By Audrey Elliot
On Friday morning, March 21, 2014, I awoke to a strong, achy pain in my abdomen. It was about 2 a.m. and I could not get back to sleep. It was low and deep and slightly to the left, so I knew right away it was most likely my ovary. I had felt some strange discomfort there for a few weeks now, so I thought maybe it was a cyst that had been developing. After rolling around trying to see if maybe the pain would go away, I woke my husband, Michael, told him what I was experiencing, what my concerns were, and asked him to pray for me. He held my hand and asked God to make it clear to us if there really was a problem that we needed to act on, but to relieve the pain if there was not. We waited. The pain became stronger. We decided I needed to go to the emergency room, which was thankfully only three blocks away. Michael stayed with our five sleeping children while I took the car.
Once I checked into my room at the hospital, the attendants asked if I could be pregnant. I was uncertain so they did a pregnancy test. While waiting for the result from that, they performed an ultrasound. The technician finished and left the room, and I waited. About 40 minutes later the doctor entered the room. He apologized for taking so long. He had just delivered a baby. “Congratulations” he said, “you’re pregnant!” I was shocked, and didn’t believe him. Looking back I wish that I had given a more excited, joyful reaction, but honestly I could not because I knew something was wrong. He then explained to me what was happening.
I was indeed pregnant, there was a large cyst on my left ovary, and technicians could not locate the baby anywhere. The cyst was full of tissue and blood and they thought maybe the baby was in there. But they could not see it. I had an ectopic pregnancy. The baby was growing outside of my womb which, I was told, is a life-threatening condition for both baby and mother. My doctor very matter-of-factly said that he would give me a shot to “make the pregnancy go away” and everything would be fine.
I said, “Well, I’m not going to do that.” Michael and I had discussed this type of situation before (a pregnancy that was life-threatening to the mother) and were confident in God’s mercy should He call me to lay down my life for my friend (John 15:13). I told the doctor that I would not take a life in order to preserve my own. He explained that this life was insignificant compared to mine and that this was a foolish decision. Let me say that during our whole discussion he was very respectful and patient. He spoke in a hushed tone as he knew he was dealing with a very important matter. He asked if I had other children. “Five,” I said.
“You living for your five children at home is vastly more important than you dying for this one,” he told me.
I asked him if he was a Christian. He answered “yes.” I asked if he believed God is the giver of life. Again, he answered “yes.” I then asked, “So if God is the giver of life, shouldn’t it be His right alone to take it?” His answer: “That is where we would disagree.” He tried to convince me that since the baby was going to die anyway, it was not wrong to speed up the process in order to protect myself. I shared with him how I knew of a case where a tubal pregnancy resolved itself, and the baby safely grew to full term. He admitted that he knew of one such case and just saw the happy healthy baby only a few weeks ago! The doctor stepped out so that I could call my husband.
When he returned, I told him that my decision was final and asked what the course of action should be based on that decision. His plan was that I come back in a few days to see if the pregnancy was progressing and go from there. He prepared me for the worst. If the pain were to intensify, I needed to rush back to the hospital as most likely the cyst would have ruptured, I would be bleeding internally, and would need emergency surgery. I could bleed to death. I asked if I should just stay checked in to the hospital to be ready should that happen. He did not think that was necessary, so I went home to wait. As I was alone in the hospital room preparing to leave, I felt fearful. I had just come to the only place that could help me, had just refused their care, and was still experiencing the same pain that had brought me here to begin with.
I arrived home about 6:30 a.m. (Saturday) just in time for breakfast. Michael had gotten the children up and food was on the table. I explained all that had taken place. We quickly informed everyone we knew and asked for prayer. God gave us an amazing sense of peace that day. I never felt fearful after that brief moment leaving the hospital. As the day progressed, the pain would come and go. At about 1 p.m. it became much stronger and I took myself back in. They performed another ultrasound, which revealed a ruptured left fallopian tube and internal bleeding. Apparently the baby had been in my tube and caused it to rupture as it grew. The baby was now gone and my damaged tube needed to be removed. I contacted Michael, who left the children with friends and ran to the hospital to be with me. After about a 45-minute wait, I was taken in for an “emergency laparoscopy.” As the anesthesiologist was getting set up, the doctor shared with me some statistics. Every woman has a 5 percent chance of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. But after having one, her risk rises to a 15 percent chance of experiencing a second. I don’t know why he told me this. Maybe he thought I would like him to take the other tube also while he was in there!? I prayed for God’s merciful protection over that precious remaining tube. The surgery went well, and I awoke with Michael beside me. I went home after a couple hours and healed up nicely in about a week.
As I later reflected on my experience, I was left with a couple of questions. If the doctor thought my life was in such great danger, why didn’t he keep me in the hospital, instead of sending me home? Further, if a ruptured tube is such an immediate, life-threatening condition, shouldn’t I have been rushed immediately into surgery when I arrived back at the hospital, rather than be left to wait for 45 or more minutes? The way my situation was handled did not seem consistent with the degree of danger I was being told I was in.
Yes, going the route we chose was more expensive, painful, time consuming, and inconvenient. But God is the giver of life, and we will honor Him as the only One with the right to take it. It saddens us that a doctor who claims to be a Christian gave specific counsel that is contrary to God’s Word and non-life-embracing. We pray that patients will be properly informed so they can request God-honoring treatment from their doctors.
God used this time to impress upon me the value of life. Being able to conceive is a blessing not to be taken for granted. I am overwhelmed by His goodness to me. Ten months after my surgery I gave birth to my sixth baby, Thadeus Truth.
Audrey and her husband, Michael, reside in Montrose, Colorado, with their six children.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes and not meant as medical advice.