This kind of talk clears a lunch room.

I have named my fibroid Francis. I figure I spend a lot of time thinking about her, she should have a name.

Francis is 7 cm. She sits comfortably (for her) on the top of my uterus. My uterus that measures about 7.6 cm in length. She’s really made herself at home, even embedded herself within the lining. Her particular placement makes it so there is pressure on my bladder, so that’s fun to think you have to pee more frequently than you actually do. So not only is she constantly reminding me she’s there with that nonsense but once a month she makes what has been since I was 13 an unpleasant 4-5 days now an acutely painful 7-9 days.

Why yes, Francis’s presence makes my period worse- the cramps, the bleeding, all of it. Oh the bleeding! Day two requires high alert status, armed with a pack of super tampons and a pad, because Francis really amps it up once she gets her groove. So much so that I wake up in the middle of the night in a panic thanks to the heavy flow. Maxi pads come with a certain level of indignity.

On top of that, I keep thinking what’s the point of keeping my uterus when all it does is give me a monthly reminder that it can’t do the one thing it’s meant to do which is to grow a baby. I am planning on talking to my doctor about having a hysterectomy next year, at least the one that takes the uterus but leaves the ovaries. It was recommended by my gyno-oncologist during the cancer summer just to be extra precautious. Even though my paps have all come back negative with no signs of HPV since my last surgery, the monthly hassle of Frances makes me think “why not?”. Maybe it will help me close that chapter completely. No babies coming out of this body. The end.

That still makes me sad. I don’t know if I will ever not be sad about it. I will never not be surrounded by Facebook ultrasound photo announcements and baby bump Instagram pictures and images of adorable children who resemble their parents. My current coping mechanism is to hide those folks on my social media when it gets to be too much and to visit those sites less. Maybe someday that part won’t be so hard? That’s my hope. It gets a little better as time goes by but it’s still a sharp sting. I continue to worry that people will think I’m a bitch for having to hold my boundaries to protect myself but I’m less and less concerned about what they think. Taking care of me doesn’t mean I don’t care about them or am not happy about their baby.

I’ve been thinking about starting up a support network for couples experiencing this particular situation- those that can’t conceive for whatever reason and are grieving the loss. I don’t know of anyone would want to meet up and talk but I know it helped us to do so with another couple recently and it got me thinking. It’s a pretty overwhelming and lonely place to be. Maybe meeting more people like us would give us community and a sense of belonging?

Anyhow, hello from me and from Francis. (That bitch.)

 

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It’s Been a Year

July is not my favorite month.

Two years ago, I found out I had cervical cancer.

One year ago (today), we lost our pregnancy to an ectopic rupture.

These are not life events I have easily bounced back from. At the age of 19 when my father died, I thought that was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. At the time, it was. But that grief was different. It stretched like taffy, pulling me to a breaking point again and again. But this experience? It broke me. Shattered me in splinters of my former self.

The last two years have been the happiest and the saddest of my life. Buying our house, finding out I have cancer, marrying Mr. Darcy, discovering I’m pregnant, losing the baby in an emotionally and physically traumatic way, Very high ups and downs. Since October I’ve just been trying to keep things slow, steady, routine, calm. As calm as can be when you’re trying to wrap your mind and heart around the paralyzing fact that you won’t be having biological children.

There are so many things in life I took for granted and having kids was one of them. I worried that I wouldn’t find someone to have them with or that I was too overweight  or I was getting too old and then, after cancer, I worried I about being able to carry it to term. Years ago, before I even met Mr. Darcy, I thought about becoming a foster parent or adopting in that far off way you think about alternative plans. Never concretely. Never a Plan A. It’d be different if I never wanted biological kids, never wanted to experience pregnancy, hadn’t found a person I wanted to combine DNA with to make a baby. But I did want all of those things.

And when, after countless visits to numerous doctors, we looked at each other across the quiet car in a dim parking lot, heavy with medical information ripe with risks, we knew we’d reach our end. It was just far too much- too costly, too risky, too scary, too everything. For the last nine months we’ve let that finality wash over us- waves of grief, regret, and longing-  standing in our own ocean as the seasons have changed, waiting to feel ready to move to shore.

There are always options. But when you’ve lost the opportunity to have your own biological kids, getting excited about the alternatives is extremely difficult. It’s not like we clap our hands and say, well, let’s move on! Because for a brief time we had that singular joy of being pregnant. We had picked out names for a boy and for a girl. We were preparing the nursery. Loved ones knew and were hopefully excited for us. The pregnancy could rupture in a day but the aftermath lasts a very, very long time.

So today, we’re going to spend it together away from work and phones and obligations. We’re going to get ourselves near a big body of water and linger. We’re going to enjoy the sunshine and the quiet as we honor what we’ve been though and contemplate what’s next.

 

Living In the In Between

I haven’t wanted to write. In the last year I’ve closed myself up and tightened my circle of trusted confidantes which has essentially silenced this blog where I’ve (over) shared for nine years. It’s just all been so much, so nuanced, so extremely personal, that I couldn’t find the words to share it with you. But I feel compelled to try because I’ve been looking around for other stories like mine and I’m not really finding them. I know they have to be out there but is anyone talking about it? About what comes after losing a pregnancy and discovering the odds are stacked too high against you ever having a biological kid? Because there is this limbo between cataclysm and resolution. The in between is a whirling dervish of emotion. And it’s really fucking lonely and sad and maddening and worrisome and, at times, cautiously hopeful. Maybe things will work out even if everything I thought I could have blew up quite literally inside of me and now I have to imagine alternatives which remind me of what was supposed to happen.

Suppose to is make believe.

My reality right now is: sometimes I can see a baby and even smile at it without wanting to cry. But then I see a newborn with the name we were going to call our kid and I’m gut-punched all over again. I think I’m getting better but then something reminds me that I am not quite there and I JUST WANT TO FEEL BETTER. These things take time but I’m sick of it. I feel weak for “still” being upset even though I don’t cry as much. I worry my friends are tired of my problems- first cancer then baby loss then realizing we won’t have our own biological kids has really made me a drag (hasn’t it?). Maybe it doesn’t matter because socializing takes a lot out of me now. I don’t want to not be asked about it but I also don’t always want to talk about it.

It’s just so convoluted and messy, you guys.

Even if I believe deep inside me this will all work out somehow, that maybe someday years from now I will see this all as a blessing (really?), right now and for the past year it’s been just terrible, awful, and one of the worst times of my life. But I’m going to try to talk about it more here because what if there is someone out there in a similar predicament who feels frustrated and alone? Maybe hearing my story will help. I need to do something positive with this shitty situation. It’s time to make lemonade out of these lemons.

 

Swan Song

I’ve thought about writing many times in the months this blog has stayed silent. Each time I went to post, I would talk myself out of sharing. I would ask myself what’s the point in saying anything when things feel mostly the same? Or even if they are different, they aren’t different enough. I’m still sad and angry and struggling to make sense of my new reality. I’m cautious about what I share and who I share it with which is a shift for me. I feel tender to judgment and beat up by my own ridiculous standards to be further along in my grief process. I worry people are annoyed by my lingering sorrow, That no one wants to hear me try to make sense of the fear and the anger, attempting to wrestle my feelings into something that makes any sense whatsoever.

Right now it’s really painful for me to see pregnant women. In particular, ultrasound images, pregnancy announcements, and baby bump progress photos really punch me in the gut, They catch me off guard like a slap in the face. My happiness for the pregnant person is completely tangled in my own sadness that that will never be me. I will never carry our baby inside of me and feel it grow or give birth to it.

Never.

The finality of that is hard to swallow and yet I must try to again and again. I’m not trying to be dramatic. The life we had thought would happen isn’t going to happen the way we planned. And yes, we could adopt. And yes, we’ve looked into surrogacy. And also fostering. We’ve considered being childless, having pets, and possibly an expendable income. We think about all the options. It’s just that we are profoundly sad and aren’t in a place to choose a direction yet. So we feel our feelings, have good weeks and bad weeks, and try to keep talking to each other about where we are at because it’s not always the same place.

It’s getting close to what would have been my due date. That feels strange to say. I feel sad for our baby that didn’t make it and along with it, our lost hope. Some days I just can’t think about it and other days it consumes my thoughts. I wanted to do something to… commemorate seems like the wrong word…mark the experience of having suffered a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and subsequently being unable to have biological kids and the transformation that’s taking place internally so I got a tattoo. Two actually- a black swan and a white swan- that sit above the bend in either arm.

swansHave you heard of Black Swan Theory? It’s a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise and has major impact. So I put the black swan on my right arm, the side where the I lost my fallopian tube and pregnancy to the rupture. The swan image shatters into tiny fragments which feels symbolically accurate to me. The white swan, my transformation symbol, is on the left side, my heart side. I can’t have babies but, hey, I can get all the tattoos I want I guess.

I’m not sure I want to continue blogging but I also feel compelled to share for that small group of women who might be in the same boat as me and feeling alone in their experience. I’m still thinking on it.

(Special thanks to my husband for rendering the swan drawings, to Leslie at New Rose Tattoo in Portland, and my sister and friend C for going with me for moral support.)

The Answer to the Question

“How are you?” is “I’m not okay.”

The fundraiser I worked on- worked three weeks time in the past two weeks- was Saturday. It was apparently a success. We raised money. People had a good time. I can’t even wrap my head around it because I’m exhausted to the bone. I spent the last few weeks living and breathing that event, working 12 hour days, attempting to push down my feelings about the reality of my personal life while giving work 120%. I wasn’t always successful at keeping a lid on my emotions as evidenced by the crying jags in my cubicle and the meltdowns I had in my car. I wasn’t handling stresses I normally could roll with in the same way. I went to my boss on a daily basis and tried to quit. I hit the bottom of despair and convinced myself that I am not good at what I do. On top of everything I was sitting there sobbing, thinking how I now have to find a new career at 40 years old. Everything was overblown for me. All my rational thoughts were used up on the planning of the event.

Then yesterday, the Monday after the event, I had to go to the doctor before coming into the office. That appointment was with a surgeon, one recommended by other doctors, one that could perform the removal of my fibroid. Except, after talking to her we were even more convinced that trying to get pregnant is not in the cards for us. The surgery is risky- they could try to do it robotically but it’s very likely they would have to open me up if it started bleeding too much (opening up means longer recovery) plus the fibroid penetrates the uterine lining so sewing me up is challenging and later if I did get pregnant (most likely after costly IVF), I run a risk of rupturing while carrying our baby which could endanger both me and the child. My left tube may or may not open up with the removal of the fibroid. Darcy has had some time to process all this while I’ve been buried under work and he’s still very sad but he’s also more sure the right thing to do is to look for alternative ways to be parents. After watching me rupture, lose our baby, bleed internally, and get negligent care, he’s very hesitant about me having any more medical interventions. I can’t blame him. If I had to go through watching him be in distress like I was? I wouldn’t want him doing anything drastic either.

So yesterday I arrive at the office after the doctor’s appointment where I had spent the entire car ride over bawling my eyes out and everyone was smiling and saying “congratulations” and saying positive things about the fundraiser. Except I didn’t care. In fact, every congratulations felt like a punch in the gut because the only thing I was thinking about is how I will never get to be pregnant or have a child that is made up of Darcy and me. I kept trying to hold it together and smile but I have no poker face and, well, it’s kind of hard to hide the fact that you’ve been crying when your skin gets all blotchy red and your eyes are big puff balls.

I don’t know how I will get through this though I know I have to somehow. I’m the most sad I can remember ever being. It’s different from when I had cancer because that was a scared sad. This is just a deep, deep sorrow that feels like something is tugging on my heart. And I know I have to feel it all to keep moving through it. And I know that someday it won’t feel so tragic, that maybe a happy ending could find us after all. But right now I am worried that this is going to break me in so many pieces I won’t be able to put myself back together. That I will be changed so much I won’t recognize myself. That I will become a shell of my former self- all hallowed out and sad and jealous of women who get to have babies. A part of me has died and I’m trying to figure out how to survive the loss.

I’m writing because I don’t know what else to do. Talking about it hurts. Seeing the look on people’s faces when they hear about it is too much to handle right now. It just reflects back to me the reality of what I’m trying to swallow.

I don’t want any of this to be true. But it is.

(I’m turning off comments on this because I don’t want anyone to feel like they have to say something comforting. It’s an awkward situation. A fucking shitty, awkward situation. And you’ve all been so nice to me already. You don’t need to do more. )

Can I order a new reality?

In the past month I’ve been to three OBs, one gyno-oncologist, one fertility doctor, to radiology and ultrasound, and a fertility support group. To say we’re overwhelmed with information and feeling would be an understatement.

The reality of our situation hits us in waves. Some moments we can find peace and hope. Others we are curled in a ball on the bed crying into our pillow. We’re up. We’re down. We’re resigned. We’re angry. We’re always, always sad. After all those experts took a look at my case, examined my uterus, the stupid fibroid encasing the top of it, my cancer history and sub-par cervix, and my god damned closed left fallopian tube, they all said the same thing: the fibroid has to come out and you’ll have to do IVF if you are going to carry your baby.

But one doctor at a different hospital was very frank and blunt and laid out the risks involved with such a surgery. The likelihood that I would have to be cut open is high instead of doing the less invasive surgery robotically. That would increase my recovery time as it’s harder on my body. Removing the fibroid is tricky and mine is large so I could start to bleed while they attempted it laparoscopically and then they might quickly have to open me anyway. Even after that surgery and subsequent recovery, there is no telling if my left tube would open OR if it would be safe for me to carry a baby to term. The uterus could rupture while I am carrying our baby which is very risky for me and for the baby. What percentage are these risks? I don’t know. But they exist and are making us very concerned about moving forward with this path towards being parents.

After the appointment with the blunt doctor (we appreciated her candor and time), we sat in the car in the parking lot and talked about what to do. Mr. Darcy felt that we should not move forward with me having the surgery and trying to carry our baby. He thinks it is too risky and he doesn’t want us to go through that. He basically said, “You are the most important thing to me and I don’t want to lose you. We can find another way to be parents.” (Everyone I tell this to goes “aww” or tears up.) I’m pretty sure he has some PTSD from having to watch me during that rupture day and I don’t blame him. He’s got a lot of anger towards doctors who were negligent, rightfully so. I’m mad too it’s just that I’m more sad and I have to spread what little energy I have to trying not to fall completely apart. I mostly agree with him on this as I’m not sure what my body can do and I’ve lost faith in it. What if I went through with the surgery and we paid through the nose for IVF and I still didn’t get pregnant? By then we’ve likely lost a year, we’re closer to 41, and if it doesn’t work we’ll have to start anew on a different path, all of which are time-consuming, lengthy, and costly.

Depending on the day, hell, the hour, my decision changes. It absolutely breaks my heart to think that I cannot carry our baby. That we will not have a child with our genetic make up. Please don’t tell us how we will love an adopted baby just as much even though you mean well and you’re probably right. We’re really sad and mad right now and trying to wrestle with the reality that we can’t be parents the way most folks can. Please don’t tell us about surrogacy unless you have gone through it. It’s complicated and costly and difficult to get support with that option. This is an uncomfortable situation for everyone. No one knows what to say and all the advice is well meaning and most of the time we appreciate it. Sincerely, we do. But there’s a huge piece of this that makes us feel really, really alone and lost and like failures, and so angry at unknowns and bad luck and EVERYTHING. There are parts of this that we, as husband and wife, are unable to even support each other through. Grief is often a solitary process.

We’re still looking into the options though not really the one where I carry the baby as all signs point to that being not the right path. We’re still looking to talk to adoptive parents either through foster-to-adopt or private adoption and anyone who has done surrogacy. We appreciate your good thoughts and sympathy and your well-meaning advice. I might not respond to every email right away but I will eventually. I am buried at work under a 400-person gala fundraiser that is sucking the life out of me. I’ve hardly had time to feel my feelings on this because I’m working my ass off and have no spare time. I cry in the car or on my morning walks and then I get back to business because this event isn’t going to plan itself despite of me wishing it would or the numerous times I’ve walked into my boss’s office saying I want to quit (she refuses to entertain these dramatic outbursts- luckily we’re friends).

I probably won’t be writing again until after the fundraiser. That is, if I survive it, or if I’m not crumpled in a ball in the corner having a nervous breakdown.

Crossroads

Last week we had appointments with a new OBGYN and a fertility doctor as well as enduring an hour-long ultrasound appointment (where they put us in the same room as the day I ruptured). Yesterday, I took myself to radiology for an hysterosalpinogogram or HSG as ordered by my new OB. An HSG is where they fill your uterus with contrast dye to get a better look at it and the fallopian tubes. Or in my case, the left fallopian tube as that’s all I’ve got left. To say this is an uncomfortable procedure would be a bit of an understatement. Filling a uterus that quickly with liquid causes it to severely cramp, to the point where I was doing deep breathing and at one point said “shit” pretty distinctly because OW.

But that wasn’t the worst part. As the dye filled my uterus and we watched the screen, it was clear even after pushing more dye into me that none of it was making its way into my left tube. My left tube is not open which pretty much means we can’t get pregnant naturally. Maybe my right tube hadn’t been open either which is why our baby got stuck there. It’s not like they check these things before they tell you to go ahead and get pregnant. So much is left up to chance and we just seem to have pulled the short straw when it comes to fertility.

As I laid there on the cold steel table with my legs bent and contrast dye leaking out of me, looking at the image of my uterus and that god damned useless left tube, reality hit me and I started to cry. I have endured countless indignities and disappointments in the past 14 month and for what? To come to this hard truth as I lay naked from the waist down dripping on a towel and crying in front of three women.

I feel like a failure. Like my body has betrayed me. As if I am disappointing not only myself but my sweet husband and our families because my body can’t make a baby without medical intervention. I’m 40 1/2 years old so time is not on my side. I have spent my entire life knowing that I want to be a mother but never fathoming that the choice would be taken away from me because my body can’t do the job. I foolishly believed that even if there were complications, THIS would not happen to me. Over and over, I am reminded that life happens with or without the plans you’ve made.

So we are faced with choices, all of which come with their own difficulties. Do we take the path towards IVF meaning I  will have to get the 7cm fibroid that is sitting on the top of my uterus removed and wait 3 months before starting the laborious IVF process which has no guarantees for producing a child and is very costly? Or do we decide not to medically intervene, let go of the want for our own biological child, and start the long process of becoming foster-to-adopt parents- enduring months of training, home visits, scrutiny, soul-searching, to hopefully be placed with a child that will not be taken back and put with birth relatives after we’ve attached ourselves to him/her? Or do I just get the hysterectomy and we adopt some dogs and take that trip to Paris and grow old together with no children to raise?

We’re overwhelmed and conflicted, feeling so much pressure to make the RIGHT choice as we grieve this huge loss. We also don’t have that much time because if we are going to do IVF, I’ll need to have that fibroid surgery right away. The clock keeps ticking and I wish I could rewind time and change this. But here we are, at a crossroads, pondering which way to go.

Right now we need to do some research about foster-to-adopt and IVF. We really want to talk to people have lived through both- the good and the bad stories- so we can more carefully weigh these options. If you have any experience with either or know a blog, a friend, a family member who has done any of these, we’d welcome the chance to hear their story.

After the Horrible Thing, there comes a lot of Awkwardness

Some people have remarked, “You must be sick of being asked how you are.” I am not. Because, surprisingly, not that many people are asking. I’ve gone back to my normal life. I get along out in the world without crying publicly. I talk about regular things like movies and the weather. I’m managing. I’m not a basket case. But I’m not alright either.

It hits me at strange times. Like after retelling my ordeal to a friend who hadn’t read my posts. Like after talking to a pregnant acquaintance and it coming up. Like being somewhere where there are a lot of kids. I love being around kids, holding babies, and entertaining toddlers but it hits me in a different way now because the “what if” hangs heavy on my heart. Sometimes I just cry because a commercial strikes me as sad and I’ve had a day where I’ve seen too many pregnant people. I don’t really understand the psychology behind it all but that’s why I made an appointment with a counselor who specializes in infertility and grief. I do not know how to navigate this.

I think the most awkward situation has been encountering pregnant people. It’s usually a situation where they don’t know what happened to me and it somehow comes up and I see their face turn to horror as the capital A Awkward Situation unfolds. How awful must it be for them to stand in front of a woman who went through some horrific “miscarriage” while they are carrying a baby inside them? I mean, I feel so terrible having them find out about what happened to me. And at the same time my heart breaks because WHAT THE FUCK? WHY IS THIS A THING I HAVE TO ENDURE? But I try to be kind and gentle and reassuring. I do not blame them. I’m not angry with them. Of course I’m envious. I’m human after all.

I wish I was the kind of person who was extremely private. But, uh, I am quite the opposite. I’m a sharer. Maybe an over-sharer. But having shared my struggles publicly has brought a lot of people into my life who are in a similar place. For that reason alone I don’t ever regret sharing because no one should have to feel alone. And I think that by being vulnerable, I’m encouraging other people to do the same.

I know it’s difficult for people to know what to say when someone is having a hard time. So many tell me they are afraid they will say the wrong thing which I think leads a lot of people to say nothing. I have totally said the wrong thing to someone. It was not the end of the world even though I felt terrible and it was absolutely not intentional. I can’t speak for every person who has had a crisis but for me, saying nothing is not the response I need. I’m publicly acknowledging that something terrible happened to me. It’s okay for you to bring it up. It’s okay for you to email, text, call, stop me in the hallway and say, “I’ve been keeping up with what you’ve been going through and I just wanted to say how sorry I am. I’ve been thinking of you.” It’s really that simple. You do not have to fix anything. Please don’t try to. You do not have to give me advice on what I should do next. You don’t have to remind me how strong I am because right now I do not feel very strong and it makes me feel like a failure. That’s not your fault! It’s just how it is. Showing up for someone is not an easy thing and there is no manual on it. But I think most people want to be reached out to, to be thought of, to be cared about on good days so it’s even more needed on bad ones.

Grief is a lonely experience as are health crises, and break ups, and all that other hard stuff. We’ve all been there at one time. We can relate. Maybe you’re the type to call up and ask for help. There are some of us who struggle doing that when we’re in a good place so think how hard it must be when you’re feeling so down. A few friends pushed through my resistance and showed up because they knew I would never be able to ask for it. They’ve admitted they worried I’d think them pushy but honestly, they lovingly forced me to connect with people at a time I wanted to crawl into a hole. Every card, call, text, email, comment on my blog, tweet, or Facebook status meant something to me. Even if you just said you were sorry, it helped. Thank you for showing up for me.

And so, here I am in this complicated place. I appreciate you listening.

More Waiting with a Side of Unanswered Questions

There’s a package sitting on our dining room table unopened. I know what it contains which is why I’m avoiding it. Weeks before during the happy blip of being pregnant, I ordered it thinking it would help us understand the next nine months.

There is no book that will help us with where we find ourselves now. And opening that envelope will just rip me open.

You’d think I’d be used to that feeling at this point but it still startles me. Yesterday was my follow-up appointment post-surgery with the doctor I met briefly before he saved my life and removed my ruptured tube. My anxiety, an emotion I wasn’t intimate with before this last year of my life, was high that morning as I got ready to leave. I had hoped my questions would be answered and that it wouldn’t be all bad news. We’re really weary of the bad news. Mr. Darcy accompanied me and as we pulled into the parking structure I think we both had our own reactions. The last time we were there was one of our worst days. It’s hard to not be triggered.

We rode the elevator and walked hand in hand through the lobby where I had sat in my sad wheelchair, shaking in pain, watching all the pregnant women walk by, as I waited hours for that fateful ultrasound appointment. We checked in at the doctor’s office and sat in the waiting room while pregnant woman after pregnant woman walked in. All in all we waited 40 minutes for the appointment.With each passing minute our frustration grew. To me it just felt so. . . flip. Like no one cared that I had been put through hell no thanks to any of them that worked there. I went to the restroom while we waited and ran into the nurse who had seen me that morning two and a half weeks ago. She looked at me like she recognized me and I tried to keep walking because I didn’t want to talk to her. But she said my name and came over with a look of wonder and concern on her face saying how good it was to see me. I tried to make light of it so I wouldn’t lose my cool. I’m tired of being the center of the scene back there by the nurses station. She said something about how she was glad I was okay and that I was famous around the office. I must have half-smiled and backed away towards the restroom. I don’t really know just that I wanted to get away from her and that conversation immediately.

I don’t want to be famous for what I went through.

No one there seems sorry for not helping me sooner. I had to be wheeled into the goddamned office because I was in so much pain I couldn’t walk and barely could get on the exam table. I had been spotting for three days. I was faint and nauseous. MY BLOOD PRESSURE WAS 82/50 for fucksake! The doctor said she “didn’t know what” she was looking at during my ultrasound. But yeah, by all means, make me wait two more hours for the ultrasound office to fit me in. I’ll just rupture in a room full of pregnant women. No worries.

Excuse me, it’s just that I’ve kind of reached the anger phase of this grief shit.

When they finally took us back to an exam room, it was the same nurse who had caught me in the hall on the way to the bathroom. I thought Mr. Darcy was going to jump out of his chair when she joked about how my blood pressure was much better than the last time. Or when she talked about how mad she was at the ER nurses for not taking my condition seriously. She finally left us before either of us said something we’d regret and the surgeon came in. He didn’t really remember my case even though he had my file in his hand. He wondered aloud where the photos of my ruptured tube were because he could have sworn he’d taken them. He asked me to lie back so he could remove my stitches and when my abdomen was revealed his reaction was, “Hoooo boy! That’s a bruise!” We told him that this was it getting better as it had been deep purple and ran the expanse of my left hip to across my bellybutton. He said it was from a ruptured blood vessel- he must have hit it when they went in that side.

I had a list of questions mostly pertaining to what’s next and what we are going to do about the fibroid they found. He left again to look at the MRI images he didn’t remember I’d had and came back to tell us the fibroid is submucosal meaning it’s growing into the inner cavity of the uterus and has got to come out. It’s about 8-9cm, not 12cm as he previously told us, and it sits on top of my uterus making it dip down. It could be why the pregnancy got stuck in the tube but we don’t know.Apparently that fibroid was visible when I had my CT Scan last year for the cancer but no one mentioned it to me. It was about 7cm then and grew to about 9cm during the first weeks of my pregnancy.

I could have had a bad tube but it’s too late to check that one. He told us to make an appointment with the fertility doctor we saw last year when all the cancer stuff was happening and get more clarity. If (probably will happen) I have the fibroid removal surgery, I need to wait 2 months before that happens (Sept) and then wait 3 months after that to try to conceive. If it looks like my other tube is problematic or if the risk of another ectopic is too great, and we don’t want to waste precious time, they might suggest harvesting my egg and Mr. Darcy’s sperm and implanting it into my uterus. That is, if my uterus is fully functioning after my fibroid surgery. If the embryo takes, hopefully I can carry it to term but I might need a cerclage on my cervix because of my previous surgeries on it from the cancer. I will have to have a c-section.

We’re running a marathon with a lot of hurdles.

We have a series of appointments in late August/early September- one with the fertility doc, two with different OB-GYNs because there is no way in hell I want to go back to that clinic and those doctors and nurses, and another with my gyno-oncologist for my 3 month follow up. I never thought I’d have so many doctors, have had all these surgeries (prior to last year, the only surgery I’d had was when I was 8 on my tonsils), or be trying to figure out how to fix my body so we could have a baby. I took so much for granted- my health, my body, the option to have a baby. I spent so much of my life trying not to get pregnant and here I am, desperate for it.

Last night I finally just succumbed to the sadness and anger and cried my eyes out. The trauma of the rupture day was too tangible after spending all that time at the scene of it. The sadness for what we can’t get back and the worry of what is to come just racked me. I’m not a quitter but I’m going to have to train for this fight. I’m not afraid of the surgeries though I worry about the cost of all this and the toll on my body and psyche. There is a lot ahead of us, so much still unknown, and we’re just trying to make sense of it all while feeling all the grief of what we’ve lost. I just don’t want us to become beaten down to the point where we don’t enjoy our life because we’re so consumed by this.

It would be so much easier if we didn’t want a baby. But we do. And so we keep at it.

Tightrope Walking

It’s been a week since my life blew up, quite literally, inside my body. I haven’t left the house unless you count walking out into the backyard. I haven’t put on a bra or driven a car or slept without waking with a pain in my abdomen or some distant memory of the trauma of last Monday. I don’t have much of an appetite but I make myself eat so I can take my pain medicine. They gave me Oxycodone which I hate. It made me have the angry sads and coming off of it was unpleasant. I’m still very sore in my belly so I take my high dose ibuprofen and take it easy as I can. I cry at random- at a touching scene on the TV, when I walk by what would be the baby’s room, when the delivery guy brought flowers from a friend, when I do too much and get winded. I’m going a little stir crazy and missing out on the most beautiful Seattle weather but the thought of returning to work or being social or even going to the store paralyzes me.

I do not yet have a new normal.

Everything feels overwhelming to me and I care very little for the bullshit of life. There is so much of it and there is nothing like a traumatic emergency surgery and loss of pregnancy to shake the snow globe of perspective. I am waiting for things to settle so I can see clearer. Right now I feel panicky and I try not to let my mind drift there, to the dark place of what ifs and worst case scenarios. There are too many maybes and I’m too tired to play them all out. They do nothing to help me exist in this new reality. We’re trying to just take it day by day, sometimes hour by hour, until we have our follow-up appointment next Wednesday where we will bring all our questions about what’s next.

It’s funny what you think is your worst thing. As a kid, my dad dying was my worst thing. Then I got cancer and thought, wow, this is definitely The Worst. And then I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy which jeopardizes our chances for having a baby and I’ve got a new Worst Thing. There will always be trouble coming, won’t there? Seven months ago I was worried what my first pap smear results would be after my cervical cancer surgeries. That was our big hurdle then. And we waited and worried and hoped and wondered and tried to heal as we do now. What I said back then rings true again today:

I have never been more acutely aware that the great lesson of my life is patience. To lean into the waiting and the wanting and the wondering. To trust the process and let hope buoy me when I feel myself spiraling into what ifs and worry.

I have no idea what’s next. Do we ever? I used to think all my plans and lists would keep me safe. My coping mechanisms that served me all those years are laughable to me now. Oh honey, I want to tell my younger self, there is no such thing as safety. Life is a tightrope and you can spend your life building a net without ever getting up on the wire. Or you can take it step by delicate step, balancing, falling, and getting back up again and again. But you can’t look down. Only out and up because, sweet girl, the views are spectacular.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller