It's part of life. That's what we tell ourselves. It happens to so many. I didn't even know, so I shouldn't feel so bad. It could have been so much worse...
These are all thoughts I've had over the last few hours since hearing from my doctor. I'll back up a little to the beginning and then try to express how I'm feeling. There will be tears. There will be sorrow and perhaps even a little anger. And most of all, this is for me. Writing soothes my troubled heart. It heals my broken soul. It's part of how I express myself to God and how I let Him into my life.
I'll start with Monday. It started as a perfectly normal day. My husband kissed me before he left for work and told me he loved me. My children woke up, they did their morning routine and I started school with my Kindergartener. We decided to have a cooking experiment for science: Pineapple Upside Down Cookies. They didn't turn out quite how expected, but were delicious anyway. Then at about 10:00 something changed. I started to feel pain in my abdomen, and thinking I just needed to use the bathroom, I left Gary with his phonics book and excused myself to the restroom. Relieving myself didn't make the pain go away. Instead, the pain escalated. I lay down on the floor in pain and being the stubborn woman I am, tried to convince myself to power through it. But a little voice said, "Jess, you can't power through this. Call Jonathan."
I called for Gary to bring me my cell phone, which he did. "Mommy are you okay?"
"I'm just not feeling well," I said with as much of a smile as I could manage. "Go do your next page, okay?"
I called Jonathan and left a message for him. He called back within a few minutes, but it felt like an eternity. I tried to get myself up, but nausea and dizziness forced me back down. When he arrived, he gave me a blessing and then called paramedics. I was taken to the nearer, but smaller and less equipped, hospital. One of the EMT's in the ambulance with me said, "Honey, I just want you to know what we're thinking. We think you might be having an ectopic pregnancy." My eyes glazed with tears and she added, "It could be your appendix, or your gall bladder. But I just thought you should know."
It was ridiculous to be thinking to myself that my appendix bursting or my gall bladder suddenly having issues out of nowhere sounded like much better options. I had heard some of my friends and acquaintances talk about losing a baby and each time an instinctive prayer was said: "Please, dear God, don't let it be me." Selfish perhaps. I've never believed myself strong enough to face that kind of heartbreak. I don't think my friends and acquaintances are all that much stronger than I am, which is perhaps why guilt always accompanied that prayer.
The hospital I was taken to was ill-equipped for my problems and within a few hours I was sent back home, still in agonizing pain. By midnight, the pain had built considerably and I felt a sharp pang from my abdomen through my right shoulder. I was horrified, but not nearly so as my husband who called 911 after I passed out on our couch and didn't respond to him. I was rushed to the farther hospital and after some tests and exams, it was determined I needed surgery. The ER doctor said the words I dreaded facing. Ectopic pregnancy. My OB came to talk to me about how surgery would proceed and did his best to reassure me.
Coming out of surgery is hard for me. I haven't had to often, but each time it's like being put back into my body and yet not at the same time. I caught bits of phrases. "Viable egg". "Internal bleed." Was it even possible? Dared I to hope? Yet, I clung to those words as I slipped back to sleep.
When I awoke, Jonathan was by my side. "How are you feeling?"
"Sore and tired," I rasped.
He filled me in on what the OB had told him after surgery. They couldn't find the baby, probably because I was at most two weeks along. But the OB was guessing that the baby implanting in the ovary was what had caused the internal bleeding which led to my severe pain.
"So, I could still be pregnant?"
"It's possible. But that could still mean the baby is in the tube, or maybe the baby did make it safely to the womb. We'll set up an appointment and do some tests before deciding how to proceed."
I clung to that hope. I needed it. When I came home, I did my best to smile and look positive for my children. They had been scared and worried, and it showed. We tried to do things as normally as possible. My wonderful mother-in-law came to help out and I spent several minutes calling my immediate family to let them know what was going on.
Wednesday night I was worried and desperate for answers. I prayed and felt peace. Not a definitive answer, but just peace. As my mother often says, "God is in His Heaven, and all is right with the world."
Thursday I went for the appointment and learned that I was supposed to go in early for the blood tests. Oops. I had the blood drawn and then went home, with instructions to call my doctor first thing in the morning.
This I did, still feeling at peace with whatever answer came. A sliver of hope remained that perhaps the bleed was an unrelated complication. But then I spoke with him and that hope was dashed. My hormone levels had dropped drastically. The bleed had indeed been caused by an ectopic pregnancy. I listened to his instructions numbly. Come back again in a week for another hormone test, just to be sure the levels go back to normal. Avoid becoming pregnant again for at least three months so the body can heal.
It hurt. It hurt so badly. Even though I kind of expected that answer. To be honest, I really expected it. I know that God is a God of miracles. But I also know that sometimes the miracle we need is not the same as the miracle we want.
It's easy to ask, what miracle could I possibly be receiving? When things are hard and we don't get the relief we want or expect, it can be easy to think God has forgotten us. But I can't think that now. These past couple of days, I would normally be in a frantic mess without the peace of God calming my heart. I didn't know on Wednesday what the answer would be. But I knew that God had heard me. I felt His love surround me in all its Light and Glory. I knew that whether this baby joined my family at this time or whether he returned to God, all would be well.
The pain is still there. I've cried today and I will doubtlessly cry again as I get in touch with more family members. I feel that sense of loss so sharply. To be told on Monday that I was pregnant to then be told Friday that the baby was lost would have been unbearable without the peace of God.
Perhaps that is the miracle I needed this time. I needed reminded that God is near. He is so near to us. He has heard me. He knows the aching of my heart. He knows the strength of my faith. He knew that I was stronger than I believed. He knew that as I leaned on Him, I could face this heartbreak with faith in His plan and peace that, "God is in His Heaven, and all is right with the world."
I've pondered today on why it is we consider miscarriage and loss of pregnancy to be a taboo subject and I wonder if that is more a personal reflection than a social one. If I hadn't already shared with many on Facebook that I had experienced internal bleeding and would hopefully have answers soon, I don't know that I would have shared this painful experience. It's not that I feel I can't or shouldn't. It's not that I don't need the uplifting messages and prayers I've already received because I certainly do. But pain and loss are often personal things. Even with my creative mind and seemingly limitless vocabulary, I can't adequately express how this feels. There just aren't words for it. And yet as I type this, I know there will be some who read it and connect with it because perhaps this has been their story as well. Perhaps as women we need to take the time to share these feelings, even though we feel there are not words to express them. It isn't because we are seeking pity. But because we need healing. We need someone to reach out and say, "Things will be all right." We need someone to say, "I know how that hurts. Let me grieve with you."
Perhaps that is the other miracle I'm being blessed with. We are not alone on this earth. And by expressing ourselves, maybe if only to get it off our chest, perhaps we give others a chance to reach out to us.
So through all of this, I am healing from my surgery. My heart will heal with time. I cannot thank God enough for the friends and acquaintances He has placed in my path at this time. Already I have had such an outpouring of love and support. I didn't get the miracle I wanted this time, but I'm beginning to see that I have received the miracles I needed.
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius