March of 2006 began as the most joyful of our married life. As I donned my pink and blue long sleeved T, and headed for my hometown Pizza Hut with my husband – I was over the moon. You see, it was there that we planned to make it official, and share the joy of our first pregnancy.

Infertility had taken hold of us, and after 3 years of “trying” and wading through disappointment, by some miracle we were finally pregnant. The doctor’s office had “confirmed” it, and I was already treading water through the nausea and exhaustion of being eight weeks pregnant.

We dined on pizza that night, and shared our big news. The grandparents to be were as excited as I had hoped, and we all talked about the future. As the night wore on, I started to feel “off,” and by the time it was time to head for home, I felt exhausted, shaky, and downright nauseated. I went to the car as my husband paid the bill, to rest and get some fresh air. My mom patted my head and wished me well through the morning sickness.

What unraveled over the next 48 hours, was what we all thought was the beginning of Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I would drink Gatorade, vomit, and sleep. This pattern continued, until I also began to pass out after being sick. I had no appetite, but no pain – just severe dizziness followed by being sick. My husband made a couple of calls to our OBGYN clinic to relay the symptoms, and they felt confident it was severe morning sickness. Finally, on the morning of the third day, when I began to pass out just by trying to get out of bed and complaining of pain in my shoulders and then my hips – we knew there was a problem. We were just ignorant to what it might be.

A resourceful husband drug me to the back of our SUV on a blanket and loaded me. We drove down Hwy 2 and Hwy 281 at super speed, and straight for the ER at our beloved Mary Lanning hospital. What ensued was a quick BP check (60/30) as I was passed out again and an ultrasound that showed my abdomen had filled with all the blood that I was losing internally. In my fuzzy memories, I recalled it odd that the nurses cut my clothes off, and that my doctor was prepping for surgery with no socks on, and barking at some people that there wasn’t time to scrub in properly. And finally, when we were about to depart for surgery and he halted long enough to insist my husband be able to have a moment with me – I realized.

The diagnosis was a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, and I was in big trouble.

The following hours are mostly lost to me. When I awoke the first time, the tube was still down my throat, and a lovely nurse was attending to me, not dressed in scrubs. When I awoke again, my husband was at my side and I felt better, but empty. I remember him wiping tears from my eyes. I remember hearing a nurse explain to him that some of my parts had been removed. When I awoke again, I asked for him to get me water, and following that – I asked him a question that I have not ever shared with anyone, for fear of having people judge me or tell me I am crazy. I asked him; “Where is Grandma Schmidt?”

He looked at me with perplexed expression and tear stained/sad eyes. He didn’t say a word. I realized what I had just asked him, and called myself crazy. My grandma had been gone for 2 years. But, I closed my eyes and replayed my memories over, and over and over again. With every ounce of belief, I had seen her there. I remember what she wore, and the expression on her face. She sat on a chair, with her purse on her lap, just behind the surgeon who raced the clock to save my life. She smiled at me the whole time I was “under” and only spoke as Dr. Pankratz sewed me up. She stood up and patted my leg, and said; “Not today, honey.” And, then…she was gone.

10 years ago this month, my world was changed. I joined the ranks of women who have loved and lost, whose bodies are marked with the scars that tell the stories of all that they have endured to bring life into this world. I have been pregnant 5 times since then, and have two beautiful living girls who will know about their brothers and sisters in heaven. And, as carefully as I can, I will tell them about the signs and symptoms of Ectopic pregnancy. All the things I wish I had known, before I suffered so much.

And they will know, about how I believe that their Great Grandmother was sent to run an errand from Heaven, to tell me to stay. How her words are etched upon me forever. How I believe God has asked me to use my experiences to minister to those who have lost the babies they love.

There will never be words to adequately thank the staff at Mary Lanning and those blood donors who provided the life saving support I needed in March 2006. I am forever grateful.

Know the signs and symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy. You can find more at:

Leah Peterson

Leah Peterson is a native Nebraskan, living on the ranch her ancestors homesteaded in 1878. She and her husband Matt, met at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and returned to the ranch in 2012 after working and living in Central Nebraska the past 12 years. They are parents to two daughters, Maggie and Lucy. Leah has an undergrad degree from UNL in Communication Studies, and a MA in Leadership from Bellevue University. Aside from her work at the ranch and opportunity to be a stay at home mom, she enjoys writing, photography, community involvement, spending time with friends and family and trying new recipes in her kitchen. Leah published her first children's book in 2011 titled "An Apple for Dapple" and enjoys traveling throughout the state to share her book with children and raise awareness about the importance Agriculture in Nebraska.