My name is Gemma and I am 44 years old. I am one in 80 and I would like to share my experience of a tubal ectopic pregnancy in March 2011.
At the time, I had a two-year daughter and had been trying to conceive for almost a year. I should have felt elated at seeing a positive pregnancy test, but I had a really uneasy feeling and was spotting, which had not happened with my first pregnancy. A few days later I got what I thought were period cramps and heavy bleeding that was dark, so I assumed I was having a chemical pregnancy, but then bleeding lessened to spotting again which seemed odd. This went on for a week and the GP (general practitioner) insisted that I was fine; I expressed my concerns that it could be and ectopic as my friend had experienced one 4 years prior and I knew the symptoms, but I was dismissed as being paranoid and overly anxious.
The next day I went back after getting a sharp intense pain in my right side which took my breath away and left me drenched in sweat and my bleeding had increased. The same GP examined me and said he couldn’t find anything concerning but arranged an hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced in the body during pregnancy.) blood test and an early scan. The sonographer could not find a baby in my womb and was off hand, seeming not to believe that I was pregnant despite my insistence of taking several pregnancy tests. By this point I was 6 and a half weeks. I was sent to the EPAU (Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit) department for a full check-up the next day where further blood tests were taken and an internal examination before being sent home. That evening I experienced horrendous gastric flu type pains and could not eat or go to the toilet. When I sat back or laid down I got jabbing shoulder tip pain (I didn’t realise at the time that this was a sign of internal bleeding).
The next afternoon I received a phone call that the third results were in and that I must get to the hospital immediately. It felt like I was in some kind of nightmare and the panic was overwhelming. I was dropped off and left by myself to be admitted as my husband had to look after our daughter. I begged to be scanned again in case there was any hope, but I was told it was an ectopic and I needed emergency surgery. I remember the anaesthetist bringing the consent form and I broke down crying not wanting to sign to have my baby removed but knowing there was now no hope of survival and that I would die if I didn’t. I ended up having my right tube and ovary removed and was told my tube had ruptured and I had lost 600ml of blood and I was lucky to be alive.
It was a deeply traumatic experience and it took me years to process what happened and how it has shaped my outlook, and I still sometimes have flashbacks. I felt so alone in my grief, the panic and anxiety of something going wrong with another pregnancy or my health has stayed with me. I was fortunate enough to conceive nine months later and had a healthy baby boy. Without the support of my husband and the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, I don’t know how I would have got through the experience. I felt like nobody really understood just how frightening and overwhelming an ectopic pregnancy is and how much it changes you as a person afterwards.
Thank you to Gemma for generously sharing her experience of ectopic pregnancy. If you would like to share your experience of ectopic pregnancy, please remember our support services are available at any time.