So about a year and a half ago I discovered that I was pregnant.
I had the copper IUD and it had been “in place” for 17 months with no problems. I liked not worrying about birth control. I had 2 children and, although I knew I wanted more, I wanted to wait until the 2 I had were older. This is why I chose the IUD instead of a tubal ligation or the big V. The only drawback to the IUD was the heavy periods, but even then they had become less dramatic over time.
The day I found out I was pregnant had been a normal day. My period was a week late, I kept thinking it was starting because I’d spot a little bit and then it would stop. This had gone on for about 8 days, so that day I decided to pick up a pregnancy test on my way home from work. My theory was that my period needed a kick-start, so taking the pregnancy test would be mother nature’s way of getting me – ha ha sucker, you spent $12 on a pregnancy test so WHAM now here’s your period!
Unfortunately, that is not what happened. I told my husband what I was doing and he accompanied me to the bathroom, I assume to witness what he interpreted as insanity. We chatted as I peed on the stick, then tossed it onto the counter. I told him about my day, he told me about his, we both changed our clothes. When I returned a few minutes later to formally look at the test – my husband, having lost interest, had gone back to the kids in the living room – I immediately recognized the positive sign. I burst into tears while simultaneously wanting to vomit.
That night was the beginning of, well, what exactly? The short version is that it took another week and a half to see the pregnancy on ultrasound – and it had lodged in my left fallopian tube. It took another 2 weeks and 2 shots of methotrexate, some funky lab results and unsatisfactory levels of pregnancy hormone, before I found myself undergoing surgery on a Friday evening to have the tube removed.
The long version? Well, in the weeks leading up to the surgery I found myself crying randomly. I was unable to work. I hated the obstetricians I was working with. I had to go to the lab every other day and the hospital was in the middle of changing computer systems, so every trip for bloodwork turned into a 3-4 hour wait.
Although entirely unplanned, I wanted that pregnancy. Before we learned it was ectopic, I held my tiny 21 month-old in the dark one night and whispered to her to send “baby magic” to the one growing in my belly. I imagined researching birth options, panicked that I had given away all of my maternity clothes, and plotted my due date.
I recall swimming in a pool as a child, trying to reach diving sticks that were on the bottom. I could see the sticks moving in the water, I could nearly touch them, but my body would not allow me to get to them. Losing this pregnancy, this baby, was like watching what I wanted but couldn’t reach – and watching it float away.
It took months for me to process the experience. I still struggle with it. I recall how a friend casually dismissed what had happened by saying something like “no birth control is 100% effective,” as if my loss was nothing more than a statistic. I had never lost a pregnancy before, and wondered how other women had moved on.
So where does that leave me now? In the time since this all happened, I stopped working, became a foster parent, moved cross country, sent my oldest child to kindergarten, endured a large financial nightmare, and began a blog. And still, as far away as I feel from the night it all started, when my husband and I laughed as I peed on a stick, I can feel the loss weigh heavy across my heart. I hear it in my daughter’s laughter, see it in my son’s smile, feel it in the palm of my husband’s hand – someone else is supposed to be here with us.
We are incomplete.