I scheduled a prenatal appointment for as far out as I could. But when I made another call and left a message mentioning the IUD they called back and asked that I get blood work done immediately.
My husband was back at work so I called my mom and asked if she could watch the kids for a little bit while I ran to the doctor.
“Sure, everything ok?” She asked. She was out running errands.
“Yea, I just need to have a quick blood draw.”
“A blood draw? You sure everything is ok? Do you want to talk about it?”
“Well…” I made a quick decision to tell her. “I’m pregnant.”
I heard a gasp on the other end of the phone.
“Oh Jennifer! Are you excited?!”
“I’ll be right over!”
I told her we weren’t telling the kids yet and she promised to keep the secret to herself.
I went in to a local phlebotomist and she said she’d send the results over to the doctor. I assumed they were checking to see if the pregnancy was ectopic but I didn’t really know how much they could tell from a blood sample.
“Well, you’re definitely pregnant,” the nurse said when she called with my results. She told me my beta number was 9000 or something like that “which is very high” she reiterated. “So we want to get you in here and take that IUD out.”
The next day my husband was off from work and he stayed with the kids while I went to my OBs office.
The woman at the registration desk instructed me to go downstairs for an ultrasound then I’d come back up to meet with my doctor.
“Empty your bladder and then you can come have a seat and we’ll get started” the ultrasound tech said.
Done and done.
“So, you have the Mirena?” She asked. “So do I!” This wasn’t the first time it crossed my mind that I was in one of those nightmare situations many women hope to never find themselves in. “Do you want to insert the probe or have me do it?”
That will forever be one of the strangest questions I’ve ever been asked in my life.
“Er, you can…”
“I just like to ask!”
She did her thing and scanned around. Right away I recognized the little blob with a flicker in the middle. A heartbeat.
“Looks like we’ve got a fetal right pole there.”
“A fetal what? Like a baby?”
She scanned around some more to locate the IUD.
Moments passed as she probed and probed.
“Did you feel the strings?”
“I couldn’t the last couple times I checked,” I said. “Sometimes I can’t feel them for a couple days and then I feel them again so I wasn’t sure what was going on.”
She nodded and continued to scan around. Then stopped over a white spot and froze the image then typed IUD. Moved it some more and typed Long IUD. She wasn’t telling me anything but I assumed she’d found it or at least a piece of it somewhere in my uterus.
She froze the screen a few more times and typed a few more things about my ovaries and whatnot and then she was done.
The tech ended by staying my doctor will tell me my results.
I checked back in upstairs and I can’t tell you how weird it was seeing the same nurses and doctors from nearly five years ago when I had my son. And yea, I know, it’s bad I hadn’t been in for a checkup in five years.
I felt like everyone had a look of pity on my face. Maybe because they felt bad for the situation I was in, or maybe they had a feeling the outcome wouldn’t be pretty.
“Your husband must have some determined swimmers!” My doctor joked.
I know right?
Then she cut to the chase. I couldn’t stay pregnant with an IUD in. It could interfere with the pregnancy, and complicate things. She said you hear stories of babies coming out holding IUDs (I know I have) but it doesn’t really happen that way. It would be better to take it out now and risk losing the baby while it is the size of a sesame seed than later when it’s the size of an apple.
“So first I have to ask, do you want to keep the pregnancy?”
This was the first real punch to the gut.
Of course. Though not what I planned for, or even something I was thrilled about, of course.
“Yes.” I said without hesitation. But the question still lingered and felt strange.
“Ok. I’m going to try to take the IUD out without disrupting the pregnancy.”
I don’t know exactly how much time passed, but the next 20 minutes or so were absolutely excruciating.
They poked, prodded and pulled trying to grab it. I say they because after awhile of reaching and missing she called in for reinforcements. Another doctor came in with an ultrasound machine to get a picture of the IUD so they could watch and see what they were grabbing at.
While the other OB took a stab at it, the doctor who delivered both of my babies held my hand while I squeezed and cried.
“Is that the IUD? It doesn’t look like it… it could be calcifications.” They discussed.
I was imagining pieces of placenta and baby coming out with whatever they were pulling at. At some points it felt like they’d found the strings and were dragging it out but then they’d sigh in defeat and try again.
Finally my doctor made a call to stop.
“We aren’t getting anywhere… The last thing I want to do is mess up a pregnancy if there’s no IUD.”
She wrote a medical order for a one plate X-ray. She told me the radiographer would probably give me an earful and say they don’t X-ray pregnant women, but she assured me this would be extremely low-risk and they’d then be able to tell if and where an IUD was located.
My doctor told me to take my time to get up, I’d probably be cramping and bleeding for awhile.
I took a moment to pull myself together before I walked out of the office, still puffy eyed and sore.
Then I sat in the car and cried and cried. From the pain. From the fear. The guilt. I called my husband sobbing and gave him an update from the radiologist parking lot. There was still an hour until they closed and I figured I’d might as well get it over with today.
“Your mom is at the same medical building, do you want to call her?” He asked. My husband frequently uses an app to keep up with where everyone is, so he could see my mom was near my location.
“No” I said.
I walked inside and tried to hold it together while I waited for my turn, but I was mostly failing.
I texted my mom to see if she was coming or going from an appointment. She’d been meeting with her infectious disease doctor who’d just given her a clean bill of health.
I told her I was in the same building and she asked if I wanted company.
Moments later she was walking into the waiting room and sitting by my side. I told her everything that happened. How they couldn’t get the IUD, IF there even was an IUD now I wasn’t so sure. Which is what brought me here. Then I told her whether there was or not I’d likely miscarry now anyway which sent me into another wave of tears, but she waved that comment off like it wasn’t even a possibility.
When it was my turn for an x-ray my mom helped me get changed. I got all the warnings and notices etc etc etc. But really, I just wanted to get all of this over with.
“We’re looking for an IUD?” The radiologist asked. I nodded. But he gave me no indication of what he saw.
The rest of the afternoon and into the evening the cramping didn’t slow down. I assumed my body was not taking lightly to all of the trauma from that day. And I assumed the pregnancy was over.
I laid in my dark room the rest of the day.
My husband gave me ibuprofen and tried to console me but I was a mess. Still, he wanted to be there for me, and he was during the worst day I can remember.
We got a late phone call from my OBs office. Around 7 o’clock. It was my doctor.
She told me there was good news and bad news.
“Good News is, there’s no IUD. So that explains how you got pregnant. There are some calcifications in your uterus that looked like an IUD and may be from where it left that we need to keep an eye on. The bad news is I’ve likely—no, not likely.” She corrected herself. “With the procedure I’ve probably increased your risk for a miscarriage. Lay down, stay on pelvic rest. No sex or heavy lifting or exercise for the next little bit.”
Where did the IUD go? We still don’t know but we’re thinking it came out at some point. Probably more recently than not since I’d been checking the strings on and off for years.
She told me she was going to be out of town the next week but she was scheduling a follow up appointment with the other doctor who had assisted that day for early next week.
She also asked that I call the nurses if the bleeding got heavier.
My husband let out a huge sigh of relief and told some pelvic rest jokes, but I wasn’t feeling optimistic just yet.
The next night around 9 she called again to see how I was doing and I asked when she thought I might be in the clear. She said she was hoping if everything looked good in the ultrasound early the next week we would hopefully be in the clear. She said she wouldn’t have much service but she would stay in contact with the other OB and get an update ASAP.
I had spotting on and off the next couple of days. I told a couple friends about the pregnancy because I felt like if it was all about to end I didn’t want it to feel like it had never happened. If that even makes sense.
I prayed for a healthy baby. I bounced between utter fear for having a completely unplanned third child and fear for losing said child.
I felt more sad, depressed and confused than I’d ever felt in my entire life.
A week passed and I had another ultrasound. With the same tech who likes to ask if I’d prefer to stick the probe in, (who also thought she saw my IUD). I had a small panic attack that took me back to the procedure again. But then on the monitor there was the baby again a little bit bigger.
Another week would pass. Then another. Between it all there was occasional spotting, a big blood clot, the flu, a dose of Tamiflu, 102 degree fevers and other complications that had me toying with the fetal nickname Lucky.
When all the dust settled, though still rattled I told my daughter the news and (unbeknownst to her) she’s been a healing me ever since. Encouraging me to take a picture every week, kissing and hugging on my belly every day.
I’m nearly 16 weeks along and am finally beginning to feel myself again. Not just free of nausea, but free of so much doom and gloom and uneasiness. I can smile when people ask about the baby instead of sighing or rolling my eyes. I’m beginning to feel motivated again and actually settling into the idea of having a fifth member of our family.
It was a rocky start. But I have a feeling someday I’ll feel like Sneaky was worth all the trouble.