October 7, 2014

Honestly, this year I really wanted to sit around and watch horror movies and ignore October as the Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month (day?). But the movement seems to have grown. Or I’ve just managed to find more members of my tribe. And so it’s become even harder to ignore.

But there’s this familiar feeling of not belonging that comes with October and miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss awareness. I know people consider ectopic pregnancy as part of this remembrance – even if it’s not specifically listed – but I still feel different. I’ve never had a miscarriage so I can’t truly compare the two experiences. But those who have experienced both tell me that their ectopic experience was, in fact, different.

I recently had to talk a friend through an ectopic scare. Her situation pretty much screamed ectopic but turned out to be a miscarriage. Her second. But the days and weeks she spent not knowing whether the life inside her was trying to kill her…it seemed to change her. She experienced a much more complex spectrum of emotions. Which makes me feel a bit vindicated in thinking that they are, in fact, different experiences. I won’t try to argue that one is worse than the other – a loss is a loss is a loss – but I will argue that the complexity of emotions that come with an ectopic pregnancy are inherently different. And, well…more complex.

In addition to feeling like more people are sharing their stories this year, I also feel like they are sharing more blog posts and articles about the topic. Some of them are How To Support Your Friend Through A Miscarriage/Stillbrith/Infant Loss. Most of them talk about how important it is to name your lost ‘children.’

Yes, I put ‘children’ in quotes. That’s my way of distancing myself from my losses because they were so early. I did not lose children. I lost embryos/fetuses. It’s a distinction that I make because it helps me. What you do for your own situation is fine with me. But this post is (mostly) about my losses and in general I’m writing about early miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, not stillbirth or infant loss. So, no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people naming their lost ‘children.’ Regardless of how early the loss was.

But I won’t – I can’t – name mine.

First, I have no idea what gender my three were. Sure I could assign gender neutral names or just pick arbitrarily. But I prefer not to.

Second, not only do I have no idea of gender I also never met my little ones. I never saw a heartbeat. I never saw a blob on an ultrasound that looked like an alien. OK, so there was a blurry blob of some kind with my second ectopic but it didn’t look like anything and the docs could barely tell it was there. The docs only thought it was my pregnancy because they didn’t see it elsewhere. Ectopics don’t typically show that well on imaging. My little ones never had proper room to grow. They didn’t develop normally. There was nothing to see even if the ultrasound could find them. It’s doubtful that any of them developed a heart to beat.

Third, despite never being technically alive (by definition of a heart beating), THEY STILL TRIED TO KILL ME.

And now we arrive at the crux of the complexity. This life, that may or not be actual life as defined by heartbeat, but most certainly is a blob of cells that are dividing and growing, became a danger to my own. This life, this life inside me that I desperately wanted, would have killed me without medical intervention.

And just for shits and giggles, let’s pare this down to just my first ectopic pregnancy. The one where I had to REPEATEDLY try to kill the two…life forces(?) growing inside me that did not want to go quietly. Five months. I battled them for 5 months. Every single shot of methotrexate I received felt like an abortion. Like I was killing them all over again (and I basically was). But they didn’t want to die. I loved them. But had to repeatedly kill them. Even if you weren’t the horror movie buff that I am I think you can easily see the comparison. If not, let me just spell it out for you:

You repeatedly shoot your kid-turned-zombie until you finally realize that a head shot is what it takes. Or maybe you’re just a really bad shot. Or too grief stricken to aim properly. Except you don’t actually have any memories of your kid from before she was a zombie. THAT.

So, no, I don’t want to name them.

I respect your decision if you choose to. But I just…can’t.

It’s so much easier to kill someone or something when they don’t have a name.

So while it absolutely is a loss…it is also something else. And that…something else is simply not capturer on October 15th. At least, not for me.


6 Responses to “October”

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Fox. I have had ectopics and miscarriages. For me, it was all the same. But, in some ways the ectopic was the harder one for me because I had to choose to terminate it. I could also see the best formed embryo I ever saw on U/s (plus it was after an IVF cycle, all that time wasted!) Ectopics are a mind f*ck.

    In any case, it’s all bad. I never named any of my 4 either. Even the one far along enough that I buried it.

    I’ve sort of turned a leaf this year. I am at peace with my losses. They were early. I don’t think of them and cry anymore. I don’t blame people who are still mourning. I mourn more for the innocence I lost because of all of it.

    Thinking of you and anyone who has ever been down this path-
    – Jess

  2. casey Says:

    Sending love to you my friend. What you went through was beyond horrendous there are no words. You are an important voice for ectopics. So many people are not willing to share their experiences.

  3. CrysS24 Says:

    I felt the exact same way about my ectopic. Even though I tried to stay unattached, the wait for my levels to drop after two methotrexate injections was the darkest part of my life so far. I was angry at the world. At the same time, two of my cousins and one of my co-workers announced their pregnancies. It felt like a cruel joke. But I’m well aware that the pain I felt doesn’t compare to a miscarriage or infant loss.

    • Fox Says:

      That’s not quite what I meant. I agree infant loss is something else all together. But ectopics and miscarriages are similar. The pain of loss is roughly the same I think. But the added mindfuck of an ectopic is more emotionally and mentally taxing. Possibly physically as well. It’s all loss and it all hurts. But ectopics are inherently traumatic physically. Some miscarriages are as well. Every situation is unique, I guess.

  4. soangiewrites Says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and your story. Your voice matters. Your story needs to be heard. I am so sorry this happened to you. I support you and care for you dearly. Much love to you as you speak out about your ectopics and the hell you went through. It hurts my heart to read, but hurts me more to think about how I didn’t know you well for the first one, and wasn’t as supportive as I would be now that I know you so well. I wish I had been there for you. I am here for you now, always close, always listening, always ready with hug. XOXO, sweet Foxy.

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