On Tuesday, July 4th, 2017, I was preparing to head back to work and our daily routine after a fun-filled 4-day vacation for Independence Day. Our family had celebrated on the 3rd so the 4th could be used as a day of recuperation and relaxation. On a typical weeknight, we’re in bed by 9:00-9:30 p.m. so that we can rise and shine at an early 4:15 a.m. to start our days. At 8:00 p.m., July 4th, we were in bed and headed off to a blissful sleep; however, by 8:30 p.m., I was downstairs and in the floor – feeling unexpected, excruciating pains.
The Previous Two Months…
In the middle of April, I went to an OB/GYN to discuss female problems that I’d been experiencing. I had an in-depth ultrasound and was given medication for three months to help get me to the surgery I would need in August after insurance approval. I took it for about a week and felt extremely nauseous so the doctor told me to cease the medicine.
Father’s Day weekend, my husband and I took a trip to Virginia to watch my stepdaughter graduate from high school. We enjoyed a good weekend and indulged in delicious, fresh seafood. When we woke up to prepare for our trip home on Sunday, my stomach was swollen and I looked 9 months pregnant. About 6 hours from home, we stopped at Love’s Truck Stop for a bathroom break and to grab a bite to eat. I passed out in the bathroom and was thankful that there were three OB/GYN nurses washing up. They asked if there was a possibility that I was pregnant but I told them I’d had my tubes tied 11 years before and had just been to the doctor for an ultrasound due to female problems but no, I was not pregnant.
When we arrived home, I chalked it up to food poisoning and tried to clear it out of my system. I took my time by returning to normal foods and was careful with portion sizes but the symptoms started to return. I know that food poisoning is hard to recover from but on Tuesday night, something told me that it was time to give up my stubborn attitude and get some help.
My husband called the ambulance and two men arrived to carry me to the hospital. They tried to be careful by avoiding the big bumps in the road and made me as comfortable as possible. I have seen many drivers “dump and go” once they arrive at the ER but they did their paperwork and wished us well. Soon, I was rushed through several tests including a CT Scan to check my appendix and gallbladder – followed by an ultrasound when those were proven to be okay. The ultrasound revealed that we were nine weeks pregnant. I’d had a tubal (cut, tied, and burned) 11 years earlier and although the chance is only 1-2%, we happened to be that small percent that grows back together. Unfortunately, the baby was attached to the outside of a tube and I wasn’t going to be able to carry the baby to full-term. The rest of my body was in good shape but the tubes needed to go so emergency surgery was scheduled within the next hour.
Doctors and Nurses….
We’ve had to rush to the ER for numerous reasons over the years and it has never been more than a mediocre experience when it came to the doctors and nurses. Most seemed to think we were lying, exaggerating our pain, etc. while others were highly annoyed that they had to work on that evening/early morning. Our experience Tuesday was quite different. The entire ER staff was quick, efficient, and took every measure to address our concerns. I asked for another warm blanket and while I expected that the task to be passed on to a nurse, the doctor quickly returned with the blanket. He even unfolded it and covered me up! Along with the nurses, he was completely involved at providing us the facts and discussing our options. He made it clear that a quick decision was imminent but wanted us to make the best choice for our family.
Within the hour and a half between my ultrasound and surgery start time, the tube exploded and I began to bleed internally. They didn’t know this when surgery began so only three small incisions were made to remove the tubes. What should have been a simple tube removal turned into an extreme emergency and my original c-section scar had to be cut open. I lost over two units of blood. At the rate of the internal bleed, if this had happened at home, I would have bled out within an hour. This would have most likely meant imminent death.
I have been through two previous c-sections. Both were very different experiences but I know the basics of what follows the surgery. My pain tolerance level is very high but I can even admit that this is not an easy recovery process. My nurses in the Women’s Center of our local hospital were amazing. I felt the warmth of their care, support, and a bond was formed that I didn’t experience with my first two births in the center. They were truly a blessing in such a time of need!
The most difficult part of our journey is coming to terms that we had to experience discovering that we were expecting and come home within a few days, empty-handed. At least a dozen babies were born and went home with their families during my hospital stay. I could hear the cries of the newborns and it nearly broke my heart that I didn’t have a baby that family and friends could come see. I had all of the scars, aches, and pains but no baby. To my husband and I, it’s a baby from conception so while some may be able to look past the loss, we take it to heart.
My husband had two children with his first wife and I had two with my first husband. Together, all four of our children are “ours” and we love each one of them dearly. We discussed children early in our relationship and both were okay with never being able to have one of our own (unless we tried IVF). IVF is rarely covered – in all or part – by insurance companies so it would be a $10,000 to $15,000 chance that we would have a child. Losing another baby would be a heartbreak that I’m not sure I want to take a chance on.
My oldest son is 13 and my youngest is 11. They were quite shocked about the news of the baby and unsure of how to process it. Their biological father has other children and my boys aren’t big fans of having “little” siblings. But after the news had a chance to sink in, they were both very upset that we would not have a little addition to our family. They would both make amazing big brothers but will always honor our “Angel Baby” as a part of our family.
Our Unexpected Life Change Continues…
While I know numerous other couples face the heartbreak of losing a child, I will not claim to know everything about it but I will say that it is one of the hardest life events we’ve ever had to face. It taught us lessons in love, family, and what life really means. We believe that God has a plan for our lives and this was a part of our journey.
My husband is my rock and proves to me with each passing day that he is my soulmate. He is the one for whom my heart beats. Previous men in my life would run from such a tremendous responsibility but my husband put on his Superman cape and flew. Patrick has given me the opportunity to recuperate on a pace that is comfortable for all of us. If I stumble, he is right there to catch me and help me continue on a successful path. Words could never give him all of the praise that my heart wishes to.
For our unexpected life change, I am not angry or bitter. Instead, I am grateful, thankful, and honored that God gave us the chance to be this baby’s parents. I imagine that my brother is in heaven, rocking our baby until we can join them!
Shelly is a wife, mama, and author, living in Lynchburg, Tennessee – home of Jack Daniel Whiskey. Her front porch is perfect for Tennessee AppleTennessee Apple or Tennessee Fire while reading a good mystery novel. She enjoys cooking delicious meals for her family, cleaning and organizing her home, and spending time outdoors in her beautiful hometown!