Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Experience: An Ectopic Pregnancy

For as long as I can remember I've known I would have children. I always knew I would be a mom and I have always wanted a house full of little ones, thankfully my husband feels the same way about having more children. Last November we made the decision to start trying for another baby. We had been waiting for the perfect time to expand our family, but really... is there ever a perfect time? Things come up and life happens so we just decided that we were ready. Even if the timing wasn't what some would deem "perfect", it was perfect for us. Trying for a baby was a whole new thing for us. Amelia was such a surprise that actually planning for another baby filled me with an array of emotions that I didn't experience until we found out we were pregnant with Amelia. Excitement, stress, worry, excitement and more excitement... I felt it all. 

After Amelia was born we knew we didn't want another baby for a while so I had the Mirena IUD placed. After having issues with it (rapid weight gain in a very short amount of time), I had it replaced with the ParaGard IUD (a hormone free copper wire iud). When it was removed last November the doctor told me that there was a chance we could get pregnant right away. We were hopeful, but with each passing month became slightly discouraged. Now, let me tell you that we aren't the type to take temperatures and chart stuff. As the months went on, my cycle started becoming more and more irregular. One month 3 days late, the following month 10 days and the next 3 weeks late. Finally, after countless negative at home pregnancy tests, I went into the doctor. She said stress was the likely cause of my issues. It's heartbreaking to want something so badly and get your hopes up, only to have them crushed. Life though, was stressful for us at that time. We continued to try, but not really think about trying. Still nothing.

At the end of June we moved and things calmed down a little bit for us. I finally had my first regular cycle June - July and things seemed a lot less stressful for us. Late July/ early August rolled around and I was anxious to see if my cycle continued to be regular, but again I was late. At this point I was done trying for a while. I couldn't take the continual let down. A few days went by and I realized I wasn't feeling myself. I was exhausted, sore and nauseous. I decided to take a test, even though I assumed it was negative. I couldn't believe how quickly both lines appeared. My heart started racing and I called Mark into the bedroom to share the news. We were pregnant. Only a few people knew we were trying. I called my mom immediately and let her know and text my best friend. I calculated that we were 6 weeks. The next day I got my sisters together and told them in person. I knew my little sister would find out right away since I was really nauseous and we live together, but I didn't want them to find out separately. We were excited. 

Two days went by and I started spotting. I called the doctor and she reassured me that light spotting can happen. I went about my business; running all over with Amelia, photographing a wedding, trying to enjoy the last little bit of summer. When the spotting didn't stop, she set up a time for me to come in for a blood test. My HCG levels were definitely elevated, but I continued to have spotting and cramping. The doctor decided that she wanted me to have blood draws every 48 hours. My levels continued to double. The cramping continued and was to the point of excruciating. The bleeding was constant. I gained 25 pounds in a month (and not at all from eating poorly). In my heart I knew this was a miscarriage. Finally the doctor called me in for an ultrasound and a blood draw. I watched as she tried to locate the embryo. The walls of my uterus had thickened as they should for a pregnancy, but nothing was found. She checked to see if it was a tubal pregnancy, but she didn't see anything. She concluded that it was an ectopic pregnancy: unknown location. At this point my HCG levels had stopped rising (confirmation of miscarriage). I knew this was dangerous. 

An ectopic pregnancy, or eccysis, is a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo implants outside the uterine cavity. With rare exceptions, ectopic pregnancies are not viable. Furthermore, they are dangerous for mothers, since internal hemorrhage is a life-threatening complication. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the Fallopian tube (so-called tubal pregnancies), but implantation can also occur in the cervix, ovaries and abdomen. An ectopic pregnancy is a potential medical emergency, and, if not treated properly, can lead to death - Wikipedia

Even though I was clearly going through a miscarriage on my own, the risk factors involved with an ectopic pregnancy are high and they wanted to act fast, especially since it was an "unknown location". The doctor talked with me about the seriousness of the situation and we decided that medication was necessary to ensure everything left my body. At this point I had been dealing with the pain and bleeding for weeks, more than triple the time of an average miscarriage. I was exhausted; only moving from my bed to use the restroom. I tried my best to stay strong in front of Amelia, but broke down every time I was alone. A combination of the pain and bleeding along with the letdown just wore me out. I was angry. Angry that her last few weeks at home before starting school were spent lounging with me. 

Methotrexate, abbreviated MTX and formerly known as amethopterin, is an antimetabolite and antifolate drug. It is used in treatment of cancer, autoimmune diseases, ectopic pregnancy, and for the induction of medical abortions. It acts by inhibiting the metabolism of folic acid. - Wikipedia

I set up an appointment to receive a double injection of Methotrexate. The doctor explained to me that the person administering the shots would come in fully suited up head-to-toe, meaning this medication was some really nasty stuff. I got a shot in each hip, another blood draw (making at least 14 in 3 weeks at this point) and was explained the side effects. The following day it set in. To say I was nauseous would be an understatement. I could taste the medication, my head wouldn't stop spinning, I was vomiting and felt incredibly weak. Mark called the doctor and picked up a prescription for me. Finally the side effects subsided and I was just left to deal with the pain and bleeding for another week. They continued to monitor my HCG levels weekly until my number finally fell to 0... and then it was all over. 9 months of trying for a baby and this was the outcome. The doctor called and went over what needed to happen before we start trying again. They stressed that when I get pregnant again I need to call them right away. Ectopic pregnancies of this sort are not very common, but once you've had one you are at an increased risk of having another. They said they will need to start monitoring HCG levels immediately and will be doing early ultrasounds. I'm not sure when we will try again. This was a taxing experience on my family and I, and I think we need to gain back our normal. 

Today I still feel worn out. I haven't yet caught up or gotten back to feeling good. I'm sluggish and would sleep all the time if I wasn't so busy. I continue to lean on my husband, mom, sisters and best friend for support, along with my faith. I was unsure about sharing this with you all since it isn't something I've talked about with many, but maybe this post will help someone going through a similar situation? 

3 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry to hear this Ashley; comfort for you having your family near you and prayers for you and Mark. Love you! Y

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  2. How scary and sad! Thoughts & prayers for you all!

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  3. I'm so sorry! I can't imagine how hard the last few months have been. I'll be praying for you and your family as you heal and mend your hearts after this whole experience.

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