A Personal Story of Loss- Kathleen
One of the rarely spoken about pregnancy losses is an ectopic pregnancy. It isn't talked about largely because of the strong reactions that are feared from others. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself in a place other than inside the uterus. Most often occuring in the fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy is one of those things you hear about and yet, can't even really fathom unless you find yourself in that particular position. And I did…
My name is Kathleen and I have been married to hubby, John Mark, for 7 years. We have a daughter, Juliet, who is almost two. We had no fertility issues and no trouble conceiving our first. In May of 2017, we found out that we were expecting! This came as a huge surprise since we had decided to become foster parents and had received our license just days after finding out that we were expecting. There were so many emotions involved and it was all quite overwhelming!
A week after finding out, something started to not seem right. I thought I was miscarrying and called the doctor to see what I needed to do. They asked for me to come in and take a blood test. While I was waiting, I googled and googled. Since I was also experiencing some pain, an ectopic kept popping up on my searches but since everything I read said it was not that common, I moved on. The bleeding stopped and everything went back to "normal". I went in for the test and my numbers were going up, but not quite as fast as they normally do. Another test was scheduled for the next week. What an emotional rollercoaster! First, a surprise pregnancy and then, thinking I was miscarrying only to find out that I was not.
Before I made it for my next blood test, I began to have some severe pain. At first it was on and off and then it was constant and not something I could ignore. I went to dinner with my hubby and Juliet and at dinner began have excruciating pain. I could barely talk or walk. Worse than childbirth pain. I finally made it to the car and put in a call to my doctor who said I needed to go to the ER immediately because she suspected an ectopic pregnancy. We rushed home to gather a few things for Juliet and dropped her at a friend's. My parents graciously hurried down to be with us and I began alerting other family. Upon arrival to the ER we had a whole slew of questions, exams and bloodwork done. I was sent off to do an internal ultrasound. The tech was not allowed to tell me what they were seeing. Fast forward a couple hours later and the ER doc finally came in to tell me that it was an ectopic pregnancy and that he had called the on-call OBGYN to come speak with me about details.
My husband and I were both reeling with the news and the emotions behind it all. There was no explanation as to why I had experienced an ectopic pregnancy. I did not pose any of the risk factors of an ectopic pregnancy - STDs, IUDs, smoking, Pelvic inflammatory disease, Endometriosis, surgery, fertility treatment etc. It was a fluke. We were shocked, confused, and devastated.
Before I go on, I would like to add something that may not be well known unless you have experienced an ectopic pregnancy. In most situations where a miscarriage occurs, the baby has already passed and the parents are left with the decision on how to move forward. In the case of ectopic pregnancy, as I spoke of above, the fertilized egg implants itself in a fallopian tube. The baby is considered alive though living outside the uterus and cannot survive. The most likely scenario of an ectopic is considered life threatening as the there is a great chance of the tube bursting and internal bleeding to happen to the mother. As in the majority of cases, no choice is given as to whether the baby can be saved. In many cases, it is caught at the point of risk of internal bleeding and the option given by doctors is typically surgery which means removing both the damaged fallopian tube and baby. If caught early enough, medication is an option that will jumpstart the delivery process and can save the fallopian tube. I share this with you to hopefully shed some light on how impossible of a decision this is to make for some. For my husband and I, we were left knowing our baby was technically alive but no chance in surviving and very life threatening.
As I have spent much time thinking about sharing this experience so publicly. After going through it all, I began searching online for others' stories. There were a variety of experiences and during my search I noticed that many had very strong opinions on all sides of how to handle this situation. So, I have decided to not share how my husband and I personally decided to handle this. Why? Because I do not want to influence anyone or make anyone feel judged, guilty, or any of the other horrible emotions that come with an ectopic pregnancy.
What I do want to share is that you are not alone. I want you to understand that we are all in different places in our walk with Christ. That we all have different convictions and leadings for our families. That God is our Judge, our Healer, and our Comforter. He knows my heart and He knows yours.
One month after all of this happened, we received our first foster placement. A 5 month old little girl. I still don't know why God chose an ectopic pregnancy for me, but I do know that He sent this little girl to help heal my heart. I pray that my story will help others not feel so alone like I have felt over the last year. While it is becoming more common to be forthcoming about miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy is still not talked about as often. Please don't feel alone.
Today is her birthday…I call her Abigail Faith. All I have for memory of her is a beautiful Tiger Lily in my front yard from a dear friend and a tiny heart charm on my special mother necklace. But she isn't forgotten. And for the rest of my life I will wonder what she could have been.
**Friend, I believe there is so much power in writing our stories. It can offer clarity, perspective, healing and hope for others walking a similar road. If you have a story you would like to write out and share, I would be honored to feature you here. Head to the contact page on my site and fill out the form and we can start the conversation**