Written on Thursday 23/03/2011
This is a very personal post, but I believe that sharing an experience like this can help others who may be faced with something similar down the track. It’s a little like therapy for me as well.
Yesterday after work, my husband and I excitedly went for our 7 week pregnancy scan. I had spent the last 3 1/2 weeks feeling exhausted, queasy in the arvos and sore in the chest area – the usual pregnancy signs were really strong already.
The scan was devastating.
But first let me backtrack to give you some history.
Last year we had two unexpected miscarriages. It was a really difficult time, but I learned heaps. My marriage, which was already super strong went to another level I didn’t realise existed – we stuck together like glue and it deepened beyond what I ever thought a marriage could be like. From two traumatic experiences to blessing, God is amazing! We both learned to enjoy every second of our time together and appreciate all the things we have and can do at this stage in our life – instead of focusing on what we didn’t have yet.
After these suspicious losses we had some blood tests and it was discovered that my husband had inherited a genetic disorder called Reciprocal Translocation, which means two out of his 23 chromosomes that combine with my 23 chromosomes for the baby’s 46 chromosomes swap data and the baby can no longer develop. We have an adjusted ‘percentage’ of having a baby or losing it in comparison with a couple who have normal genetics…as the doctors and Genetic Counselors told us, “it’s basically ‘luck’ whether is works or not.” My husband and I can do nothing. It is obviously not something we can fix by eating more bananas, or going on a holiday or wearing loose underwear (as some people have suggested ). You can’t change your genetic makeup.
We looked into the option of IVF which would cost us $12,500 with the extra testing of the embryos (to see which ones wouldn’t have the genetic disorder and would result in a successful pregnancy). We can end up with a few okay embryos or no okay embryos. The process of testing can also destroy perfectly good embryos as the tests are invasive. Bye, bye $12,500.
We decided to bite the bullet and keep trying until we ended up with a healthy baby. We figured we could emotionally handle more miscarriages armed with the statistics and knowledge we now had. It hopefully would be easier to deal with instead of the usual stress and hormones of IVF plus having a high chance of the embryos having the disorder and it not working out at all.
We never expected yesterdays disaster.
So, back to the scan. The sonographer was giving me the ultrasound and was very quiet. There was nothing on the screen. He asked me what my plans were for the afternoon? Which I thought was a little strange so we asked why, and he replies that he is not sure yet. I start to cry knowing something is terribly wrong, again, and I should be seeing a little baby with a heart beat on there and it’s blank. He shows us what size the baby should be on the screen and my womb is definitely empty. I’ve already had 2 blood tests that showed the pregnancy was coming along perfectly and a good sign that miscarriage at that stage was unlikely. He keeps looking around and after some more of the silent treatment he asks me again what I am doing tonight. “Nothing. Am I going to miscarry tonight?” He replies by telling me, “No. Worse.” Okay…..WHAT is going on? There is no baby on the screen. There is however a sac in my left fallopian tube. He thinks I have an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic has nothing to do with the genetic disorder, just more ‘bad luck’. Side-swiped, shocked, unexpected, but deep down I’m thinking ‘typical’. So disappointed something else has gone wrong and that another pregnancy is about to come to an abrupt end for the third time in 12 months.
We go straight to my doctor who organises for me to go to the emergency ward at Nambour Hospital.
The first thing we do is wait, as you do. Then I get an IV cannula on the back of my hand and some blood taken out. I don’t even register that he is doing this. I can hear two nurses outside my curtain discussing our miscarriages and the ectopic. The blood tests show my hormone levels are where they should be for a normal pregnancy. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hear that.
I was told what would be most likely happening to me – I’d get taken to the operating room either that night or the next morning to have my fallopian tube taken out. Awesome. The surgeon reassures me that it will not affect my fertility as the other tube will just step in for the removed one. Awesome.
Thank goodness I have my mum (a theater nurse at another hospital) and my husband (a complete legend) there with me. We also had a friend who works in ICU come down and visit me twice just to check up on me. It was so uplifting talking to someone and being told it’ll be alright even though it all sucks right now.
We are now waiting in emergency for a place in the operating room so the surgeon can do his thing. Screaming kids, old men with broken legs, teenagers with fractures…all night going on around me. Mum asks if there is a ward I can go to so I might be able to get some peaceful sleep. Unfortunately there is no way that can happen as I need to be monitored closely incase my tube erupts suddenly, which is very dangerous and could cause hemorrhaging. I manage to convince mum and Kirk to go home and get some sleep as it is now 11.30pm and it’s not looking like anything will happen that night. I said I’ll call them immediately if I get prepped for the op. The nurse tells me there have been too many caesareans coming in and babies just can’t wait. She immediately puts her hand over her mouth and apologises. I don’t get it until she explains what she describes as an ‘insensitive comment’ by her. It really doesn’t bother me and I try to reassure her – other people’s babies and pregnancies are not my own, they are separate to me, so why compare and get down about it. I just want to go to sleep. My own pregnancy hormones have left me longing for sleep all day. It has been one topsy-turvy, crazy 7 1/2 hours.
After more blood pressure tests every hour or so, the nurse comes in at 2.30am to tell me they can transfer me to a ward to have some sleep as I am not getting any worse. I think she felt sorry for me with all the commotions going on both sides of my bed behind flimsy curtains. I learned a lot about my neighbour’s year-long bowel troubles.
After being wheeled around the hospital in my bed, finally I have darkness in the new room and the slurring/snoring/groaning/slurping noises of my new old man neighbour. At least it is consistent and I’m drained…..sleep.
Early the next morning I am told to have an antiseptic shower and get into my purple operation dress and pressure stockings. Mum and Kirk arrive early after mum has spent the last 45 minutes stuck in an elevator with 2 other nurses. Both of them look like they have had no sleep and have brought some supplies – toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
After many similar questions over and over by different people, I am finally told it is action time by about 9am and I am wheeled into the operation theater. I was so, so frightened. 29 years old and I have never slept in a hospital or been operated on. So many unfamiliar experiences. At this point I wish I had never seen an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or RPA! Saying goodbye to hubby and mum and meeting a bunch of strangers (who were incredibly friendly) and being transferred onto the operating table with big lights and cold air is daunting. I get some ‘knock-her-out’ stuff put into my IV thing and a few sucks on the oxygen mask and I’m waking up with it all over….in so.much.pain. I tell the nurse that I think I’m going to be sick and the nurse hands me a bucket…I think, and quickly gives me something through the IV which I can actually feel flow through my whole body. I start to feel much better. My eyelids may as well have been elephants and when I could finally open them, I can’t focus on anything for 10 minutes or so.
I find out they had to make three incisions in my tummy/uterus zone to check everything out and then to take out my blocked tube. They had to pump my tummy with CO2 so it would expand and separate my organs so they could see everything properly. I’m told this will cause neck, shoulders and rib cage pain later as the air plays with my nerves, and boy did it ever! I’m still feeling it and have to sit and sleep in an upright position until the CO2 is absorbed. Getting in breaths is a trial and painful.
They give me morphine and wheel me back to my room (after more drowsy questions). I sleep and sleep and after a few hours I finally drink and eat for the first time in 24 hours. So good!
But before I consume anything, I get up to do the required bladder test and become wobbly and nauseous and faint. I put it down to lack of food, but the sweet nurse disagrees and thinks it’s from the operation and I need to rest. More sleep, more pain relief. My IV drip becomes my best friend as I lean on it and make my way back to bed.
Finally, late in the afternoon I get to go home! I say I’m feeling tops and they decide that’s good enough. They take out the cannula in my hand and I manage to drip blood all over me and the bed. At least I have healthy blood the nurse tells me. I sign off and get wheeled out of the hospital in a wheelchair.
My mum drives me home and my husband goes to buy some supplies, the hero that he is. I make my way from the car to our kitchen and BAM, discovered that my gorgeous friend who has been there through each and every loss, had broken in and left us this (see in photo), along with gourmet ice-cream, strawbs, choc puddings, cream, pasta and a beautiful salad, plus a 1 hour massage, magazine, gluten free delights and more! The three helium balloons represent our three babies that we can release up to heaven.
My other beautiful friend dropped over a delicious mushroom risotto…and she wasn’t feeling 100% herself and made US dinner! I was floored by her generosity and so touched by this.
I got home and my sister in law had posted us a letter (she didn’t know we were even pregnant as we were waiting for our 7 week scan) and enclosed in her letter was an article she had tore out of a magazine about pregnancy loss, to encourage me from our previous miscarriages. It was the most timely, perfect thing and I couldn’t believe that I had just returned home from another loss and God had lined that up already.
Tonight I’m finding home beautifully quiet. Mum and my husband are fussing over me, even though they are completely sleep deprived. I’m propped up in bed, achy and nauseous but reflecting on how awesome my life is! A marriage that captivates me, solid loving family, supportive friends who make life so incredibly beautiful (thank you for all the texts, meals upon meals, messages, and chocolates), a job that I love, in a region that I’m so thankful to live in, our own home, my relationship with God which is life-sustaining….there is so much to be grateful for.
Hiccups along the way is character building and I hope I make good use of the situations we have found ourselves in. I don’t want to waste the opportunity to grow.