What I learnt from going through ectopic pregnancy miscarriage
If I asked you, “How are you?”, you may reply, “I’m fine thanks…”
This time if I asked, “How are you?” Before you jump to the answer, please allow yourself to gently tune into your mind, body, emotion and spirit, because I do care and I know sometimes, we are not fine and feel too awkward to admit so.
This month for me, was a month of emotional roller coaster, from shock, trauma, denial, grief, fear, anxiety, worry, survival and most importantly, healing.
About two weeks ago, I was diagnosed with ectopic pregnancy, which is when the fertilised egg implants itself outside of the uterus. Ectopic pregnancy is a type of miscarriage, only that it could be life-threatening. At best, the body can naturally resolve the pregnancy, within 8 weeks. At worst, it can cause the fallopian tube to rupture, resulting in severe internal bleeding. In this scenario, emergency surgery is needed to remove the tube permanently, with the intention to save the patient’s life.
It is a pregnancy complication that, according to NHS statistics, only happens to 1% of all pregnancies in the UK. Given these unlikely odds, I said to Andy with a little sadness and bitterness, “I am so ‘special’ for this to happen to me”. Andy gave me a warm hug and encouraged me by joking that:”Yes, you are special. The Universe must know that you are both physically and emotionally strong enough to go through this.” It made me smile, with tears.
It goes without saying that we were both shattered and devastated with the news. This was our first pregnancy and we were ecstatic to become parents. Not only did we lose our longed-for baby, my health is now at risk too. We cried together, grieved together, the wedding vow we announced at our wedding, suddenly had a different meaning to me: for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us apart. I guess back then, I was young and naive to think that we were invincible, to think that illness would not happen to us, at least not so soon.
After the hospital diagnosis, the doctor recommended an approach called expectant management. I would need to do blood tests every 48 hours for the medical team to monitor my HCG level (hormone level for pregnancy) closely to determine whether the ectopic was resolving naturally. This would guide whether I needed another assessment or treatment. I was told to observe my pain closely, if the pain progresses or becomes not endurable, go to A&E immediately. Our life, since then, was filled with uncertainties and unknowns. It was like living with a bomb in my body, only that we don't know whether and when it'll explode.
I became extremely fragile and vulnerable, I couldn’t stop crying, with my worst fear being that I might lose my fallopian tube permanently, which would ultimately affect my future chances of pregnancy. And to think the possibility of not being able to have a child of our own, hurts me deeply. Andy had to tell me to breathe, to drag me out of the blackhole of fear, to realise that my fear was not real, in the present moment, I was still ok.
I started to feel restless to know that there was literally nothing I could do to help, but to leave it to my body and nature to decide. I grew up believing in hard work, believing that the reward might not always equal to the effort, but there will not be reward without effort. However in my situation, I had nowhere to input my effort, that to me, was frustrating and hard to accept.
I had to learn to coexist with my pain, be patient and trusting, and it was not easy. My attention seemed to be always absorbed by my body sensations, every stretch, cramp, tugging feeling and pain would trigger my worst fear again: is this normal? Is the embryo still growing in me? Is my tube getting ruptured? I was paranoid and often consumed by anxiety.
Fortunately, my will to survive and thrive was equally triggered, I sought out for help. Call it inspiration, grace, God, divine nature, or my True Self, I found ways to cope and even learnt to appreciate the journey I’m going through. Slowly and gradually, it felt more like an experience The Universe has imposed on me to learn some important lessons about life and about healing:
Surrender to what is
Surrender to what is, because there is really no other way. When I was diagnosed, I was shocked and my mind couldn’t help but to try to make sense of it all and ask ‘why’. Was it because I did yoga the day before? Or because I was vegan? Or because I drank coffee? When I asked Andy, he hugged me and told me to stop looking for reasons, he said:”It is just what it is”. In life, many things are out of our control. Many things don't make sense and they don’t have to make sense. And with all the messiness, all is still well.
I am complete
With nothing to contribute physically but to rely on my body, out of desperation, I turned to Chakra meditation to turn my reckless attention within, for a sense of peace. Meditation saved me from being swallowed by fear, helped me connect with my inner self, with The Universe and the life force that connects us all.
It gave me tremendous comfort to know that I AM complete. It gave me the means to balance my energy and heal my pain. I felt emotional at times, breaking down into tears, but with the knowledge that my negative emotions and energies found ways to be released from my body. With that in mind, I know I am on the way of self-healing, at least for my mind and spirit.
Be grateful for each day and focus on Now
To go through everyday with a bit of dignity, I felt I didn’t have any energy left to worry about a future full of unknowns, but to only focus on the here and now. Every morning, when I woke up with fairly little pain, I bowed and thanked The Universe for another day of healing and progress.
Andy and I started to do our version of Grace before each meal to thank everything and anything that came to our mind, just to remind us how fortunate we are regardless of the situation.
Reading a book
The trauma reminded me of ‘collective female pain body’ from the book Power of Now and at the moment of vulnerability, I craved for female energy. I took out and re-read Michelle Obama’s Becoming. It reached a different part of me when I read the chapter for the second time, where she described the difficulty she encountered trying for babies and her experience of a miscarriage. I deeply appreciated her authenticity - she made me feel that I am not alone.
I started writing a diary from the day I tested positive on a pregnancy test. I called it ‘the baby diary’. It recorded all my dreams, hopes, anticipations and excitements to welcome our first baby. And since the diagnosis, the diary has become my way for self-redemption and self-healing. I wrote about my everyday experiences, my deepest fears, my constant worries, the war and peace within me and my consistent effort on living in the present moment.
Power of vulnerability
I hesitated whether I should tell other people my story, it was not easy to be vulnerable in front of others. I was also worried how people would react to the heaviness of the story. But when I was asked “How are you?”, I decided to tell people exactly what I was going through and how I felt. At the end of the day, it is what it is, isn’t it?
To my surprise, I was flooded with love, care, comfort, encouragement and best wishes, from my family, friends, colleagues and even acquaintances. There was no pity or awkwardness, but pure love. I felt deep connections that I never felt before and it also created space to allow other people to share their stories and vulnerabilities. I was amazed by the Power of Vulnerability, how it connects us all and helps us pick each other up when in need, as Brene Brown beautifully explained in her TEDTalk.
Till today, I am still on this journey of self-healing, though with much more clarity and hope. I know I am not alone.
I am truly grateful for all the nurses who cared for me with compassion and professionalism, especially when they probably see this day in and day out. I thank my partner Andy, who picked me up from shattered pieces, who gave me courage and will to face every day with composure and gratitude. I thank those women who have been through this and have offered me comfort, assurance and hope on this turmoiled journey. I also thank so many friends and family, who have sent me love, care, hugs and best wishes. Lastly, I thank my body for her hard work on the way of resolving this naturally.
There are still many unknowns on this journey, but I will proceed with courage, gratitude and the willingness to embrace whatever lies ahead of me.
As always, love and light x