On the 29th Feb we got what we had waited 10 months for- a positive pregnancy test at last! We already have a son who will be 4 in August and we where so excited to be expecting again. We didn’t tell anyone other than our mums and sisters, but in our excitement we started to make plans.
Our excitement was short lived.
On the 7th march, exactly one week after the positive test I started bleeding. As I was not quite 6 weeks the hospital arranged a scan for me the following Tuesday, told me to rest and call them if anything changed. I took the rest of the week off work and followed their advice.
On the Saturday night the bleeding got heavier, there was no pain at all but I passed the gestational sac. It was over. We were devastated. Tuesday 13th march I had a scan to confirm I had had what they called a complete miscarriage, my womb was empty.
My pregnancy hormone levels that day where 91. The hospital gave me a blood test request form to have a repeat blood test the following week so they could trace my levels back to 0. Later that day I saw my GP who signed me off work for two weeks.
The following Tuesday I went for the blood test. I was feeling OK. Ready to get back to normal, pick myself up and start again.
I went back to work the next day, a week before my sick note ended. As I walked from the car park to the office my mobile rang, it was the hospital. My hormone levels where now 480. They explained this was not enough to be a ‘viable’ pregnancy, they wanted me back in the next day.
I walked into the office and broke down to my manager, she told me to turn around, go home and stay off until my sick note ended.
Back at the hospital (back in the waiting room for general scans! I found this the most insensitive part of all this) I had another scan. Womb still empty, tubes and ovaries appeared clear. Hormone levels where 520! I had a ‘pregnancy of unknown location’ or PUL. All PUL’s are actually ectopic, just not located as yet. I was told that they would hope as my levels where not too high they would start falling on their own.
I was to return the following Tuesday for more blood tests and scans. But return if I had any bleeding or pain. Which I hadn’t at all, at that point, which was taken by the hospital as a good sign. I felt fine, I was taking my son to preschool and back most days and basically feeling a fraud for not being at work.
Tuesday 27th march I returned to the hospital. My levels where now over 1000. They couldn’t scan me there and then as they where so busy. A consultant was called and again as I had no pain and bleeding I was sent home with an appointment for Friday. I was warned that if my levels again increased, and if a scan showed nothing I may be admitted for a laparoscopy (where they insert a camera into your belly button under general anaesthetic to have a proper look around)
Wednesday 28th march, I woke feeling fine. Hubby went to work, I showered, dressed, did my hair and make up and again felt a bit of a fraud for still being off work, this was now week 4!
At around 9.30am I sat down next to my son and got a severe shooting pain that shot from my groin to my stomach. I felt sick and suddenly very ill. I went to the toilet, there was lots of blood and lots of clots. I called the hospital, they told me to come straight in. I called my hubby home from work and my mum to come and take care of my son. The journey to the hospital was hell. It’s half an hour away and I was in more pain than labour.
When we arrived to walk was painful but the pain had greatly subsided. The bleeding had also stopped. I was examined and the dr advised she hoped I had passed with the clots whatever was making my hormone levels rise. She did another blood test. It took two hours for these results to come back. They where only 5 less than the previous day. She wanted a scan but had been told I’d have to wait at least two hours. We busied ourselves by having lunch in the canteen and a stroll around the hospital. We sat in the car listening to music. I wasn’t feeling too bad.
It was 3 hours before I was finally called for a scan, but even then we where still waiting in the scan waiting room for half hour.
Suddenly there I was in extreme pain again, I felt like an elastic band had been tightened around my left thigh. I couldn’t move, I was a crying heap pretty much on the floor- surrounded by happily pregnant women waving their 12 & 20 week scan pictures around. It wasn’t my turn but a kind sonographer took pity on me and called me in, the scan was internal and excruciating, she advised she couldn’t see anything much and sent me back to the unit that been looking after me.
Once there I collapsed, it’s all a bit blurry from here, suddenly I was in a room on a bed being given morphine, an anaesthetist arrived, several DR’s arrived, a nurse was inserting a canular into my arm, another brought a gown. I was told I had internal bleeding, the sonographer had called ahead, my womb and left Fallopian tube where full of free flowing blood, it was an ectopic in my left tube and it was about to rupture. They where taking me to theatre for life saving surgery!! I hadn’t even been formally admitted to the hospital yet I was in a gown being rushed to theatre- there wasn’t even enough time to say goodbye to my husband!
The last thing I remember is feeling a mask being squashed to my face, thinking ‘this isn’t working, I’m not sleepy at all!’ then realising I could feel cold stuff being wiped over my stomach and I remember thinking ‘great, so now I’m naked then!’
Then I woke up in recovery. It was 8pm, I’d been in surgery two hours. I’d lost my left tube, but they had been able to leave the ovary. My right tube looked healthy. They had been able to perform the surgery key hole, I had stitches in my belly button from the camera, and two sites either side. I ached all over. The gas they use to inflate your stomach during any type of laparoscopy causes the worst pain in your shoulder blades and upper back. That pain was worse than the surgery sites.
The night of the surgery I slept on and off in a haze of morphine.
First thing the next morning the surgeon arrived to talk to me, she explained what they had done and advised that my tube was in quite a mess, they believed it may have been a twin to the original miscarriage, but due to the tube being in such a state they couldn’t be certain. I had to ask her, had I been scanned the day before could my tube have been saved? Her answer was no, the location of the ‘pregnancy’ in the tube was well embedded, her thoughts where that if it was spotted the day before via scan the surgery may have been less urgent, but the outcome would have been the same.
I’m nearly 3 weeks on. I went back to work last week. Physically I’m healed. All but one of my stitches has gone. Emotionally I’m not sure. But I’m learning to say ‘I’m not ok’ and it helps to talk. I lost a baby, maybe two. I lost a Fallopian tube. And maybe lost my chances of conceiving easily again. Statistically for women with no pre existing fertility problems Trying actively to convince, 65% will be pregnant within a year of being allowed to try to conceive and 85% within 18 months.
There’s a 3 month waiting period where I’ve been advised not to try to conceive to allow internal healing.
We are going to use that time to take stock of what we have. I do struggle to conceive. It took 18 months to fall for my son. He was born premature at 34 weeks. My chances of another ectopic are now 1 in 10 rather than the normal 1 in 100. I’m not sure the risks are worth it. We have a son and he has a mummy. He nearly didn’t. But he wants a sibling. I think we may try without ‘trying’ and I don’t think I’d accept any help to conceive, just let nature take its course. I have been reassured that I’d be scanned early in any future pregnancy to check all was OK.
For the time being I’m looking forward to continuing to feel better and getting on with things with my wonderful husband and son.