Saturday, May 23, 2015

Little Fierce Experience: Ectopic Pregnancy

difficult pregnancy perspective
This pregnancy has been such a crazy ride for me and Ryan.  We found on the 16th of April with four Clear Blue pregnancy tests that we were pregnant.  The sheer joy of that moment is so amazing and I will never forget it because it was so wonderful and pure in its existence.  On the 20th of April we found out, what doctors believed, to be a miscarriage.  It was so difficult on us because you need more than one blood draw to see if your hcg (pregnancy hormones) levels are going up or down.  For a successful pregnancy you want them to go up and they actually went down.  The waiting was the most difficult part.  It took three days to come up with that result and from then on I needed to monitor my hcg levels on a weekly basis so that meant going to the medical group once a week for blood draws.  
The thing is, my hcg levels were going up.
Talk about confusing!
For an entire month I had miscarriage-like symptoms, basically I had a period every single day for over a month and my hcg levels kept going up.  It was almost a month in when I was given a referral to an off-base OB/GYN and it was discovered that technically I was still pregnant.
It felt like a miracle was happening.  I was hopeful but trying so hard not to be too hopeful.
Unfortunately my hcg started to slow down and in some of the slowest rising hcg cases, they double within 96 hours and within an entire week, mine were only inching along.
It was so difficult to hear that news because that meant we weren't going to have a baby and because my levels did not hit 1500 they could not find anything on an ultrasound.  So the doctors decided to treat this like an ectopic pregnancy because...they couldn't find the baby.
Talk about a weird, Twilight Zone-like moment.
What do you mean you can't find it?

So the course of action is the most common for ectopic pregnancies this early - chemotherapy.  It sounds so intense and believe me, the initial stages of going through this were scary and a little overwhelming.  Literally the day after I found out that they wanted to treat this like an ectopic pregnancy, I was receiving chemo.  What this does is that it halts cell development, because they don't know where it is.  An ectopic pregnancy is where the egg implants somewhere else besides the uterus.  This is dangerous because as the egg grows and cells multiply, it can be anywhere like a fallopian tube.  If it is in a location that it's not supposed to be, it can be harmful for the mother (i.e. fallopian tube bursting).  
So this was my experience getting a cancer treatment:

The staff was incredibly nice.  I believe I entered this with misconceptions of what was happening.  As I say it now it seems silly but having gotten my blood drawn multiple times a week, I figured I would be in and out - no problem.  That was not the case.  When I registered, I was brought to the oncology department and given a designated room.  I met a couple wonderful CNAs and my nurse.  Everyone was absolutely lovely to work with.  Then the pharmacy was notified.

Due to the complex nature of the drug and that it is chemotherapy, it actually takes a long time to prep.  I was there at 8:15 am and did not receive the shot until after 11.  I did, however, get this awesome water bottle and watched a ton of HGTV, ABC Family, and the Travel Channel.

I had not prepped in advance due to my not understanding this process.  I was hungry and incredibly tired.  However, I'm not sure if the exhaustion was due to the frequent hospital visits or side effects of an ectopic pregnancy.  When my nurse checked in on me, she put in a food request and I was able to call down to nutrition and ordered food. Yay! I was so hungry at that point and running a little impatient but I got Asiago Mac-n-Cheese and a grilled chicken breast.  Not bad for hospital food!

When I did receive my shot, it was split into two and they go right in the butt.  It wasn't bad at all.  I was mentally bracing myself and the whole process wasn't that strenuous.  However right after I was really tired (still) and decided to lie down and I actually fell asleep.  One of the CNAs took my vitals after about a half hour and then with a full hour of observation, I was able to go home.  That was at 1 pm.  So I was there pretty much all morning which isn't a bad thing but so others are better prepared, you'll be there awhile.

The side effects that I was warned about including flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite, tiredness, etc. I've had minor cramping and only one time so far where I felt that I absolutely had to lie down. One of Ryan's friends (lovingly) said that I looked like Gollum walking around hunched over.  Due to the toxins that are in my body, Ryan and I cannot even "accidentally" conceive a baby for another three months.  That was definitely a downer in this situation because if it had just been a miscarriage, it would have been fine but an ectopic pregnancy is more difficult to treat in the physical medical sense.  
Anyways I am doing pretty good so far and my job has been incredibly accommodating.  I am so ready for the hospital and med group visits to end and for my body to go back to normal.  Overall, this process has been mentally, emotionally, and physically taxing.  While I feel like my mind is on one side, I also feel like my body is doing something completely different and on its own.  That has been incredibly challenging and frustrating.  I just pray that our next attempt will be less stressful and filled with more joy and less sorrow.

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