When I think about the possibility of terrible things happening to me, I often think about the statistics and how likely any given scenario is to happen. I don’t know how healthy that is or even kind, but it’s the truth. I am a worrier about anything that can be worried over, so the thought of miscarriage and pregnancy loss crossed my mind, but I could think of other people who it happened to. As I’ve joined Facebook mom’s groups and gotten to know other moms, I could think of quite a few other women who experienced this type of loss. I knew 1 in 4 women went through it, and I had this reassuring thought that I was safe. I must be one of the lucky 3 of 4.
I wasn’t. You can read the first part of my story here.
I was among the 1 in 100. Those that experience ectopic pregnancy. The experience ended a life before it began, almost cost my life, and shook my sense of safety and security in my flawed statistical analysis.
A few weeks before I found out I was pregnant, my family joined a Christian healthcare sharing ministry. My husband was self-employed, I had recently quit my job (and lost our really great health insurance), and joining a healthcare alternative like this seemed like (and ultimately was) the best option for us. Before I go further, I want to say that I LOVE being a part of this ministry. I love praying for those we send our shares to, I love receiving notes and prayers of support from others while we recover from medical treatments, and (I’ll be honest) I love the amount of money we have saved.
After my emergency surgery, I knew the bills would start rolling in, so I called to see what steps I would need to take to get my new medical need shared. The man on the other end of the line was amazing. Before we talked about logistics, he stopped and prayed with me, asked how my family was doing, and provided comfort and support in a real and meaningful way. Since we had recently joined, we needed to figure out some dates and make sure the pregnancy began within the window of sharing (which was easy enough). And then, he mentioned a policy that shook me to the core. This was the most painful part of my entire experience.
In many cases, this ministry (and most like it) do not share expenses for the treatment of an ectopic pregnancy. They consider this type of treatment a termination of pregnancy and, therefore, an abortion. The word shattered my heart. I hadn’t even known it was an ectopic when I went into surgery. We wanted this baby. We were heartbroken over the loss. I could barely breathe under the weight of it all.
The thought that I had chosen to end my pregnancy was more than I could handle. I retreated to my bed – looking up story after story of ectopic pregnancies and their treatments and whether or not a pregnancy could possibly continue to develop after implanting in the fallopian tube. After I spent several sleepless nights sobbing, my husband banned me from getting online anymore.
My midwife, a Christian woman with so much compassion, was incredibly supportive during this time. I had to go in every few days to monitor hormone levels and make sure they returned to zero, and she cried with me, held me, and advocated for me every step of the way. She wrote a beautiful letter of support that assured my healthcare ministry that the pregnancy was no longer viable. There was not a heartbeat on any ultrasound, the pregnancy had stopped developing, and I was in danger of losing my fertility and my life. In the end, all my expenses were shared, and the prayers, love and support I received from other members during that time were invaluable.
I had to wait several months for my body to heal before we could try to (or even accidentally) get pregnant. The surgery revealed that I had endometriosis, and that’s what blocked my fallopian tube in the first place. The surgeon cleared it all out, but endometriosis grows with every menstrual period. The combination of possible scar tissue and endometriosis increases my chances of experiencing another ectopic pregnancy, especially if I have many periods before conception. It took lots of prayer and thought to decide to try for another baby.
When I saw those two pink lines again, I thought I would be elated. Instead, I was terrified. There were no cute pregnancy announcements to my husband this time; he found the positive test on the counter by the sink on his own. I was watching for a positive, so I tested pretty early (about 4 days before I expected my period). I thought my midwife clinic would want to monitor right away, so I called. They wouldn’t see me, and told me to call back after my period was supposed to begin. I waited, and then I called again. They saw me at five weeks and drew labs but refused to do an ultrasound. They didn’t offer to monitor hormone levels to make sure they were increasing. And, I left for a week-long, fifth-year anniversary trip to San Diego anyway. When I returned at almost seven weeks, after practically begging in tears to get an ultrasound to confirm correct implantation, they finally showed me our sweet baby boy and we heard his heartbeat. I decided to find a new provider. The weeks I knew I was pregnant, but didn’t know if it was viable or safe were torture. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional roller coaster.
In some ways pregnancy after loss is like living in contradiction. I am so excited to welcome our second child into our family. Baby brother is so loved and celebrated. But, I know a small part of me will always grieve our loss.