Ectopic and Infertility

QUESTION

Dear Experts,
I am 24 and have been trying to get pregnant for 3 years. My husband and I have gone to a specialist and had every test done and we both check out in good health. After 2 1/2 years we decided to give clomid therapy a try and we found out that I was pregnant. We were so happy. But 2 weeks later, I was rushed in for a emergency ultrasound, and that is when we found it was an ectopic pregnancy. We were devastated. Now I want answers to why. Can I still get pregnant without treatment and it turn out to be normal? I feel hopeless and all alone. My family is more tuned in to my sister being pregnant and forgetting about my loss. I hope you can help!

Thanks,
Kimberly

ANSWER

Dear Kimberly,
We are so sorry that your first baby's life ended in an ectopic pregnancy. Your grief is no doubt compounded by the devastating loss of a long-awaited, much anticipated conception, after a long struggle with fertility. It is an especially cruel twist of fate that your sister is pregnant, making you feel especially alone and forgotten.

Your painful feelings, including sorrow, isolation, and hopelessness, are normal parts of your grief. Yes, it is possible for you to still conceive and carry a normal pregnancy. Even though you may feel as if your body has betrayed you, unfortunately, it is also quite common for pregnancy to end too soon. It is not your fault. So many conditions have to be just right for conception and implantation to occur normally, that many bereaved mothers can attest to the fact that it's a wonder that any healthy babies are born.

As to "why" this happened, go back to the reproductive specialists with this question. They may be able to give you some answers, but even they might not be able to tell you precisely why, or what the future holds. Have you tried seeing a licensed acupuncturist? Acupuncture treatments can be quite effective for certain types of infertility -- particularly the types that Western medicine has no answers for. Any other alternative medicine that appeals to you might also yield results, as it can help you approach your health more holistically, instead of just focusing on the reproductive parts of your body.

As for your family "forgetting" about your loss, chances are, they do care but are unsure of how to support you. They may feel uncomfortable, because they don't know what to say, and don't want to remind you of your sorrow. Many people think that especially with early pregnancy loss, it's better to help the parents forget about it, under the mistaken belief that if you can forget, you won't feel sad. But you will always remember this baby, and your grieving is a key to your moving forward into healing.

To enlist support, you might try confiding in some family members. Tell them that you feel alone and forgotten, and how much it really does help to have people in your life who are willing to just listen to you and accept your feelings as they are. There really is nothing anyone can say that will "fix" it, and you can assure them that you don't want them to make you feel better, but just understand and be there for you when you need to talk. Most people are glad to have this kind of guidance, because they can feel powerless to help.

It may also benefit you to speak with your sister-she may be relieved that you can broach this topic with her, as she may be especially concerned for you and your feelings about her pregnancy. Talking honestly can help clear the air and set the groundwork for a mutual understanding between the two of you. Perhaps she could also talk to the rest of the family for you as well, and be your advocate.

It can also help you to find and rely on other sources of support, including support groups, understanding friends, or professional counseling. The more support you have surrounding you, the less alone you'll feel, regardless of how your family reacts.

We wish you well,
-- Debbie and Mara
The Childbirth Complication Expert Team

Comments

Debbie and Mara - I thought

Debbie and Mara - I thought you gave excellent advice to this grieving mother. I cannot imagine what she must be going through :(

The only thing I would say is that it's not really fair to call her sister's pregnancy a "cruel twist of fate" I'd really caution you on saying things like this. That really painted her sister's pregnancy in a bad light, as if her miracle is a terrible thing because of what happened to Kimberly. I agree that watching her sister be pregnant after her terrible loss would be hard and overwhelming, and at times, I'm sure she doesn't want to be around it, but I wouldn't call her sister's pregnancy "cruel". How do you know that her sister didn't have the same struggles conceiving that Kimberly did? I'm sure her sister feels terrible for her, and feels guilty about being happy about her own pregnancy. I'm glad that you encouraged Kimberly to talk to her sister. I think if they open up to each other, they will both feel better.

Kimberly, I'm so sorry for your loss. I do hope and pray for a healthy pregnancy in the future for you and your husband. I agree that you should choose some family members that you feel comfortable in confiding in so that you can get the support you need during this time. Thinking of you!

Davis and Stein

Deborah L. Davis, Ph.D. and Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D. are the authors of Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journey, a 2004 National Parenting Publications Awards "Gold Award" winner. They also collaborated on Parent: You and Your Baby in the NICU (2002), as part of the nationwide March of Dimes NICU Project. They.ve been invited to regularly contribute to Advances in Neonatal Care, a neonatal nursing journal; their first article appears in Spring 2005. They are the founding members of Partners in Perinatal and Pediatric Consulting, which promotes developmentally supportive care for babies and parents, as well as collaboration between families and health care professionals.

Dr. Stein is a clinical psychologist in private practice, specializing in the emotional aspects of coping with crisis and adjustment around pregnancy and parenting. She is regularly invited to lecture and give workshops on these issues throughout the country to conferences of physician and nursing groups, doulas, and lactation consultants. Since 1997, she has been consulting with organizations and providing training to health care providers, guiding their efforts to improve the level of psychological support and developmentally supportive care to families during and subsequent to perinatal crisis.

Dr. Davis is a developmental psychologist, researcher, and writer who specializes in perinatal and neonatal crisis, medical ethics, parental bereavement, parent education, and child development. Dr. Davis is the author of four books for bereaved parents, Empty Cradle, Broken Heart (Fulcrum, 1991; 1996), Loving and Letting Go (Centering, 1993; 2002), Fly Away Home (Centering, 2000) and Stillbirth, Yet Still Born (PILC, 2000). She is also on the Board of the Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Alliance (PLIDA.org) and is regularly invited to write articles for professional periodicals and parent support materials.