Pregnant on Paragard: My IUD Ectopic Pregnancy
In August of 2018 (on my birthday actually), I took the leap and went in to my lady doctor to have a trusted IUD (Paragard) placed.
You see, following my third traumatic pregnancy, and the birth of my second healthy, but NICU bound baby, it was heavily suggested that I DO NOT become pregnant again. While the exact reasons are unknown to my doctors, my body sucks at pregnancy. After a miscarriage, and two early deliveries, we found that my uterus issues babies eviction notice at the beginning of my third trimester. Therefore, they frowned upon the idea of me entering another pregnancy.
The hubs and I had made plans after Ellie’s birth for him to go get the big procedure. However, life happened and we found ourselves a year and a half later without a great birth control option. A 13 year sufferer of Endometriosis, I have used umpteen different birth controls in the past. Pills, the ring, shots…they all hate me and have caused hormonal issues across the board. Therefore, when I found that there was an IUD that provided long term birth control WITHOUT the hormones, you bet I jumped in line for that shit.
Thus, my 29th birthday was spent (for a few moments at least) with my feet in stirrups as this T-shaped contraption was being inserted into my lady bits. Fun right?
Fast forward a few months, and aside from some crazy pain near that time of the month, this thing was pretty care free.
Well….it until it wasn’t.
You see, when you are having an IUD placed, your doctor goes through a TON of information with you. One piece of that information is hat Paragard, the most effective birth control on the market according to their website, is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
Immediately, my mind went to that 1%. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I spent at least 45 minutes questioning my practitioner about what that pregnancy would look like.
Yes, it is possible. No it doesn’t happen often. Yes, there is a higher risk for an ectopic pregnancy, however those are seen even less often. Most pregnancies on Paragard are not only viable, but go on to be carried full term, and a healthy baby is the result.
Those sounded like good odds to me, so once having my IUD placed, I went about my life.
Fast forward to January 2019, when my life momentarily stopped.
January 30th, the night those two little pink lines flooded my eyes with tears, and left me on the phone to my lifeline for the next 30 days. The night my worse fears were realized as I found that those pregnancy symptoms I thought I had been noticing over the last couple days, were not imagined, but were real. Just a few days ago, I was off and away with the hubs exploring the Quad Cities, and now, this?
A frantic call to one of my very best friends provided the traumatic details of her own IUD, ectopic pregnancy. My current symptoms were eerily similar, leaving us both even more spazzed. All the while, my poor husband was stuck in a state of crazy of his own, as we were now expecting a fourth child from his non-pregnancy suited wife.
The next several days became whirlwind of crazy to say the least.
The morning of January 31st, my doctor’s office received a freaked out, sobbing call from me explaining the outcome of the four (yes, freaking 4!) tests I had had taken over the last 12 hours. I was instructed to report to my local lab for blood work, and then return home to await results. And after an excruciating five hour wait, our fears were confirmed. We received the call that I was, indeed, pregnant.
Cue more sobbing.
An appointment was scheduled for the following day with my doctor, and my mind went back to its whirlpool of disaster. By this point, I was coming to terms with the pregnancy and was even beginning to accept that we were adding another child in our home. I was terrified however, as I had been cramping and in pain for four days at this point, and had been spotting the entire time. Having survived one miscarriage before Brendan’s birth, was this going to be our second? What if this was an ectopic pregnancy, then what happened?
During my appointment, the decision was immediate to remove the IUD. The google research I had done the night before had confirmed that the IUD remaining in place would only heighten my chances of miscarriage as the pregnancy progressed, providing it was viable. Due to my pain however, my practitioner wanted to perform a quick pelvic to ensure there were no outstanding issues. This exam unfortunately lead to an immediate increase of pain, which had my doctor sending me straight to the ER to be further evaluated.
Over the next five hours, I underwent both an external and internal ultrasound, which provided next to no answers due to my pregnancy being so early on. I was sent home with the instruction to repeat my blood test in 48 hours, and return directly to the ER if there was an increase in pain or bleeding.
Two blood tests later, my numbers were continuing to climb, close to doubling every 48 hours. My hopes were growing that this pregnancy might not be a loss, though my pain was increasing and I was still bleeding. Following the results of the second test, my doctor called me back in for an office ultrasound. Due to my levels still indicating I was very early, and my last missed period showing I was roughly 6 weeks along, we did not expect to see much, but were hopeful to at least locate the pregnancy.
Following a rather uncomfortable internal ultrasound, it was determined that there was a mass in my left fallopian tube, and that nothing could be seen in my uterus. After speaking with another doctor, my ultrasound and pregnancy was labeled as being “highly suspicious” for an ectopic pregnancy. I was then instructed to again repeat my blood testing. Just over 48 hours and another trip to the lab later, I received the call that my levels had confirmed the pregnancy was abnormal and it was being labeled as an ectopic pregnancy. My doctor wanted to begin treatment that day due to the danger associated with ectopic pregnancy, and I was scheduled to receive my first round of methotrexate (a chemo drug designed to stop the division of the cells in the fetus) within just a few hours.
I. WAS. DEVASTATED.
No, I was not trying for another baby. Yet the labeling of this pregnancy as not viable was crushing. I was seriously struggling. This drug is labeled as the “medical treatment” for an ectopic pregnancy, but to me, it was the killing and aborting of a baby that was growing inside of me. Yes, I knew this baby had zero chance of survival. Yes, I understood that allowing this pregnancy to continue without medical treatment would likely prove fatal to me. Yet….this “grouping of cells” as it was being called was and is the second baby I will never get to meet, and the one I had to allow to be ended.
That hurt, and sent me spiraling into a bout of depression like I had never seen, and would not wish upon anyone.
Yet, for my health and the sake of my family, I received my first treatment. The result? I was so sick on day two and three that I did not leave my bed. My cramping became worse and my bleeding gradually got worse leading me to believe it was working. After my second blood test following the treatment however, I received the next crushing bit of information. The first round had not been successful and that the fetus was still growing.
“Unfortunately, while it is rare, sometimes we do have to go through a second round of the drug” I was told. I could hear the pain in my doctors voice, and I knew I had to agree to repeat this whole dreadful process. Therefore, I found myself heading to receive my second dose of the poison that was meant to cure me of my current condition, and began my internal struggle all over again.
This time, I felt like I was handling the treatment so much better. I was still sick for the days following, but was still up and functioning for the most part.
Then, on day four following the treatment I found myself back in the emergency room due to the excruciating pain I was experiencing.
My blood work was taken, and I underwent an insanely painful internal ultrasound that warranted my receiving two doses of dilaudid, a pain medication I had never heard of. Following my exams, the on call OBGYN came in and informed me that my ultrasounds could not locate a pregnancy. My tube that was previously obstructed now appeared cleared. My blood test results showed that my levels had decreased and he was fairly confident that my second treatment had worked, and the pain was the result.
Having never experienced pain like that in my life (I birthed TWO children with no epidural and this was way worse), I was reluctant to leave. I was kept under observation for 4 hours then discharged under the instruction that I needed to repeat my testing again in 48 hours. Worried but hesitant, I went home to await my next test.
Two days later I completed my testing again of an evening. The following morning, I called in to receive my results.
My levels were again rising. I was cussing and crying before I could stop myself. The nurse on the other side of the phone sounded close to the same as continued apologizing that I was experiencing this. She then instructed me that she was calling my doctor and that she would be calling back soon to discuss my next steps.
After the longest hour of my life, my doctor called and I could hear the exhaustion in her voice. She informed me she had received my results last night and had spent hours researching and had even contacted a colleague across the country looking for answers. My case had been staffed that morning among the team of doctors in her wing, and none of them had ever had a patient who had not responded within two doses of methotrexate. In her 14 years of practice, I had become a first.
A third dose of methotrexate was being ordered. Surgery had been discussed, but I was informed that while my levels were still going up, the ultrasound had been reviewed again and my previously tube located pregnancy had moved and do, they couldn’t perform surgery on something they couldn’t find without trying the methotrexate again.
My traumatizing ectopic pregnancy had freaking migrated. Honestly, I laughed while I cried. “How does this even happen?” “We really don’t know.” I was told.
Onto round three I went. This time, I was told, it would be two weeks before we knew if this treatment had worked.
Those two weeks were excruciating.
Between cramps, sickness, hormones, emotions, depression, and a major lack of information regarding the situation to be found on the internet….I was lost. Luckily, after my first seven day wait…I finally received good news.
My levels had decreased drastically.
The relief I felt was indescribable. This whole process had now been going on for a month. I had discovered I was pregnant, discovered that pregnancy was not viable and was life threatening to boot, been working with four different doctors plus ER staff and countless nurses, been through three rounds of a drug used for treating cancer patients, put my entire life on hold due to my emotional state, and now…now I was finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Seven days later I finally received the confirmation that the third treatment was working when I was informed that my levels had taken another large dip. I was told I would continue to take blood tests until my level had hit almost zero, but that the worst was over. My ectopic pregnancy was no more.
So why do I go through the trouble of sharing all of this?
First and foremost, because other women will want to read my story. Right now there are ladies out there with an IUD who are receiving positive pregnancy tests. Ladies who are being told their pregnancies are suspected to be an ectopic pregnancy. Ladies who will find next to nothing online because talking about terminating a pregnancy, even when it is medically necessary, it is taboo.
Some will read this and think I posted it for attention (don’t worry, this post isn’t for those people). Others will scoff because I had a medical abortion performed and even though it was completely necessary, it still feels wrong to them. But somewhere, there is a woman who will read this and she will know that she is not alone. She will know that while this whole situation sucks and she feels that her body is betraying her in so many ways, yet she will know there is a day when it will get easier.
This post is mostly for her.
But, this post also for those who routinely follow my post. For those who wondered why I fell off the face of the Earth and went silent for the last month and a half or so. Many will say I did not need to give an explanation, but none the less, here it is.
At the end of the day, I have a favor to ask all of you. Please, PLEASE, take a second to share this post somewhere. Maybe you know someone personally going through this, maybe there is someone on your social media who is experiencing something similar. Regardless, I want those people to know that they are not alone in their IUD or ectopic pregnancy, and it could be your share that gets this post into their hands. Hopefully, it may provide the one piece of sanity in their current situation in knowing it will end eventually.
And hopefully, at least one person will be helped by this. Until then, thank you for reading this far, and until next time.
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This content was originally published here.