go through and something that people try so hard not to talk about, which in the end just makes those of us experiencing such loss feel even more alone.
      My body is pretty much back to normal now, which I’m very thankful for. However, I’m still very much dealing with the emotional aspect of healing and loss. I started talking to a counselor last week and she’s help a great deal so far. Sometimes I feel its best just to talk to someone who isn’t emotionally vested in the situation as well. I’m actually looking forward to talking to her again.
      I grew up in Howard County, probably about a half hour from where you grew up. I actually work in Rockville now! Such a small world! You should definitely let me know if you ever plan a visit back to the area, I’d love to grab lunch with you!

  10. Thank you for sharing your story! I have gone thru 3 loses myself and a few surgeries myself. The “why me” and “what ifs” are the hardest parts of my days for sure! I know personally spending time with my husband, dogs and being active outside and with our home helps (we have been married for 2 years and have 2 dogs as well ). I hope for a speedy recovery and a blessed future!

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