My ectopic pregnancy was in December 2015. I had found out I was pregnant in the November when I presented to hospital for a completely different reason. We hadn’t planned for a baby and for a long time I think I held on to guilt: is that why I didn’t realise something was wrong? Is that why I did not act upon symptoms sooner? Now, nearly seven years on, I understand that wasn’t the case but, in that moment, it was overwhelming, it was looking for somewhere to point the blame, for a reason, for closure.
That December I had started bleeding and I assumed it was a miscarriage; I’ve been there before. I thought even though it was slightly different that it was just happening again and that it was something I just needed to accept. I rang the Early Pregnancy Unit while my husband was rubbing my shoulder and I told her that my only symptoms were bleeding and cramping, the irony is not lost on me. I had shoulder tip pain and failed to recognise it as that. But how would I know? No one had highlighted the condition to me before.
I chose to stay at home until I had a scheduled early pregnancy scan a couple of days later and that’s where we found out that our pregnancy was ectopic, I ruptured while I was on the ward and I was rushed down to theatre and given several blood transfusions. I woke up and I had been cut from hip to hip, I had drains, and I could not move. I was told that my ectopic was classed as cornual and had implanted in the rudimentary horn which had to be partially removed. I had no idea what that was and everywhere I looked I just found information about ectopic pregnancies in the Fallopian tubes, until I found The EPT website. I can’t describe the relief I felt; I finally felt seen.
I could deal with the physical side of things – the physical side of things was easy for me in a sense, but what I wasn’t prepared for was how much of an impact on my mental health this ectopic pregnancy was going to have.
There is a silent expectation in society that we should just move on after a pregnancy loss and so that’s exactly what I did. I took all of those feelings, all of those emotions, and I pushed them down as far as I possibly could and I ignored them. I would cry in the shower; I would wait until I was alone to have a release because in my head nobody wanted to hear my sob story of how I lost my baby and an entire future.
It took me a full year to start talking about how I felt. I began the EPT1000 Challenge with The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, they had been my secret safety net, there from the moment I woke from surgery. I would spend hours reading and trying to understand what had happened, why it happened, and if it had happened to anyone else. They were my safe place that listened when no one else seemed to care.
There’s nothing more I can say other than that Challenge changed my life; it gave me the confidence to share my story. The community, the support, the acceptance for my feelings, I wasn’t alone anymore. I suddenly went from feeling invisible to using my voice to shout for those that weren’t quite able to yet.
My ectopic pregnancy took a lot away from me, the trust in my own body, the joy at the thoughts of getting a positive pregnancy test again. It affected my mental health drastically.
It didn’t feel like it at the time when I was in that dark tunnel but there is light, it’s OK to start enjoying life again, it’s OK to start loving life again, it’s OK to have days where you don’t think about that trauma.
Nearly seven years on and I still have bad days, milestones and anniversaries can knock you like a freight train and that’s OK too. There are no rights or wrongs, your emotions are valid, what happened to you was traumatic and how you choose to deal with that trauma is entirely up to you. What works for one person may not work for the next, try not to compare your journey and most importantly if you need to reach out for help then do, because The EPT are there ready and waiting to listen.