Thursday, 12 May 2016

And then this happened...

There I was, minding my own business, having accepted my infertility and moving on with my life, and this happened:

That was three weeks ago today. After one day of complete shock, and two days of joy, everything spiralled out of control. Because of my history and because I had been bleeding, blood tests and a scan were ordered. It was a holiday long weekend though, so I had to wait. It was the happiest I had been in a long time. I had two professional failures back to back just two weeks previous and I was in a funk. Infertility is such a deep personal failure, and I coped by throwing myself back into work, so failure there too really hits hard. The two little pink lines rescued me. 

I went to my scan with so much excitement. I'd even had visions of twins, given my age, so when the scan found nothing - really nothing - I felt crazy and embarrassed. No signs of pregnancy, those were the sonographer's words. In fact, to my untrained but IVF-savvy eye, it looked like my body was gearing up for ovulation as the calendar would have suggested. As I walked home, I thought the test was wrong. Of course the test was wrong, I have no functional tubes, how silly of me to think I could actually be pregnant. I'd had the blood draw in the morning, but my doctor wouldn't have the results for a few days.

That night, I woke up in pain. It started as just a burning sensation across my pelvis, but then it felt like my uterus was being wrung like a sponge. And I was bleeding again. Off I went to the hospital. Luckily it was quiet and when you say the word ectopic you are treated as seriously as a heart attack. Five hours later they let me go home. My hcg was lower than it should be and they were putting their money on a miscarriage, but because ectopic hadn't been ruled out, I was referred to the Early Pregnancy Assessment clinic for follow-up. It also became clear that potential ectopics aren't allowed to stray far from the hospital and if I didn't live so close to the hospital they would have kept me there for observation.

I returned for my follow up blood draw and appointment two days later. The results weren't good. I had not had a miscarriage (my number crunching over the previous two days suggested that my heavy bleeding two weeks earlier could not have been a miscarriage anyway, given the timing, my numbers never would have gotten high enough). Rather than doubling on schedule, I only had a 20% rise in hcg. All signs were pointing to ectopic. Next draw showed a 40% increase. So did the fourth, but before I could attend my appointment, I nearly blacked out at work and was rushed back to hospital. This time they kept me. I should have been seven weeks, but still no pregnancy could be located on scans. My hcg started to falter, dropping during the day and only showing a 10% rise over 48 hours. The decision was made to treat medically with a shot of methotrexate. I was sent home, but remained on high alert. Until my levels reach zero, the risk of rupture remains.

Barely 24 hours home, I started having pain. I thought it was just gas and I laid down. But it didn't improve. Four hours later it became intense and off I went for the third time to hospital. Again, I was admitted and stayed three nights. The first 24 hours I was fully prepped for surgery even more than I had been on my previous admission. I didn't eat for 36 hours. I had id tags on my wrist and ankle. I signed consent forms for surgery, my jewelry was removed or taped, and surgical stockings were brought to my bed. But no signs of rupture were found, so they let me eat, and monitored, and eventually everything settled down and they sent me home again.

It's still not over. I still have monitoring. Technically I'm miscarrying, but it's hard to grieve when your life is at risk. If it was just a miscarriage, I could just bleed at home, in my own bed, and distract myself with Netflix. Instead, I have to wonder if every cramp is normal or life-threatening. I had a few tears in the hospital. I also had a lot of panic and self-doubt. It's replaced the hope and joy. 

It's very surreal to dust off this old womb. I really thought that chapter of my life was over. But it's not. The hope is replaced with fear now, fear of another ectopic. I can't try again without that hanging over me. Trying to conceive consumed me completely for years. I had finally moved on. Now I'm dragged back and I don't know why my life has to be such torture. Nothing good came out of any of it. 

I wish I could end this on a more positive note.