I hadn’t expected to care when the anniversary of my ectopic rolled around. I always assumed by that time I’d be severely pregnant and the harshness of the day would have faded to a bitter memory. A mark on my already messy road to conceiving. As this day inched closer though, I felt a tear in my wound – I didn’t think I’d see September again so soon, and so bumpless. Where’s the baby Doctor Kate promised I’d have by now? “At least we know that you can get pregnant. You’ll be changing diapers and having sleepless nights in no time.” More like changing blue liners and, well, she nailed it on the sleepless nights. A year later and I’m drenched in anger wondering, how is that all we get? I was given the smallest taste of pregnancy to hold me over for the next twelve months. What a tease. Then there’s the fact that if there are any future pregnancies, this experience will tinge those first weeks with fear. I’ll have to live the rest of my (in)fertile days hoping it isn’t happening again, struggling with a “15% of the time it happens every time” type of mindset. It doesn’t make sense, but phobias rarely do.
That’s the real trouble with ectopics – there’s never any true closure because it doesn’t come with answers. There’s still no ‘why’ or even a ‘why your tube will probably take another embryo hostage now that it happened once’. Once a tube implanter always a tube implanter, I guess. Traitor. My tubes are almost comically open to the point where I have to assume this was some intentional evil plan acted out by my own body. Because it was my body that did that to me, and I punished it with the harshest chemical that had ever entered my system. Call it even?
The strangest thing about the ectopic is that it’s not even the day that I dwell on the most, it’s the morning after that haunts me. Nothing can compare to hissing as I sat up in bed after an unexpected deep sleep, forgetting for one beautiful moment why my bottom ached, and then the jolting memory of: ultrasound, ectopic, methotrexate, a broken heart. The realization that this was the first day that I’d be able to fully analyze what had happened now that I wasn’t running on pure shock. I recall the ‘methotrexate day’ with cringe-worthy clarity because all of my decisions were just weird. I had no business separating from my husband, or going into work, or casually riding the bus as if I hadn’t just ended a pregnancy and needed to rush home for my breakdown. Maybe that was one way my brain tried to protect me from the whole experience – stick to your normal routine and you won’t notice how horrible this all is. I can’t say it’s a method that I recommend.
The complete ignorance of the weeks of bleeding is all very palm-to-face as well. All my time on Google and THIS is the thing I miss? Because of my lack of awareness, I was never given the luxury to dream of a future with Little Sac – instead I was pregnant and then not within twenty four hours. A blessing and a curse that I barely had time to hope for a positive outcome before that was snatched away from me by a fluid-filled ultrasound. The brevity of this pregnancy – the seven weeks that were crammed into one day – caused me to never fully look at my ectopic as a loss. I mourned the lost months, the brutality of the methotrexate, the fact that of course this happened to me. But I’ve left the idea of Little Sac alone for twelve months now, telling myself that it was just a small mass of cells. But it wasn’t. Those were our cells. Something that is starting to hit home now that we’re about to have a batch of embryos made for us in a few weeks.
Maybe it’s serendipitous that a year after unwillingly ending my first (and only) pregnancy, I’m now beginning my IVF journey. A much needed do-over, if you will. It’s incredibly difficult for me to find the good in this experience, but there’s one thing I’m certain of: I’m stronger than I could ever have imagined. Trying to conceive after a loss (because yes, whether I can admit it or not – it’s categorized as a loss) is not for the faint of heart. We push through the fear that plagues us, the hurt and anger and stinging betrayal that is our own bodies, and then we put on our big girl panties (not the period ones, the cute pair) and keep going. There’s a rainbow at the end of this tunnel for all of us, I’m sure of it.