The Aftermath of Loss

You never truly know how strong you are until you’re faced with profound loss. An almost brush with death—had I waited another day, I wouldn’t have been so fortunate.

They say pregnancy takes a toll on a woman’s body. Ectopic pregnancies are rare: 1 to 2 percent. 

You see these things happen in films. You read about them in books. You hear about them from other people, but it never occurs to you that they can happen to you too. Until they do. 

I thought it was just another abnormal period as a result of new medication. Hormonal imbalance, as usual. I took a test shortly after taking the meds my doctor prescribed. Negative. I’ve taken, what? Ten, twenty tests? Over the last ten months or so. Each of them came out negative. A single line. Every. Single. Time.

After an ultrasound to check for abnormal uterine bleeding, the doctor called an hour after handing me my results saying I have a myoma. “Are you sure you’re not pregnant?”

Hospital bathroom, two tests. Each cassette ended up with two lines. I burst into tears. Finally, a positive result. Only, the pregnancy cannot be salvaged. 

I never knew how strong I was until my husband told me, after the surgery, that the doctor was amazed that I still managed to run around the hospital—going up and down its staircases and traversing its cold corridors—when the ectopic was already about five centimeters wide and I was bleeding internally. 

I didn’t know I could still laugh after what could be considered a miscarriage. I joked around with nurses, my family, my friends, my husband. 

I realized a few things over the last four days.

First: my mom will always cry with me. I did not fall apart until everyone has left and I was by myself in the bathroom. Only then did I feel the weight of what I had lost, the magnitude of my grief. When I came out, I lay on the bed and covered my face with a small towel and told my mom, “I’m crying. Please let me cry.” She cried with me.

My mom watched over me for two nights in the hospital, came home with me and my husband and stayed over for one more night. A nurse joked that my mom is trying to take her job because while the nurse was cleaning me up, Mama tried to start changing the bed sheet. 

Second: my husband’s heart is a lot bigger than I thought. With me unable to move normally and perpetually sitting or lying in bed, he is left to do everything in the house.

Babe, please charge my phone. Babe, may I have some water? Babe, my painkillers, please.

He asks, are you hungry? Do you want ice cream? Do you need anything? He sleeps on the floor because he’s worried he might unintentionally hit the surgical site, saying, I don’t want to harm my wife.

At the end of each day, he looks exhausted, but manages a smile anyway. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile so kindly I could feel the warmth embracing me like a soft blanket.

Jaja, one of my best friends with whom Aki has been in contact throughout the entire ordeal, told me afterwards, I have absolutely no doubt that man loves you with the light of a thousand suns. You’re lucky, she said.

Yes. Yes, I am. 

Third: I can’t stress enough how valuable a support system is. The day after the surgery I don’t remember crying at all because I had friends and family by my side. I wouldn’t have survived my darkest days if not for them and I am grateful.

Tragedies don’t happen to people ‘for a reason’; they just happen, full stop. We are left to deal with the aftermath, picking up whatever pieces we can and gluing our broken hearts back into wholeness.

The silver lining: I’m not infertile. And even with one remaining fallopian tube, a future pregnancy is possible. 

Over the last two months, I continuously worked on my self-esteem, teaching myself self-compassion and self-love, learning about confidence, boundaries, vulnerability, shame, and resilience. And while doing so has neither rendered me invincible nor made me immune to pain and sorrow, I’m doing okay.

Since Thursday, I’ve been asked countless times how I am, and all I could manage to say is that I’m okay. And in the the face of adversity, in the aftermath of loss, being okay is monumental.

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