Nicole* always knew she wanted a big family.
But after a successful pregnancy in 2011, she and her husband were faced with the scariest challenges of their lives.
The couple began trying to add to their family soon after their son turned 2. A few months passed and Nicole noticed something was off with her menstrual cycle.
She began spotting in the middle of her cycle, which was not normal for her, so she called the doctor.
At first, the doctor said maybe it was implantation bleeding since she had been trying to conceive.
But after a few days, Nicole began having pain on her right side.
"I thought maybe I slept on it weird," she recalled. "I didn't really think anything of it. The bleeding was off and on from that point on; as well as the pain. In my mind I knew something was wrong."
The worst comes true
After a few more days of pain and bleeding, as well as Googling her symptoms, she was concerned. The search results pointed to an ectopic pregnancy.
That night, Nicole called her sister.
"There was something in me that just wouldn't let this go," she said. "I needed to know what was going on with my body."
Her symptoms continued and Nicole went to the emergency room, where doctors confirmed that she was four weeks pregnant.
The next day she went for an ultrasound to see if the cause of the pain and bleeding could be pinpointed.
"The ultrasound specialist didn't say a word," Nicole said. "As I was leaving, the nurses pulled me right to the ER and the doctor came in and told me I had an ectopic pregnancy. I was so upset. How could this be happening? What are the chances?"
She was immediately sent via ambulance to another hospital because she needed emergency surgery.
After hours of waiting with her husband, Nicole was wheeled into the operating room, where the doctors performed laparoscopic surgery to remove her right fallopian tube, which had been damaged by the rupturing pregnancy.
The weeks after the surgery were the hardest for Nicole and her husband. Not only was she not allowed to lift her 2-year-old son when he wanted comforting; she was forced to deal with the emotional trauma of losing a child that the couple desperately wanted.
"It was hard, but I remained hopeful that I still could conceive and have a normal pregnancy," she said.
They waited four months before trying again.
"I knew the chances of having another ectopic pregnancy were higher with already having one, but I didn't think it would happen again," Nicole said. "I tried not to think about it, but it was always there in the back of my mind. You can't focus on it. You just have to think God will be on your side."
Unfortunately, her worst nightmare came true.
Last November, nine months after her first ectopic pregnancy, Nicole began to have pregnancy symptoms this time with no pain or bleeding.
A test revealed she was pregnant; the couple was thrilled.
She went for blood work to monitor the pregnancy because she was considered "high risk." Everything was progressing as it should.
Then, after a week of testing, Nicole began to bleed.
By the end of that week, she began to experience a sharp pain on her left side. Nicole was having another ectopic pregnancy.
"I called my doctor and we went immediately to the emergency room," she said. "I was so upset. How could this be happening to me all over again? I didn't want to go through this a second time."
Her husband also didn't want to believe that his wife was at risk of losing another baby, and he held out hope that the pain was not related to the pregnancy.
He drove her to the emergency room in silence, neither wanting to believe that this was happening again.
Nicole remembers walking into the ER holding her husband's hand, tears streaming down her face and barely being able to talk because of her sadness.
Tests to diagnose the pregnancy and an internal ultrasound were done.
"There I lay waiting to see what was going on and the ultrasound technician didn't say a word," Nicole said. "I lay there staring into my husband's eyes wondering what was on the screen. I was in pain."
The test confirmed another ectopic pregnancy and surgery was scheduled, but this time, the team was able to save her remaining fallopian tube.
"I was lucky to notice all my symptoms all over again, because they were able to save my left tube," Nicole said. "The chances of an ectopic happening a third time are very high now and I'm scared. I never want to go through this again."
Nicole explained that the couple still would like to expand their family, but doctors are recommending seeing a fertility specialist to try and bypass conceiving the natural way.
Of the whole ordeal, she is grateful she listened to her body.
"I was lucky that I caught this both times," Nicole said. "I don't know what our future holds, but we will be seeing a specialist in the near future. Recently, my son said 'Mommy, I want two babies a brother and a sister and that melted my heart.
"You just never know," she continued. "I will never lose hope and will continue to have faith that whatever is meant to be is meant to be."
*Last name withheld to protect her privacy.