21 October 2011

Gabriel: Surgery, Praying, and Disappointment

In my last post, I told about finding out that our 3rd pregnancy was failing because they found two sacs, one with a heartbeat, in my left fallopian tube. To continue ...

After my doctor called and told me to go to the St. Lukes ER to be monitored until they could start surgery, I was terrified to call my husband or anyone else. I had a terrible fear that people would think I was choosing my life over the lives of our twin babies. I felt like people would question my faith and think I was giving up without a fight. I felt so much guilt already .... What would this feel like after it was over?

When I called my husband, I told him first and foremost that I needed him to get in the car and drive from Lafayette, where we were living, to Houston, where I would be having surgery. I told him that the pregnancy was definitely ectopic and that there were twins in my left tube. And I told him that I was being taken within a couple hours to surgery to have the babies, and possibly the tube removed. And before he could say anything, I asked him if I was making the right decision. His reply was a huge relief in light of my fears: "You don't really have a choice, do you?"

He was right. I didn't have a choice. The doctor never asked me if I wanted to have the babies removed. She said I had to have surgery immediately and that I could bleed out otherwise.

Then I called my dad and mom to tell them what was happening. My father is a pastor, so I asked him if he thought this was anything like having an abortion. He said this was not the same and that I should not feel any guilt. He also said that he would start praying and would contact others to have them pray, not only for my surgery, but for a miracle for my babies. My friend called a couple of other people for me as we drove the few blocks from one hospital to the other.

Now that I knew what was happening, the pain that I had been feeling in the left side of my belly was really starting to bother me. I had been dismissing it until now because I was so confident and at peace that this pregnancy was going to be ok. Now that it was the opposite of ok, I recognized the pain for what it was. And I embraced it because it was all that I would ever get to feel of my babies.

Once I had been prepared for surgery, I got to meet the surgeon and had a chance to ask all of my questions. Through my tears, I asked her some questions to which I already knew the answers:

  1. Was there any way they could move the babies into my uterus? Her answer was what I knew it would be, there was nothing they could do to keep the babies alive once they removed them from the dangerous place they were located. Once the bloodflow was stopped, the baby with the heartbeat would pass away, and the other one wouldn't be able to survive either.
  2. Was this like having an abortion in any way? Her answer was that this was in no way even remotely close to electing to have the pregnancy terminated. I did not have a choice. There was not any chance that the babies would survive even if I sacrificed my life for them.
  3. Could she save the babies for me to see so I could say goodbye? (I know how morbid this sounds, but I needed some type of significant closure.) She could not, but agreed to take as good of a picture as she could without damaging my body.
I also asked her to please try to save my tube and all of my reproductive organs if at all possible. And then she told me something I was not expecting. She said that it was possible that even though it looks just like twins, it might not be. It was possible that it was a baby and some other type of anomaly, like a cyst.

I called my husband and he told me that he was on his way. He also told me that there were hundreds of people praying for a miracle, and he sounded optimistic. He prayed for me over the phone, and I could tell that he believed we would have our miracle. 

And then I went back to surgery.

The next thing I remembered was intense pain. I woke up from the surgery in excruciating pain as they were wheeling me into recovery. As they pushed my bed into place in the recovery room, the surgeon came to my bedside and told me that there was only one baby, and that the other one was just a cyst in my ovary. She also told me that she had to take the tube because there was already significant damage. 

And I cried ...and cried ....and cried....

Partially because I was in terrible pain, but mostly because I was so disappointed.

I begged for the nurse to let my husband come back, and I didn't understand why they wouldn't. I also begged for more pain medicine. Every time I came to again, I would ask for my husband again through tears. And finally he came back. He had just gotten parked and updated from my two friends who were still waiting in the waiting room at like midnight or so on a weeknight. He had such a defeated look. I could see the disappointment and exhaustion all over him. And I wasn't surprised when he left me alone at the hospital that night. It took them almost 3 hours to get me into a room.

And so, that night, May 4, 2011, Jesus held our baby Gabriel in heaven.

Pictures of Gabriel in my tube

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