“Your biological clock’s ticking away.” My family has been telling me this since I turned 30. My sister had her first child right after college and everyone hoped I’d follow the same path. But, despite being the eldest, I’ve always been the least traditional, the one who never had a lasting relationship or a steady job, and who preferred to travel.
However, my idea of being a nomad and going around the world in a campervan completely vanished when I met Peter. I was on holiday with some friends and he was a receptionist at the hotel we were staying in. He was kind, funny, had the bluest eyes and when he laughed, he had two dimples on his cheeks.
I was captivated. We fell in love and that was the start of our beautiful story. I no longer wanted to go around the world, he was all I needed, and we set up a home together. To start with, things were financially hard and we often got by on only just one salary. At other times, our parents helped us with the rent. However, by the time I was 36, the situation improved and we decided to go one step further. To become parents.
I’ve suffered an ectopic pregnancy. But I refuse to be one more statistic. My story is unique, like that of thousands of women who’ve gone through this experience.
The pain of miscarriage and an empty womb
“Your biological clock’s ticking” my father used to say. He’s never had much tact or empathy. He’s one of those people who always say the first thing that comes into his mind. Two years passed and there was no baby. We didn’t get pregnant. Finally, we assumed that ours was going to be a life without children and that there was nothing wrong with that. We were fine.
It was at the worst moment of the pandemic when it happened. The world seemed to be falling apart outside, and yet we were jumping for joy. I took a pregnancy test and two really faint lines appeared. I knew it was positive, but I took two more tests just in case. Just to make sure that everything we’d dreamed of had finally come true. And yes, it was true. We were going to have a baby.
The next two weeks were the best and most exciting of my life. We spent the nights talking about what our life would be like, what name we’d choose, and how we’d raise our little one. We announced it to our families, and my sister couldn’t have been happier. We were going to be mothers in the same year. She was four months pregnant with her third.
A miscarriage out of the blue
One morning, when I went to the bathroom, I discovered some blood on my underwear. There wasn’t much but it was there. I reassured myself that I’d read that bleeding can appear in the first trimester. I made an effort to tell myself that it was normal -when, in fact, I knew it wasn’t. Nevertheless, I decided it was better to try not to worry and didn’t mention anything to Peter.
However, when I went to the kitchen and started to make breakfast, something suddenly happened that I still find hard to explain. I experienced the worst pain I’ve ever had. It was as if a burning hot spike was repeatedly prodding my insides. As if my innards were being mercilessly ripped out. I broke out in a cold sweat and don’t remember anything else. I lost consciousness.
When I woke up, I was lying on a hospital stretcher. Peter was next to me and they were taking me to have an ultrasound. It was then that the doctor, with complete detachment, said a few words to the nurse, “The womb’s empty. There’s nothing there” It was as if we weren’t even there.
In the event of any bleeding or strange sensation experienced during pregnancy, it’s advisable to consult a doctor immediately.
An ectopic pregnancy
A second ultrasound showed that my uterus was empty because the embryo was lodged in my left fallopian tube. It measured 12 millimeters and was alive. If you don’t know anything about ectopic pregnancies (as I didn’t), let me tell you what happens when an embryo develops outside the uterus. It occurs only in two percent of pregnancies and they’re never viable. They’re doomed to die.
Our baby was alive but was killing me. There was no choice and the doctors then informed me of what was going to happen. The ectopic -that’s what they called our baby- had to die. For this to happen I was to be injected with methotrexate. This is a chemotherapy drug that’s injected into the bloodstream to slow or stop the production of fast-growing cells.
My pregnancy, something that I’d never thought would happen to me, had just started. But after a few weeks of pain and bleeding, it was all over. Coming home from the hospital was the saddest moment of our lives. Everything we’d dreamed of, everything we’d planned for, was decomposing into pieces of flesh, blood, and liquid.
However, our story didn’t end there. Because twelve days later, that searing pain went through my abdomen again. Something was wrong, our ectopic had died, but had grown in size. So, the medics intervened urgently to remove the fallopian tube in which our baby was hiding, refusing to leave me, tied to my insides, and causing me indescribable suffering.
Ectopic pregnancy is the leading cause of maternal death in the first trimester of pregnancy.
My days of mourning for my little girl
I know my ectopic pregnancy was a girl. I know that the embryo who was only alive for a few weeks was a little girl with sky-blue eyes and a beautiful smile. I don’t know why, call it instinct, call it intuition. But since they ripped her out of me, leaving a scar on my abdomen, I can’t stop imagining what her life would’ve been like.
I know that I shouldn’t be reinforcing these thoughts, but it gives me some relief to imagine her in my mind, playing and laughing. With Peter’s two dimples on her cheeks. “You’ll soon have another one,” says my father with his usual lack of tact. But I just think of all those women who’ve also experienced miscarriages.
I remember my colleague who was on leave after losing her baby and, when she returned to work, nobody knew what to say to her. I remember my best friend, who had a miscarriage in the fourth trimester and who I know hasn’t yet recovered. I also think of my aunt, who had eight miscarriages and finally, after adopting a girl, had two more naturally.
A scar that connects me to her
I know that my grief, like that of many other women (and their partners), is unique and can’t be compared. That said, we all have something in common: the void, the story that wasn’t to be, and the silent sadness that’ll stay with us forever. That doesn’t mean that we can’t lead normal everyday lives, because we do. We smile and dream again and make plans.
However, when no one sees us, we caress our internal and external scars in silence and mourn our losses. And that’s fine because what’s loved is remembered and forever housed in little corners of our hearts. Now, I’m an aunt again.
My sister has now had her baby. Although initially, for a few days, I couldn’t look at her pregnant belly without feeling some anger, envy, and sadness, now everything’s fine. Life is okay and I’m continuing to heal gradually. As is Peter.
I only hope that my testimony can help someone. Because, if you’ve gone through the same thing, you should know that you’re not alone. Talk about it with your loved ones, let yourself be loved and looked after, and seek help. Above all, make sure you tell others about your pain.
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