This contribution was made by Katie Taylor.
Trigger warning – topic of pregnancy loss
As I sit down to begin writing this, I have my rainbow baby laying beside me (although he’s almost 4, so really not much of a baby). Having him here with me, makes this really difficult to write about for me. So many mixed emotions. My son fills me with so much love and joy, but I think about my baby that I lost due to an ectopic pregnancy everyday and it still breaks my heart.
1 in 4 women experience a miscarriage and 1 in 50 women experience an ectopic pregnancy. Women who have already had an ectopic pregnancy have a 1 in 10 chance of having another one and ectopic pregnancies are also the leading cause of pregnancy related deaths in the first trimester for women. Chances are there is a woman in your life who has experienced a pregnancy loss, yet you might not know about it because it is still such a taboo subject. When I was going through my ectopic pregnancy, so many women I know and am close with came forward with their stories about their losses and I had NO idea any of them had been through it. Going through it myself, especially at such a young age (21 years old) I knew I wanted to be open and honest about my experience to help end the stigma around pregnancy loss and so that women know they aren’t alone in this.
Below I wanted to share my experience with what I went through when I had my ectopic pregnancy. I actually wrote this shortly after, but I haven’t ever shared this much detail about that day. Reading through until the end always makes me emotional. When I wrote this, I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be a mum, and I am so incredibly thankful every day that I have my son, Atticus, but I know that not everyone who experiences pregnancy loss gets their rainbow baby. My heart goes out to every woman who has been through a loss like this, no pain compares, I wish I could hug each and every one of you and tell you that you are an amazing mum.
Here is my story.
August 4th 2015
I woke up in the morning just like any other day, Sam (my husband) went to work on his bike for a couple of hours in the morning, on his way home he fell off his bike, coming home bloody and bruised, but relatively unharmed. We thought that was going to be as bad as the day would get.
I started work at 2pm. I am a shift supervisor at Starbucks, I work hard, but I love my job. At 6pm it was time for me to take my half hour dinner break. I had just gotten off of the floor and into the back room when it hit me. The most excruciating pain I have ever felt. I sat down, but the pain didn’t subside, I squirmed around in the chair, trying to find a comfortable position, but nothing helped. Before I knew it I was on my hands and knees, hunched over, trying to focus but the pain was too intense. I knew something was wrong.
My coworkers had come into the back room, asking if I was okay, I told them I was fine, I was just in a lot of pain in my stomach, but it was probably just a cramp or maybe gas pain?
The pain continued. I tried to get a hold of Sam, but I wasn’t able to reach him right away. I called my mum, and she got a hold of my doctor who told me to come in right away. After calling every manager and shift supervisor that I had the number for, someone was able to come in and work the rest of my shift. By now it is 7:30pm. Sam got back to me right as my mum came to my work to pick me up, he told me he would meet me at the doctor’s.
Once we got there I went in right away. By this point, I felt completely fine. I am almost tempted to just leave and go back to work. The doctor took my blood pressure and pushed on a few places on my stomach and narrowed it down to three things. 1. Ruptured Cyst 2. Appendix or 3. An Ectopic Pregnancy (a pregnancy that develops outside the uterus, usually in the Fallopian Tube). Although the doctor nearly ruled out option #3 because it didn’t seem possible timing wise with my last period. The doctor didn’t want to wait, he sent me to the hospital right away for blood and urine tests and an ultrasound.
We got to the hospital around 9pm (in hindsight, this is actually quite scary because I had been bleeding internally the whole time, and I later found out that a girl around my age in the UK died a few weeks earlier from an ectopic pregnancy 3 hours after her Fallopian Tube ruptured, and I got to the hospital at the 3 hour mark). Once we got there, the pain started again. The triage nurse gave me some Tylenol to ease the pain. I was in my own room by midnight. Nurses came in, taking more blood, hooking me up to IVs, heart monitors and a blood pressure monitor. At 2am the nurse came in with my test results.
I was pregnant.
The nurse didn’t give me much detail, she informed me that the doctor would be in shortly. Within the hour the specialist was in my room, talking to Sam and I about the possibilities. She said my uterus lining had begun to thicken, so the baby could be fine and it could just be a ruptured cyst or something else. Or it could be an ectopic pregnancy. She wouldn’t know until the morning at 8am when I went for my full ultrasound. She discussed our options with us if it was an ectopic pregnancy. I could either get a shot, it would terminate the pregnancy and I would save my Fallopian Tube, or I could have an operation. She discussed the pros and cons to each, and Sam and I spent the next couple of hours talking about it together. During that time we also called my mum, and Sam’s parents and told them nothing would be happening until the morning, so they didn’t have to come right then (it took some convincing though).
All this time I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I’ve been carrying a little baby inside of me for the past 6 weeks and I didn’t even know. Our baby might be okay, but it might not… The remainder of the night was restless.
8am came around and I had my ultrasound. An hour long ultrasound. By the time I got back to my room, my mum was there, and Sam’s parents arrived shortly after that. At around noon, the doctor came into my room with my ultrasound results. It was an ectopic pregnancy and I was too far along to have the shot. I had to have the operation. My surgery was scheduled for later that afternoon. The doctor went over the procedure with us, a small incision in the belly button, 15 minutes, in and out.
The doctor left, and our family decided to give us some time alone… We cried and we prayed. Our hearts were broken. We found out we were pregnant, and that our baby wasn’t going to make it and we couldn’t do anything to save our little one, all within 24 hours.
3pm, it was time for my surgery. By the time I woke up from my surgery it was nearly 6pm. Wasn’t it supposed to take 15 minutes? When the doctor got inside, he realized my left Fallopian Tube had already ruptured. He had to make 3 incisions, remove the baby, the tube and clean me out from the rupture.
It was a long recovery. 2 weeks bedridden, 5 weeks off of work, lots of physical pain. But that didn’t compare to the emotional pain of losing our baby. We’ve tried different things to cope, we’ve tried talking about it, sharing our story and naming our little one – not being sure of the gender, we had to pick a gender neutral name, but unfortunately Sam and Taylor are 2 of the most popular so it was tricky, but we settled on one we love.
It has been 2 months to the day since my Fallopian Tube ruptured at work. I can’t even remember what that felt like anymore, other than I remember it hurt.. But every day I can remember the exact pain of hearing the words, “your pregnancy is ectopic. We have to operate to remove it”. Along with all of this, there are so many other scary thoughts running through our heads, will this happen again? I now have a 1 in 10 chance of having another ectopic pregnancy. Will we be able to have children? I would love to be a mum, and Sam would make the world’s greatest dad. So many unanswered questions.
October 15th is Infant Loss Awareness Day. I have heard about woman losing their baby through miscarriage or other losses, but I never realized the effect it can have on someone until it happened to us. I hope that our little angel in Heaven is smiling, knowing that we love and think about them every day.
Rest In Peace our darling Sterling Grey Taylor.