Photo by Katie Stoops
Oh boy, do I have a hefty update for all of you today. As you may have noticed or inquired, especially if you follow on Snapchat, we have had a very rough six weeks since my last post. Our toughest and most devastating yet. Since a lot of you have expressed your concern and shared your good thoughts, vibes and prayers, I wanted to give you an update on what’s been going on. I haven’t done this post sooner because, well, only this week did we even get a real sense of what was going on ourselves.
Here’s the short version: We were pregnant, then we thought I was miscarrying, I didn’t. I was told it was ectopic. Drugs didn’t work. Had surgery. Surgery was inconclusive. (Yep.) But I’m on the mend. WOAH. Now ready for the long version? Let me take you back to start!
The last time I updated you all, we were about a week away from taking our next pregnancy test. And, well, I can happily report that I got to experience for the very first time the true terrified JOY that comes with reading a positive pregnancy test! Holy moly, I was starting to think those things hated me. The morning of June 27th, I woke up around 5:30am, rolled over, noticed Jeff was awake too and I said “PLEASE can I just take the test?”
Neither of us had high hopes, though the one difference I had noticed was my (tiny, nonexistent) boobs felt bigger. Didn’t think much of it after our track record. I took the test and Jeff came into the bathroom and we both just stared at it. Within a few seconds I said/screamed “Is that a second line? That looks like a second line? JEFF! JEFF THAT IS A SECOND LINE!” While he simultaneously said, “No, no it’s not. Kelly, shut up. It’s faded. It’s not clear. It’s definitely not a second line. No. We are going to get another test. Get dressed.” Hahahaha!
So at 5:45am we threw on clothes and walked to the nearest store to buy an armful of pregnancy tests. Man I wish I had this on video. We got the kind that say “yes” or “pregnant” because too many times before I had convinced myself that one line was actually two. Well, folks, there is no denying the “yes” and “pregnant” we got next. We were PREGNANT!!!! It was very surreal. Even when I had my miscarriage, I didn’t know I was pregnant so I had never gotten a positive at-home test. What a COOL feeling that was! I finally felt like I was a part of the club.
We called our doctor with the good news and they asked us to come in for a blood test. We were “cautiously optimistic” (One of you gave me that term and I’ll never forget it!) and that afternoon not only did we get the call that I was pregnant, but my HCG levels were GREAT! (315, for reference) The nurse said “Congratulations!” and I just responded with “I’m in shock.” Haha!
We were still cautious, a miscarriage will do that to you, but we had never heard the words “your levels are great!” so breathed a sigh of relief and did the dumb things like looking up how many weeks I was and what symptoms I might have. Ehm, bigger boobs was one of them. THANK YOU VERY MUCH! =) We planned to tell our family and closest friends after we got a second positive blood test later that week.
For those of you that don’t know, your HCG is supposed to double every 48 hours in the early stages of pregnancy so on Wednesday we went back in, high-fiving the doctors and nurses along the way, to ensure that my levels were progressing normally. And then we got the call that my levels had barely gone up. They were at 360, but should have been around 600. The nurse’s words were, “Don’t worry too much yet, but it’s something to be aware of as that can indicate an abnormal pregnancy.”
And then my HCG started to drop and miscarriage was imminent. They told me to stop all my drugs and within about a week I would miscarry, but to call them if I didn’t. And what a devastating blow that was.
A week passed and still nothing. So I called and they brought me in for a blood test. My levels had shockingly gone back up. 600. What!? Was there still hope!?
That’s the first time “ectopic pregnancy” (Or, an unviable pregnancy that implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes) was explained to us, and the next day when my levels rose to 900, they told us to come in again tomorrow for a scan and if they didn’t see anything in my uterus, they would start treating for the ectopic.
Ectopic pregnancies are no joke. There is a great risk of your tube bursting, which leads to emergency surgery and risks your life. How they often treat them now is with a very strong drug called methotrexate, which for this “I don’t take medicine” girl was enough to send me off the deep end.
My HCG rose again to 1200 and they told me the methotrexate was my best option to treat the ectopic and avoid surgery. The worst part? We wouldn’t be able to try to get pregnant again for three months.
To a normal person, three months sounds like nothing. To a person going through fertility treatments it is EVERYTHING. The only thing that kept me going after each negative test was that we would immediately start another round of treatment. 100% of the time it felt like we were working towards a solution. But a three month embargo. That hit us both like a ton of bricks. It was like we took 20 steps back.
I took the drug (a shot) and was put on a no folic acid diet. What does that mean? No grains, no leafy greens, no beans, no various fruit… lots of random things that I won’t take the time to list here now. Folic acid is the antidote to methotrexate, so for the treatment to work, your body needs to be starved of it.
Because of my history, I have a very limited diet and have to eat every two hours, telling me I can’t eat something as wide as “grains” is detrimental. I can’t eat a lot of nuts, meat is hard to digest, and now the high-calorie protein bars I ate each day were off the table. And I drop weight fast when I skimp on my calorie intake. So it has been really hard. The drug makes me nauseous too so, that doesn’t help! I feel like I’m being starved!
Unfortunately the first dose of methotrexate didn’t lower my HCG. My levels had skyrocketed to 2,300 instead. They gave me a second dose of methotrexate and scheduled me for a blood test that Sunday. If my levels hadn’t dropped significantly, I would have to have surgery to remove the ectopic on Monday.
My HCG rose to 2,700 and the doctor called to confirm I’d be having surgery the next day, July 18th.
Well, folks, this is when things get really interesting. As I was rattling off my list of surgeries and medical history to the anesthesiologist, about 10 minutes before they were supposed to wheel me into surgery, he stopped me abruptly when I mentioned I had had surgery for a collapsed lung. “You can’t have general anesthesia,” he said. What????????? Under general anesthesia, they have to breath for you, which apparently puts me at greater risk for my lung collapsing again due to pressure. Not good.
The new plan was to give me an epidural and due to my stomach surgery, they had to do a more invasive surgery than originally planned. They would first check to ensure that I wasn’t just miscarrying, and if I wasn’t, they would perform the surgery and try to remove the ectopic while (hopefully) salvaging my tube. That’s when I really lost it. Being 10 minutes out from an operation and having the entire thing change is very traumatizing. But what choice did I have?
Thankfully, I remember nothing about it. And per my usual post-surgery-behavior, I woke up immediately asking what they found. And you wanna know what they found?
They found nothing in my uterus, nothing in my tubes. Inconclusive. What? How did they find nothing? Well, folks, that was the question on everyone’s mind… even the doctors! How were my levels so high but nothing to be found? My mom always said I liked to be difficult. Ha!
My doctor explained to me that, though very rare, the pregnancy could actually have implanted anywhere in my abdomen. And they weren’t sure where it was. They decided to give me a third dose of methotrexate and sent me home late that night to recover and wait for a few days before testing again.
Thankfully this final dose seems to be working. My levels have since gone from 2,700 to 48. The goal is zero. We’ll never know where the pregnancy was, and we just have to accept that. I spent all of last week on the couch (Sound familiar, snapchat friends!?), recovering, grieving and trying to keep my business from crumbling in my absence. (It was really terrible timing as we were down a few team members. C’est la vie.)
And now, here we are. If you feel like you just rode a really terrible rollercoaster… welcome! There aren’t really any words to wrap up how we feel about the whole thing. We knew our path to parenthood would be turbulent, but we didn’t expect this.
We are still in shock and trying to absorb it all. In a few weeks to go from the joy of a positive test, to the sadness of a miscarriage to the fear of an ectopic and then the trauma of none of the above, it’s, well, shocking. Physically, I’m getting better each day and returned to work this week which is good for me, though exhausting. Emotionally… that will take longer. We swing from one emotion to the next in the blink of an eye. Jeff has channeled a lot of his frustration into cleaning our entire house (proof) and I have basically just been watching trashy TV on the couch. We grieve very differently, ha!
So… what now?
I think sometimes it takes something extreme to bring you a bit more clarity. There is nothing like sitting in a hospital, with an ectopic pregnancy after dropping 7 pounds, and a team of doctors telling you that you can’t have either of the standard surgical procedures due to your medical history, to make you really question whether you’re doing the right thing.
One miscarriage was one thing. I knew so many people who went through miscarriage around when I did and it is so common. In fact, most of them are now successfully pregnant again. My hopes were still high. But going through this, that’s not as normal. It’s dangerous, and it has taken a real toll on my body and made me question if my body is, or ever will be, ready or able to carry a baby.
My doctors have all always assured me I could, but there is a part of me that wonders… why take the risk?
I woke up from surgery and immediately said, “I’m not doing this again” to Jeff. I was so devestated. Though as you can imagine, making any big life decisions in my current mental state is not very advisable. But I will say this.
After this whole ordeal, we are feeling our hearts being tugged more towards adoption then ever before. As I’ve written in the past, adoption has always very much been on the table for us and the idea of being able to give a child a home while also not risking my health seems too good to be true, in a way.
But there’s still a part of me that can’t give up. It’s my personality. I try and try and until I succeed.
The reality is, we can’t try again for three months even if we wanted to. Which, even though I’ve shed many a tear thinking about that road block, will actually be a blessing. Our current plan is to take those three months to research every aspect and angle of adoption we can. We know very little, but have several friends who are stepping up to guide us along the way. And we are so grateful. Come November, when the biological option comes back on the table, we’ll have the knowledge behind us to decide if we want to try again. Or perhaps, we will be even more excited about adoption than we already are, and we won’t even give it a second thought. I don’t know, and I won’t know. Not now, at least.
We are very lucky to have so many options on the table. And that even if we choose one option now, we can still choose the other option later.
Right now we are very worn, very sad and very traumatized after the last month, but we are hopefully on the road to recovery and on the road to more positive news for growing our family. We’ve once again, felt so much support from those who’ve sent grain free recipes, movies, flowers, kind words of encouragement and healthy good wishes. From those who’ve shared their stories and who have offered to help us explore unfamiliar territory.
I don’t think we could have asked for a worse way to come to a bit more clarity, but there it is. ‘Twas the cards we were dealt. And in the scheme of the horrendous things that are happening in our world right now, we were still dealt a pretty damn good hand. We’ll just have to wait and see where it takes us!
So that’s the update. My longest one yet, perhaps? I won’t have one for a bit but come November, I’m sure I will check back in with where we are at. And should we choose the adoption route, I hope to discuss that here too. Only time will tell! Thank you all, once again, for your continued support and sweet words as Jeff and I navigate this really tough and turbulent time.
And for those of you still fighting that fertility fight too, we’re all in this together! And I’m sending those fertile vibes to each of you every darn day.