So here it goes… I have lost a baby during pregnancy, I had an ectopic pregnancy.
You see it’s so hard to put it into words the feelings one has when they are told they are going through a miscarriage, or are experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, or have a still birth. And so many of us never do utter the words. And we keep it in the stillness of our hearts and honor our babies in silence. And it is good, and it is ok. And it is also good to share about it too.
So, I’d like to share with you the story of how we came into this community (that no one really wishes to be a part of) known as pregnancy loss families.
Did you know that about 1 in every 50 pregnancies is an ectopic pregnancy? I didn’t either. And do you know what an ectopic pregnancy is? I didn’t either. Until I was googling about it in the hospital room as I tried to understand how our world was crashing down in those seconds.
An ectopic pregnancy is when your baby embryo fails to reach the uterus and instead attaches itself somewhere other than your uterus. For me it was my fallopian tube, which is most common. Your baby then continues growing in your fallopian tube. Placing the mom at risk of a tubal rupture, which can be highly dangerous.
I am not in any medical profession, so please consult your doctor immediately if you think you are experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. My hope is to bring awareness and light to such a sensitive topic.
My husband and I had 3 beautiful children at the time. I had never experienced any complications during these pregnancies and neither of our own families had ever gone through an ectopic pregnancy. So, I mean it when I said I was googling it, because never had it crossed our paths.
We’ve always wanted a big family and God had surely blessed us with the ability to strive for one. So, when we watched as the two lines became visible on that Monday night, we were overly excited for this new life we were creating.
Of course, we didn’t want to tell anyone right away, so we basked in the joy of this new life privately to ourselves. Until the following Monday, when I began to spot, and I knew something was wrong. I called my husband at work, and then rushed our kids to his mom. And surprised her with, “by the way we’re pregnant, but we don’t know if the baby is doing ok. Ok bye”.
I’m not going to lie; the hospital is the worst place to be told your child has passed away. “But, there’s no time to mourn, because if we don’t get you into surgery, you might not make it either.” And believe me, I totally get it and understand their concern for my health and well-being. But give me a minute to just process this.
And a minute is what I got.
We arrived at the hospital, and signed in, and waited to get called back into the little room for vitals and primary assessment. Then we sat waiting once more to be called back to triage, where we then were placed in another room with less people than the first to sit and wait for the phlebotomist to come take my blood. Then sit and wait some more until someone else called me up to ask more questions. Then sit and wait some more until they called me back for an ultrasound.
And I don’t know why, but it was when I heard the lady call my name for the ultrasound that it finally hit me that our baby was not ok. At this point I think we had been there past two hours now. So, I was not my happiest, apart from the situation itself already. And when the ultrasound tech asked me to sit in that uncomfortable wheelchair and told my husband to wait in the room until I came back, I lost it. I refused to go with her until she allowed my husband to come with me.
So, after a heated discussion, my husband could accompany me in the ultrasound room. And let me tell you, I can’t even imagine of having to go through it without him. You go down this long dark hallway, into this tiny room, where they make you slip out of all your clothes and lay on this cold bed. The ultrasound tech was already upset for our argument over my husband. Maybe it was all the emotions running through my head, but I wish she would have been more sensitive to our situation. And after a half hour of her doing scan after scan after scan, I had to ask her for what I had hoped to be a glimpse of relief. It never came, instead she again quite rudely told me to hold my answers or comments until I saw the doctor. Now let me pause on this for a minute…
Looking back at the situation now, I can try to sensitize with her demeanor. At the time we were able to head back to the ultrasound room, it was probably late at night. Meaning all the staff had gone home already, also meaning that she was the ultrasound tech on-call at the time. And I can only imagine how many women she may see come through, who are in the process of a pregnancy loss. I can see how someone must be desensitized from these situations, if they’re having to experience it often. I still wish there would have been room for sympathy, but I understand. Back to baby Augustine again:
After we went back down to the lobby to wait, I was called up after a few short minutes is what it seems like now. I would like to say that I remember what happened from this point on, but truly this is where it all begins to get blurry. I think we were taken into a private room, where the sweetest doctor comes in and begins to tell us what is happening. GUYS, just writing this is hard. So hard.
She explains that our baby has gotten attached to my Fallopian tube. She explains that I’m somewhere around 9 weeks or so. And she tells us they had found no heartbeat, so our baby had already passed. but my body still had high levels of hCG, meaning it thought it was still pregnant and growing a baby. She then explained our options and stated we needed to act quickly because my fallopian tube can rupture any minute putting me at risk of death.
You have three options for treating an ectopic pregnancy: Methotrexate, which is a drug administered to allow the body to absorb the pregnancy tissue. Laparoscopic surgery to remove the baby and repair the tube. Or laparotomy surgery to remove the whole tube with the baby inside it.
So, we were given a couple of minutes to grieve, process, and call our OB doctor and close friends to figure out our best option. Because of our faith and beliefs, we chose a laparotomy to remove the whole tube with baby inside. This left us with a minimal chance of continuing to grow our family. But the story can’t end there, and if you have faith, you can move mountains.
The doctor on call knew my OB and I were actually friends, which helped me feel like I was being heard, acknowledged and placed in good hands. She even gave us the opportunity to see our little peanut on the ultrasound. And for those 5 seconds my world paused. And it was just me and our baby, and it felt as if none of this was happening, even if it was for 5 seconds. Then we were rushed back to prepare for surgery.
Can I just take this moment to honor my amazing husband. During this whole time, he was going through all these feelings and emotions with me. But he remained calm and strong. Made the calls needed, spoke to doctors for me, and really held space for me to grieve in. And I really wish that anyone who may go through a pregnancy loss, has a person like that to help them through it.
After the surgery we were sent home to rest.
Our funeral home and cemetery have an area for babies that pass away before 20 weeks of gestation. Where families can go and bury their babies and have a space to grieve.
A lot of women don’t know this, but you are able to request that your baby be given to you, if you plan on burying your baby at a cemetery. The cemetery will give you a tiny casket and paperwork which you take back to the hospital on the day of the burial service.
Our baby passed away on August 29th, and on September 9th we placed him in his final resting place at the cemetery. Now you’re probably asking, “him?”. Well you see part of our grieving process was giving our baby a name. And although we don’t know for sure, we had the feeling that our baby was a boy. We named him Augustine Alexander. We’ve had friends who choose gender neutral names also. It helps us honor and give value to the life we didn’t get to meet.
Our children know about him also. They talk about him as if they knew him, we bring him toys on his birthday to the cemetery, and he’s included in our family prayers. We also have a teddy bear we take to family pictures to remember him by.
And as I was saying, with faith we can move mountains. Three months after baby Augustine passed away, we got to see those two little lines again. And with much worry and anxiety but also with much faith and hope, nine months later we got to welcome baby Ezekiel into our family.
As we close the month of October in which we bring extra awareness to pregnancy and infant loss, I want you mamas to know that if you have gone or are going through a loss, you are not alone. Please reach out to family, friends, doctors. You may never know if someone else close to you may have lost a baby unless we speak out and share our grief. We can abide together in this sacred space, remembering our babies up above.