Last week I shared a blog about our first pregnancy and early miscarriage (you can read that story here). This week we want to share about our second pregnancy, which was ectopic. This story is more complicated in a lot of ways, but I want to try and be as transparent as possible.
After losing our first baby through an early miscarriage, we were hopeful that we would get pregnant again soon. The doctors told us how common miscarriages were and reassured us that, statistically, we had a good chance of getting pregnant again.
Even though we weren’t expecting our first pregnancy, when we miscarried, the baby-fever continued hard! That small taste of parenthood gave me a longing for children. Even as we were still trying to get over our loss, I was excitedly anticipating another pregnancy. We were READY to be parents!
We even had multiple people (at least three or four) tell us stories about how they had had a miscarriage and then got pregnant the very next month with a healthy baby, and I thought, “Oh, that’s how this works! Now that I have gone through this trial, I will have my redemptive moment like these other people have, and God will give me another baby and reward my suffering and faith.” So I waited.
One month passed. Then another. And another.
Nearly two years passed…and nothing happened.
That time in our lives was an emotional and spiritual roller coaster! After the first few months of waiting, I began to get really frustrated. Pregnancy announcements on Facebook became annoying to me. People who didn’t know our struggle began to ask us when we were going to have kids, and I would always say, “Whenever God decides to give us one.” Thinking back about it now, even though that statement was true, it had a hint of blame in it. At the end of the day, it was God’s fault that we weren’t getting pregnant, right? God, the creator of life, the one who has a purpose for every soul, didn’t see fit to give us any children.
Even though I never would have explicitly thought it or said it out loud, things weren’t going my way, and I didn’t trust that God had my best interest at heart. I didn’t truly believe that he loved and cared about me.
Before we got married, I told Brandon I wanted to have 8 kids, and I wanted to have most of them before I was 30 (crazy, I know!). This was a huge reason why I was so frustrated. I felt like my time was running out, and I felt like God was ruining MY plan for MY life! I wasn’t interested in a plan that didn’t include having children of my own.
What I didn’t realize was that God was building my patience. I had always considered myself a patient person, but God was pushing me to my limits. Then, one Sunday I heard a sermon on the parable of the man who had guests come to his house in the middle of the night. The man had nothing to feed his guests with, so he went knocking on his neighbor’s door asking for some food to give his visitors. The neighbor told him to go away, but the man persisted and knocked and knocked until his neighbor finally gave up and gave the man what he wanted. The point of the parable was, “this is how you should pray.” After that sermon, I prayed every day that God would give me children, but not only did I pray for children, I prayed specifically that he would give us twins (crazy, I know!).
A few weeks later, I got pregnant! It was a year and eight months after our first loss, and I was shocked! I was so excited that God had answered my prayer, it was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that it actually happened! I was so thankful, but I couldn’t help but feel apprehensive, not wanting to get my hopes up.
Before our first appointment with the doctor, I began having the same symptoms as I did with the first miscarriage. Brandon and I were both pretty devastated, sure that something was wrong. We were wondering why God would let this happen to us again. The next morning before my appointment, I went to work, and a coworker came by my office and told me, “I had a dream last night that you were pregnant…with twins!” Y’all. She had no idea that I was actually pregnant, she didn’t know about my previous loss, and I hadn’t told anyone that I was praying for twins.
In that moment I heard the Spirit tell me so clearly, “See? I heard your prayers. I’m not ignoring you. I love you. Trust me.” I had been wondering if God was listening to me at all, when he lovingly gave me a sign that, indeed, he was. I immediately texted Brandon and told him all about it, and we were both humbled. Even through our anger and doubt, God was so gentle and kind with us. He reached down and reminded us that he was with us in our pain.
That interaction at work prepared my heart for the following doctor’s appointment. Brandon was at work, so I had to go alone. I was taken back to get an ultrasound, and the technician looked all around, measured things and typed on her computer. Then, she landed on a little black sack with a tiny grain of rice in the middle of it. She hovered her mouse over the grain of rice, and I heard the *swoosh swoosh swoosh* of a heartbeat. The technician never said a word throughout the whole thing (which should have been a clue that something was wrong). She grabbed the ultrasound pictures, gently told me that she would be right back, and left the room.
I laid on the table staring at the ultrasound picture on the screen, and I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh…that’s my baby! I love that little dot!” Then, after what seemed like forever, the ultrasound technician finally came back with a young doctor not much older than me. He leaned against the counter, and, with as much sensitivity as he could convey, he told me that unfortunately, my pregnancy was ectopic. He then went on to explain what that meant.
Everyone go back to biology class for a minute, an ectopic pregnancy is when the embryo implants anywhere besides inside the uterus. The embryo is supposed to implant into the wall of the uterus and grow there, but sometimes it will implant in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or even on the outside of the uterus. This is pretty rare and only occurs in 1%-2% of all pregnancies.
I knew what an ectopic pregnancy was, I knew they were dangerous, and I was scared. The baby that was up on the ultrasound screen was implanted into my fallopian tube. The doctor warned me that there was a chance it could rupture at any moment, causing severe pain, requiring emergency surgery, and the possibility of bleeding to death. Concerned, the doctor told me that the best option for my safety would be to take two injections of methotrexate in order to stop the baby’s heart and end the pregnancy.
I just couldn’t believe I was going to lose another one. I asked the doctor if there was any way this baby could be saved, if there were any other options. He stressed how dangerous it could be to wait, and in the end, no matter what I did, the baby wouldn’t survive. The pregnancy simply wasn’t viable.
I had no idea what to do. I am not an impulsive person, so the urgency with which he wanted to get this done increased my distress. I told him that I wanted to go home and talk to Brandon first before we decided what to do. He sent me home with an appointment to come in the next morning, and he told me that if I started having any severe pains, I should go straight to the hospital.
I got in my car and called Brandon, who was waiting to hear how my appointment went. I don’t even remember exactly how I worded it, but when I told him that the pregnancy was ectopic, there was just silence on the other line. I asked him if he knew what that meant, and he emotionally told me yes, he did. The conversation didn’t last very long because Brandon was at work, but I remember hearing the pain in his voice, and I hated delivering that news to him when I knew he was so hopeful that everything was going to be alright this time.
I remember driving home, blinded by teary eyes, and just praying out loud, thanking God for this baby. That’s all I could do. It probably sounds really strange, but I had prayed for this baby, and God gave it to me, and even though I wasn’t going to get to keep it very long, I still felt grateful.
That night, Brandon and I prayed together for wisdom and healing. Everyone we talked to assured us that we were doing nothing wrong by getting the injections because my life was at risk, but I can tell you that for me, even though I believed that what I was doing was okay, I still had feelings of guilt and responsibility when they injected me the next morning.
I silently apologized to my baby as two nurses simultaneously gave me a shot in each hip. I remember thinking, “Well, it’s done. There’s no going back now.” The medicine made me vomit immediately. Then, after I was feeling better, Brandon and I went home.
It’s one thing to lose a baby naturally, but it’s totally different when you have to give someone permission to pull the trigger. This is the hard part to talk about. When you go through loss, you ask yourself hard questions. Questions that really matter. You examine your beliefs and compare your experiences to what you know to be true. I didn’t really think any more about the morality of what I did until after we lost the next one.
As someone who believes that all human life is valuable from the very beginning, I doubted my decision to end the pregnancy even though it was ectopic. I read through a lot of blogs and articles on the subject, many of which were of the belief that terminating a pregnancy for any reason was wrong, and I became guilt-ridden and ashamed.
I know there are a lot of strong opinions about this subject, and it is so sensitive, so I want to be as delicate as possible while still sharing what I was genuinely feeling at the time. If I can be honest, I’m still not 100% sure what I think about this specific circumstance of ectopic pregnancy. But, something I am 100% sure of, is the grace of Jesus to forgive and redeem every sin, both known and unknown to me. Praise God!
So please don’t be concerned about me, thinking that I’m walking around in guilt over this! I’m at peace with God and myself. I mainly just wanted to share some of what I went through mentally because I imagine that I’m not the only one who has felt this way. It’s okay to ask yourself hard questions! Don’t be afraid of the answers you might get. God wants to walk this road with you and offer you grace, peace, wisdom, and joy!
After getting the methotrexate injections, the doctors had to check my hCG (the pregnancy hormone) levels every week until they were down to zero. This took six or seven weeks. So every week for nearly two months, I went back to my OBGYN to get my blood drawn. I remember sitting in the waiting room full of pregnant women, looking around and feeling a mixture of resentment and depression followed by guilt for feeling that way toward them. During one of these visits, I heard the Lord tell me to pray for them. Praying for other women’s pregnancies was one of the best dissolvers of my resentment. As I prayed for the pregnant women in my life, God began a work in my heart toward true contentment. He softened my heart and gave me the ability to feel genuinely happy for others again.
By the way, we named this baby too: August Shalom, because of the peace God gave us.
I know this was a really long blog, and the subject matter was heavy and uncomfortable, but I really hope someone finds it helpful someday. I just want people to know that Jesus loves them, he cares, he listens, he forgives, and he offers peace in every circumstance!