In the Beginning…Ectopic Pregnancy – New to Motherhood

sonogram

An baby is more than just fetal tissue.

Tonight I’m linking up with Charity at The Wounded Dove for #GoodEnoughMom for Tuesday (Yes, I know it’s Wednesday! 🙂 ). To start off her link up, Charity asked linkers (is that what we’re called?) to post the beginning of motherhood. This is my story…

The Unexpected Pregnancy – 1996

I looked up at the knock on my open classroom door to see my friend and fellow teacher standing there, relief evident on her face.

“I’m not pregnant!”

“I didn’t know you might be,” I said surprised.

She went on to tell me about how she thought she might have been. We were on very similar paths:  both married a relatively short time, both new teachers trying desperately to prove our worth and be hired permanently when our temporary assignments ended at the end of the school year.

“Could you imagine being pregnant now?” She laughed. “That would destroy any chance of getting a job!”

I didn’t laugh. I was doing mental calculations, and it was beginning to dawn on me that I was “late,” that I, who was pretty regular, suddenly – wasn’t.

I shook my head keeping my concern to myself but prayed on the way home,

“Don’t let me be pregnant. Don’t let me be pregnant. Don’t let me be pregnant.”

That afternoon a home pregnancy test confirmed my fears – I was in fact pregnant.

But I wasn’t sick yet so reality took a few days to set in. I wanted this job. I’d worked hard for this job. I needed this job! My husband had a dead end job he hated, and I had an excellent job – great benefits, good salary, terrific hours and summers off, retirement,and I LOVED the kids!

This job was what I’d always wanted, and I was about to lose it all.

But slowly, the idea of being pregnant grew on me just a bit. I wasn’t thrilled, but life started to change just a little each day, and I guessed having a baby would be okay.

My brother got his new wife pregnant before they were married, and they were excited about their baby who was due soon. If they could handle it, so could we! Besides, we were all close, and their child and mine would be about 7 or 8 months apart. The children would grow up as good friends.

It was going to be okay.

And then the bleeding started.

Not much, just a few dots.

And I called the doctor, “Nothing to worry about, perfectly normal to see a few drops of blood upon implantation.”

I’d been pregnant for about 7 weeks; surely the baby had implanted already.

Still not a lot of concern on the doctor’s behalf.

But within a day or two those drops increased, and I began feeling sick – really sick, dizzy, nauseous.

I called the doctor again and this time made an appointment and was brought in.

“You might be losing the baby. We’ll check hormone levels. If the levels drop you’re losing it. If not, there’s still a chance.” The words weren’t said unkindly but they were hard to hear at the same time.

It was a Monday, May 13, 1996. I got home to a ringing phone, “Guess what? We had the baby!”

It was my brother. His wife had their baby – on the day we found out we might be losing ours.

I just crawled into a ball and sobbed.

Everyone was going to the hospital and gushing over my brother’s baby, the first great grandchild, but there was a problem with the baby. That perfect little baby had a small hole in his lungs and needed special care. I was so sorry for their baby, but I couldn’t face more pain. Their baby would be fine. My baby might be dying inside of me, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

“You have to go down and see the new Baby,” my mother demanded, “You need to support your brother.”

“I can’t mom, not yet, please.” I loved my brother and didn’t want to run his joy, but I couldn’t face a nursery full of newborns and happy families either.

My mom would not take no for an answer.

I didn’t have the strength to stand up for myself.

How often has that weakness been a running theme in my life?

I won’t try to explain what it was like to walk into that hospital and try to pretend, to see that precious baby, to hear all the happy people praising the miracle of life. I cried silently, internally hating my mother for making me go at this time, not understanding God’s plans or why they got pregnant before they got married and kept their baby when we were losing ours.

It wasn’t fair!

The next appointment showed no significant change in hormone levels, and my hopes increased.

Having this baby now meant the world to me, and the job I’d hoped to have next year was a distant memory.

But the bleeding continued.

And increased.

And so did the dizziness and nausea.

“Morning sickness,” many commented knowingly.

I didn’t think so and made another appointment.

This time I sat in the waiting room with smiling women, gently rubbing their bellies and smiling secret smiles while waiting for the doctor to confirm my worst fears.

“You’re losing your baby,” there it was.

It was out there and I cried tears I couldn’t keep in,

Tears I’d been crying knowing the inevitable every day for the past few days.

“It should all be over in a day or two,” he said.

I’d already been bleeding a week,

And the blood kept coming.

A week later, I made another appointment. The doctor bumped a woman in front of me and I sat alone in the waiting room with those women – those lucky moms – for over an hour before I got up to leave. The receptionist stopped me.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

My voice broke as my control slipped, “Home.” I told her, explaining why I was there.

The look on her face showed horror and understanding and sympathy all at once. She immediately ushered me into a back room where I could wait alone until I could be seen.

Hormone levels weren’t acting as they should for either losing or growing a baby, but a regular and internal sonograms showed nothing either.

Where was the heartbeat I longed to hear?

Finally, a doctor came in. He callously spread my legs and began his exam.

“Are you experiencing discomfort or pain?” he questioned without looking up.

“Pain,” I squeaked the word out.

“Are you in pain or discomfort?” he asked again still without looking up.

“Pain,” I answered louder this time wondering if it was possible he hadn’t heard me.

This time he did look up, “I am going to ask you again,” He said each word slowly as if I was stupid, “Are. You. In. Pain. Or. Just. Discomfort?”

There was no kindness in his tone, and I was scared and confused by his attitude. What had happened here? What had I done wrong?

“I’m not going to die if that’s what you mean, but it hurts.” I said in a small voice.

He stood up, took off his gloves, and wiped his hands on his pants.

I’ll never forget that moment.

“If you’re not going to die, then it’s just a miscarriage. We will meet again under better circumstances another time.”

He scribbled something on my chart, and I never saw him again.

 

I was pregnant but had been bleeding for almost three weeks.

I looked up how big my baby was and what developments had taken place. Every day miracles were occurring inside of me.

I hoped and I prayed, “Let me be pregnant. Let me be pregnant. Let me be pregnant.”

And soon the dizziness got so bad I was afraid to drive, but I still had to teach. I bit down on the pain that intensified each day. I arrived later each morning and left soon after the school day was over. I fought back against the stabbing pain. I sat at my desk so I didn’t have to stand.

I didn’t want to take a day off from work. If I lost the baby, I’d really need that job.

To top it all off, at that same time, we bought a house, a house that started falling apart from under us. We paid my husband’s friend in cash to fix the roof, but the roof leaked worse and the friend disappeared. Plaster walls began melting. The floor in one room gave out. Mice ruled our previously abandoned home. The water had e-coli.

And I was afraid to decorate a baby room for a baby that might not make it.

And the pain continued.

And finally, I called the doctor again.

I was now 11 weeks pregnant.

My baby had a heart that had been beating for at least 8 weeks. It had a spine. It had every organ it would need to survive. It had fingerprints and facial features and was ready to smile and suck its thumb!

My Pregnancy was a Baby.

When the receptionist heard who I was, she didn’t mask her surprise, “You’re still bleeding?”

There was silence on her end of the phone for a minute and then a doctor came on the phone. “Can you get here right away?”

I wasn’t feeling well enough to drive, but I said I could.

It was at that appointment that they found the baby.

I Had An Ectopic Pregnancy

It had implanted itself in my fallopian tube. My husband had finally made it to this appointment and I was grateful for the support and comfort he provided. I was saddened that I had let him down too as the doctor tried to explain.

“So the only skinny part of my entire body is my fallopian tube?” I tried to quip.

It was a poor joke and even poorer timing. I wasn’t thinking clearly.

I tried to ask about every possibility. Could the baby be taken and transplanted in my uterus? Could it be carried by someone else? Could I hold onto it just long enough for it to survive and then have a C-section?

No. No. No.

The answer was always the same. No.

How, with all the medical technology that was available, could they stand here and do nothing for my child?

The only thing to do was to take the baby – the fetal tissue as it was called.

Fetal tissue.

My Baby.

I was sicker than I’d ever been as they doped me up for surgery.

I was going to kill my baby.

I was trading my life for his – or hers.

Good bye Baby. Sorry for the pain I am about to inflict on you. I’m sorry you got stuck in my stupid body. I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough. I’m sorry God chose me to be your mommy. I’m sorry…

How do you say sorry for killing your baby? 

But there was little choice. It wasn’t my life for the baby’s. It was my life for both of our lives. Without the surgery, the baby would not have made it, and I wouldn’t have either.

Two lives lost or one life saved. That’s how my pro-life view has justified what I did. I wished my life was more worthy.

And then it was over.

But it wasn’t.

I had missed so many days, the principal assumed I’d try to get pregnant again and I lost my job anyway. Our house ran into one problem after another and became a money pit, and we ended up selling it at a huge loss, damaging our credit, and moving into a small apartment.

And, although the pain rarely hurts the way it did then, today, when my boys go with their father for his weekends, and I sit in church and pray, I still think of that Baby, and I am always thankful for having “too many” kids rather than not enough kids.

And at the handshake of peace, I kiss each of my five fingers for each of my five boys who is not with me and then kiss the middle of my palm for the baby I never got to hold and flick all six of those kisses to the altar handing each of my six children over to the God who Loves and cares for them more than I ever could.

And, my Baby, I wait until the day I meet you in Heaven. I thank God for you and for the many ways you helped prepare me for Motherhood and I will always Love you 100%.

God Bless…

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5 Comments

  1. […] confirmed the bleeding that had begun May 10th, which meant I was losing our first child to an ectopic pregnancy. I don’t believe in coincidence any more than Pope John Paul II, but this date wasn’t […]



  2. […] 10th, just before Mother’s Day 1996, is the day I began the bleeding that told me I was losing our first child to an ectopic pregnancy. The pregnancy went undiscovered for weeks and eventually threatened my life […]



  3. […] Sorrow by Ingrid Kohn & Perry-Lynn Moffit – As you may know, my first pregnancy turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy, and the loss was devastating. This book is one of those I […]



  4. Charity Craig on July 8, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Sorry for taking so long to read your post, it’s a beautiful story. I still don’t understand why something so wonderful begins with heart-break, but I just love love love how you still remember your baby and how you still send kisses to her. Thank you for sharing your wounded heart.



    • Strahlen on July 9, 2014 at 5:50 am

      I don’t understand either, and it still makes me saw to think about that time and what might have been, but I also know that without it, I may not have realized how fragile life can be. I think, instead of selfishly wanting that job so badly, it made me appreciate my time with my children even more when I did have them. I treasure every minute with them now, knowing nothing is guaranteed.

      Please don’t ever apologize for taking a while to respond. You have a lot going on, and, trust me, of ALL the people who knows about a lot going on and needing time to respond, I do! You’re doing beautiful work Charity. Keep it up. I am praying for peace to come to you and your loved ones.



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