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expecting a baby
when the expectations have been reset
by albert garcia
1.21.11
general

I’m not sure what chapter number this is in the story of my life but I know what the chapter is called – Expecting a Baby. It started last April when my wife peed on a stick and told me what the stick did. It changed colors apparently. I didn’t actually see the stick, but the color signaled in a new era in our lives.

Although this chapter has been happy and exciting for us, the previous chapter was just the opposite. That chapter was called – We Were Expecting a Baby; and Then We Learned What an Ectopic Pregnancy Is. That chapter sucked. It was long and sad and depressing, but we lived and experienced every line and paragraph right to the final page. The chapter went something like this:

It started in the home we had been living in for seven years in El Cerrito, California on a hillside with a view of the San Francisco Bay. I’ll never forget the beautiful look my wife gave me and the hug we shared while our dogs tried to get in on our moment by barking and jumping around us like they do. I checked out “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and a number of other thick books filled with hundreds of instructions and recommendations. We told those closest to us and were feeling very happy.

We had been planning and were actively trying to get pregnant so the home pregnancy test was taken early on. My wife scheduled an appointment and our relationship with Kaiser of Oakland began. The chapter was moving right along until a rainy Wednesday afternoon while on my lunch break. I was trying out a bowl of ph? at a Vietnamese restaurant I had never been to.

My wife had just walked out of her second doctor visit and called to tell me something was wrong. The doctor was concerned about some hormone numbers that were not at the level they should have been and did not see the embryonic sac when he performed an ultrasound. This did not immediately end our hopes of having a baby but it did start a long and difficult few months of having to cope with an unsuccessful pregnancy.

We heard the term ectopic pregnancy for the first time and learned that it happens when a fertilized egg gets stuck on its way to the uterus. There are many causes including scarred and damaged fallopian tubes however in our case we never received anything more than speculation as to what the cause was. Inflammation or infections, fertility problems and unusually shaped fallopian tubes all contribute to ectopic pregnancies.

The numbers the doctor was concerned about were for the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). The levels registered much lower than they were supposed to. Once the fertilized egg implants, the developing placenta begins releasing HCG into the blood. If the pregnancy is ectopic, the levels are released at a much lower rate.

We finally received the bad news by way of a phone call. My wife had gone in for another blood test and while the numbers were up, they were no where close to where they needed to be. I remember pacing around the kitchen and living room as she talked to the doctor feeling the stress I had only known up to that point while watching one of my teams battle for a victory. But the bottom of the ninth, down by two and two on had nothing on this. 4th and 9 with the clock ticking down couldn’t compare to the stress I was feeling while trying to read my wife’s face and voice. After ending the phone call she told me the doctor recommended an immediate injection to stop the pregnancy.

It was a devastating moment for us, as was the experience of taking my wife to the hospital and watching her go into a room where she would start the process of ending the pregnancy. She came out of the room in tears, and I had to call on every ounce of strength not to fall to pieces with her. Someone had to keep it together and not just at that moment or for the drive home. I was going to have to encourage her, speak about better times to come and happier chapters and be a cheerleader for the both of us. Over the next few weeks, my wife received two injections and took over thirty blood tests. She was in the lab so often, the staff got to know her and what she was going through.

Turns out ectopic pregnancies happen quite a bit but like other depressing aspects of life, it is not a topic of conversation at parties. Thanks to all of you who opened up and told us your stories. I’m sure at some point I’ll have that conversation from the other side, and I hope I can be as comforting and encouraging as you all were to us.

Helen and I were stuck in a painful place. We wanted to be excited about trying again. We wanted to be happy for our friends when they told us they were pregnant, and we were, but it was hard. The failure of the pregnancy felt like personal failures. Why didn’t it work for us? Why were we going through such a painful period when we were expecting to be so happy and excited? On top of the injections and tests, we were told there was a chance of it happening again. Helen handed the stack of pregnancy books to me and told me to take them back to the library.

We spent the winter months looking and feeling like the Bay Area – grey and dreary. We felt the sting of pain on the wound that wouldn’t heal, poked by scenes of newborns and their families sharing special moments on television and all around us. I shook off the frown on my heart and smiled during story time at the library where I work. We were battered but we were not beaten. We were not about to let a sad chapter alter our stories. We have strong families; people that taught us through their actions how to live in a world that gives and takes at a whim. While the chapter had not turned out like we had hoped, we knew there would be others and that the bad chapters make the good ones all that better.

If there’s a lesson to be learned, I guess it’s in how quickly fortunes can change. We went from a moment in which we were prepared for all the magic and wonders that accompany a new baby to an unexpected detour. We found ourselves at the bottom of the emotional spectrum. It’s truly a roller coaster ride, this life, and it’s on the peaks when we look down and in the valleys when we look up, that we see all the ground we’ve covered and the long road ahead. It’s the highs and lows that burn into our memories and become the scenes that make up our lives. My wife and I moved on with our stories because that’s what we do. We are not the giving up type. It simply isn’t in our genes.

Back to the current chapter – we are now living in a house in San Pablo, California on a quiet cul de sac. We were very hesitant about sharing the news that we were pregnant again. It had been such a happy moment when we told our parents the first time, and it was hard to tell them the pregnancy had not worked. We felt a tempered happiness. We were cautious and anxious, not happy and excited like we were the first time. We reached the second and then the third month and slowly started to tell those closest to us. We recently returned from Los Angeles where our families threw us a wonderful baby shower. It was a special weekend for us. My cousin got married on that Saturday and she and her husband and the rest of our families were on hand for the shower the next day.

We’ve taken preparing for childbirth, breastfeeding, new born classes and a tour of the labor and delivery rooms. Our second bedroom is now a nursery fully equipped with a crib and a dresser, and our first box of diapers is in the garage along with a bunch of other stuff that I haven’t figured out how to assemble yet. It has been a challenging year, but it has also been memorable. It will be a chapter we won’t ever forget, not so much for the height of excitement or the depth of sadness but because it was a year in which we faced great adversity and found we had the strength to continue with our stories.

We are expecting a boy in mid-January and we are very excited, but we know this chapter is not yet finished. There are still a few pages left, and we can’t skip to the end to read the final lines, but I hope to bring you another chapter soon, one that will introduce a new character, a character that still does not have a name. And if it does not go as planned, you heard it here first – we’ll go right back to it, because that’s what we do.

My wife found the forum on this page helpful.
http://www.ectopicpregnancyfoundation.org/forums/


ABOUT ALBERT GARCIA

Most comfortable on a bar stool, Albert Garcia grew up in Los Angeles and attended the University of California and the University of London. He lives with his wife in Northern California, loves to travel and writes with a Pilot Q7.

more about albert garcia

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COMMENTS

tracey kelley
1.3.11 @ 7:47a

Congratulations Albert! You really are a member of Intrepid, as so so many people have/will have babies within a year! Best of luck!

juli mccarthy
1.21.11 @ 5:48p

I sympathize completely with your sad chapter. My mother nearly died from an ectopic pregnancy when I was 11.

I sincerely wish you nothing but good news from now on!



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