Our “journey to a family” (someone suggested I use this phrase vs. “infertility journey”) started back in Spring/Summer 2015. We had found a house in the ‘burbs. We were doing what a lot of couples do “trying but not really trying” to have a baby. It had probably been almost 6 months of that, maybe more.
By June(ish) 2015 we were pregnant! I remember the day I held the positive test in my hand and showed Nick in the kitchen. I’ll never forget how excited we were. I literally jumped in into his arms and we danced around the kitchen in our new house. I still savor this moment because we were completely, purely happy.
But…our bliss only lasted a few days.
Within a short time it was clear something wasn’t right. I started bleeding one morning and ended up at the doctor’s office. I remember being told we were likely miscarrying and there wasn’t much to do but let “nature take its course.” We were upset but in the back of my mind, I also thought…well ok, I guess this is a good sign, we got pregnant and we weren’t really “trying.”
Little did I know…something funky was going on…
I was still getting a positive pregnancy test days later. The doctor told me to come into the office immediately. After some blood work, it was found my hormone levels had actually risen very slightly after all the bleeding and I was sent to get an ultrasound where they discovered we had an ectopic pregnancy. I remember calling our nurse from Harvard Vanguard from the random ultrasound office in Brookline, I was crying a lot. She did her best to calm me down. I didn’t really know what an ectopic meant, I just knew I had been holding out hope that we were actually pregnant and things were ok – but this scan proved not so much.
An ectopic pregnancy is when a pregnancy happens in the fallopian tube. An ectopic is dangerous because the tube can burst causing internal bleeding. It’s something you need to take care of immediately.
Over the course of the next two weeks – my doctor recommended rather than surgery to remove the ectopic, that I take an injection of the drug called methotrexate. A chemo drug that kills fast growing cells and one that’s commonly used to “dissolve” ectopic pregnancies. I got a shot of it right in my butt cheek. At the time, Nick and I were just going through the motions, doing what we needed to do. They tested my blood every other day to confirm my hormone levels were dropping…no such luck. I had to go back (I believe it was on a Saturday or Sunday) for another dose. I remember sitting in the maternity ward of Beth Israel waiting for my second methotrexate shot. I kept thinking, “why in the f&ck do they have me in the MATERNITY ward?” We obviously hoped the second dose would work – otherwise, I’d have to go in for surgery.
Fast forward, I’m watching the Real Housewives of OC episode when Vicky’s mom died. The episode was riveting. I remember cramps starting and getting progressively worse. By the end of the episode, I wasn’t sure if I was having sympathy pains or what. But I ended up calling the doctor on call (it was a Sunday night, I think?) and they advised me to get to the ER. Poor Nick, drove through the windy back roads of the S. Shore while I told (maybe I yelled?) him to “slow down the bumps hurt!” and “hurry up, just get there!” I was in a lot of pain. They thought maybe the ectopic had burst and I was bleeding internally. I kept picturing blood filling my abdomen. By the time we got to South Shore hospital I could hardly walk. Hunched over, I walked into the ER and sat in a wheelchair. I also remember being surprised when the front desk insisted on my insurance information. I was like “what?! I’m like dying here!” I clearly wasn’t dying…but I was definitely emotionally distressed and in some serious pain.
I ended up in the ER overnight on morphine. After a few scans, they told me nothing had burst but the pain was likely the ectopic finally dissolving. I was like “what?!” I was sure I was bleeding out…but no, (thankfully) this was just the type of pain the whole process can cause. Nick stayed next to me all night sitting upright in a hard chair. I, at least laid in bed with warm blankets and morphine.
The next day I had a couple ultrasounds to confirm the ectopic was in fact dissolving. Thankfully, it was. I also got extremely sick from the morphine. Bringing the whole “sickness and health” thing to a new level…Nick held barf bags while I threw up. Literally, I was laying on a gurney out in the open in the ultrasound area just barfing. Typing this now it actually brings tears to my eyes because I remember thinking about how awful I felt but Nick probably felt just as helpless and had stayed with me the whole time then had to head right to work.
During this whole thing I missed a couple of days of work. Looking back now, I pushed myself to “just get through it” and not make a “big deal of things.” Which did me no favors. After all, it was a big deal. I paid for it emotionally down the line. I don’t think I gave myself ample time to process it all.
One of the hardest things was when the doctor’s told us we couldn’t try for three months after the methotrexate injections because we had to wait for it to fully pass through my system (it’s quite toxic). At the time that was devastating news – we couldn’t just try again next month and put this behind us?! We had to wait THREE whole months!? Little did I know it would be another 2 ½ years and multiple fertility treatments before we’d ever see another “plus sign.” Definitely for the better that I didn’t know that then.
This is part 1 of my journey. The good news is…there’s a light at the end of the tunnel but I’m here to share my true, full journey in hopes that it helps someone else. Or at least brings more awareness to the things we women, we couples, go through on our “journey to a family.”