Although I’ve never experienced an ectopic pregnancy I’ve had two losses due to miscarriage. I advocate for women in the loss community. Over the years I’ve learned of the particular tender turmoil that surrounds ectopic pregnancy loss. I want you to know five truths.
1). You Are Supported
Darling, you are not alone. 1 in 50 pregnancies in the United States is ectopic. Don’t be afraid to search for support and community.
Educate yourself. These reputable organizations provide information for you and your family.
- The Ectopic Pregnancy Support
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Ectopic Pregnancy
Seek Community. Reading the stories of other women can help our souls. It makes us feel less alone. These blogs feature women bravely sharing their stories.
Join a Support Group. Try Loved Baby Christian Pregnancy Loss Support & Encouragement .
2). You Will Have Extra Fears. And this is Normal.
The pain of an ectopic pregnancy has been described as excruciating–making it difficult to even walk. This is especially true if your fallopian tube ruptures and you have life-threatening internal bleeding.
Your fears included that you would die from internal- bleeding. Now you have increased fears as to whether or not you will be able to have additional children and if “this” will happen again.
Please know that the The March of Dimes says, “About 1 in 3 women (33 percent) who have had one ectopic pregnancy go on to have a healthy pregnancy later.” Talk to your physician about your future fertility.
Also know that “it” can happen again, but there is hope that your next pregnancy will not be an ectopic. The March of Dimes reports “If you’ve had an ectopic pregnancy, you have about a 3 in 20 chance (15 percent) of having another.
Look at those statistics. You are MORE likely to have a healthy pregnancy (33%) than having another ectopic pregnancy (15%). There is hope sweet lady.
You and your husband might have to decide whether or not you do want to try to conceive again. Many women report that their husbands are hesitant. Some partners even refuse. Please try to understand their perspective and give them time. They experienced the loss of their baby and they also faced the potential loss of YOU. Be willing to talk to your partner and acknowledge their fears as well as yours. Listen and don’t push away your husband if he isn’t quite ready to try again. Refuse to allow this to become a wedge in your marriage.
Dear heart, don’t feel abnormal if you or your partner have these extra concerns. It’s only natural, isn’t it? Seek out a friend who can offer support by listening to your fears, write and journal your thoughts, or join a support group so you can connect with women who’ve had similar experiences.
3). You Did Not Have an Elective Abortion
This section I write with delicacy and after much prayer. This is because my heart cries for you. After any type of loss we ALL feel guilty. Thoughts of shame run through our minds. But it’s a message of untruth. We are not at fault. You though have an extra layer of questions. In many of your cases you discovered that your baby was in your tube BEFORE your tube ruptured. You had to take one of two paths: surgery or medicine.
As we all know…your baby could not have survived in an environment outside your womb. Allowing the baby to continue to grow was LIFE-THREATENING for you.
Some women (and the public) have confused or wrestled with the questions as to whether this treatment of ectopic pregnancy is elective abortion. Darling, you did NOT ELECT for your child to grow in an environment where it could not survive and you did NOT ELECT for your baby to grow in an environment where rupture will occur and could lead to your own death. Therefore you DID NOT ELECT or EVER WISH to terminate your babe. Do not allow the words of ignorant individuals shame you. I pace with madness at commentaries on the internet and words my friends have heard. The words of the reckless truly pierce like swords. Put your trust in the words of wise and thoughtful individuals.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has a special Pro-Life interest group within the organization. Here is their position statement regarding treatment of ectopic pregnancy:
“In either case, the intent for the pro-life physician is not to kill the unborn child, but to preserve the life of the mother in a situation where the life of the child cannot be saved by current medical technology.
For these reasons the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians recognizes the unavoidable loss of human life that occurs in an ectopic pregnancy, but does not consider treatment of ectopic pregnancy by standard surgical or medical procedures to be the moral equivalent of elective abortion, or to be the wrongful taking of human life.“
Please dear mamas. Find peace in those words. Meditate on them and don’t rely on opinions from individuals who are ignorant of the situation. I read an analogy I thought fitting:
“Imagine a battlefield. A medic has two gravely wounded soldiers before him. He can choose to do nothing and lose two lives, or he can choose to save one. The medic’s choice, like the doctor’s procedure, does not undermine the humanity and value of the life lost. It is tragic, and the result of living in a broken world. The greater moral good in this situation is to save one human life — the mother’s — rather than lose two.”
Do expect that people will utter insensitive comments. Don’t be alarmed. This happens to all of us. Try to guard your heart by sharing your soul story with people who are supportive.
I also want to give you a piece of advice. Don’t be alarmed if you spy the word “abortion” on the paperwork from your physician or insurance company. All of our losses are medically defined as “abortion”. For example, a miscarriage is called a “spontaneous abortion.” We’ve given that word special power in popular dialogue. Please don’t allow the word itself to give you concern.
4). You Should Receive Extra Care
If you conceive again, you should expect (and demand if it is not offered) extra care. Because you are at an increased risk of having another ectopic pregnancy your physician will begin monitoring your HCG as soon as you see a positive on a home pregnancy test. Then, around 6 weeks, you should have an ultrasound to detect whether or not the gestational sac is in your womb or in you tubes (or elsewhere).
Sweet lady, we are advocates of our own health. If, at any point, you feel as if your caretaker is not treating you with respect or using proper protocol, please know it is your right to seek out another physician. And always…don’t ignore your symptoms.
5). You Might Struggle With Faith
I use the word “might” here rather loosely. You probably will struggle with faith. Don’t we all after loss?
As an ectopic mother you are mourning the loss of a baby. Many of you are also mourning the loss of a body part that helps our bodies conceive. And finally you were faced with your own mortality. It’s a deep, dark well of place.
Darling, I can’t answer why God allowed this to happen or why other terrible things occur in life. All I know is that we are not promised a life free from pain or suffering. Heaven, where your precious babe now thrives, is the only place where the absence of sadness exists.
As you struggle with faith I encourage you to read Asking God Why After a Miscarriage ..perhaps it can help you on your own walk. I promise you though…if you cry out to Him, meditate on His word, and invite the Holy Spirit to light your path…you will find peace that passes all understanding.
As words of parting, I want you to know you are loved. You are supported. Come join us at Loved Baby Support & Encouragement Group if you want a community of women with whom to share your heart. I do pray these truths help your heart.
Above all…be gentle to yourself.
DEFINITION: An ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg grows in the wrong place. Without treatment, an ectopic pregnancy can lead to serious bleeding and even death in the pregnant woman. (The March of Dimes)
Sarah Lewis Philpott, Ph.D lives in TN on a sprawling cattle farm where she raises her two mischievous children and is farm wife to her high school sweetheart. Sarah is represented by The Blythe Daniel Literary Agency . You can visit with Sarah at her All-American Mom blog where she writes about life on the farm and cherishing life in joy & in sorrow. She invites mothers of loss to join the Loved Baby Christian Pregnancy Loss Support & Encouragement .