I realised today that I have been pregnant on Mother's Day for two years in a row. Both times, the brilliant news turned to the shattering reality that they were ectopic.
In 2007, having set off merrily on a Nambian adventure (after my gynae advised that going away for 3 weeks should be fine as we would scan when I got back) I was blasted into pain and fear with a ruptured ectopic at 7am while in a tent in Etosha National Park one morning just after Mother's Day. I still remember that incredible pain. I couldn't stand or walk or talk as stabs of cutting, tearing, red pain racked through my body. It took an incredible effort to crawl into the car, belongings left behind and drive as fast as we could to the nearest town. We arrived in Tsumeb, where the hospital was no more than a community clinic. There was no scanning machine, bewildered staff did what they could. An egyptian doctor finally realised this was way out of their scope and recommended we get to Windhoek and fast. All I can say is thank god for medical aid.
An airlift was quickly organised and what little I remember includes a blurry view from the private jet window of the desert below me. On arriving at a Netcare Hospital in Windhoek, in a drugged daze, I waited for the specialist to arrive. They sent me for a scan. I could hardly walk to the bed, it felt like I had water rushing around inside me and I was shaking badly. I almost lost consciousness while leaning against the wall waiting for my turn. A nurse saw me and helped me to a chair. I was finally scanned and I was told by the radiologist that I had what looked like a perfectly normal 7 week pregnancy! And I saw its heart beating so strongly, I saw it and I wept and wept. WHAT!!!! Was it my appendix? What was going on?
The specialist arrived, a dear old doctor (who later told me he has delivered more than 2000 babies in his time as an ob-gyn) and examined me. He was equally puzzled by the scan result. Then he pushed down on my abdomen and released his hand quickly. I cried out in pain and smacked his hand away. He looked at me and said, you have massive internal bleeding, we need to operate now. My husband in the meantime had had to go back to Etosha, pack up everything and drive to Windhoek which was 4 1/2 hours away. I was rushed to surgery where they found it was indeed a ruptured ectopic with more than 1 1/2 litres of internal bleeding. He later told my husband that had they waited any longer, I could have died.
But the mystery of the scan had not yet been solved. When I woke up, I was told that there still may be a viable pregnancy in the uterus and maybe this had been a twin. But....I would have to wait for Monday before I could have another scan to see. So I lay in hope all weekend, in pain, in hope, in pain. And Monday came. And we held each other. And there was no twin, there was nothing. He summised that what the radiographer had seen was the fetus holding onto a piece of the tube against the dark pool of blood in my abdomen which looked just like the shape of a uterus, misleading the radiographer. When he looked at the printout, it really fooled him too. WHY? WHY? What the hell was that all about? I saw the heartbeat hanging on for dear life. A life that was not meant to be.
I wanted to leave the hospital immediately. I was shattered. I couldn't stop crying and I begged the dr to let me go. He agreed if I promised I would go straight to bed. What I didn't realise is that for this type of surgery you have a 6 week recovery period. Well, after 3 days, we were back on the road and I was up and walking, well hobbling about. We had to wait in Swakopmund to get my staples removed but then we continued on our journey in a tent. I think those incredible nights in Spitzkoppe, the Nauklaft Park and Soussousvlei helped us to resolve our pain. This is a picture of me 10 days after the surgery on a dune at Soussesvlei and one of Spitkoppe where we spent 4 days camping while I recovered.
In 2008, exactly one year later I conceived again. And I dared hope. I so badly wanted it to be my miracle. Strong betas gave me hope. Stabbing pain one morning made everything come crashing down. No sac. Another ectopic. The cold admission into the hospital to remove another life that wasn't meant to be. Shattered doesn't even come close.
Now in 2009, same time. But I am not pregnant on Mother's Day this year. I would have been 7 months pregnant had I not miscarried after my first IVF in October. But I am not.
I send a blessing to these little lost lives that never were.
I am sad, but I bounce back and I will have hope again.