Infertility, part 2/3: My third pregnancy.

After a couple of months, when I had recovered somewhat emotionally and physically, we did another IUI. I was no longer so sure that it would work. And it didn't. However, a couple more months later, something strange and unexpected happened. My period didn't come. I took a test, and it was positive. I couldn't believe it. After two and a half years of trying, I had finally managed to conceive naturally! I was hesitant to get excited though, because it was still so early and I had learned the hard way not to get too carried away. I recognized the symptoms from before. The day after I took the test I went to a work party and had to try hard all night to cover up that I wasn't drinking. I didn't need alcohol to enjoy the party though. All through the night I smiled to myself about the secret I was carrying.

Inevitably, after some more days, the symptoms disappeared again. Then the spotting came. And then the bleeding. It started out slowly, not like before. It was lighter than a regular period. It came and went. I didn't reflect on it that much. After about a week, I started to experience pain in my lower abdomen. It came and went, too. I read a lot about the symptoms of miscarriage and learned it could look very different. My symptoms seemed to fit.

The bleeding continued. The pain got heavier. I popped pain killers in the mornings before work, and sometimes during the day as well. Some days it got better and I thought it was over. But it continued. After physical activites like walks or bike rides, the pain intensified. Ironically, my stomach would swell up and get rock hard as if I was heavily pregnant, especially after I had eaten. In the mornings, it was better.

One Sunday, I went outlet shopping with my mum and sister. I was on my feet all day. After lunch, I was in so much pain that I could barely walk. I wondered if I ate something funny. I went home on the train and had to call my boyfriend and ask him to pick me up from the train station with the car, even though it's just a five minute walk away. I considered going to the hospital but the symptoms subsided in the evening. I thought I felt some shoulder pain when I went to bed that night, but I told myself I was just imagining it, based on things I had read online.

I decided to wait and contact my doctor the next day, a Monday. I called him when I had some time over at work. It turned out that he was on vacation that week. His secretary said I could call the clinic at the hospital if I wanted to see someone that week. But I felt a bit better, so I waited. The pain still came and went, as did the bleeding. Sometimes I had to clutch the sink when I went to the bathroom, because it hurt so much. Towards the end of the week, the bleeding intensified again. I was so tired in the evenings that I had started falling asleep in front of the TV. I didn't feel like turning on my computer to scrapbook or anything else that I love to do. I didn't have the energy. I grew frustrated, when would this end?

I was on call that weekend. On the Sunday, I cleaned the apartment, went grocery shopping, cooked and then had to go in to work all afternoon. In the evening, I came home and just lay down on the couch. My head hurt and I felt faint. There was a constant ringing sound in my ears. Instead of eating my dinner, I decided it was time to see what was going on. We went to the ER. It was a very calm night there and I soon got to talk to a nurse who directed me to the OB/GYN ward as soon as I mentioned that I thought my symptoms were due to a miscarriage.

It seemed like it was rather unusual for someone to turn up at the OB/GYN ward unexpectedly on a Sunday evening, so I was given all the attention. I talked to a kind doctor and explained my symptoms. She said it sounded like some sort of infection. Then she did an ultrasound and fell silent. After a little while, she showed me some large blotches on the screen. I had no idea what it meant. She said it looked like blood and that they had to do some tests to see what was going on, and that I might need surgery. I was convinced it couldn't possibly be bad enough to warrant surgery.

I had to wait an hour or so for the results of the blood tests to come back. To my great surprise, my pregnancy hormone level was still quite high. Not high enough for nine weeks pregnant, which I would have been by then, but certainly higher than it should have been three weeks into a miscarriage. More worringly, my blood iron level was down to 83, compared to my usual 130+. Thus, I realized that what I had suspected for a while but not really believed was true - it was an ectopic pregnancy. Of course I was aware of the phenomenon (hello, season 1 of Grey's Anatomy), but I just assumed that I would be able to tell if I was experiencing internal bleeding. I had been in a lot of pain for weeks, but I just imagined that it would be even worse than that if it was indeed internal bleeding. The doctor was quite surprised herself because I seemed so calm and unaffected. She called me a "rare case" and said I was brave for going so long without seeking medical attention.

Since my hormone levels indicated that the pregnancy hadn't yet ended on its own, I had to have surgery. It all happened so quickly that I hardly had time to understand what was going on. Since I hadn't eaten dinner before heading to the hospital I had gone without food for long enough to be prepped for surgery straight away. It was a calm night at the hospital and the doctors and nurses just seemed excited to have something to do so I was soon surrounded by medical staff and wheeled off to an operating room.

When I woke up, I learned that the doctors hadn't just removed the pregnancy tissue from my left ovarian tube but also drained almost a litre of blood that had leaked into my abdomen. I'd been given a blood transfusion. The doctor said that my left tube was still intact. However, my right tube, was badly damaged. Thus, I was able to connect the dots, and realized that what I had experienced the summer before (as described in my previous entry on this topic) was another ectopic pregnancy, in my right ovarian tube, which had ended on its own.

At this point, I already suspected what this would mean for my TTC journey in the future, namely that IVF would be my only option. It would be another month before the doctors would give me their final opinion, though...

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