Ectopic Pregnancy - Emotional And Physical Loss
Ectopic pregnancy: what it is and how to handle it emotionally and physically.
Ectopic pregnancy is defined as a pregnancy that has implanted itself somewhere other than the uterus. The most common site of an ectopic pregnancy is in one of the fallopian tubes, although it can also occur in the ovary, the abdomen, the cervix, or at the joint between the tube and the womb. This is a serious condition and could prove fatal if not treated. In the United States, statistics for ectopic pregnancies are between one and five percent.
Signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are abdominal cramping (especially if it is more pronounced on one side), pelvic pain and/or vaginal spotting beginning after the first missed period. If the pregnancy has progressed 6 or 8 weeks, the uterus may even be enlarged despite no implantation of an embryo. These cases must be treated aggressively to ward off further damage (usually to the fallopian tube). Risk factors include pelvic infection, use of an IUD, scar tissue on the tubes, previous uterine or tubal surgery, in-vitro fertilization or a history of endometriosis.
Treatment is surgery. Complete elimination of the pregnancy must be achieved while attempting to keep the anatomy intact. Early diagnosis and treatment almost certainly guarantee a full recovery and ability to carry a viable pregnancy to term in the future.
But these are the cold, hard, medical facts of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. The emotional and psychological aspects linger on long after the physical scars have healed. Healing is a kaleidoscope. Some days you will only see pieces of what happened and what is happening. Some days will be better than others will. You cannot force yourself to "have a good day" or to "get on with life". You must give yourself the time and the PERMISSION to grieve. It's a one step forward, two steps back process. The old cliches are your best friends: one day at a time, one foot in front of the other.
Doing something to commemorate the pregnancy can be very cathartic. Planting a tree or flowers, making a quilt or having a special holiday ornament or remembrance are some common outlets. Allow your body time to heal before going headfirst back into every day life. It has been preparing for pregnancy and it takes a few weeks before all the pregnancy hormones leave your system. This can make you feel that you are in the front car of an emotional roller coaster. Get as much rest as you can and don't shut your feelings out. Don't shut out your husband or partner. He is hurting as much as you are, even if he doesn’t show it. He might be trying to be strong for you. Listen and talk to him as much as you are able to. This is the type of situation that could make or break a relationship-don't let it break yours. Sometimes those closest to us don't know how to help. It hurts them to see us so upset and lifeless. They want us to be back to normal so they can feel better about the situation - less awkward. Let them know what they can do to help you, whether you need a shoulder to cry on, a casserole or for them to pick up the slack on a car pool. Friends will want to help, but they might not know what to do.
Talk to your doctor about what has happened to you and what you can and should do to promote healing, both physically and mentally. Chances are you will be able to resume sexual activity once your body has healed from surgery. This might help you feel closer to your partner and remind you that life is all around you. Only you can decide if you are ready to try for another pregnancy yet.