I’ve had a lot of questions lately about my lack of posts on social media in the last year and am finally ready to share why…
I never wanted kids until I just did.
As a nutritionist, I often hear “well you probably never get sick”. And it’s true, I don’t often get colds or the flu. So while my friends and family sniffle and snot around me, I seem to be able to carry on unaffected. Lucky me, right?
However, I’m certainly not immune to challenges along the way. Eight months after getting married my husband and I, after years of wavering on the fact, decided we wanted to start our own little family. Easy right?
Totally naïve to anything other than the mission at hand, for many months we casually tried to conceive. This turned into months of temperature testing and ovulation tests only to end up in the doctor’s office asking “now what?”. I’m a nutritionist – I eat well, I take all the right supplements, I move by body (If I’m being honest I could do better in this department), I skip the fast foods and trans fats. What gives?
Turns out 1 in 6 couples struggle with infertility and unfortunately for me, I fell into this newfound statistic. Being a self starting, A-type entrepreneur, I figured, “ok, lets figure this out ASAP and move on with it”.
Enter Naturopathic Doctors, Osteopaths, Chinese Acupuncturists and then the infertility clinic. If you have gone down this road, you know the unbelievable disruption and stress this brings.
There are many stages of the infertility process. It starts with basic monitoring of your ovulation cycle: this includes internal ultrasounds, blood work, doctors appointments often many times a week. Then it moves to more intense and medicated cycles to grow more eggs . Add in scheduled intercourse (honestly, not as much fun as you might think), long waits and the never-ending fear of “what if this never happens for me?”.
The pinnacle of our journey arrived about a year after starting infertility treatments when our doctor said that we were in an “unexplained infertility zone” and might want to consider the dreaded IVF (In-vitro Fertilization). I had been mentally preparing myself …just in case. And here we were, with a very scary decision to make. Could we handle the emotional and physically toll this would take on us (mostly me) and where the heck do we find the money?
Ten days of twice a day injections, unbelievable bloating, discomfort and fatigue. I was willingly pumping myself with hormones to help my body grow an extraordinary number of eggs, as well as another to prevent ovulation. It was a hormonal nightmare and one that I questioned several times. And rightfully so, with only a 50% shot of success, was this all worth it?
The next scary step included surgery. Being a nutritionist, having to take Ativan to manage my fears of being awake for what was described as “ a very painful procedure” and being sedated with a cocktail of drugs was really tough. I strive to be as natural as possible. I take meds as a last resort, I eat clean, use organic body care, don’t use chemicals in my cleaning products, take supplements and essential oils. This was taking me to the limits of my comfort zone. But I had to believe it was worth it.
The next day, we knew that 9 eggs had been retrieved but only 4 had fertilized. Devastating. Already, we were down over 50% and still had 4 more days of waiting. This was probably the hardest. Waiting for the call each day to tell us how many of our little embryos had survived the night. Each day felt like a week.
On day 5, we got the call. One had made it. There were many emotions. Fear, nerves, excitement, trepidation – everything hinged on this one embryo. Everything we had gone through was resting on this teeny tiny clump of cells. No pressure right?
Cue more waiting, and 2 weeks later the big day arrived. Pregnancy test day! Oh the nerves. It had felt like an eternity to get to this place. The call came at 3pm. I remember clearly as it was later than I had expected. It was positive! Time stopped, the world slowed for a brief moment, we had made it. All the waiting, crying, pain and money were worth it!
The next few days were a blur. After 2 days of pure bliss, more blood work confirmed my beta levels (pregnancy hormone) were dropping. I should expect to lose the pregnancy I was told. It was a low few days. Everything we worked towards was slipping away and I couldn’t do a damn thing about it.
Now for the part you really need to know about…
Three weeks later, the last day of my summer vacation, the same day I brought home my sweet new puppy Gibson (my consolation prize for all we had been through), I woke up at 2am with the most intense pain I have ever felt. Upon waking my stomach bloated an almost pregnancy like state. Thinking I was going to be sick or needed to use the washroom, I stumbled to the washroom. I was light headed, dizzy and sweating like crazy and so fearing I’d fall, I went back to bed to wake up my husband, colliding with walls as I went.
It never occurred to me that something was seriously wrong until I got up for clients in the morning and realized the pain was just as intense but now I could hardly walk. I put a call into my fertility clinic thinking that perhaps I had grown a cyst from all the hormones during my IVF cycle and that it was bursting.
A few hours later and loaded up with Tylenol 3, I got the results of my ultrasound and blood work. I was pregnant and it was stuck in my Fallopian tube. I was rushed to the hospital and into surgery where I had my right Fallopian tube removed. Turns out, that miscarriage I had 3 weeks earlier… wasn’t in fact a miscarriage at all. Despite experiencing bleeding (a sign I was told to expect) due to miscarrying, my little embryo had detached itself from my uterus lining and moved to the Fallopian tube where it decided to settle in. The pain I felt, was a 5 week embryo tearing through my Fallopian tube, causing massive internal bleeding. I was later told that I would likely have died that day, had I not gone into the fertility clinic and insisted on help.
Waking up from surgery with 2 liters of blood removed from my body, 3 painful incisions, one less reproductive organ and no baby was probably the lowest day we had. How the heck would I become pregnant now with only 1 tube? It was miserable.
I also received a call the next day from my fertility doctor- she wanted to apologize. I will never forget her words. She told me that the clinic had forgotten to run more blood work with me to ensure my beta levels (pregnancy hormone), post miscarriage where down to zero before I was given the all clear. What this means in reality – had the clinic been doing their job and checked my hormones like they should have, they would have seen my beta levels start to rise after the embryo reattached itself inside my Fallopian tube. Because I was looked over due to their impending 3 week summer vacation, I unfortunately lost not only my tube and almost my life, but now have a 50% less shot at becoming pregnant naturally.
What Is An Ectopic Pregnancy?
This is a serious condition when the embryo attaches itself outside of the uterus and in many cases the Fallopian tube. However, the embryo can also attach itself in other area like the cervix and ovaries.
Signs and Symptoms
- Symptoms similar to early pregnancy like a missed period, sore breasts and cramping
- Abdominal/belly pain
- Vaginal Bleeding
- Extreme pain and belly bloating
- Nausea and vomiting due to pain
- Dizziness and or weakness
- Intense urge to have a bowel movement
- Pain on one side of your body
- Shoulder, neck or rectum pain
Note: This is a medical emergency and 911 should be notified should you experience any of the following:
- Pain in your rectum or an intense urge to have a bowel movement could mean you’re bleeding internally.
- Pain in your shoulder could also be an emergency. While it might not sound pregnancy-related, if one of your Fallopian tubes bursts, blood can pool near your diaphragm and irritate nerves that run to your shoulder.
- If your pain is severe, sharp, and sudden, or if you feel lightheaded or dizzy, or if you’ve fainted, call 911 immediately. These are all signs you could be going into shock.
What I Learned
- Ask lots of questions and be informed: Never once during the whole process was I informed about ectopic pregnancy and what to look out for. I was never told that infertility and IVF are risk factors for having an ectopic pregnancy. Know the risks, don’t trust that you are being given all the information
- Advocate for yourself. If your gut tells you something is wrong, listen. You are probably right.
I’ve heard it said from friends, that a dog (or any pet you have an emotional attachment to) is good for the soul. Gibson helped me to heal from this traumatic series of events in ways I will probably never fully understand.
5 weeks after surgery, my husband and I received the best news! We were/are expecting. I write this to you 17 weeks pregnant and very much looking forward to meeting our little miracle baby girl.
Out of all the bad, came good and wonderful things. I write this in hope that this story can not only shed some light on what likely multiple people in your life are going through on some level or another, but also to educate and make you aware of this serious condition and what you can do to save the life of yourself or someone that you love.
yours in health,
For questions, feel free to contact us here!