I read a statistic today that 1 in 4 women experience a miscarriage. I would most likely not have paid much attention to this number if I had not experienced one myself, but experience always aims to give us greater awareness.
As the calendar in our kitchen turns to April, there’s that unmistakable lump in my throat, the water that wells up in my eyes – I know that the anniversary of our miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy is near. I think back to everything that was happening in our lives. We were actively trying to get pregnant and we were ecstatic when our home pregnancy test, followed by a blood test at the doctor confirmed that we were expecting.
My husband started a new DVD in the camcorder to do a video diary of my pregnancy. We were planning to tell our parents on Mother’s Day, as we didn’t want to tell everyone too early. It was less than one week later that I awoke in the middle of the night with severe abdominal pain and we headed to the emergency room. There was confusion about how far along I was, since the dates of my last period didn’t quite jive with being pregnant. They tried to find the baby’s heartbeat with no success, and quickly concluded I wasn’t far enough along.
After countless questions, blood tests, and more questions they sent me for an ultrasound. I sat in silence with the ultrasound tech and watched blurry images move by, not knowing what to look for, not knowing what I was seeing. With no confirmation or explanation about what was happening, the doctor finally came and explained that they were fairly certain that I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy and our baby was trapped in one of the fallopian tubes.
Before we were really able to process anything, I was being packed up and wheeled onto an ambulance, headed to the hospital, where I would most likely have surgery. The rest of the day was a great deal of waiting and finally confirmation that I would be having surgery to determine whether it was, in fact, an ectopic pregnancy and during the surgery they would decide what to do next. It became more and more frustrating as the day wore on, having to answer the same questions, and I remember multiple nurses/physicians/medical assistants asking if we understood what was happening.
After an eternity of waiting, I was wheeled into surgery and signed a mountain of forms and suddenly the reality was more bluntly presented to us when we were asked what we wanted done with the remains. Suddenly, the whirlwind really hit – we were pregnant, but something was wrong, and now it was going to be over. During my surgery, they found the fetus trapped in my fallopian tube and the tube had been damaged severely and was thus removed.
After the surgery, the doctor showed us photos of the before and after. Seeing things from the inside was surreal, so clinical, so removed from us. Looking back on the day, I remember certain things more than others. It didn’t click with me on that day that my life was at risk, that if the pregnancy hadn’t been caught sooner I could have experienced dire consequences, even death. It also didn’t fully click about how to acknowledge the life that had grown inside and then stopped, or couldn’t or didn’t grow any further. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of it.
As with all losses, the hurt and sadness subsides over time, but the looming date sits on the calendar waiting for us. There is not a day that passes that I am not grateful for our beautiful son that we were able to have after such an experience, knowing that our chances were potentially lessened. For those of you who have experienced such a loss, you know all too well the impact. It does get better. Life does go on.
Each day, I count our blessings with great care, knowing that life is beyond precious. I hope you do the same.