i haven't been entirely clear on this blog about everything that happened in february. truth be told it is mostly because i have a hard time remembering, so much of it is a blur. there are things that i say to answer quetions that i think are true because i've repeated them over and over, not because i have actual memories of them. the things i do remember about the beginning and end of my latest pregnancy are so saturated with emotion that any attempt to write about them coherently has been in vain. i get so wrapped up in all that i feel about it that i have a hard time getting out the whole story. and i want the whole story. i need a record of it here, for safe keeping. i don't want what happened in february to turn into a big hole in my memory. it was a very important time in the story of our lives, the lives of the will family. so my husband, who is oh so reliable and sensible as well as sweet and tender, wrote out the story with the facts from his perspective. this is part one of his guest posts. he was awake and coherent for much more of the experience than i was so i'm so happy to have his words to keep. he will follow up soon with more about what happened after and the outcome and impact of it all on our lives and our hearts. i hope you enjoy hearing from him. he is just the greatest.
as for all the complicated, emotional upheavel that i can contribute from losing a baby, well we've all been through that together already two years ago, when sable died. and i don't really want to rehash that all out again. it's more or less the same, but better and more peaceful. but also scary and more scarring. i still don't feel like an expert. but i can tell you that losing a baby isn't as hard the second time, especially with a little one year old to snuggle when you're really feeling the blow. i can tell you it's easier now for me to not blame myself and the flaws of my own body but to trust in My Heavenly Father and His plan. i can tell you that i know this wasn't just an "oops," that i have another baby in heaven that i love dearly and this was the plan for him. i can tell you that it's easy to find joy in the family that i'm surrounded with on earth. i can also tell you that along with my new scars and all my stretch marks and damaged parts i walk around with two invisible holes in my chest at all times, one for each of the children i don't get to see for a while, where i would put the love i have for them and keep it still and waiting. and i can especially tell you that throughout these experiences i've learned that there are many, many men and women who walk around with the same invisible holes, that mothers of all kinds are all joined together in a sisterhood, that you shouldn't be afraid to seek comfort from those like you and you shouldn't be afraid to offer it to those who need it too. i think empathy is a beautiful thing. i don't want it to go wasted. i think it was meant to draw us all together with all the trials and joys of life shared alike.
without further ado, craig will:
One of the scariest things, to me, is the uncertainty that accompanies meaningful events, especially when the outcome is dependent on somebody else. I wasn't nervous when Shilah and I were getting married because it was such a certain thing in my mind. But if it depended on a third party to also be certain about it I think it would have made me nervous. I felt that nervousness on the Wednesday before Valentine's day (and Kahree's birthday) when Shilah called me while I was work and told me that she was being taken to the hospital for emergency surgery. Now, I know doctors are good at what they do and I trust them, just like I trust a mechanic to diagnose and repair my car. There is always that chance though that the mechanic is going to miss something or misdiagnose an issue or even mess something up. Where the mechanic can then replace whatever is broken a doctor really only gets one shot if the operation is botched and while it may be rare, somebody has to be that one in the 1:1000000 statistic. In fact, that's how this whole thing really starts.
For the last part of January we were pretty sure that we were pregnant again, how exciting! We took our time getting to confirming it with a pregnancy test. At the beginning of February it was confirmed that we were pregnant again, which meant that it was time to start looking for insurance for Shilah since mine only covers me and Kahree. We weren't in any huge rush for it since it usually takes a while for a baby to fully cook inside the womb.
The Saturday after the pregnancy test was positive Shilah started bleeding, almost like it was a normal cycle (not just spotting) which, since we were pregnant, was totally unexpected. A little panicked and a lot confused Shilah called the doctor's office to get advice on what to do and they directed her to the hospital. We drove out to the hospital and told them that we didn't have insurance and asked if we would be better off going to an Urgent Care facility. The hospital staff were so helpful and nice and they called up the nearest UC and asked what they would do for an uninsured patient in our situation. The response was that they would refer us to the ER.
After getting Shilah all checked in and on the path to figuring out what was going on they gave us all sorts of literature on what our options were in regards to financial help offered through the hospital.
Finally we got through Triage and were admitted into a room where blood was drawn, private parts were inspected, and tests were run. Then we headed off to the ultrasound room where they saw nothing. Literally there was no sign of any sort of pregnancy inside Shilah. We went back to our original room and the doctor talked to us about what the different possibilities were:
1) We weren't as pregnant for as long as we thought we were (3-4 weeks instead of ~6)
2) We had another miscarriage and the bleeding was Shilah's discharging the matter
3) It was an ectopic pregnancy
The doctor tried to reassure us by telling us that ectopic pregnancies aren't very common and that his main priority was making sure that we didn't have one but that we shouldn't be worried right now. We set up some follow up appointments at the Women's Healthcare Association for blood work and ultrasounds, though we had resigned ourselves to being sure that we had had another miscarriage.
When a women is pregnant her hCG (that's the pregnancy hormone and prego testers look for this) doubles every couple days. Because we knew what her levels were on Saturday we made an appointment for Shilah to get more blood work on Monday. She was supposed to also get an ultrasound but we were so sure it was just a miscarriage while also being concerned about the cost of all this without insurance that she decided not to get one. In fact there was a moment where we both entertained the thought of not going in at all...
The tests came back and her levels had risen but they hadn't doubled. If this was a viable pregnancy they would have doubled and if it was a miscarriage they would have dropped. We were dealing with the uncommon ectopic pregnancy, although at the time we still weren't positive about this.
I've done a little research and the numbers come out to say that 2% of pregnancies in the U.S. are ectopic. This means 2 out of every 100 pregnancies. Those are pretty good odds, right? If I had 100 apples and two were poisoned, I'd bet you would feel pretty good about your odds of picking an unpoisoned apple. Turns out we picked a poison apple.
Shilah went back in to the WHA on Wednesday to do more blood work and this time get an ultrasound. We didn't think much was going to come of it but then less than an hour before her appointment she started having a lot of pain for the first time. When she was done with the ultrasound they told her that she needed to get over to the hospital for emergency surgery right away. There was a lot of blood in her abdomen and they needed to go in and see what happened and try to fix it. This is the point in the story where I got the phone call from a very calm Shilah explaining to me what needed to be done before I came to see her.
I was a whirlwind as I told my boss what was going on, sent out an email letting everybody know that I was leaving early, called my sister to come watch the baby for the night (who was in the hands of Shilah's friend Alys who took her to the ultrasound appointment), and packed bags for both us in case we had to stay overnight at the hospital.
I rushed to the hospital but by the time I got there they had already rolled Shilah into the prep room and I wasn't going to get to see her before she went into surgery.
Normally I'm not a pessimistic person. I don't think about all the things that could go wrong nearly as much as I focus on what the positive outcomes of something will be. I was having a very hard time doing that while I sat in the waiting area to find out if my wife was going to get to come back to me. I kept thinking about how only a small percentage of people die on the operating table but it wasn't very comforting because I had spent the past week thinking about how small a percentage of pregnancies are ectopic.
To ease my mind I bought Shilah a stuffed bear from the gift shop, ate at the hospital cafeteria, and paced. A lot. They had a monitor on the wall that listed the ID numbers of all the people in surgery and what step in the surgery they were at. The doctor had given me Shilah's ID number when she came out to talk to me about what they had found (the pregnancy had ruptured out of the end of Shilah's right tube which was then bleeding into her abdomen). I must have checked the monitor every three to five minutes, which of course made the time go by even slower but I had to make sure the step didn't change to "notify next of kin" or "transport to the morgue" or something.
Eventually they moved Shilah into recovery and I was able to go see her. They wrote up a couple prescriptions for her and I ran to the store to fill them before the pharmacies closed. I also picked up a few Redbox movies and found Birthday Cake Oreos (Shilah's favorite) and bought four packs of them.
The hardest part was over. Shilah was okay and I got to bring her home that night. The next day was Valentine's Day and we just took it easy and after that was Kahree's birthday which I'm sure there's a blog post on here about...
stay tuned for part two. eventually. he's a busy man, you know.