“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.” – Pablo Neruda
I first wrote this blog in January, waiting for spring and new beginnings to bring fresh light to the loss we endured in December, but alas, a new situation has arisen where I need to share and invite a community of others into my life. When I finished writing this post at the end of March, I couldn’t click publish. Now, it is nearly 3 months later, and I’m finally editing my blog to share with others.
This post will be difficult to write and I assume difficult to read. My goal is not to hold back, but to embrace my mission of creating a community of strong and empowered entrepreneurs. Being authentic and open about my own struggles will hopefully help you do the same as you face your fears and create something for yourself.
I start here with my miscarriage at 10.5 weeks in December, followed by a ruptured ectopic pregnancy 2.5 weeks ago (in March) at 6.5 weeks, and end with a message of love and support that being a mompreneur has provided me.
Part 1: The unexpected loss.
I could see his eyes drop as the ER resident brought the ultrasound across my body one last time. Joe slowly shook his head as he looked me in the eyes. He had seen what we already knew was true: our little baby was gone.
Every year we travel back to the east coast between Thanksgiving and Christmas to take advantage of low ticket prices and fewer travelers during the Holiday season. It’s a time that we can spend with my Joe’s brother’s family, my brother’s family, my parents, and our friends.
As business owners, we always spend a few hours here and there working, but this is a time of relaxation and reconnection with friends and family.
This year was different. Both my sister-in-law and I were pregnant with our second children and due 7 days apart! Our daydreams were filled with visions of the cousins growing up together and reaching the same milestones in sync. Our trip started with pure joy and excitement. MK and her cousin J were all snuggles and did a great job of playing and sharing with each other.
We then announced my pregnancy to my aunt and grandparents who were over the moon that the family brood was growing: from 1 great granddaughter a few years ago to soon-to-be 8 great-grandchildren by mid 2018.
But the next day I saw a little blood. After calling the doctor’s office, I was reassured that perhaps I just had a yeast infection, and it wouldn’t harm the baby. The following morning, however, I started having cramps around 5 am, and my optimism quickly vanished. Waking my husband up, I crawled upstairs to tell my mom we needed to go to the hospital and asked if she and Dad could watch MK until we returned.
Then I had my first set of contractions. Though not as bad as actual labor contractions, I was quickly reminded of how utterly bad I am at natural labor and immediately rushed to the bathroom to throw up and collapse in pain on the floor. Heading back downstairs a few minutes later another contraction came, and I passed what I knew was our little baby.
In the ER at Dartmouth Hitchcock, we were met by a lovely nurse and an ER resident who guided us through the ultrasounds. They took their time not only explaining what had happened but also shared their own personal stories of loss. They explained that it looked like the baby had stopped growing about a week and a half before and reiterated over and over that there was nothing we could have done.
We felt the loss and pain deeply, but were fortunate to be surrounded by family and love. Joe and I cried and held each other in support as we processed everything in waves over the following months.
At one point, shortly after our ER trip, I realized that based on the timeline, the baby had died right after Thanksgiving, when we had told my in-laws that we were expecting. Our little angel had found their to a better place as they were surrounded by love, prayers, and well wishes. This realization that the baby left the world embraced in love has helped me move forward. It helped me overcome the pain I felt that our baby had died, and nobody knew for a week and a half.
Additionally, I found talking about the loss opened doors to deeper connections with the women in my life. People who were once only acquaintances shared their own stories, and I realized I was not alone.
Everyone deals with the pain of a miscarriage differently and on their own time, but being able to have these conversations allowed me to accept our truth and become excited about the growing our family once again.
Unfortunately, the joy we experienced when we next saw the second blue line was short lived.
Part 2: Left in a daze.
This time around, I first thought I was pregnant while at Steamboat for a long weekend and ski trip with friends and family. I kept my excitement at bay until I was certain of a missed period and waited one more day to take a pregnancy test.
Above all else, I truly didn’t want to get too excited. In the 2 months following my miscarriage, each period was a tragic reminder of our loss. I would get my hopes up for a positive pregnancy test only to start my period the following day. This month, I wanted to set aside the stress and give my body time to tell me in its own time.
All stresses at bay, we were ecstatic when the test came back positive. But, with visitors in town and more coming, I pushed off scheduling my first visit with the OBGYN (which I knew wouldn’t happen until 7-8 weeks anyways). I felt great (at least as great as you can feel in early pregnancy ) but was sore, tired, and had mild aches and pains.
However, one thing was new. My cramps, though mild and aligned with a changing body, felt a little too strong for so early in the pregnancy. Additionally, I experienced pain in my ribs just under my left breast. It reminded me of the aches and pains I experienced later in the pregnancy with MK, so I didn’t try to think much of it.
At 5.5 weeks, however, I looked up ectopic pregnancy symptoms and even brought up to my sister-in-law that I was afraid that I had it, but I wasn’t fully convinced. After all, the cramps weren’t consistent with an ectopic pregnancy, but that nagging pain in my ribs – where was it coming from?
My sister-in-law and I chatted about how you can’t scrutinize everything in a pregnancy, because it would cause too much stress.
Especially after a miscarriage, all you want to do is scrutinize each slight feeling…you’re hyper aware all the time. But, God has his plan, and trusting in that needs to be enough.
Then Wednesday night came. At about 12:30am, I popped out of bed thinking I needed to use the restroom and ended up crawling from the bedroom to our bathroom, dry heaving over the toilet, then collapsing in pain, burning up, and nearly blacking out. Just barely able to call for Joe, I managed a drink of water and ate a cracker.
All I could think about was, “Is this what morning sickness and early pregnancy constipation actually feel like?!” My pregnancy with MK was so easy. I only had morning sickness once, so I honestly thought that my fever, chills, and urge to throw up was because I needed a little food to settle my stomach.
After a few minutes I managed to get back to bed and slept until morning.
On Thursday, I had my weekly networking group, but knew I needed to use the restroom before I left (I really thought I was constipated or even impacted). One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was on the kitchen floor crying in the phone to my mom, a retired nurse, about how to relieve myself.
How embarrassing, right?
Joe had gone to the meeting for me to drop off handouts for a presentation I was scheduled to give, while I stayed at home, in pain, crying about not being able to poop! I then called the hospital and asked for a nurse in the women’s clinic to call back about early pregnancy constipation and to schedule my 8 week ultrasound.
Amber (my business partner) and I chatted after Joe returned home, and I even laughed with her about how embarrassing it was to be in so much pain.
Finally my nurse called back and I decided I absolutely couldn’t take the pain anymore. The pain was growing worse by the second, especially that rib pain! Crying on the phone, I exclaimed that I needed to come in and luckily, the nurse listened and squeezed me in for an appointment with their new midwife. Could I be there in 20 minutes? “I’ll be there.”
After hanging up, I called Joe, who was out for a walk with MK and Clover, and said we needed to go to the hospital right now.
He rushed home, we piled in the car, and off we went.
From the facial expressions of the midwife—whom I hadn’t met previously—I swore she thought I was insane. I kept going back to how utterly ridiculous it was to be in so much pain from a lack of bowel movement. Hadn’t I gone just fine the day before? Was the rib pain from gas? Or was it actually referred pain from an ectopic pregnancy?
Apparently, my judgement of her facial expression was totally wrong and the ultrasound tech cut her lunch break short to make sure I could be seen before her busy afternoon. We immediately made the trek upstairs to the OB clinic, but when we arrived, I needed to sit to keep from fainting and was immediately rushed to the closest restroom to throw up.
I knew the ultrasound tech from both prior pregnancies and loved how she talked through everything she saw. I think (technically) the techs are supposed to wait until a doctor reviews the findings, but she helps her patients understand exactly what they are looking at on the screen.
We started the ultrasound and immediately I recognized my uterus looked different. It was dark, meaning there was no embryo, but there also were dark spots as she moved the ultrasound wand around. She began looking for the sac in my right Fallopian tube, but all we found were pockets of blood all the way up to my pancreas.
Turning to the left, we immediately found my baby… along with a ruptured Fallopian tube. She stayed on the embryo for a minute, taking measurements and listening for a heartbeat. I forget now if the my little kidney bean’s heartbeat was able to be measured, but it was the perfect size for a 6.5 week old fetus.
My sweet baby was absolutely perfect, but in the wrong place.
I already knew then that the next steps would be surgery to stop the bleeding, remove my Fallopian tube, and save my life. By the time the doctor arrived at the ultrasound room, I had already heard a call being made to prep an OR room for my arrival.
As my eyes fluttered closed in the OR, I forced myself to focus on an image of Joe holding MK to keep my breath steady.
Long story short, I am forever grateful that I listened to my body, that the nurse listened to me, and that the doctors rushed to action without delay.
Healing after a Ruptured Ectopic Pregnancy
I wasn’t initially going to put this into the post, but there is so little information out there about healing after laparoscopic surgery for an ectopic pregnancy.
We were lucky for a few reasons:
- I’m healthy and athletic
- MK is a darling
- Joe can make his own hours (also a business owner)
- Joe’s family is 45 minutes away
- My mom was able to fly out, as well
We’ve had a lot of help , which has allowed me to focus on resting and healing. The first 2 days I took my ibuprofen and Vicodin as instructed, but soon grew wary of how I felt on Vicodin and switched to only ibuprofen and acetaminophen here and there.
The biggest challenge was MK. She was at the hospital, though not in any of the exam rooms, but she was VERY worried about my boo boos. We realized after the 2nd night that she needed more one-on-one time with Mommy, and we started watching Sesame Street each afternoon before dinner.
As a family that doesn’t even have a TV in the living room, the screen time was not ideal, but at least it was something we could do together.
About a week after the surgery, my body felt a lot better, so it became a little more difficult to make sure I didn’t overdo anything. I still wasn’t scheduling client meetings, and mentally I could only really hold one thought in my head at a time. I worked some, but not even at 50%.
MK, however, was exhausting. My poor husband… She started crying for hours at night and throwing temper tantrums at every little thing. It took me awhile to get back to a point where I felt like I could help discipline her, but it’s difficult to say “Let’s do X instead” when you can’t then actually pick her up, let alone get up, to change the situation. Again, poor Joe.
Luckily, my mom stayed with us for a week and helped keep our house clean and take MK for walks or to the park to keep her occupied.
Now three months out, the steri strips are gone, the stitches have fallen out, and I’m feeling like myself again.
Emotionally, the pregnancy has caused more fear about the future rather than sadness about the loss. I think this is because we hadn’t been in to the doctor’s office for that exciting first ultrasound yet (combined with how in the back of my head I thought something was wrong).
Above all, I feel a longing for the naivety of my first pregnancy with MK.
Part 3: The Power of Connection.
In times of loss and helplessness, it is easy to get lost in your own thoughts. You can also, however, use your loss as an avenue to open doors and build relationships.
I am overcome by how talking through recent misfortune has allowed me to connect on a deeper level with my business partners, clients, friends, and family.
Everyone has their own story, and allowing myself to start the conversation invited others open up about their own experiences.
As business owners, we need to take this to heart, as well. The world is full of people who want to see you succeed. If you have big dreams, you should talk about them. If you are struggling, find a coach or accountability partner to help you find the way.
As a mompreneur specifically, we are always pulled in so many different directions. It can be lonely even when we are surrounded by others at play times or in meetings with clients. Each waking moment is either devoted to our family or our business. Even instances of relaxation are flooded with thoughts of the next step to reach our goals. It is exhilarating, yet exhausting.
The past few months, however, have truly shown that being a mompreneur, though utterly draining at times, is incredibly rewarding.
Taking a step back since my surgery to heal has allowed me to examine the relationships I’ve built. It has reiterated that though I only work with my small team scattered throughout the country, my business relationships have a far more impactful reach. It is a privilege to be able to engage in conversations with clients about my experiences and have them open up in return. To have them write letters and send flowers (or home cooked meals) weeks later, letting me know they are still thinking about my family.
What comes next?
Time will tell 🙂
Today (3/29), I have the all clear to pick up my little love again, though her feet sit right at my scars. MK has been worried, however, since the hospital, so hopefully a nice hug and kiss will help her recognize mommy’s boo boo is all healed.
Her worrying has caused our usually sweet and silly girl to throw tantrums at every decision and to wake up screaming to be let out of the crib each night (Currently it’s 8pm and MK is exclaiming “All done NAPPING” … “Daddy, Daddy in bedroom, No Crib, Come out bedroom, Daddy out crib, come out bedroom, all done napping…” It might be a long night).
Hopefully, in the next few days her temperament will start coming back to normal. (A huge shout out to my husband for his patience and to the YMCA for their childcare so he can get some work done).
It’s been a tough go of it, but with mommy back, fingers crossed she snaps back to it! We’ve also had family in town for nearly 6 weeks straight, so a normal routine will be a welcome change.
Please feel free to leave a comment with your own story or experience. Sometimes things that are taboo are they best conversations to have.
I’ve been lucky to have a local community of business owners who understand the struggles of getting your hands dirty. Our goal with Social Speak is to create a community of values-driven professionals who wish to build a creative outlet in their lives, establish relationships with other driven moms, and grow their business beyond their wildest dreams.