Ectopic pregnancy - my experience
I don't often go 'off topic' here at Patchwork Harmony, but once in while things occur that I feel the need to share. Sometimes it's something I think others might benefit from, like hypnobirthing, sometimes it's to raise awareness, and sometimes it's just therapy for myself, I find it helps to write things down - especially difficult experiences - it helps me to process it all.
So that's why I'm writing this post - for all of the above reasons, but also to reject the taboo that seems to surround the subject of losing a baby. It is a very personal matter of course, and understandably some women would rather keep it private, but for me, I always knew that if it happened to me I wouldn't bottle it up, I would share my experience and hopefully reach out to other women going through the same thing, so we can hold hands together and remember we are not alone.
Weirdly, I've always kind of felt that at some point I might have a miscarriage, and I'm guessing that feeling is down to the fact that '1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage' but little did I know what would unfold shortly after we discovered I was pregnant on New Years Eve.
This picture is me on Friday 13th (unlucky for me it seems!) shortly after surgery to remove my right fallopian tube and our 6 week old foetus that was developing in there. It was just two weeks after finding out I was pregnant, and the diagnosis was an ectopic pregnancy. They told us that as it wasn't failing naturally which often happens, they would have to operate before the tube ruptures which is incredibly dangerous.
My reason for sharing this is not to scare anyone, or worry you if you are in the early stages of pregnancy, but more to highlight the condition and to point out the signs. Call it women's intuition, but weirdly I had a feeling from the start that things weren't right. While we were elated to find out I was expecting on New Years Eve, for the next week I kept commenting on how I didn't 'feel pregnant'. We reminded ourselves that symptoms often don't start till later, but deep down I had a niggle. I tried to convince myself otherwise, and even brushed off some spotting, as I remembered having it with my first pregnancy in the early weeks so pretty much ignored it.
The following Saturday - a week to the day after finding out about the pregnancy, I had a bit more blood, which concerned me enough to go to A&E. After 4 hours of waiting, all I was given was an early scan appointment in 5 days time. After the A&E trip the bleeding completely stopped and I relaxed a bit. But then two days later I started getting a dull achey pain in my right side, which went round into my lower back and down my thigh. Again, I remembered getting aches last time, so assigned it to stretching pains. But the day before I was due to have the scan, my worries came back. While the pain wasn't agony, it did seem to be worsening. Without wanting to rush to A&E again when I knew i had the scan the next day I turned to Dr. Google. We all do it, even though we know we shouldn't,, and this is what I want to highlight. Everything I read online seemed to suggest that unless you were bleeding everything was ok - aches and pains are normal in pregnancy - bleeding is the only thing to be concerned about. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! While I'd had a very small amount the week before, I was having none now, I could easily have reassured myself and just tried to ignore the aches. I'd also read about cysts that often cause pain, so I tried to tell myself that it could be that. The point is, everyone's symptoms are different, so don't ignore any bleeding or pain - and try not to go online - even if you think it's 'probably normal' - just get it checked.
Despite what I'd read, by that evening I knew that there was definitely something going on, so I asked my hubby to come with me to the scan. Thankfully he did, as hearing the sonographer say 'I can't see anything in your uterus' was pretty heart-breaking. We had a little bit of hope when they said that perhaps my dates were wrong and it was too early to see the baby. They also suggested that the pain I was having was a cyst, so when we were sent home that afternoon, I tried to remain positive that this was the case. But then a phone call from the hospital suggested that the chances of ectopic were looking quite high and that I shouldn't drive or be alone in case the tube burst. This was absolute worst case scenario, but that was all I heard, and I spent the night terrified that it might happen. They told me that if my tube burst I would get pain in my shoulder - I spent the evening thinking my shoulder was getting sore. (your mind can play some cruel tricks!)
The next morning - Friday the 13th (!) - we were back at the hospital where a consultant scanned me and confirmed the ectopic pregnancy. I was admitted straight away and went to theatre that afternoon. It's been two weeks since then, and I'm recovering well, Of course, it`s not just physical healing, it`s emotional too.. Unlike the traumatic delivery I had when giving birth to Ruby at least I was rewarded with a beautiful baby girl. Sadly this time, I went through the trauma and pain of surgery, but without that wonderful end result. I'm thankful though that we caught it early enough as the consequences could have been very different had the pregnancy continued to developed in my tube.
I'm not looking for sympathy by writing this post, I really am feeling fine and dealing with it well. All I wanted was to tell my story and highlight the condition - one which I`d never even really contemplated - so that others are aware. I also wanted to be open about a subject that is often veiled in silence, especially as nearly everyone I've spoken to since has been touched by the loss of a baby, but yet, no one talks about it. It's nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of, it's not a failure, it's just life. it's bloody hard to make a human and sometimes it just doesn't work out.
Earlier this week, when I had my dressings removed and I saw the scarring, my resolve to stay strong did falter. Again, feeling sad that I've been left with this physical reminder and no new baby to override the pain with happiness. But then, my husband said 'They are proof of your journey through life, they are part of our story.' He's so right, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, "Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it" - we are moving on with positivity and good vibes and the hope of no more Friday the 13th's like that one!
If you've been affected by ectopic pregnancy or are concerned you might be having one, then the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust is a really useful resource. But as I said, ANY bleeding or pain - just get checked, I'm so glad I didn't ignore what my body and mind were telling me. xxx
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