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Ectopic Pregnancy: Our Story

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If you’ve seen my post announcing our first pregnancy you’ll know how overjoyed we were to have received such good news. Just two weeks after finding out we were expecting everything changed – mentally, emotionally, and in some ways physically. For the sake of context I’ll start from the beginning.

My husband & I found out we were pregnant very early on. I got my first positive pregnancy test a few days before I was expecting my period. For those of you who are up on the TTC (trying to conceive) lingo, that was CD26 (cycle day 26) and 10DPO (10 days post ovulation) which is pretty early. I continued to take tests every other day until I got a solid line five days later (15DPO).

We got to enjoy this news and adjust to the life change for about a week before I started having some strange symptoms. I believe I had what would be considered implantation bleeding around 8DPO. This is, of course, normal. But when the intermittent spotting didn’t stop I became worried. How much bleeding is normal? What color should it be? When should I be alarmed and when should I see a doctor?

At this point I was only 5 weeks along and hadn’t had my first prenatal visit. I had chosen to use a certified nurse midwife for my regular pap smear just a few weeks before so I gave that office a call hoping I could get some clarification. At this time I won’t be disclosing what office or which provider I spoke to. Because the midwife who had done my exam wasn’t on duty I spoke to the midwife on call. After describing some of my symptoms the best answer she could give me was “I don’t know if that’s normal.”

Disappointed (and quite frankly, pretty shocked) that the midwife had no idea if what I was experiencing was normal, I asked if she thought I should come in to confirm my pregnancy and possibly do some bloodwork. She responded in the most demeaning way I could have imagined.

“Is this your first pregnancy?”

Indeed, it was; regardless, I was having some symptoms that to my knowledge were out of the ordinary, and cause for at least some preliminary tests. Just her tone indicated she did not take me seriously at all. By the end of the conversation the verdict that she had reached was “wait & see.” She quite patronizingly explained that sometimes when women first fall pregnant they can be hyper-aware of what’s happening with their bodies and may panic if they see something out of the ordinary. She told me to call back in a week if my symptoms persisted.

Dissatisfied with this answer I scheduled my first prenatal appointment with an OBGYN in a different office. I described my symptoms and she said there were two things that could be happening: either I was having a miscarriage, or I had developed an ectopic pregnancy. The latter seemed unlikely for my age and stellar health history, but she asked me to keep a close eye on my symptoms and to call if anything changed.

Within 48 hours my spotting had increased to steady, fresh bleeding accompanied by moderate cramps. That afternoon I rushed from work to the doctor’s office in desperate need of answers. I had been scheduled for a transvaginal ultrasound a few days away, but I couldn’t wait any longer. I was examined by the doctor and then had an external ultrasound performed which ended up being inconclusive. This early on in a pregnancy, the doctor told me, it’s often hard to see an embryo through the abdomen. Off I went to the ultrasound tech to have an internal exam done, which was pretty quick and totally painless, contrary to popular belief. After that I was sent across the hall to have some blood drawn and then was released to go home.

Not an hour had passed since arriving home when I received a call from my doctor with the results of the ultrasound. The embryo hadn’t made it out of the fallopian tube, and had implanted there and would need to be removed, either via medical treatment or surgical intervention. Because of the appearance of the tube on the ultrasound my doctor recommended surgery, and immediately. I had begun to cry a little while on the phone with the doctor, told her I needed to discuss everything with my husband, and as soon as I hung up the phone burst into completely unabashed tears. How could something so joyful suddenly turn out so badly? I had to collect myself before I could even tell Aaron that our first pregnancy had failed. We discussed the options and quickly decided I should go ahead with the surgery and opt to have the entire tube removed. Making haste, we showered, dressed and packed before leaving for the hospital around 7pm.

I had arrived home after my appointment around 5:30pm and was admitted for surgery by 8:00. There had been a nurse waiting for me in the lobby at the hospital, and they had already processed most of my admitting before I got there in order to expedite the check-in process. It wasn’t fifteen minutes before I was being wiped down, gowned and put on IV to wait for the surgeon, who happened to be my regular OB – she happened to be on call at the very same hospital that night. After a quick debriefing I was left in the capable hands of my husband and a nurse to await surgery. I would be having my entire fallopian tube removed via laparoscopy, a minimally invasive procedure also used for appendectomies.

The procedure only took about 45 minutes total, and after a couple hours to come out of the anesthesia we were cleared to go home.

What I learned at a later appointment is that my tube had actually ruptured in two places before it was removed. I had told my doctor that if there was too much risk associated with leaving the damaged tube in place to just remove it entirely. She had attempted to save it before finding the second rupture but unfortunately there was too much damage for it to be salvageable. One of the dangers of ectopic pregnancy is that is can be very hard to stop any bleeding in that area, which is the potentially fatal aspect of the condition. I’ve read that if there’s excess bleeding the removal of certain portions of the reproductive system may be the only way to prevent hemorrhaging.

We were very lucky to have caught this in time. I was not in a large amount of pain (this can possibly be contributed to high pain tolerance and physical resilience; I’m a pretty tough cookie!) but I already had 200ml (about 8oz.) of blood pooling in my abdomen. The surgical staff as well as my doctor did a wonderful job and I felt very well cared for during my brief hospital stay. Except for 3 tiny scars and the loss of our baby, it’s almost like it never happened.

Another factor in this event was the discovery of my blood type and what it means for myself as well as our children. I am RH negative, which determines the minus following my blood type. This indicator is called Rhesus factor – or RH factor – a misnomer for the presence or absence of the D antigen on the surface of your red blood cells. This just means that people with negative blood types have to be extra careful when receiving transfusions or becoming pregnant. Because my husband is O+ and I am A-, there is a good chance that any babies we have will have positive blood types and my body will try to attack them. This is because a negative blood type cannot come into contact with a positive blood type without dire, and sometimes fatal, results.

It is imperative that people with negative blood types only receive RH negative blood if they need transfusions, and even more important if you are a woman of childbearing age: if you are exposed to a conflicting blood type, whether it be via transfusion, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or labor & delivery, you can become what is called RH sensitized, and it is irreversible. After your immune system builds up antibodies due to that first exposure, it can prevent you from having a successful pregnancy in the future by causing RH disease, a condition of severe anemia which results in birth defects, and even causes preterm miscarriage and stillbirth.

During my recovery I perused the TTC forums and discovered that many women struggle with conceiving and experience multiple miscarriages before ever finding out that they’re RH sensitized. This is one of the reasons why I decided to share my story online. It would have been much easier to not have to talk about it or revisit the pain that comes with losing a pregnancy. But if reading this helps even just one person it will be worth the heartache.

Please, if you are thinking about getting pregnant or find yourself expecting, seek proper medical care. Most providers will include blood typing and RH antibody screening in your preliminary bloodwork, and most routine prenatal care is fully covered by your medical insurance. For those uninsured, there are many options out there for you to receiveĀ  quality prenatal care at little or no cost to you.

Don’t hesitate to seek medical care as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. So much of the development of your baby’s brain, spine and major organs happens in the first few weeks, so it’s never too early to start thinking about the health of your baby as well as your own. It might mean the difference between having future children and not.

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Almost Heaven

My husband and I have both been working full time (plus overtime) as well as traveling to central Idaho on the weekends to help my parents renovate their second home, so in lieu of a normal update I’d like to share a few photos of our adventures where the land meets the sky.

The house is situated on 10 oblong acres above the Clearwater river in an area that residents are proud to call “almost heaven,” and the expansive views, tranquil silence and 360-degree mile-long views are a testament to its title.

Aaron and I have really enjoyed spending our weekends here with my parents. One of the only downsides of our relocation to Idaho is that we’re further away from family than ever before, so the opportunity to work, share meals, and visit with them again has been more than welcome.

 

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Easter Bunnies and Bulldogs

Aaron and I spent Easter in Washington with his family and visiting his grandmother. It’s the first trip we’ve taken since moving to Idaho and boy, was it a long weekend. We left after work on Friday night, and we collapsed into bed when we finally arrived in White Salmon after the 6 & 1/2 hour trip. To top off a restless night I awoke Saturday morning to the dog whining at the back door. Cookie is not a very vocal animal, and she never makes any noise when she wants or needs to go outside (we had to purchase “doggie bells” to hang on the door for this reason) so my intrigue outweighed my annoyance at the early hour.

Another thing about Cookie that everyone knows is that she is a lover. She adores people, especially children, and absolutely loves other animals – dogs, cats, cows and horses alike. So when I found her sitting in front of the sliding glass door whining to be let out, I couldn’t help but smile at the reason. There on Grandma’s porch sat a statue of an English bulldog complete with collar, name tag, and classic canine scowl. Apparently Cookie had mistaken it for a real dog and was literally begging to go outside so she could play with it!

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After I let her out onto the porch she quickly realized that the statue wasn’t a real puppy, and with a look on her face that could have been disappointment (or just my own anthropomorphic interpretation) she wandered off to explore the rest of the yard. Oh, the life of a dog!

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Valentine’s Day 2018

Being our first wedding anniversary that Aaron hasn’t been working out of town as well as our first holiday as residents of Idaho, I knew I wanted this Valentine’s Day to be special. While we visited Coeur d’Alene over the New Year we unfortunately missed the opportunity to take the famed Eagle Cruise, a birdwatching cruise hosted by CDA Resort during the winter migration of Bald Eagles through Northern Idaho. But the resort didn’t let me down this time!IMG_20180214_214144256.jpgIMG_20180214_214102491.jpgIMG_20180214_213954038.jpg

We boarded a double-decker ferry at the Resort docks, were seated at a table for two, clothed in white and set with champagne glasses, and patiently waited for our voyage to begin. The decor, the drinks, the food, and even the lighting was perfectly romantic! And running only $50 a person, a three-course dinner with complimentary toast aboard a ferry boat on the beautiful lake was an experience worth paying for. We enjoyed a good quality buffet-style meal and subsequently enjoyed our glasses of bubbly on deck, admiring the view from the top level and marveling at the engines through viewing windows on the bottom level. The staff was even kind enough to snap a photo of us on the bow of the “Kootenai” as she gracefully glided back to port.

Alas, I couldn’t let the night get away without a good story! As we took the photo together standing at the front of the boat, what you can’t see is the giant mountain of hard-packed snow that we’re standing on! We walk on snow all day long now that we live in Idaho, but what I didn’t think about while we were traipsing around the freezing deck was that my high heels had felt pads on the soles, which promptly froze solid after stepping off of Glacier Mountain to return to the heated dining room.

While I thought I’d wiped my shoes thoroughly on the door mat, we quickly discovered I was oh so very wrong. The second my feet hit the polished wood floor of the main hall I went into an instant (and incredibly unrefined) moonwalk across the entryway, As I slid from toe to toe for about ten feet I heard the whole room suck in their breath and wait for me to fall – but my loving and ever-attentive husband grasped my elbow and held me steady until we made it to our table, where I was able to pick the ice off the bottom of my shoes as I reveled in the safety and security of my bottom in my chair!

I also managed to make three dozen cake truffles and took them to work. Needless to say they were gone before the day was over!

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A very happy Valentine’s Day indeed.

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We Made It!

After many car troubles, potty breaks, and general FUBAR’s, we have finally made it to our new home! I start work Monday and Aaron is set to begin his new job at a moment’s notice. I’m sure the next few months will be nothing but hard work (unpacking, settling in, etc.) but I am so glad to be out of California it’s unreal! Idaho is affordable, quiet, friendly, and absolutely gorgeous. As I’m writing this I’m propped against the kitchen counter watching the midnight snow falling on the quiet neighborhood street. Over the top of our neighbors’ houses I can see what would appear to be a greenbelt but it in fact is national forest that stretches all the way to Montana. Such beauty and tranquility has me absolutely buzzing with excitement at what adventures our new home state will hold for us!

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Idaho: The Abridged Version

Aaron and I are relocating from northern California to the great state of Idaho. We’re not sure where exactly yet, but we know we no longer wish to reside in Redding, or anywhere else in California. After everything we’ve been subjected to in this state (skyrocketing crime, a broken penal system, financial hardship, among other things) we’ve decided there is no reason not to relocate now, when we don’t have anything preventing us from doing so. Because we are leaving my entire family behind, it was an incredibly hard decision to make, but we feel it’s what is best for us and our future as a couple and future family.

That being said, we could not have had more fun in the Gem State. Boise was quirky and hip; from there we traveled through forest after forest, only stopping for good food and the occasional excursion to stretch our legs. We left pins in Riggins, Lewiston, Lake Cascade, and St. Maries before finally driving up the east lide of Lake Coeur d’Alene, our predicted landing spot. We spend almost a week in the “City on the Lake,” met with a wonderfully warm community, boundless opportunities for recreation, a thriving job market, and affordable living costs. This is exactly why we came here, we decided. This is what we were looking for and it’s what we found easily throughout most of the state, although CDA was our definite favorite town, not in the least for its resemblance to Lake Tahoe, a magical and meaningful place for my husband and I.

So we’ve returned to Redding with a renewed thrill for what the future holds for us, and an overwhelming sense of wanderlust. We cannot wait to get out of Commie-fornia and begin this new chapter in our lives. The next step is to take another trip upstate to secure housing, and then it’s all moving from there!