Outside My Womb, Inside My Heart: Our Story of Loss

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Coffee cup given to me by my amazing coworkers, who gave me a “surprise support” party. It was perfect. Still my favorite cup.

Be warned, there’s some harsh emotion/language in this post. If you’ve been through it, you understand. If you haven’t been through it, try to understand. 

I still remember the look on the bakery lady’s face as she handed me the small cake with the words “We’re Having a Baby” scrolled on it over the counter. “Good luck,” she said, as she winked and smiled at me. Little did she know how much I was going to need it. Not that it would have helped any.

I knew. I already knew something was wrong. I knew the moment I could barely discern a second pink line on the stick that something was wrong. Shouldn’t I be more excited about my first baby? Shouldn’t I be happy? I forced a smile, forced the laughter, but deep down, I knew. When we got home from telling my parents, cake and all, I found a small spot of dark brown blood, and my worst nightmare began.

The radiologist confirmed what I already knew. Our baby had formed in my tube, my right tube, and there was no way to save her. (I’ll always know she was a girl.) I was alone, so alone. The jerk of a doctor (who was later written up for his manhandling of my emotions) informed me that his “daughter had this happen in both tubes, so there goes extending the family.” Jerk. Then, he informed me I needed to drive myself to the hospital for emergency surgery. Jerk. To top it all off, he patted me on the back and said, “Go Get ‘Em!” Jerk, jerk, jerk!

I drove, in a daze, to the hospital. My husband met me there, worry flooding his puppy-dog eyes. After what seemed like an eternity, they told me there was an alternative. They could give me a drug to dissolve the baby. Dissolve our baby. “Aren’t there any other options?,” I asked, “Can’t you relocate the baby to my uterus?” I knew this wasn’t possible, but I was desperate. No, there was no option. And the drugs meant there was a chance of saving my tube. Like a lamb to slaughter, I had no choice but to let them inject me. And wait.

Two weeks went by, and to my doctor’s amazement, the baby had continued to grow! I was proud. Our daughter was a fighter. Proud and sad. So, so sad. My husband and I would melt together in a puddle of tears at night, helpless and hurting. As it turns out, they’d only given me half of the required dose the first time around, and I had to get another injection. Insult to injury. And I waited. Waited for my child to stop growing. Even as I type this, I can barely see through my tears.

I continued to go to work at my 8-5 through this all, a numb shell. I began having sharp, crippling pains one afternoon, and my (former) OB (idiot) told me it was probably just “constipation.” She advised prune juice. By the time I made it home that night, I could barely walk. I fell to all fours in the living room, and begged my husband to take me to the ER. When we arrived, I informed them of my condition, and they were nonchalant. “I have an ectopic pregnancy!” I told them, “I could die!” Still, they made wait, doubled over and sobbing.

Finally, a room was open. They made me walk. All of the wheelchairs were taken. I grasped onto my husband’s arm, barely able to move my body forward. They told me to lay on the table. I couldn’t. The pain was so intense I couldn’t straighten my body. I screamed. I remember seeing my shell-shocked husband pushed into the corner of the triage room while I was injected with morpheine. Then, the panic set in. I tried to pull out my IV, tried to escape.

Finally, after the drugs flooded my body, they were able to tell me (again) what I already knew. My tube had ruptured.  I was bleeding internally. I needed emergency surgery. Family was called, prayers were said. I remember waking up and hearing the end of a word. “Ectomy.” I knew enough about Latin to know that meant something was removed from my body. My tube. Salpingectomy.

I was convinced I would never get pregnant again. I was told that this was a “fluke,” unrelated to any scar tissue or malformation, and that I shouldn’t have problems in the future. I didn’t believe them. After all, they’d screwed up royally so far. I found this blog post I’d written (never published) shortly after the ordeal:

So, I guess I need to write about my struggles. That’ll help, right? Sometimes I just want to flick my womb to get it to wake up. I mean, how the hell hard is it to get pregnant? Crack-whores do it all the time. But, I’m the one-tubed wonder, leaning a little to the left. Even I have to admit that I’m embarrased at how pessimistic I must sound. I have become a more positive person lately. It wasn’t really a conscious choice, but rather a survival mechanism. After all, what choice do I really have? Negative people annoy me, and since I can’t get away from myself, I’d better straighten up.

Our first baby was due in September 2008, and that same month, I peed on a stick again. BFP (big, fat positive). I told my husband, “This time, everything is going to be ok.” And it was. Our darling Anna was born in June 2009, and I can’t imagine life without her. I mourn the loss of our first child, but I know I’ll meet her someday. There are two scars on my lower abdomen to remind me of her, scars that have faded with two subsequent pregnancies, but still remain. Fitting.

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These earth angels will meet their heavenly sister someday.

She formed outside of my womb, but not outside of my heart. She will forever be our angel baby, stubborn and full of life, just like her sisters. I’m so blessed to have my two daughters here on earth to hold in my arms. And if you’re going through the same thing, don’t lose hope. If you want to be a mother, you will be. Whether through natural birth, adoption, step-children, or other arrangement, you will be a mother. You will.

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16 thoughts on “Outside My Womb, Inside My Heart: Our Story of Loss

  1. Thank for this. Your story breaks my heart. I suffered an ectopic pregnancy and removal on Thursday. My empty heart is broken. We have only been married a couple of months. I feel like we should be the happiest but instead we are suffering. I have been searching for anyone who could truly understand the immense pain I am now going through. It seems as if no one really understands. All I hear is pity in other’s voices and in their eyes. Thank you once again for this post. It came at just the right time for me.

    • Oh Kristina, I’m so glad you were able to find something to grasp onto. Right now, your world sucks. And it will for awhile. But, there is truly light at the end of this deep, dark tunnel. It’s not a train. I’m here if you ever want to talk. Take care of yourself. Be selfish. Eat lots of chocolate.

  2. Reading your account, I’m so glad I didn’t know my pregnancy was ectopic. I was at least able to enjoy those last few weeks before mine ruptured in my tube. It is also clear that medical training rarely, if ever, includes training on the subjects most necessary for the protection of our hearts. Hug to you, Cat.

    • Oh, I am so sorry you’ve been through same thing. I’m not sure which is harder, knowing and dragging it out longer, or not knowing and building up your hopes and dreams even more before they crash to the ground. Either way, it’s awful, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. So sorry for your loss.

  3. This was sad and yet very beautiful. I cried my way through. I have never experienced an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage, but since becoming pregnant I have spoken with many women who have. It seems that nearly everyone has a story. You are clearly a very strong woman, and obviously a beautiful writier! Cheers.

  4. Girl parts still seem to be such a medical mystery in the 21st century. I lost an ovary in my 20s and they all thought I had appendicitis. It’s maddening. I did not experience a loss like yours whatsoever, but I did experience doubts about my future fertility. I remember saying at the time that I hadn’t yet decided whether I wanted to have kids (obviously that changed), but I hated that the decision was almost made for me. Helplessness is scary.

    Thanks for putting yourself out there and showing others the hope. So many need it. One of my closest friends lost an infant who was 3 days old due to a heart defect that went completely undetected in all the usual pre-natal screening. She has pulled through with a grace and strength that still inspires me. And so does yours.

    • Oh Erin, I am so sorry for your friend’s loss. I can’t imagine holding my baby, and then having it taken away. So heartbreaking. I’m also so happy for you that your dream of motherhood came true despite your “girl part” issues.

  5. You inspired me before as I watched you walk this journey, and you inspire me now with your courage in sharing it.

    • Friend, you have inspired me far more than I could hope to inspire you. I can remember a time when you were in a similar situation, and know you can feel my pain. <3

  6. This is such a disturbing yet beautiful story!!! Disturbing because the doctors were so messed up in the way u were treated and so beautiful of course cuz u were able to overcome and have beautiful children through all ur suffering and pain. Honey u r such a strong person and God has blessed u with two gorgeous daughters. Congratulations on ur beautiful family and everyone needs an angel!!!

  7. Your story breaks my heart. And yet, it’s so full of love and compassion and hope. Thank you for sharing it; I will be sharing it with others. You may have felt alone at the time and only you alone can feel your grief, but you’re not alone in what you experienced and your post may help others with their own struggles.

    Your story also makes me angry. There is a certain breed of OB doctors that can be so cruel. I still shudder with rage when I recall going to the doctor with severe abdominal pain and being told “to not eat sugar to cope with breaking up with a boyfriend,” an attitude that delayed treatment for what turned out to be multiple hemorrhaging ovarian cysts. I’m glad that in the middle of your own sadness, you made the effort to report this awful OB doctor. It might not help you, but it will help all of the other women who might have found themselves in this doctor’s care.

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