“I am an Ectopic Pregnancy Survivor”

“I am an Ectopic Pregnancy Survivor”

“I am an Ectopic Pregnancy Survivor” Image

When Roe. V Wade, the constitutionally protected right for a woman to obtain an abortion up until the point of viability, was overturned, I, like tens of millions of others, took to the streets that day. My sign did not read “my body my rights” or “hands off my body.” Which I agree with fully. My sign read “Ectopic pregnancy survivor.”

An ectopic pregnancy is when an egg is fertilized but gets stuck somewhere in the fallopian tube and does not make it into the uterus. Typically, it takes 12-15 days from the time of release (ovulation) for a fertilized egg to implant into the uterus via the uterine wall. During that time, if an egg is fertilized, it begins producing cells and growing. This is where embryonic stem cells come from.  If for any reason the cells get stuck, be it they grew too rapidly, traveled too slowly, get some curve or snag in the fallopian tube, they continue to grow and reproduce the base cells of life. To be very clear, no matter the space or time, these cells cannot develop into a human being. These cells need hormones found inside the uterus in order to develop into a human being. They will simply continue to multiply and a viable baby will not develop. Even if we were able to remove the fertilized egg and place it in a test tube, it will not develop into an infant. Scientifically, this is not a human being. What will happen to someone having an ectopic pregnancy is that they will experience pain as the stuck cells continue to grow inside their fallopian tube, eventually ripping the tubes and if left untreated, fully rupturing them. This will cause severe pain and internal bleeding. This situation is fatal if not treated quickly. 

In late 2018 my right fallopian tube ruptured as a result of an ectopic pregnancy. 

My husband and I were using birth control, were not expecting a pregnancy. Around the time of my expected period, I began to feel the usual cramps which, over the course of a couple of days, increased in intensity. I started what I thought was my period and the cramps continued to worsen. In the past, I had passed a gallstone and during that time, I experienced the pain of the gallstone predominantly in my back. This pain was also in my back and I had assumed I was having a gall attack. I took anti-inflammatory medication and a sleeping pill hoping to sleep the pain off as my body processed whatever was going on. After a couple of hours of pain, I took a second sleeping pill and began using a heating pad. I have a pretty high pain tolerance and rarely use medication to treat as, personally, I often don’t feel I need it. The pain continued and began to change from my back to more traditional abdominal areas related with menstrual cycles. In addition to a history of gallstones, I also have endometriosis — a condition where tissues abnormally grow around your receptive reproductive organs/ uterus, fallopian tubes etc. This condition can be very painful. I had assumed that I passed the gallstone (as I have in the past) and was now dealing with a painful period from the health condition I was born with.

Being a plus-sized woman, I have frequently faced discrimination in hospitals. Often enough when I have gone to my doctor or even the ER for gallstones, endometriosis or other chronic health conditions that I have, I have been refused treatment for them due to my weight. Told to lose the weight and the symptoms would go away. Despite having formal diagnoses for these non-weight health conditions, I rarely get the treatment I need. Because of this, I choose not to go into the ER the following day. I continued to self-treat with over-the-counter pain medications, warm baths, hot showers etc. The pain continued to grow and my bleeding increased. 

In the middle of the following night, I heard a pop sound and screamed out in pain. An intense stabbing, burning pain ran through my back and abdomen. In the early hours of the morning, I had my husband pack up our 1- & 2-year-old and drive me to the emergency room. I told him to drop me off and go home and I walked into the ER alone, in intense pain.

When I was able to be seen by a doctor, they ran the usual tests, including a pregnancy test. I will say, that was the most disgusting looking urine sample that I had ever given. And I’ve had two full-term pregnancies, so I’ve peed in a lot of cups in my time. There were clumps of tissue inside of it. When the ER doctor came back, he informed me that the pregnancy test was positive. He stumbled over an apology, clearly unsure of what to do in that situation, and I was transferred to the L&D department.

I was STILL in pain. I was given strong pain medication but I could still feel painful cramping sensations. I was exhausted after two nights of no sleep. I was feeling light-headed from what turned out to be blood loss. I did not know it at the time, but I was dying. 

The L&D doctors ordered an intervaginal ultra sound, where they place the transducer for an ultrasound inside of the vagina. Only then did the pain stop. Exhausted, I began to dose off as they rolled me back into my room in the delivery ward. Quickly, much to my dismay, the doctor came in and told me the news. I had a lot of blood pooling inside of my body and needed surgery. He was the same doctor that delivered both of my children and I trust him fully. I told him I consent to whatever he needed to do. They immediately took me to be prepared for surgery and my favorite part was I got to sleep.  In fact, I remember waking up being angry that I woke up from surgery, I wanted to sleep more. 

After I woke up from surgery, they rolled me back to a room in the delivery ward. I was placed in one of those rooms in a little pocket typically reserve for women delivering stillborn. The rooms are kept separate to ease the mourning mothers and, hopefully, so that they do not hear the newborn cries in the other rooms. After a nap, I spoke with the doctor. My ovary and fallopian tube on my right side were gone. I looked at pictures of the inside of my body, unsure what I was looking at besides dark blood. He showed me my other fallopian tube and the destroyed one. My tubes are “deformed” he said. They both had — the remaining one still has — a pocket and are shaped more like lower case “r”s which greatly increases my likelihood of having another one. He then told me how much blood I lost and that if I did not come in when I came it, it could have turned fatal very quickly. 

Most people agree that treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is not abortion, and most people that believe it is, still approve of the treatment. However, there are lawmakers that do not. The overturn of Roe V Wade does many things that directly harm tens of millions of Americans. Nothing I say will ever convince much of the “prolife” side…. But I hope there are some fringe members that are open to hearing the repercussions of this over turn.  I cannot speak to what it is like to be a 12-year-old raped by an uncle and found pregnant, a very real situation now forced upon girls in our country. I cannot speak to what it’s like to find out at 25 weeks pregnant that your child is suffering daily or hourly from seizures and has a condition that ensures they will not survive birth. I cannot speak to what it’s like to be in an abusive relationship, truly not know how to escape and finding yourself pregnant and scared that your partner will kill you or your child. I cannot speak to most situations, but I can speak to this one. One that shouldn’t need to be talked about. But because enough people in power hold that human life begins at conception, it needs spoken about. At least one state already passed a law banning the treatment for ectopic pregnancies, thankfully it was overturned. Sadly, despite doctors crying out as loud as possible that ectopic pregnancies are fatal, more lawmakers support banning the life-saving treatment. Lawmakers such as representative Brian Seitz from Missouri, who made the law originally banning it.

Someone can dislike abortion and see how dangerous of a time it is in the post roe world. Women are already suffering from this. Women are already going into ERs with ectopic pregnancies and rather than receive treatment, the doctors have to consult with lawyers first. As of writing this, at least one woman suffered the same experience I did. Her fallopian tube ruptured while the medical team waited to hear from the lawyers on how their states antiabortion law, stating that “human life begins at conception” impacted this situation. It’s already happening.

It hurts, it can kill. It permanently destroys part of your body and most people know that it needs to be treated. But solely because Roe v Wade was overturned, we are forced to wait. 

This is not okay. I dissent.