Abortions and Ectopics. A story.
How being in tuned with my body saved my life
I'm 31. I'm also a mother. I generally work out everyday and eat a fairly healthy diet for the most part. I also have a bad habit of being a light smoker when I get stressed out but I was working on quitting. As I write this, I haven't had a cig in almost 2 weeks. I seem to always be on a quest to improve myself in one way or another.
I was late on my period which never happens as I'm pretty regular and I didn't understand why I was late because I was on birth control. Naturally, I freaked the hell out. I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. Instantly, I got sick to my stomach. God dammit, not again, I thought. I can't go thru another pregnancy again. Pregnancy is very hard on me physically and mentally. I knew I wasn't in a good mental health space or even physically okay to withstand another 9 months of pure hell to me. So I got a medical abortion at 5 weeks.
As I walked in the clinic, I kept having this feeling inside me that something was wrong. " It might be ectopic," I kept thinking. When you get an abortion, they do an ultrasound to make sure that's not what is happening. The ultrasound tech had a hard time finding the pregnancy at first and had to do what's called a transvaginal ultrasound instead of a regular one . It took her forever. I was so early there was almost nothing there. I peaked at the screen and I could barely make it out myself. So I took the pill and went home. I had to get my blood drawn in a few weeks to find out if my hcg had gone down like it was supposed to. This meant the abortion pill worked. A few weeks passed and things started getting weird and wrong . I had had extreme pain that almost made me black out a week before I had my blood draw. I almost went to the ER and truthfully I probably should have then but the pain passed and I thought maybe I was still healing from everything, I am getting older now after all . I started spotting and again dismissed it. I went to get my blood drawn and I had a slight dull ache on my left side, nothing major at all , I thought it was just me healing. I thought there's no way I could have an ectopic, they did an ultrasound on me and saw nothing. I'm just being paranoid.
Oh, how wrong I was . I got my results back 2 long days later and found out my hcg had not gone down at all and in fact, had risen 300 points. I had to take my anxiety medicine as I was so distraught when I heard the news. I started shaking. I knew immediately that something wasn't right at all . I didn't retain any tissue so I knew it wasn't that. The pain was only on my left side and was coming and going and was very dull. I knew it was an ectopic. I went to the ER. They were hesitant to even believe me at first .
It was almost like they couldn't fathom a suburban mom knowing her body or something.
I demanded an ultrasound and blood work and they confirmed I did in fact have an ectopic. Right on the very end of my tube next to my ovary . I had what's called a heterotrophic pregnancy. 1 in the uterus 1 in the tube. The doctor was shocked. He told me I would need to get a shot of methotrexate. It's actually a chemotherapy drug but it works exceptionally well for ectopic pregnancies. I much prefer that to actual surgery. If I hadn't gotten the abortion earlier, I would have had to have one anyways the doctor told me, as there would have been no way to save it.
"I'm glad you came in," he said. " Call it divine intervention... maybe you just knew."
It was overwhelming. Just a few days prior to my visit at the ER, I had been doing tarot readings and the "death" card kept popping up in my readings. It was unusual, but I brushed it off, because the death card in tarot doesn't typically mean actual death. This time, I think it did. It was almost like I was being warned that I was gonna die if I didn't do something. Someone was watching over me . To think if I had waited any longer, that I could be dead; was a sobering and overwhelming thought. I have never been so grateful for my spirit guides, guardian angels or what have you, looking out for me.
The methotrexate route is a long one. You have to keep getting your hcg levels checked twice a week until they hit zero which for some can take up to a month or longer. I read one account where a woman's levels weren't back down to zero until 5 months later. Quite often, women have to eat a low folic acid diet when being treated with methotrexate as well. You're basically limited to eat nothing but meat and potatoes. For some women, they need more than one shot of methotrexate as well. The overwhelming majority do not however.
I found support in a few online groups of women who have been thru it or are going thru it. In fact, I learned way more in those groups than I did thru my own doctors. I feel like ectopic pregnancies are much more common than what they lead us all to believe. Nobody in my family has had one, I've never had one until now.
It's so terrifying because an ectopic can kill you. It can rupture and you can bleed to death in a matter of minutes. There's no way to prevent an ectopic from happening. Some women are just unlucky I guess. However, once you've had an ectopic, the chance for a another one increases to a 1 in 10 chance, or so they say.
This experience for me, really solidified my stance on being Pro Choice. I can't imagine not being able to access to healthcare because politicians deemed it so . If the situation had been different and I hadn't been able to get an abortion, which in my case, I would have had to either way, I'd be dead right now. I wouldn't even be writing this. That's a scary thought.
If you take anything from this story at all, please trust your gut. Listen to your gut when it's telling you something and listen to your body. It just may very well save your life. My hope is that we as a society can raise enough awareness about ectopic pregnancies that women don't end up having to have their tubes removed like so many unfortunately have . I think the moment you find out you're pregnant, you should be able to get an ultrasound that week. If I hadn't gone to planned parenthood to get an abortion, I wouldn't have been seen by a regular obgyn til I was at least 8 to 12 weeks along or possibly even longer! By then, I would have been dead. It's messed up that you can't even get seen by a doctor til then. When I had my first son, I didn't even get an ultrasound until I was 18 weeks. It's a miracle I didn't have an ectopic then! Ectopics are the number 1 killer of pregnant women in the first trimester.
So many surgeries for ectopics could be prevented if pregnant women could get an ultrasound earlier. We have got to do better in terms of healthcare.
I'll leave you with this one piece of advice:
Trust your gut and be your own advocate always. If a doctor dismisses you, find a new one or be persistent until someone takes you seriously.