Ectopic Nightmare: How Losing My Pregnancy Almost Cost Me My Life
At this point, I had been battling Infertility for 3 years. My first pregnancy was a natural conception on a vacation with my husband in 2013. I was beyond elated to be pregnant! I immediately had thoughts of my huge belly under a fabulous, flowy dress at our baby shower. I started thinking of the best ways to share this news with our family and how proudly I'd be strutting down Eastern Market in the Spring, pushing my baby in a hooded stroller. Little did I know, all those happy thoughts would quickly be ripped from my mind in an instant.
I was 6 weeks pregnant when I started a new job and flew to Indianapolis, IN for training. The pregnancy was great, no nausea, no back pains, no real symptoms. So when I felt intense pains in my side, I attributed it to the spicy lunch I'd had with my new co-workers. The pain intensified over the course of 4 hours but I have a very high tolerance for pain so I thought I just needed to take Tylenol and lay down.
As I was leaving the office, headed back to my hotel for the evening, I couldn't stand up straight and could barely walk to my car. I was in so much pain, I was crying. I didn't say anything to my co-workers because I thought I just needed to lay down and the pain would subside. It was the start of a snow storm and figured if I could just make it to the hotel, I would email my boss and work from the hotel for the rest of training. I never made it to the hotel.
Sitting in my car, in an unknown town, I googled the closest Urgent Care. I drove there, cautiously, squinting through the snow-filled windshild and in prayer the entire way. I was quickly examined and told to get to the hospital as soon as possible. Luckily it was one light away. So I waddled to my car, in excruciating pain and parked outside the Emergency entrance. They ran to my car, put me in a wheelchair and pushed me in quickly as I answered questions about my Social Security Number, Full Name, Address, Birth date, Phone Number and Emergency Contacts. Fear and worry set in.
I told them how far along I was in my pregnancy, they prepped me for an internal sonogram. That. Was. Thee. Most. Painful. Thing EVER. I could feel the sonogram tool inside me, feeling like a knife shifting around my insides. I remember laying on my back, looking up at the ceiling which had a painting of a field of flowers, tears streaming down my face as the nurse rubbed my hand telling me I'm "doing good" and "it's almost over". My face having a distant, blank stare, I was wheeled into a room where the doctor told me the horrifying news: "Mrs. Powell, the pain you're feeling is your ruptured Fallopian tube. You're bleeding internally at a rapid rate. You could fill up 3 water bottles with the amount of blood. I'm prepping you for emergency surgery. Your baby is growing in your tube and we'll have to remove your tube. Had you gone to the hotel and went to sleep, you would have died in your sleep. You're lucky." Then, he walked out. Lucky. I didn't feel lucky. I felt confused.
Thinking the baby would be surgically removed from my tube and put into my tube was the only way I could justify this news. The female nurse who held my hand during the examination immediately started crying as she held my hand and said "No honey, you won't be pregnant after the surgery. You are having an ectopic pregnancy. It'll be harder for you to have a baby after this...if ever." I screamed "NOOOO!" and cried hysterically as she hugged me and prayed over me. She shared that she and her husband had experienced 4 miscarriages and 1 ectopic pregnancy. Later, she became my friend and we email each other to this day.
I was wheeled to the bathroom, when I stood up, looked down and saw blood, I blacked out and hit my head on the wall on my way crashing to the floor. I woke up, laying in a bed, high...I was on Morphine to alleviate the pain. The operating doctor introduced herself, explained the surgery, told me she spoke to my mother who was driving from DC to Indianapolis to be with me and held my hands asking if she could pray for me. I went from thinking I was going to die in surgery to having a peace that God was with me. The surgery went very well. I awoke in a lavish recovery room with many questions.
The operating doctor reiterated that I would have a very difficult time conceiving naturally, if ever and that I should look into alternative options for conception. That meant nothing to me at the time. The meds wore off and grief set in. However, through the grief, I reflected on what the doctor originally told me: "You're lucky". I wasn't lucky, I'm blessed. I am so blessed to have my life at the expense of losing a life that could have been. Knowing that I was on the brink of death had I not made the right decision, makes me so grateful to be alive and helps me to have an optimistic outlook on life. This was a terrifying experience and I learned SO MANY life lessons:
Life Lesson #1. Do not ignore the signs your body is sending you. Listen to your body, ladies! If you're feeling the slightest pain, no matter how high your pain tolerance is, go get checked out immediately. You could be saving your life.
Life Lesson #2. Connect with others who have experienced what you're going through. Exchanging contact with the nurse that cried and prayed with me was a blessing. Emailing and asking her questions, gave me a good perspective of what I could potentially expect on my journey with infertility. She also shared books to read and encouraged me by sending scriptures and prayers.
Life Lesson #3. One minute you can be up and the next you're down. Depression and grief can strike as a result of an unexpected loss. Appreciate and value those high moments in life. Be present and take time to really enjoy the good times with the ones you love.
Life Lesson #4. I'm here for a reason and I must fulfill my purpose. I learned of 2 women who died as a result of an ectopic pregnancy. That could have easily been me. But it wasn't. I believe it's because God needs me to be a voice and a vessel to fulfill His will in my life. That will is for me to have experienced this, live, survive, share how I made it, then reach back and pull other women along with me in this journey.