Thursday, October 22, 2009


Shortly after my daughter passed away, I joined a message board called the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust. It was an endless source of support and information, and I credit the website with helping me recover from my loss.

A few months later, the board was all abuzz with excitement - The Discovery Channel was going to do a documentary on ectopic pregnancies! Since ectopic pregnancies are still undiagnosed and still kill women at an alarming rate, we were all excited that there would be information available in such a widely-viewed format. Who would they profile? Someone like me? I had the "easier" treatment - methotrexate. I just had to get a shot to end my pregnancy. My friend Jolene, on the other hand, saw her baby on an ultrasound in the emergency room. She didn't know she was pregnant. She thought she was having kidney stones or appendicitis. Jolene found out she was pregnant by surprise and in the next minute she was told that she would have to have emergency surgery to remove her tube because it was rupturing.

Unfortunately, The Discovery Channel didn't profile me or Jolene or anyone like us. They managed to find two women in the world whose ectopic pregnancies survived all 9 months. The odds of this happening? One in 30 million.

One woman was Iranian - she said she'd had excruciating pain throughout her pregnancy but didn't have regular access to doctors, so she was never diagnosed. When she went to the hospital to give birth, she got scared and went home. She went through labor, but it just stopped and she assumed God had just taken her baby. 46 years later, a calcified fetus was discovered in this woman's abdomen. The documentary is called "Pregnant For 46 Years."

The other woman had, also, excruciating pain during her pregnancy which was also undiagnosed. She was pregnant with twins, or so she thought. When she went to give birth to those twins, it was discovered that another baby had somehow attached itself to her colon. The placenta was getting nutrients from one of the veins in her colon. She has healthy triplets today.

I cried after that documentary. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I thought, if I had a 1 in 30 million chance, did I do the wrong thing by terminating my pregnancy when I did? I had a 99.9999999% chance of dying if I continued that pregnancy, but there was that minute chance that I did the wrong thing.

Now, I don't want y'all flooding my comments telling me I did nothing wrong. Logically, obviously, I KNOW that. But there's nothing like a documentary making a sideshow attraction out of my extremely rare pregnancy to make me feel like an idiot. Momentarily.

Ladies, if you are in the early stages of pregnancy and are experiencing constant, dark red spotting or are experiencing constant sharp pain on one side of your abdomen, tell your doctor that you want an ultrasound immediately. PUSH your doctor. If he/she won't give you the ultrasound, see another doctor. Ectopic pregnancies have to be terminated immediately upon diagnosis. Otherwise, the mother's tube can rupture, which can cause internal bleeding and death. Yes, I am one of the women who has had to have an abortion to save her life.

Also, ladies, ectopic pregnancies are notorious for not showing up on home pregnancy tests. So, if you think you're just having a very light period and you're experiencing other symptoms of pregnancy and are experiencing sharp, one-sided pain, go to your doctor's office immediately.

I want the right information out there, not the sensationalized information.

Thankfully, a couple of months after the Discovery buzz, another woman on the board said that her actress friend in Hollywood was on a very popular show and her character was going to experience an ectopic pregnancy. The actress collected her friend's experience and the experiences of several other women on the board, so she could portray the experience accurately. The show? Grey's Anatomy, season 2. Christina Yang had an ectopic pregnancy.


RhondaLue said...

THat sort of perspective that the media takes pisses me the heck off. But it's sensational and gets ratings and I guess that's why they do it.

Same with the "miracle micropreemie" that had no impacts and is now finding the cure to cancer. Uh-huh. Nice but not real life.

Katy said...

Media does this all the time. Ever notice that when someone is in a wheelchair that's the only thing wrong with them? Everything else is perfectly fine--I know it happens, but it's not terribly realistic.

Luckily, more people probably watch Grey's Anatomy than Discovery Health.

Jen said...

Good way to put all of that into words. Thank you for sharing.

Erin Steele (previously Domeyer) said...

I have seen that documentary before and it didn't even seem real...more like a bad joke of some kind! I am sorry you have had to go through this and i think you are so brave to want to help everyone else out. You are such a trooper and are very thoughtful! I hope the word gets passed on to others. Many doctors shun off pain and bleeding in early pregnancy. I am a firm believer that you know your body and need to tell them what you need if your concerned!

Jo said...

Geez, thanks for making me cry this rainy morning. No really, it's OK. Just seeing "my story", even in brevity, brings it all back. I know you know that.

I had no pain. The only symptom I had was a very irregular period with prune juice colored blood. That prompted the ultrasound. *sigh* I sometimes wish I could erase that day from my memory, but if I did that I'd have no memory of Lilly, and even as small a glimpse of memory as that is... I cherish it.

As I know you do with your daughter too. **HUGS**