She ran into the hospital’s accident and emergency section all alone in the early hours of the morning crying and screaming. She had gotten into a horrible fight with her boyfriend that had triggered a panic attack.
Motherhood was the last thing on her mind. All she needed was a shot of diazepam to calm her down. When the doctor saw her, he asked her to share a bit about her health and medical history in the previous month. She explained that she has struggled with anxiety that is triggered by several things. She added that she had taken a couple of morning after pills in the previous month but that the 2 pregnancy tests, she had taken had come out negative. The doctor listened attentively. He administered the diazepam and he requested for a full blood count and pregnancy test.The diazepam kicked in and she began to calm down. The doctor returned moments later with her results.
With a slightly hesitant look on his face he said, ‘your blood work is fine but your urine has tested positive for HCG, you are pregnant.’ On hearing those words, she screamed and collapsed.
When she regained consciousness, the doctor and nurse were standing by her bed. Then she began to cry.
She was convinced she was dreaming. All sorts of questions began racing through her head. “Am I ready to be a mother?” ‘Why didn’t the home pregnancy test work?’ ‘How could I be so stupid to think that morning after pills were full proof?’ ‘I can barely look after myself. How am I going to look after a child?’
The final lingering thought in her mind was ‘My life as I know it is over.’
The medics were extremely supportive and understanding. The doctor requested for an ultra sound to get a picture of the foetus’s size. The ultra sound process was nerve-wrecking. The gel was extremely cold. As the procedure ended, the doctor and sonographer said “you are pregnant but we can’t see it.” Hearing those words coupled with the concerned look on the doctor and sonographer’s face would mark the start of an extremely complex, inexplicable and painful stage in her life.
The doctor continued to say, ‘we suspect its an ectopic pregnancy but it is extremely concerning that we can’t see it in the tubes. We are going to do an HCG blood test to tell us
how far long it is.”
At this point she was just numb. In the space of a few hours, she had suffered a panic attack, been told she was pregnant and then told that her baby could not be seen in her womb. Two of her friends had come into the hospital to be by her side. Her sister was keeping in touch with her over the phone. When the blood tests came back, they indicated that the baby was going onto 6 weeks. The doctor explained that at 6 weeks the baby should be clear on the scan. He said that the fact that it was not showing up on the scan meant it was growing somewhere its not supposed to be. He said that the foetus would have to be terminated immediately in order to save her life.
A dose of methotrexate – a chemotherapy drug used to kill cancer cells was administered via injection to terminate the pregnancy. The doctor explained that the bleeding would start almost right away which it did not. The anxiety surrounding the wait was so brutal. Several thoughts raced through her mind. ‘Was she going to require surgery if the drug did not work. If she did, she would have to tell her parents- her biggest fear. "Was she going to die?’ ‘Why did this have to happen to her?’
Two weeks later in the early morning hours of a Tuesday, her baby bled out of her. She was on her own in her room. It was excruciating both physically and mentally. Knowing that could have been her living baby is a thought that cut her deeply. She went back to the hospital every week for 6 weeks after that to do blood tests to check that the HCG level was dropping. During this period, the father of the unborn child chose to end this relationship which took its toll on her.
She cried every day for 8 months and yet to an extent she felt like her tears were not justified because other women have been through worse. The post-traumatic stress totally threw her off her equilibrium in terms of her work and her ability to do basic tasks. She was referred to an excellent therapist but she could not afford the 75-pound fee. She invalidated her feelings for so long which just made it worse. Her thoughts constantly spiraled into what motherhood would have been like. Her friends had babies which only seemed to trigger her pain even more. She opted to stop talking about it with her friends because she did not want to overwhelm them given how supportive they had been.
‘Life does not stop for anybody, it drags you by the legs, whether you want to move forward or not’ -Rupi Kaur.
Slowly, time allowed her to realize that no matter what stage her baby existed, her baby mattered and therefore her grief and feelings of loss are justified. She believes she will be a mother for the second time one day. For now, she is in the process of focusing on forgiveness, learning and acceptance.
The author of this article wishes to remain anonymous.