Sorry it took me so long to write about this. It was likely part fear and part denial, but finally– in my 3rd trimester– I’m ready to talk about it!
A positive pregnancy test is usually a time of rejoice, except when you are emerging from the haze of pregnancy loss recovery. ICYMI, I suffered from an ectopic pregnancy in June 2017 which rocked my world there for a while. My only option for treatment was surgical removal because I was too progressed in the pregnancy, which had pros and cons.
Pro: we could start trying to conceive pretty much immediately
Con: we could start trying to conceive pretty much immediately
After experiencing a rather traumatic loss and the added stress of the very real possibility an ectopic pregnancy could happen again, trying for another baby quickly moved to the bottom of my list. I really wanted to give myself time to recover physically, but more importantly, emotionally. (Read my first blog here about the highs and lows of recovery) My surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy went remarkably well, thank goodness, but had a few caveats.
Pro: both of my fallopian tubes remained. Hooray!
Con: both of my fallopian tubes remained– only because they both looked really, really bad and covered in scar tissue. Removing just the tube affected by the ectopic while leaving behind the other uncertain one could mean I’d never conceive naturally again.
The ob/gyn who performed my surgery referred me to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (colloquially known as a Fertility Speciialist) to get some testing done to see how I recovered post-surgery and get a plan of action moving forward. Is conceiving naturally too risky? Are both my tubes shot? What else is going on in there? Should we explore IVF?
We saw the first RE about 2 months after surgery who jumped to recommending IVF right away. I have nothing against In Vitro Fertilization, but was really turned off by his dismissive demeanor and lack of empathy. The human body is miraculous at healing itself and I knew in my heart that if I’d had a healthy pregnancy before that it would be possible again. So, we ditched that doctor and traveled down to Clear Lake to Dr. John Crochet of the Center of Reproductive Medicine who was also on the list of recommended doctors (and who surprisingly took our insurance). (How funny is it that we live about a mile from the Texas Medical Center and had to venture all the way across Houston to find the right guy?!).
Sitting in the waiting room, I felt so out of place. Never in a million years did I think I’d be in a Reproductive Endocrinologist’s office. I felt like a failure and found myself bringing up the fact that I’ve had a healthy pregnancy and baby before like I had something to prove. It took a couple of visits before I finally found myself humbled and comforted by the room full of ladies who too felt the same way as me—defeated, ashamed, and confused as to why their body failed them. I’ll always appreciate that little unmentioned “tribe” of fellow mommies and mommies-to-be. Just their empathetic glances and niceties was enough to comfort me.
Dr. Crochet was incredibly patient and calmed me down so much. He specializes in ectopic pregnancies and assured me that despite what the internet says, ectopics are pretty common and that reoccurrence rate is relatively low. Given my personal circumstances, he gave me a 15% chance of it happening again. That’s an 85% chance of healthy pregnancy! He performed an HSG test to look at the patency of my tubes, and surprisingly my questionable tube looked great while the other that was cut into had a little bit of “pooling”, but not blocked. (In my last post, you can see what I did to help with recovery and reduction of scar tissue). He gave us the “go ahead” to start trying again, so we did. Me, a bit apprehensive and worried, and my husband, the eternal optimist, completely faithful that we would hit zero roadblocks.
It took a few months, but I began noticing that undeniable feeling of early pregnancy. Sore breasts, fatigue, increased urination, etc., but I ignored them because, well, I was really scared to get excited. We spent that weekend after my noticeably missed period cleaning out our apartment to donate to Harvey victims. I made a quick run to Ikea while my husband set up my son’s “big boy” bed, and when I got home, I realized I couldn’t deny the inevitable anymore. So, I took a test. Positive. Oh, crap.
The next week was a total blur. When you’ve had one ectopic, any subsequent pregnancy requires immediate monitoring. This includes testing blood levels of HCG (pregnancy hormone) to make sure it rises by at least 60% every other day until high enough to do an ultrasound to rule out another ectopic. And, even if your levels do rise appropriately, ectopics cannot be completely ruled out until a sac is visualized in the uterus on an ultrasound. Waiting for those test results each day was such a rollercoaster of emotions. One day rising beautifully and the next not as much. After 5 days of testing, my HCG levels were finally high enough to have an ultrasound done, but my doctor had plans to be out of town until the following Tuesday, meaning I’d have to wait the entire weekend before having answers. Couple this anxiety with the fact that we had plans to leave town, and I was a total mess. (Last time we left town early in pregnancy is when my pain and bleeding started with my ectopic pregnancy). By the grace of God, my husband was able to contact an ob/gyn client of his who snuck us into her office for a quick ultrasound. I’ve never been so nervous in my life and had a death stare on that ultrasound machine until, alas, a perfectly beautiful yolk sac appeared. It made it to the right place. What an amazing thing the body is!
With confirmation of a ruled-out ectopic, I could have left the services of my fertility specialist, but to be honest, he was so patient and caring that we stayed with him until the first trimester ended. Given the nature and delicacy of their work, they do ultrasounds every two weeks during the first trimester, so I gladly took advantage of that service. If you’re in need of a fertility specialist, I could not say enough about the care I got at CORM. They are the epitome what doctors should be—patient, caring, attentive, and encouraging. Never once did anyone push for IVF (again, not that there is anything wrong with it), but they respected our wishes to conceive naturally and acknowledged the undeniable power of God and what humans are capable of.
The early weeks of pregnancy, I really focused on maintaining a balanced diet rich in a ton of leafy green vegetables to provide folate to support the rapid cell division that takes place. I also added in some extra liquid folate drops because of an MTHFR mutation. To support my adrenals (and obvious stresses of the first few weeks of pregnancy), fat was a must at each meal as well as some extra Vitamin C I took in powder form. I kept up my digestive enzymes, protease, vitamin D, probiotic, and fish oil. The only products I stopped were my herbal anti-anxiety remedies. They’re not inherently unsafe, but my rule of thumb during pregnancy is if I can’t find it in my kitchen, I don’t take it! My progesterone was a little the low side (probably stress related), so I was prescribed compounded progesterone through the first trimester.
To those of you who have suffered loss or struggle to conceive, I hear you and am here for you! It takes a LOT of support from anyone and everyone!
First trimester came and went in a flash. Morning sickness (AKA all day hangover feeling) arrived around 8 weeks and departed around 14 weeks. Thankfully, I was again blessed with just nausea and food aversions, but never actually vomited. I attribute this to good diet, digestive enzymes, probiotics, and a lot of water.
Second trimester I transitioned to the care of a midwife who works in an ob/gyn office. The best of both worlds. I also hired a doula! But, I’ll write another post of this later and how I hope my birthing experience this time is a little more empowered than my last. (Note: my last delivery went really well, but there are some things I would have done differently!)
Thanks for journeying with me!
P.S. The supplement recommendations here are what worked for ME! Please ask or get with your health care professional to determine the best next steps for you!
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