Mother’s Day, 2000
My hands trembled as I opened the home pregnancy test. My mom’s flight back to NY left in a few hours, so we had to leave for the airport soon. According to the instructions on the test, it was a little early to get accurate results, but I had to try. The knowledge that I was going to have a baby would be the greatest gift I could give to my mother on mother’s day. To tell her in person would be my gift as we only saw each other twice a year and I had prayed to be able to share the news in person.
For a moment, my mind drifted back to my childhood, and I remembered wanting a baby as a young girl, but how life had pointed me in another direction over the years, and I had said over and over that I never wanted children. When I met my husband Rich in my early 30’s, I found myself longing to experience love on a whole new level, and also wanting to give him the gift of being a father. I knew in my heart that Rich would be an amazing dad. It felt so strange to now want to see a positive pregnancy test, not just for me, but also for the two people in the world I so loved.
Two lines! There are two lines! What does the package say is positive? TWO LINES!!! I get to tell my mom, on mother’s day, that she is going to have a grandchild from her only daughter! Excited, I ran downstairs.
“Mommy, guess what? I am going to have a baby!” We laughed and cried and hugged.
Then I see my husband standing there. “Hey, dear, I’m pregnant.”
He was happy, but he kind of had a funny look and was a little quieter than I expected. I found out later that Rich was pretty upset and hurt that I told my mom before I told him; but thankfully, he didn’t stay mad at me for long.
Approximately 2 weeks later…
Although I was incredibly tired all the time, the days were filled with joy. I still couldn’t get over the fact that I was going to have a baby.
One day, while lying on the couch on one of those first trimester low energy days, I felt a sharp pain in my side. I really didn’t know what to think, so I ignored it. Maybe muscle related, I thought. Then it came again, a little while later, right in the same spot. Still, I ignored it, and hoped it would be gone in the morning.
I got up and went to work, but there it was again, stronger. I called my husband, and after talking to my boss, we all decided it wouldn’t hurt to go to my primary care doctor to check it out. They took me in right away when I called for an appointment.
“I don’t hear a heartbeat.” My doctor looked at me and smiled. “But not to worry, it is early, and it’s not all that unusual in the early stages of pregnancy to be unable to hear the fetal heart sounds. We’ll send you to get a STAT ultrasound, and we will be able to see the baby’s heart. Does that sound OK?”
“Sure”, I said, smiling back. I was certainly willing to do whatever was necessary to make sure all was well and that my baby was OK.
Off to the Imaging Center I went. The technician who did my ultrasound was so kind and cheery. I was happy that they took me in so quickly. She was very upbeat and said she loved the OB Ultrasounds, looking at the babies inside the womb was really neat. Her smile faded as she took a long time, looking and moving the wand on the outside of my belly, and looking again. After a while, she excused herself and left the room. She came back a few minutes later and told me to undress because we needed to do a trans-vaginal ultrasound to get a better look. After the trans-vaginal US, the tech was gone for quite a while. When she finally returned, she gave me an envelope with my x-rays and told me to go directly to the Emergency Room.
“We suspect you have an ectopic pregnancy.” We took my films out of the envelope. “See this,” she said pointing to a highlighted area, “This is your fallopian tube. See this light colored object in the tube, this is a mass. This other picture is your uterus. There is nothing there.” Across the top I saw the words, “No intrauterine pregnancy.” Now neither of us smiled. “When you get to the hospital, they will check your blood for the HCG hormone, and your levels of this hormone will confirm an ectopic pregnancy, Okay?”
Shaking, I left the Imaging place, but I did not go directly to the ER. Instead, I stopped by my place of employment first and asked the director of HR at the time, a very Godly woman who knew how to pray, and asked her to pray for me. I remember that she actually laid her hands on my belly and prayed, “Father God, in the name of Jesus your Son, move this baby.” She prayed some other things too, but these are the words that will forever stand out in my mind.
When I got to the ER, my husband met me there. They did draw my blood, and after a bit of a wait, the ER doctor came in. “We got the results of your blood work in, and I am sorry to tell you that your HCG levels confirm that you do have an ectopic pregnancy. Normally, at this stage of pregnancy, HCG levels should be in the thousands, yours is in the hundreds. But, I’ll tell you what. Let me get another set of eyes on this before we confirm the diagnosis.”
Rich and I just looked at each other. I tried very hard to hold it together. It was all so surreal, and we still had hope that the second doctor would tell the attending doc that he was wrong.
It seemed like an eternity, and finally, the second doctor same in and confirmed what the first had said, and told us it was time to call my OB, Dr. Maria Perales, to come and see us. When Dr. Perales arrived, she again showed me my x-rays, and after looking at the blood tests, and examining me herself, she spoke to Rich and me in a kind and gentle voice.
“I am very sorry to tell you this, but I believe it is indeed an ectopic pregnancy. You have two choices. One, we can give you a pill that is actually a drug used in chemotherapy and you can avoid the risk of surgery by aborting the pregnancy this way, or, we can perform surgery, which is obviously more invasive for you. The surgery option as has more risk and recovery time, and the risk is you will lose the tube and possibly diminish your ability to get pregnant again. I’ll leave you for a few minutes to discuss the options.”
This is when I lost it. Sobbing, I remember crying to Rich, “See, this is why I didn’t want children. So many things can go wrong. I just cannot have my heart broken like this.”
“It’s going to be all right.” My husband cried as well. Through his tears, he said, “We can’t abort the baby. We just can’t do that.”
I totally agreed, and even though I just wanted it all to be over, I chose the surgery option.
When Dr Perales came back into the room, I said, “I just can’t abort this pregnancy, Dr. Perales, I can’t do it, even if it is harder on me, I want the surgery.”
At that point, Dr. Perales did something that shocked me. She said, “Okay, let’s pray.” I don’t even know what she said or what she prayed, I just sobbed through the whole thing. All I remember was what she said after the prayer. “I promise you that I will take one more look with a tiny scope before I open you up. Remember, all our diagnosis confirms an ectopic, but I promise to look one more time.”
They got me ready for surgery. Rich held my hand and told me he loved me as whey wheeled me away to the surgery room. I remember counting backwards- 99, 98, 97…
Several hours later…
“You’re going to be a mommy.” Sitting by my bed was a nurse with a sweet voice. When she said those words, it seemed like a whisper and I felt like I was dreaming.
When I opened my eyes again, Rich and my two dear friends, Doug and Allison Weaver were all standing by the foot of my bed.
I told them what I thought the nurse said, and they joyfully confirmed that yes, I was going to be a mommy! Dr. Perales told them that when she went in with the scope, there was no mass in my tube as the X-ray had clearly shown only hours before. She said, “The baby was right where it was supposed to be!” Those were her exact words. The baby was in my uterus, and all was well.
Almost seven months later, Mercy Elizabeth Campbell was born.
Today, Mercy is fifteen years old and has been awarded full scholarship to one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the United States. After recently completing her first year at the Lawrenceville School, her advisor labeled her an “Academic powerhouse”. Mercy was also chosen out of thousands of scholars to receive the Jack Kent Cooke award and spent a week in Washington, DC with 64 other young people that the foundation believes, “Can change the world”.
As her mother, I can’t help but reflect on the scripture from Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart…”, and also Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” What an amazing plan the Lord must have for this child’s life if the enemy tried so hard to destroy it. Many people have a hard time believing in good and evil, but for those of us who have experienced this battle first hand, we know there is a battle over each of our lives, and our children’s lives- a loving God pulling us towards Him, and the enemy fighting against it.
One thing that stands out in this story, even to me who lived it, is the power of prayer. How often I forget to pray, and also enlist the prayers of others. This is a good reminder that prayer is a powerful tool in our daily walk with Christ. May we all endeavor to use it more.
Note: This is a true story and all medical records can confirm at Southern Hills Medical Center, Nashville, TN.