“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots…”Zora Neale Hurston
Except, I was not actually miscarrying. I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.
“An ectopic pregnancy is not a miscarriage. It doesn’t even qualify as a pregnancy loss under “recurrent pregnancy loss” which is one of the criteria that needs to be met before being referred to a fertility specialist.”– littlesicilianmemoirs.home.blog/2021/12/12/my-pregnancy-losses/
Ectopic pregnancies make up 1-2% of all conceptions. That’s about 1 in 50 pregnancies in the United States. An ectopic pregnancy is an embryo (fertilized egg) that has been implanted outside of the uterus (womb), the normal site for implantation.
In a normal pregnancy, the egg is fertilized by the sperm inside the Fallopian tube. The embryo then travels through the tube and reaches the uterus 3 to 4 days later. However, suppose the Fallopian tube is blocked or damaged and unable to transport the embryo to the uterus.
In that case, the embryo may implant in the lining of the tube, cervix, or ovary, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy.
Since pregnancies that grow outside the uterus cannot develop normally, and because they can cause the organ they are developing in to rupture, medical or surgical treatment is required as soon as possible.
The Fallopian tube (where 95% of ectopics happen) cannot support the growing embryo and, if left untreated, can result in the death of the embryo and the death of the mother. For this reason, ectopic pregnancies are considered medical emergencies.
Ectopics are at the center of the controversial Roe vs. Wade abortion ban. Although treatment for this condition is separate from abortion care, overturning Roe could be dangerous for women experiencing ectopics.
This was the cause of the pain that sent me to the emergency room on November 13, 2020, with my legs in the air and three doctors surrounding my area. (See part one.)
Described as a spontaneous abortion through a miscarriage (although, as we’ve covered earlier, an ectopic is not quite a miscarriage), they treated me with Methotrexate on November 20, 2020. When I went in to get the injection, they directed me to the cancer wing, which further disturbed me. I didn’t know Methotrexate was initially used to treat certain cancers; some derived from placental tissue.
Methotrexate is given as a single dose in the hospital’s cancer wing. It effectively destroys ectopic pregnancy tissue and allows it to be reabsorbed by the body. It can also kill normal pregnancy tissue.
In addition to avoiding pregnancy for at least three months, I couldn’t drink alcohol, have foods that contained folic acid, and I had to stay out of the sun for a week after having the injection.
I also had to have a weekly blood test to confirm my HCG levels (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) were getting lower. I spent so much time in the hospital at the end of 2020 that the doctors knew me by name.
After enduring weeks of HCG tests, I was almost finished with the process.
And then, on September 23, 2020, my mom died.
I flew out to Chicago for the funeral when I was supposed to be resting and finishing my last round of tests.
After the funeral, I returned home to complete a couple of weeks, and then I was done.
Or, so I thought.
In the summer of 2020, I experienced pain in my left foot that turned out to be Plantar Fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis), an inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. It is one of the most common forms of heel pain and can usually be treated by simply wearing a better shoe.
But like everything in my life, my case was different.
Instead of going to the emergency room, I figured my insurance could be better spent with a specialist, so I booked an appointment with a Podiatrist, a medical professional specializing in treating disorders of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg.
Nothing they did worked. Not the massages or pain medication.
When the pain continued, and I could barely walk on it, they gave me an injection, which I had tried to avoid. The steroid is injected into the most painful part of your plantar fascia, helping ease the pain and keep the inflammation down.
It worked, and I have been pain-free ever since. I also changed my house shoes (wearing those specifically designed for the condition. They were ugly but wearing them helped.) I have also been sticking to a certain kind of shoe, such as New Balances.
But while the injection helped, I believe it contributed to my miscarriage that summer, which happened months before the November ectopic. (This one was an actual miscarriage.)
A year passed, and in February of this year (22), I discovered I was pregnant again. I was hopeful and had scheduled my confirmation appointment.
And then I felt that all too familiar low abdominal pain.
It was excruciating, and I could not wait for the appointment. It started that Friday, subsided the weekend, and on Tuesday, the pain was back and felt worse. I thought that if I was in labor, this is how it must feel. I called my doctor and went in early for the appointment.
Instead of a confirmation of pregnancy, I was sent to emergency surgery. Not only was it another ectopic, but it was worse than the first time.
They needed to remove my right Fallopian tube.