12 October 2011

One Heartbeat, Two Sacs, and an Emergency

In my last blog, I talked about driving back to Houston with Abi to get a second opinion on my pregnancy. To continue ...

My doctor in Lafayette had seemed very unsure of what was going on with my pregnancy. I needed to talk to a doctor I knew and trusted, and I trusted the doctor that delivered Abigail with my life and the life of my children. So the morning after I got to Houston, I left Abi with a dear friend for the day, and I went to work in my old office.

My doctor's appointment was in the afternoon, and another friend of mine came with me to the doctor's appointment in case the news wasn't the positive news I was hoping for. My hope was that the doctor would do an ultrasound and find the baby immediately, and that all would be fine. I was actually quite optimistic all morning, and in turn I was very productive at work.

When I saw my wonderful doctor that afternoon, I was a bit surprised that, after hearing how my numbers were increasing slowly, she immediately said that it sounded like an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. I hadn't even told her about the pain in my left side, and she hadn't even done an ultrasound, but she was pretty sure already. So she was not at all surprised when she did an ultrasound that she didn't couldn't find anything in my uterus. She scanned the tubes, but with the bedside ultrasound machine, she didn't see anything. She began explaining what would happen next ...

She would send me for an ultrasound in radiology so they could identify where in my body the baby had implanted. If they found a baby in a location other than my uterus, we would have to treat for an ectopic. There were two directions this could go: 1) If a gestational sac was found outside of the uterus, but no heartbeat, they would give me a chemotherapy drug that would destroy any fast-growing tissue in my body. That basically meant that the drug would kill my baby. It would also make me very very sick, and I would not be able to travel for a few days. 2)  If they found a fetus with a heartbeat anywhere outside of my uterus, I would have to have emergency surgery within a day or two. The surgery would remove the baby, and any part of my reproductive system that was damaged by the growth of the baby in the wrong place. The surgery would also end the  life of my baby.

But I kept thinking that there would be a third possible outcome: 3) They would find a set of twins who were just too small to be visible on a bedside US. I would be 4 or 5 weeks pregnant instead of 6 or 7, and I would get to go home with no issues.

A couple of hours later, I was laying on the table in the radiology department with an ultrasound wand inside of me. This was the first ultrasound I had ever had where they turned off the monitor on the wall so I couldn't see what was going on. It seemed to be taking forever. I must have been laying there for about 30 minutes before the ultrasound tech turned some nobs, and I started hearing a very familiar sound. It sounded like a very rapid heart beat, and I started to get very excited. I asked her what it was, and she hesitantly said, "That is just your blood pumping into your ovary." That's what she said, but I could tell she was not telling me everything. Soon after, the technician left, but told me not to get dressed in case the radiologist wanted to take a second look. And then I was alone with my friend, and I was very afraid.

The radiologist came in and explained to me that he had spoken to my doctor already, and that I would need to speak with her before leaving the medical center. He explained that they had found the pregnancy in or on my left fallopian tube, and that one of the babies had a heart beat.

One of the babies .....

One of the babies? How many were there? What did this mean?

He could see the shock on my face and quickly informed me that it was a twin pregnancy, but that one of the gestational sacs did not have a heartbeat that could be found.

And then I cried. I had held myself together all day, and I had been strong and optimistic. But this was too much. I had prayed for twins for years, and God was giving them to me and immediately taking them away. I was really confused, shocked ....devastated.

The radiology team excused themselves and told me I could get dressed, and to take my time. My friend held me and prayed for me while I wept.

And then I realized that I would have to explain this to my husband...that our babies didn't have a chance, and that I had to make the decision to go into surgery, knowing that it would end their lives. I was terrified that he would tell me to wait and that the pregnancy would kill me, leaving Abi without a mommy. I didn't want him to think I would make a decision to end the lives of our babies just to save my own. I was afraid he would think I was being selfish by listening to the doctor.

Two gestational sacs. The one on the left had a heartbeat.
He would want to see the babies, right? We had no evidence that they were ever conceived or even alive. I needed a picture. And so, I found the ultrasound tech and asked her for a picture, which is apparently not a common request from a mother who was about to say goodbye to her babies.

My friend and I walked out to her car while I waited for the doctor to call with next steps. And the whole way to the car, I told her how afraid I was of telling anyone. I felt responsible, and I was afraid to make the decision to have surgery because I was scared that I was murdering my babies. I didn't want people to think I had aborted the babies I wanted so very badly. Maybe I would have a couple of days to make the decision ...

And then the doctor called, and she told me that I needed to go straight to St. Lukes ER. My surgery would begin as soon as her associate could make it to the hospital. This was considered an emergency because with two babies growing rapidly, my fallopian tube could rupture, and I could bleed to death at any moment. They wanted me to be monitored in the ER until the surgery began so that if i started bleeding internally, they could save my life. She was apologetic that she couldn't do the surgery, and she was sorry about the outcome. I asked her if there were any other options to save the lives of by babies. And she said no.

It was time to start making phone calls. I was so afraid to tell anyone.

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