Getting pregnant should be easy, right?
Let’s face it, as women, we spend a lot of our lives trying to avoid getting pregnant. Some methods are conventional–some not so conventional…
When the time is right (a.k.a. you and your partner are FINALLY on the same page in regards to having a baby), we naturally assume the process will be easy. We’ll just put our skills to work and before we know it we’ll be looking at the double lines on our home pregnancy test. After all, everyone around you is getting pregnant effortlessly (or so it seems). Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not that easy for all of us.
How about we jump in the “WAY back time machine” and have a little story time. The year is 1999. The setting is Spring in IL. My husband has agreed that we can start trying for a baby. We’ve only been married for two years so this in itself is a huge accomplishment. Since he’s a pilot and pretty much on call 24/7 at this point in our story–it adds to the challenge of conceiving.
At first we are just trying as much as possible when he is home. I haven’t really dug into the science behind everything to know that your actual window to conceive is very small. A few months go by with no luck. I am getting frustrated, but it doesn’t seem to bother my husband that it’s not happening right away. I start to look into how it all works and purchase a basal thermometer. Now I am tracking EVERYTHING! Unfortunately, with my husband’s, job he’s not home every night (or even every day) to take advantage of optimum times to have sex. When he is home I am pushing to try as much as we can. This causes tension between us because things are no longer spontaneous and have become much more scheduled.
We go along like this for a few more months. My periods have always been irregular so at this point I have spent some coin on pregnancy tests. It’s now October (Sweetest Day to be exact) and I have yet to pee on the dreaded stick for the month. I remember it’s Saturday night and I am standing in my kitchen stirring the chili when I get the sharpest pain in my abdomen. I ignore it for a while willing it to stop–it doesn’t. I try laying down, but the pain doesn’t go away. At this point I can barely breath the pain is so horrible and I think maybe my appendix has burst. I call the nurse’s hotline for my insurance and explain my symptoms. She thinks it sounds like my appendix too. So, after much denial on my part, I tell my husband we need to go to the emergency room. Once there they ask all the usual questions: When was your last period? Could you be pregnant (maybe, but doubtful)? Blah, blah, blah. I am in so much pain at this point I can’t stand up straight or sit still. A pregnancy test is ordered and it’s confirmed that I am in fact pregnant. I am in complete shock. Next up is an ultrasound to see what is going on and determine where the pregnancy is. This seems stupid to me. Of course the pregnancy is in my uterus. Where else would it be?? The ultrasound shows nothing in my uterus. The ER Doc is concerned that the pregnancy is in one of my fallopian tubes (an ectopic pregnancy). He sends me home and instructs a follow-up with my doctor on Monday to check my hCG levels.
I have such conflicting emotions at this point. I AM pregnant. I want to be excited about that, but I am scared at the same time. My husband is worried about me. I decide to call my Mother and tell her what’s going on. Even though we are not close I had hoped to get some reassuring words. No such luck. Instead I heard how long they waited to try to get pregnant with me and maybe it just wasn’t meant to be right now. I am so scared and depressed I barely eat anything all weekend and head to my doctor first thing on Monday for another blood test. I had just sat down that afternoon with a PBJ when my doctor’s partner calls to deliver the bad news. He said my numbers weren’t doubling as they should and I needed to head to the hospital right away for a D & C before my tube burst. He also wanted to know if I had eaten anything. Since I had decided to eat that day that meant no anesthesia for me. I got to be completely awake for my D & C with a spinal instead. I wouldn’t wish this on even my worst enemy. Being completely aware and not able to move is horrible. After a short stay in the recovery room and a RhoGAM shot (I’m A-) I am sent home with a RX for Methotrexate to terminate my pregnancy and told that once I start taking it I can’t be left alone. As mentioned before, my husband is a pilot trying to build time to move on in his career. That meant he would not be home the next day to monitor me and my sister would have to fill in.
As anyone who has lost a pregnancy can tell you, there is a lot of soul searching that goes on as to the “why” of the outcome. For me I had an incredibly hard time dealing with it because I literally was terminating my own pregnancy. My husband didn’t understand why I was so upset, because to him, it really wasn’t a life/pregnancy since it wasn’t in my uterus. At the time I was very angry with his feelings, but I now understand that everyone has different ideas as to when a life really begins.
The loss of this pregnancy really drives home my desire to have a baby. I thought it was strong before, but now it is even more so. Once I am cleared to start trying again we do to no avail. Months go by with no results. After about 6 months of trying my doctor decides he wants to do a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to determine if there is any blockage in my fallopian tubes and look at the overall shape, etc. of my uterus.
NOTE: This test is due to my history of Endometriosis and PCOS. Shortly after I was married I had laparoscopic surgery to essentially cut out my Endometriosis. What I didn’t know at the time was that the procedure itself caused more scar tissue to grow inside your fallopian tubes. Normally I guess a woman would have the procedure and then immediately try to get pregnant to avoid the chance of an ectopic pregnancy. We had just gotten married and weren’t ready for that, so we waited a couple years to try.
The test itself is done at the hospital via an outpatient procedure. My doctor explains the “discomfort” level as being that of my worst period cramp. I stupidly take the word of a man (who has never had a period–duh) and forego any drugs and drive myself. Contrast dye is injected into the uterine cavity vaginally and if the fallopian tubes are open, the dye will fill the tubes and spill out into the abdominal cavity. If there is any narrowing of the tubes more dye can essentially be pushed through to force a bigger opening. Being that if I didn’t have bad luck I wouldn’t have any–I needed more dye pushed through. I am not sure who has period cramps like this, but if I were that person I would just want to be shot. After the test my doctor prescribes Clomid to try to get things going in the baby making department.
Clomid is prescribed one month a time. Each month I would go back to the doctor for a blood test to see if I was pregnant. If not, the next dose was given. On the third month of this (October 2000 the Monday before Sweetest Day) it is determined that I am in fact pregnant. Since my hCG levels are not super high and given my history, I have to return in two days to see what the level is then. Besides being nervous I feel great. I return for the blood work and it is determined that the numbers are just not doing what they should–so it’s time for another ultrasound. I remember as I am waiting to be seen by the tech that there are women before me complaining about being pregnant. All I am thinking about is please let this one be ok–it’s not. The office schedules a D & C for that Friday (it’s Wed now) and my husband gets the day off work. I wait at home depressed about what’s to come. That night my doctor calls and says I need to go to the hospital first thing Thursday morning for surgery. Based on my numbers and the ultrasound he has determined that my tube has burst and I am bleeding internally. If I waited till Friday I would be dead.
NOTE: As stated above, my husband is a pilot and is at a small charter company at this point in his career. He is scheduled to fly a trip on Thursday and there is no one else to cover it. So he takes me to the hospital on Thursday and sees me off to surgery, but is not there when I am out. Although I wish he was with me, I also understand that this is the way it has to be if he ever wants to further his career. This infuriates my Father (who’s not there either by-the-way) and causes additional family drama.
In surgery it is determined that one tube had burst, and there was a cyst on the other side the size of my uterus spanning that tube and ovary. The crazy thing is I had absolutely NO pain. I thought for sure after the first one (that didn’t burst) I would know what that pain was if it ever happened again. Apparently I had built up a very high pain tolerance and hadn’t even noticed. Every time you have an ectopic pregnancy you have a 50% chance of having another. I now had two of them and my doctor said I was not allowed to try to get pregnant on my own again. To say I was devastated is an understatement. After an overnight stay and another RhoGAM shot, I was on my way home with a referral to an infertility specialist.
My friends and family all sent flowers and tried to understand what I was going through. My husband understood my feelings more this time, and I was now depressed and obsessed with having a baby. Everyone around me was getting pregnant. Why not me? Mothers were killing their children all over the news. Why couldn’t I have a baby to love when others didn’t deserve them?? Was I not meant to be a Mother? The mandated “healing” time before I could be seen by the infertility specialist was grueling and couldn’t come fast enough.
I wanted to share my story for two reasons: First, for those of you going through something similar, I want you to know you are not alone. Secondly, for those who had an easy time getting pregnant, I want you to know that you are very lucky–I would have killed to be able to pee on a stick the first time and end up with a healthy baby later on. At any rate, the second installment to this story will be available soon for those who are interested…Stay tuned!