Lost... but not forgotten

We always wanted a large family, my husband and I. After the birth of our two daughters, we were excited about adding another child to our family. I was still breastfeeding my 9-month-old when I had a sudden attack of severe pain. Then I started to bleed. I originally thought the bleeding and pain were due to my menstrual cycle returning for the first time after pregnancy and breastfeeding. For the next 2 weeks I bleed off and on coupled with intersperse periods of pain. I then had this sudden thought: maybe I’m pregnant and this is a miscarriage. I visited my general practitioner, who immediately did a pregnancy test. It came back negative. The doctor told me to go home and take panadol for period pain. This was Thursday. On Sunday at 11.40am, I was in the car with my husband and two girls when I experienced a sudden pain like someone had stabbed me in the stomach. I couldn’t help but allow a scream to escape my lips. My husband said, “We are going to the hospital.” I didn’t argue. The pain got worse and then all of a sudden, I knew my life draining away from me. With eyes wide I looked over at my husband in the driver’s seat and said, “I’m going to die.” Later I found out I was -- I was dying.
We reached the hospital emergency centre and my husband ran out and left me in the car with the girls. I was screaming from the pain. I remember trying not to because I knew the girls were in the backseat, my eldest being only 2. “What’s wrong Mum?” I heard her say but I couldn’t speak. Soon after, three men rushed out and somehow got me inside the emergency centre.

I didn’t want drugs. I don’t know why – I just didn’t. But the doctors gave me some anyway. It felt like ants crawling inside my body as the medicine surged through my veins. I couldn’t move but the pain eased some.
“We’ll have to do a pregnancy test,” someone said.
“I’ve just had one done and it was negative,” I replied.
“It’s just standard procedure.”
Right then, my husband left with the girls. We had no family around, so he planned to go home and find someone to mind them so he could come back and be with me.

The next thing I knew I was having an ultra-sound. After being whisked back to the emergency bay, I was told I needed to be transferred to another hospital by ambulance. No one told me anything else.

Could. Not. Move.

The ambulance officer wheeled me into the ambulance and starting doing observations.
“How many weeks along are you?” He asked looking up from his clipboard.
“Excuse me?”
“How many weeks pregnant are you?”
“I’m not pregnant,” I said
There was silence, followed by some other questions.

On the journey to the nearby hospital I felt every bump.
“Mate, be careful of the bumps,” the ambulance officer called out to the driver.
“She’s in a lot of pain.”
I was wheeled into the emergency bay of a much larger hospital. I stared at the ambulance officer’s belt line where a watch was hanging. I liked it so I just kept staring. The watch captured me and I kept my eyes fixed. The watch was important to me.

“She needs some more medication,” I heard someone say, “She’s in so much pain and I’m not sure we can move her.”
I kept starring.
“One. Two. Three.”
I screamed as they moved me to another bed.
“How many weeks pregnant are you?” the attending doctor asked.
“I haven’t been told I’m pregnant but I obviously am because people keep asking me.”

Silence.

I remember at this point feeling a wave of loss sweep over my body like a hot pain. I had been pregnant but something was very, very wrong. I couldn’t see the hanging watch anymore. It had become a lifeline to me. Where was it?

“Where’s my husband?” I asked.
“We’ll ring him for you sweetie,” a kindy-looking nurse said from beside me. I didn’t realise she was there.
I started to shake. I couldn’t control my body. I wondered what was going on. No one would tell me. I was in pain. I could hardly breathe. I didn’t know anyone. I was alone.

Another doctor peered down at me. “We have to operate. And I’m sorry, but we might have to take your entire womb. You may not be able to have any more children.”

I was devastated. And then I prayed: Thank you God for my two girls, and if that’s all the children I’m meant to have, I thank you. I felt content. I didn’t feel so alone.

I was wheeled down corridors, up a lift and through rubber swinging doors into a cold room. It felt like death. I lay there and I was shaking uncontrollably.
I felt desperate to see my husband. I needed to see him. I wanted to hear his voice. Where was he?
I heard people talking outside the cold room and someone came in and whispered to the anaesthetic doctor on duty.
“Your husband is here. He is insistent on seeing you so we are going to wheel you out. I warn you though, as soon as the surgeon comes, we’ll be taking you straight away.” The anaesthetic doctor looked rather annoyed.
There he was – my husband: tall, handsome and ever so worried. “I love you precious.”
He held my hand for a moment, then I was taken away – back to the cold room. It was a poignant moment; it was a moment that seemed to occur in slow motion. I kept my eyes fixed on my husband until I could see him no more.

Lights everywhere. Masked faces looking down. Cold around my face. Nothing.

I slowly open my eyes. My husband’s brown eyes met mine. “They didn’t have to take your womb darling. You had an ectopic pregnancy but you’re going to be okay.”

Later the surgeon came to see me. He told me I had been bleeding internally for 2 weeks and by the time he got to me, I was bleeding profusely – and dying. I had at least 2 litres of blood sitting in my belly and was losing more – fast. He also said that I needed a blood transfusion and that I may not be able to fall pregnant again due to the damage caused internally.
I begged him not to give me a blood transfusion and he said he would wait two days for my blood results to come back at an acceptable level, and if not, he would have to do a transfusion due to blood loss. My blood tests came back just over the threshold and I was glad.
“You’re young and healthy,” he said, “You have bounced back amazingly.”

After a week in hospital, I went home. I was given a large plastic bag, with my belongings from emergency room. I took out my clothes to wash them and something fell out at my feet. It was my positive pregnancy test, lying there at my feet, with 2 lines so obvious. Then it hit me. I had lost a baby and to this day, I wonder who he/she was. I love my child. I miss this child I never had the chance to know. I also had potentially lost the ability to conceive more children.

My body grew stronger and I went through the motions of mental healing too. I cried. I grieved. I prayed. I accepted. I then, was truly content. A few months after the operation, I was blessed to fall pregnant with my third child, and then later – a fourth.

To bring a feeling of conclusion to the matter, I purchased two things because I felt I needed something physical to acknowledge that my lost child – was a life. I purchased a Pandora charm for my bracelet and I hunted down a hanging watch, just like the ambulance officers, for my husband. Something was lost... but not forgotten.

Read more about Kelly at Be A Fun Mum.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Kelly,
I follow your Be a Fun Mum Blog and just wanted to say thankyou for sharing. The moment of loneliness that you speak of I remember well as I sat in the emergency department on my own knowing what was happening to my baby. It helps to know others do understand and you should be proud of your ability to share your experience.

SquiggleMum said...

Thank you for sharing your story Kelly. Cath xx

Cara said...

Hugs Kelly! I also experienced a ruptured ectopic (and lost 2 liters of blood). It was a scary and sad experience (my story is one of the other posts here). Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Kelly said...

Thank you friends.

Louisa Claire said...

Oh Kel, this story has moved me so much. You are such a beautiful woman and I feel privileged to know you .xx

Chelsea Lee Smith said...

What a moving story... if my boys weren't here I would be sobbing. I also have a Pandora charm for my little angel. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it helps us all feel less alone when we know baby loss is something so many experience. xx