I once read somewhere that after a pregnancy loss you grieve not only for the baby, but also for the life you had imagined with them. Reading this, I never thought I would feel the weight of those words. Until a few weeks ago.
Five weeks pregnant, I toted my toddler into the ER thinking I was going in for a UTI. I was having recurring sharp pains in my lower left abdomen, brushing away any possibility it had to do with the pregnancy. I was expecting to pee in a cup, take home some meds, and be fine. Deep down, I knew something was wrong, but you never think it will happen until it happens to you. Ten hours later, I was being carted into surgery for an ectopic pregnancy.
I didn’t understand. I couldn’t switch between thinking I may still be pregnant, to the fact that there was nothing to do to save my pregnancy. There were bright lights, people talking at me behind sterile masks, and then nothing. All that is left are scars to remind me about the day I lost trust in my body.
Still, the words ectopic or tubal abortion makes me grit my teeth and cringe. That baby was mine. I know the egg is supposed to implant in the uterus, and everything after that is fine and dandy. My last pregnancy was normal and healthy, so why should my body fail on me now? I never thought about the true depth of loss, even at 5 weeks. Now I am left unable to decide if I can handle the fear, instead of excitement, at a positive pregnancy test. Once a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, she is at greater risk to have another one. Tearfully, I said my goodbyes and laid them beneath our lavender, a flower known for healing and tranquility.
But I do want more children, this I am certain. There is nothing more powerful, to me, than the overwhelming primal love a mother has for her child. I will try again, though not today. I stare longingly at my friend’s pregnant bellies, but now is the time for reflection, self care, and learning to open up my creative self again. For too long I have been pushing forward in mommy-mode, never pausing for myself. I know, right? When do mom’s have the time, let alone energy, to focus on themselves? In the weeks following the surgery, I was able to slow down and realized I needed to do that more often. Slow down. Take in the moment, at least before we try and have another one.
True, I may be pausing because of my fear for another ectopic pregnancy, but at least with time I can focus more internally on my healing process. Love and light has been my mantra as of late, and surrounding myself with the people I love has made a huge impact on my mood and view on life. I am alive and I still have the ability to birth. I have my beautiful, intelligent daughter whom I hold tighter in my awareness of the fragility of conception. It has been a few weeks, but I feel as if the fog in my mind is lifting. Time heals.
I was guilty about telling my friends and relatives so early on, and then had to tell them about the loss. But it felt good. Not the loss, but the fact that I had to talk about it. It was a way to open up my vulnerability and not hide behind a smile and pretend everything was okay. Even though I did not reach out to some of the support that was offered, it was reassuring to know that it was there. That if I needed a hug at two in the morning, I would get that hug.
Writing about my experience, I feel I can help myself and others in the healing process by channeling these emotions. That this experience we share can lift us up to see we are not alone, and our feelings are validated. I will always love my unborn child, but now is the time for me to let go of my sadness and count my blessings. Love and light, and may you find peace.
By Olivia Shapley