Ectopic-ness: Day 1

The Greek origin of the word ectopic means “out of place”.

This is part of my story of the ectopic pregnancy I had a year ago.  If you want to learn more about ectopic or tubal pregnancies, I find this website, Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, to be most helpful.  If there’s any possibility that you may be pregnant and you start experiencing pain in your lower abdomen that gets worse, see a doctor immediately as it could be life-threatening.  And it’s preferable that you don’t drive yourself like I did since many women feel light-headed and some even faint!


April 9, 2013

Another regular afternoon and I bend over to pick up another seemingly endless toy from the floor.

“Ouch!!”

The left side of my lower abdomen pierced with a sudden pain.

That’s weird.

I walk back to the bedroom to put away the toy and didn’t feel any pain. So what do I do? I test the pain to see if it’s only when I crouch down.

Yep, that hurts!

I bend over at the waist.

That kinda hurts too.

I repeat all sorts of similar movements, twisting, bending and squeezing. Just add that to my other pains today! My breasts were already super tender since the day before. The thought quickly passed through my mind if the pain was associated to my impending ovulation. Pregnancy had already been ruled out as impossible. But other than this quick thought, I didn’t give it any more attention. The boys need me to play with them and make their lunch and I was trying to gather enough motivation to finish my household chores, prepare dinner and get ready for grocery shopping without having a nervous breakdown.  The rest of the day included a nap to escape reality (or have I really worn myself out already?), a literal cry for help to my understanding hubby, and a 2 hour grocery shopping trip. I finally came home a bit before the boys’ bedtime, exhausted but determined to finish out the day “properly”.

With the boys tucked into their cozy beds for the night and the end of a day fast approaching, I now had a few quiet moments to notice that something’s wrong. That pain came back. Or was it always there since this afternoon, hushed away by the busy-ness? I do my awkward dance again to investigate the source of my pain. The pain is more intense when I move certain ways but not others but it is constant, unfriendly pain even without any weird poses. The pain is inconsistent and now I’m confused and worried. I’m good at worrying.

There is something definitely wrong with me!

I head to the computer and start the symptom checker on the Mayo Clinic’s website. It’s my favorite “what’s wrong with me?” place.

I start with, Abdominal Pain.

The computer asks, Pain is?  Possible answers include, Acute, or began suddenly; Cramping; Progressive, or worsens over time; Sharp; Steady.

I really just want to check yes to all of the choices because the pain seems to be all of them at some point.

The computer asks, Pain Located in?  I answer, Lower abdomen.

The rest I leave blank because it didn’t seem to fit so I get tons of results of possible horrible conditions that may be causing my pain. In my anxiety and pain, I try to quickly go over the summary of each one but none of them seem to identify my situation which intensifies my frustration. I go to webMD to see if I get something else that may explain what’s happening to my body. I get a ton more conditions to go through and though I normally like research, I’m getting more antsy about finishing to get rid of the worsening pain. In my mind, I settle that I might have a digestive problem. I do have family medical history to back me up on that but I wasn’t convinced. Ectopic pregnancy seems to fit but I kept pushing it out of my mind because that would mean I’m pregnant.

I can’t be pregnant! I just had a period last week! But my breasts have been aching too…

I do some more googling. How common is it to be pregnant and still have a period? Not very common at all. How common is it to get breast tenderness before ovulation? Somewhat common. How common is getting breast tenderness before ovulation when you haven’t had it before? No solid answers.

I keep shooting questions to Google about my pain but in the back of my mind, the ectopic pregnancy consideration is there. In the midst of my speed typing and reading, I realize I have an unused pregnancy test from when my period was late a while back. I quickly Google my next question. How many weeks pregnant do you realize you have an ectopic pregnancy? The consensus is 6. That’s enough time for a test to work.  I was very doubtful that I was pregnant but it kept nagging at me so I needed to get rid of it.

If the test comes back negative, I’m not having an ectopic.

I try to be real careful about doing the pregnancy test right. When I tested while pregnant with my second child, I thought the test was negative but later that day, I realized there was a very faint second line meaning a positive. I didn’t want to make that mistake again.

The pregnancy test was definitely negative.  So what’s wrong with me?  Now, the pain has worsened and I’m starting to consider going to the ER.

I can’t afford more bills!

I decided to call the after hours nurse. I’m pretty sure they can figure out what’s wrong with me.  But which doctor should I call? The OBGYN or the primary doctor?  I decide on my primary doctor since I’m definitely not pregnant. After several questions, where I try to be as cordial as I can though I’ve been bending doubled over in pain a few times, the nurse sounds as confused as I am. Now I’m getting a bit angry. Aren’t these people supposed to know what’s going on? She finally decided to give me some general pain advice. Take a hot bath. Raise your feet. Try to rest. Take some ibuprofen. If the pain is constant for the next 2 hours, call back.

I follow her advice. I fill up the tub with only the hot water on. I turn down the lights to set a relaxing ambiance. I get all of my regular bath stuff ready and I’m shaking.

It must be nerves. I’ll feel better if I can only get myself to relax.

I get in but can’t seem to get comfortable. I’m trying really hard to relax and though the pain has lessened, it’s still there. Now my water is cold. I ramble to myself how I hate the hot water situation in the house. Never is hot enough when I need it. Never lasts long when it is. And when my husband asks how my bath was, I complain the water was cold.

“Well, you have been in there for an hour,” he replies.

“Really?!”

I can’t believe how quickly the time passed! My pain is still there though not as sharp as it was earlier and I think that I might be getting better. I decide to get into pajamas and try to go to sleep. It is almost 10pm.

If I still have the pain when I wake up, I’ll go to the doctor.

But I can’t fall asleep. The pain is keeping me up and too soon, it’s getting worse. I get out of my blanket and start getting ready. I’m not going to take the time to call that stupid nurse again, she’ll just tell me to go to the ER anyway. I had to stop a few times to try to deal with the pain. I’m thinking my husband might have to drive me there. I take some deep breaths and the pain becomes more manageable.

I can do hard things. I can drive myself. No need to wake up my mother-in-law or wake up the kids at this time of night.

My husband suddenly gets concerned when he realizes I’m leaving.

“You’re going to the ER?” he asks.

“Yep. I’m still having some bad pain and that nurse will just tell me to go.”

“Well if you end up having surgery or something you should go to Cox since our insurance pays more there,” he states nonchalantly.

Surgery? Yikes! 

“How will I find you? What if something happens there and I can’t get a hold of you?” he’s sounding a little more concerned.

“You know where I’m going. I’ll just make sure to tell my nurse to call you if something does happen and I can’t call you,” I say confidently.

“OK. Be careful.”

As I drive in the still darkness, I have peace come over me. I’m nervous about what’s wrong or the really bad pain coming back while I’m driving but I have the sense that things will be ok. I’m doing the right thing.

I’ve never been to Cox before. I am a very healthy person. The only time I’ve needed to come to the hospital for myself is to deliver my 3 sons. Things like this never happen to me. I’m still nervous as I cautiously park the car, making sure I’m in the right lot. I’m nervous about going through the right doors. Why do hospitals have a million entrances? Beside the slightly unnatural nervousness, I feel safe and at peace knowing I’ll get help soon.

When I walk through the doors and to the desk that I assume I need to check in at (though the sign says Guest Services like I’m going to a resort not a hospital), I decide to be as pleasant as possible. I’m normally pleasant but with my current condition, I had to make a decision to be such. I have learned over the years that you get better service if you’re easy to help. I smile and exchange niceties with the registration lady. I do the same with the nurse and he takes some quick vital signs. I rate my pain at a 6. I get a few wrist accessories and told at some point I need to give a urine sample. Let him know if my pain worsens.

Now I wait. I’m hopeful that my wait won’t be too long since the waiting room doesn’t have many “guests”. I try to settle in. Check my email. Check my blog reader. Check facebook. My phone is almost dead. I look around for plugs but the only one I find is being used by another guest.

That’s ok. I brought Harry with me.

I’m in the middle of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I try to read but now my pain is getting worse. I fidget in my seat. It all feels wrong. The big group beside me talking loudly is grating my nerves. I can’t wait for them to leave. I’m sure they feel the same. The pain gets even worse. I get up and walk around. I try to distract myself by paying close attention to the other guests. There’s an old man in a wheelchair. He’s by himself. He looks like he’s always alone. His gray beard hangs over his chin and looks unbrushed. Wisps of thin hair fly out of his black baseball hat. He looks like he came in his pajamas too. But he’s been wearing those sweatpants longer than I have been wearing mine, if the stains and dirt tell the story. He tries to move by pushing on one foot. He makes a few loud unintelligible noises. I feel sorry for him.

The walking isn’t helping. I go back to my seat and kneel on the floor with my forehead pressed on the vinyl bench. I decide I don’t care how I look to the other guests. I’m in pain. I’m trying to make it better. And we are in the ER. I’m sure there’s been worse things than a grown woman kneeling on the tile floor in pain. I try to focus on breathing, on the voices around me, on praying that I’ll be seen soon. I wish someone would see me while I’m in this much pain. If I wait longer, I may not have any pain at all and the doctors will say there’s nothing wrong and send me home with nothing but anger and a bill.

There’s something wrong!  I go through the conditions I looked up earlier in my mind.

Ectopic pregnancy fits the best but I’m not pregnant!

I feel like I might throw up soon in front of all these guests and I’ll still have to wait. I force myself through the pain to walk to guest services. A different nurse is there. I notice large cups.

“Are those cups for throwing up in?” I smile.

“Yes,” as he hands me one.

“The other nurse told me to tell him if my pain goes up. Can you jump me up to a 9 please?” I’m still smiling.

“Sure.”

He doesn’t write anything or ask my name. I hesitate a moment about to ask if he’s going to do these things but I decide I would rather vomit at my seat.  If I pass out from pain, I’ll know who to blame when I wake up.

If I wake up.

I’m shaking again. 

Am I going to throw up or not? I hate this.

My shaking finally stopped. I never threw up. More good news! The couple using the only plug is gone and I move to their spot. My pain has gone down a lot too but I’m not going to take the time to tell guest services that. I continue reading my book and the only time I look up is to watch that lonely old man make the best fuss he can, only to be talked sternly from the guest services staff. I bet he doesn’t feel like a guest either.  I’m starting to think I should get up and leave my urine sample.

I’ll go after I finish a chapter. 

I go back to Harry. A different younger nurse calls my name. She takes a blood sample and asks me if I left a urine sample yet.

“I’m planning on doing that right now,” I say.

After earning another bracelet, I stop by guest services for urine sample instructions. I go into the bathroom and it looks nice and new but it stinks. There are only 3 stalls. I look in the first one and it’s dirty and full of toilet paper.

Gross.

The second has a sign posted on the door saying it’s out of service. The third looks fine but when I try to close the door behind me, it won’t lock.

Seriously? Isn’t this building brand new? And they don’t even have clean working bathrooms! What have they been doing with all the money they scam off sick people?

I sullenly go back to the first dirty stall. Yeah, there’s paper all over but I don’t see anything worse than that so I’m a bit relieved. I pull down my pants and now I’m scared. There’s bright red blood.


1 in every 80 pregnancies are ectopic.

Symptoms can vary from person to person just like in a regular pregnancy.  Click here for some common ectopic pregnancy symptoms.  My only common ectopic symptom was one sided abdominal pain though I did start bleeding in the ER.

My shaking and nausea was from the intensity of the pain I was experiencing which can happen with other types of pain not associated with ectopic pregnancies.

At home pregnancy test results are unreliable due to the fluctuation of the HCG hormone (which is what the tests detect) in ectopic occurrences.

The sense of peace I had from making the right decision while driving to the hospital is one way the Holy Ghost comforts and helps us.

A Tragiversary

Tragiversary.  You probably haven’t heard the word before.  It is the anniversary of a tragic event.  Today is a personal one of mine.  It’s been exactly a year since I experienced an ectopic pregnancy (or some may be more familiar with the term, tubal pregnancy).

Honestly, I don’t feel bad life experiences need to be turned into this big make you bawl or gasp fest or something that needs a big… party(?) to shout to everyone I know a bad thing happened to me.  It happened.  I experienced it.  I learned and grew from it.  Now, I feel ready to share some of my story to help others that may be going through something similar or already had gone through it.  I know when I was in the midst of my hardship, I devoured any information I could about what really happens.  And later, I will share some of the details I was looking for when ectopic pregnancy was new to me.  But today, I want to share a bit of hope.

When I was doubled over with pain and finally realized I needed to get myself to the ER, I didn’t know what was wrong.  I didn’t know I was pregnant.  I wasn’t planning on being pregnant.  My husband and I were going back and forth on if we did want to have more children.  I only suspected it because nothing else that could cause the pain made sense to me.  I think I surprised a lot of healthcare workers with my happy attitude throughout the whole process.  I wasn’t happy to be going through something awful, but I was ok about the pregnancy not working out.  It was scary but I found it very interesting because the average population of women (including myself at the time) do not know much about it.  I was learning so much.

Then, we had to wait.  The whole process to become un-pregnant took 6 weeks.  After that, we had to wait at least 2 months before trying to get pregnant again.  All that waiting and all that awfulness changed my husband’s and my perspective and we agreed that we would like to bring another baby in our family.  We tried a few times without success so when I finally found out I was pregnant in mid-November of last year, I was ecstatic!  I immediately started documenting the pregnancy and refreshing myself on pregnancy do’s and don’ts and dreaming about a possibility of a little girl.

5 days after my positive pregnancy test, I miscarried.  Though the physical pain was like a 1, the emotional pain was like a 9.  It was a very different experience than my ectopic pregnancy.  I had been looking forward to having a baby for several months and a few hours destroyed that hope and excitement.  I felt completely broken.  I really thought there was a good chance I would never have another baby because I wasn’t physically able to anymore.  I had 3 very boring yet perfect pregnancies and babies and now twice in a row, my pregnancies were failures.  I didn’t even want to try again for fear that something bad would happen again.

Then very slowly, my emotions leveled and I started to rise out of the fog.  I had to ask myself if I really did want another child.  Was God’s plan for me include another child?  Did my husband still want another child?  I felt like the answers to all those questions were yes but I was still hesitant.  Hubby and I had a serious, to the point conversation where he said he did want to try again but we would wait until I was ready.   We talked about what scared us (really me) and his responses calmed me.  I felt a big relief and peace come over me and I knew I could do it.  I would try again, but only one more time.  I didn’t feel like I could keep trying if a third pregnancy turned out with no baby.

About 2 weeks later, I had another positive pregnancy test.  I wasn’t excited as I was the last time, it was more like anxious.  Every twitch of uncomfortableness came with a thought of another miscarriage.  Hubby was reserved too.  We didn’t know what would happen this time.  But I was still pregnant week after week.  Finally, when I was 7 weeks pregnant, I called my doctor’s office to set up my first appointment.  A week later I was in his office and he showed me the most precious thing in the world to me in that moment, my baby alive with a beating heart.  I was excited.

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I still can’t help myself but smile when I look at that picture or even think of it!  I really am pregnant and my baby is ok!  I was so excited that I showed off the picture to my boys to tell them the news.  Soon, I started having doubts again.  I have known too many people who lost their babies.  Some were late miscarriages, some were stillborns, all could happen to me.  I reserved my excitement.

My second doctor appointment I was pretty anxious.  This would be the first time to hear the baby’s heartbeat, if there was one.  I asked my husband to go with me.  I would want him there if the baby had died.  I may have let him think I thought it would be exciting for him to experience hearing this baby’s heartbeat for the first time.

Another miracle occurred though!  The doctor quickly found the baby’s heartbeat and could even hear the baby moving already.  Another wave of relief and excitement came over me.  This baby is still ok!  I’m finally ready to tell everyone that I’m definitely pregnant and the baby is doing great.

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Our next appointment will be the sonogram where we will find out the gender… and if there is anything wrong.  I do have some worry about it, but I’m much more hopeful that the baby will be found healthy and thriving.  Today may be my tragiversary which started a journey of failed pregnancies, but it’s also the beginning of the renewed hope of bringing a baby into this world.

I know there are many couples out there who are wanting a child.  Their journeys may be much longer or more difficult than mine.  I completely sympathize.  I just want to share that most of those people can have hope that not every pregnancy will end in terrible sadness.  It’s ok to hope.  Once you are emotionally ready to try again, try.  Life is full of events that are not planned or wanted but these trials make us stronger, more capable.  We can be happy in the process.  Remember that life is also full of joy when we search for it.

Baby Saucy is 14 weeks along and due October 4.

For another amazing account of hope following baby loss, read my sister’s blog here.

Oscar Spectacles

So you may have watched the entire show or not at all.  I personally only caught the last half after the boys were tucked in their beds, but it does seem like I watched the best part!  There was plenty of craziness to gush for…

First and foremost, Kristen Stewart hobbling on stage .   Did she really just skip off stage after presenting?  Or was she masking the hopping that seemed to be the only thing that could move her across the floor?  Luckily, she wasn’t drunk but had cut her foot.  Unluckily, no one knows that so she just looks drunk (though she still looked drugged up, pain meds possibly?).  Her hair color was a mess too which wasn’t helped by the fact that she kept flipping it over in different ways.  Or is it a bad brunette to red ombre?  Someone please touch up her roots!  Yikes.

Was it just me or was Catherine Zeta Jones performing a just-off-enough-that-you-can-tell-I’m-lip-syncing?  I don’t feel too bad for her though, I wish I look like her when I’m 43!

Jennifer Lawrence fell on her way to accept the Oscar for best leading actress… and made it look stunning.  I do not doubt her talent.

Did anyone else catch Kristin Chenoweth (hopefully) accidentally degrading Adele on the red carpet pre-show?  Look at me, I’m super petite!  And you look so enormous beside me!  Ha ha ha ha.  Let me take off my shoes to embarrass you even more!  Ha ha ha ha ha.  You can watch a video of the interview here.  I don’t think Adele will be accepting any requests from Kristin to visit backstage for a long time.

Lady Obama is so cool she even gets to present Oscars via satellite.  I was hoping she was going to dougie but she kept it classy.

Let me end with if I never hear of Seth MacFarlane again, I would be totally ok with that.  Cue Jaws music.

What were your favorite parts?

Behind the Scenes: Birthday Cakes

I kid myself with “behind the scenes”.  Like I am a movie star with something interesting to show you or something.  Hmpf!  But you know how you see someone else’s beautiful creation be it a craft or a recipe and you never see pictures of their 10 failures before they got it right?  Or how they completely destroyed their table with a glue gun?  Well, I’m posting pictures of some ugliness when it comes to making birthday cakes happen.

I actually am a Wilton certified cake decorator.  No, really.  I am.  I had big ideas of how awesome I was going to be and how I could use my awesome skills to earn extra money when I had a family.  Some of these grandiose ideas stemmed from my own mother, aunt and grandma who decorated cakes when I was a child.  But I realized in the midst of my training that I didn’t have a passion for it and with cake decorating you really need passion to get you through the days (yes, days) of baking, mixing, coloring and making cute swooshie things.  I realized since I didn’t love it, I just couldn’t be patient enough to make cakes pretty as the pictures.  Lesson learned.  But I still attempt to make fun cakes for my family’s birthdays.

My husband’s birthday is exactly a week before my 5 year old’s so there’s a lot of cake going on at that time.  Hubby requested mini cupcakes which I did in red velvet with cream cheese icing.  The thing about red velvet is it stains everything.  My hand looks like I just finished wiping blood from the counter instead of cake.

I ended up making 50 something mini cupcakes.  They are so cute but I was so done.  I took a few of them to create the number 36 and slapped on some icing, called it good.  They were too.

My sweet 5 year old requested a princess cake.  Not just any princess either, Princess Peach.  He really wanted me to make him this fondant Mario wedding cake I found online but that surely wasn’t going to happen.  He settled for this.

I know it’s not the best decorating in the world but I think it’s pretty good with the amount of time and effort I was willing to do.  I think it took me 2 hours to decorate.  Last year, I made him this Curious George cake.

He was even easier to make because I didn’t have a lot of colors I needed to mix.  So how do you make these mediocre cakes?  Use a template!

  1. Just find a picture and print it out to fit on your cake.
  2. Cut around all the edges then place it on your cake.
  3. Take a pointed knife or box cutter or exacto knife, whatever and cut around your template.  Make sure to not cut very deep.  In fact, the more shallow you cut the cake, the better.  Otherwise, when you serve the cake, it will fall apart on you.
  4. Remove the template and trace your cutting guide with icing.  With both of these cakes, I used black icing I bought.  If the picture isn’t complex, you can use an icing tip that comes with store-bought icing tubes.  Or find a craft or cake decorating store that sells Wilton tips (like Hobby Lobby or Michaels) and get the size you need.  The smaller the number, the smaller the size.  You do not have to buy icing bags either.  Just stick the tip through a corner of a sandwich baggie.
  5. Trace any outlines you need inside.  You can cut your picture if you don’t trust your creative instinct and trace like you did before or go wild and freehand it.
  6. Fill in with icing.  You can use a small star tip to fill in like you might see on Wilton cakes but I find it cramps my style… and my hand.  You can smooth the icing with a clean finger that you dip in a bit of water.

From all this partying, I had a mountain of dishes.  Both sinks are full and it’s overflowing.  :(   I despise doing dishes.  At least I got to eat a fair amount of cake!

Rental Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Whenever I think of Batman, I think of the cartoons I grew up with. Batman was always the good guy. He had faithful Robin by his side. Together they made Gotham a safe place from all the evil in the world. In this movie, it’s not so black and white. The movie is dark. It’s a story that lurks in the shadows. It is a kind of nightmare that slowly reveals itself. That sense of foreboding is present throughout the movie, even at the end.

Storyline
Batman is missing, after being blamed for murder. Bruce is locked up in his house, broken in body and spirit, until a new foe emerges, Bane. Bane has a secret army underground preparing to take over Gotham. Batman makes a sloppy reappearance and is easily cast down again. As Bane’s reign of terror begins, Bruce is left in a legendary pit where his spirit is reawakened and rises up into the light.


My Take
Though this is definitely an “action movie”, it is also a thought provoking one which presents some interesting moral dilemmas if you desire to engage in the intellectual. The only comic relief that you get from the impending doom comes from Catwoman, pretentiously played by Anne Hathaway. It is a dry humor that doesn’t lend itself to laughing out loud for a few minutes, but rather it’s more of a smirk across the lips. All the characters are played very well but best actor award has to go to Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He transformed himself into a Brooklyn born cop who happens to be a lot like Bruce Wayne. It’s amazing to watch him and get sucked into his performance. In fact, it was a pleasure to get sucked into the whole dark movie for a few hours (yes, a few).

Kid Guide
I would recommend this to be a mom and dad date night-in movie only, unless your children are older than maybe 11 (or you like to comfort little children in the middle of the night for weeks). The Dark Knight Rises is definitely a dark movie and though there wasn’t much death and blood shown on-screen, there were plenty of innuendos. Plus, the overall theme and lurking-in-the-shadows feel is not appropriate for younger children. I even jumped in a few parts!

Grade Card: 4.75
Hathaway’s slightly unbelievable performance was the only downgrade. I definitely recommend it.

So, enjoy the movie after the kiddos are tucked safely and happily in their beds and get transported into a story where a hero rises out of the darkness.