I don’t know anybody else who has been through an ectopic pregnancy besides my wife. She lost a Fallopian tube and the physical and mental pain that followed from this is hard to discuss with those who don’t understand what happened enough. Whoever you tell instantly thinks that it is a miscarriage and then they relate that to ‘so and so had a miscarriage’. It is not the same, especially when trying to conceive again with your chances possibly impacted. Below is my experience of what happened to my wife. I hope it can be helpful to other men.
My perspective as Kat’s husband during this time will hopefully be a useful insight in to the feelings and experiences of those closest to survivors of ectopic pregnancies.
I could tell Kat wasn’t well the night before but I fully trusted that she knew how she was feeling better than me. I had no idea what the pains could be and how to help. I naively suggested a bath! A doctor’s appointment was being made in the morning and her mum was going to take her. That made me feel a little bit more comfortable.
The next morning when I said goodbye to go to work her lips were completely white and she looked weak. I will never get this image out of my head and the fact that I just went to work rather than taking her to hospital is the biggest mistake I have ever made.
I knew what time the appointment was so at work I waited about half an hour until ringing Kat to find out what was wrong. There was no answer so I waited 10 mins to ring again, but there was still no answer. I was getting concerned and just wanted to know if the she was still in the appointment or if there was any news at all. I kept ringing repeatedly but still no answer. By now I was getting frantic as it must have been an hour without being able to speak to her or having my calls returned.
Eventually Kat rang my phone. She didn’t speak for a couple of seconds and I heard beeping. I knew this was bad. I knew that beeping was some kind of heart monitor or other equipment and then her mum said they were at hospital in resus and that she had an ectopic pregnancy. I hung up and legged it to the car which was parked a few minutes’ walk away from my office. I drove like a maniac to get to hospital which would take normally 30 minutes to get to, parked on the main road rather than fighting for parking space and sprinted in to A&E. I banged on the glass divider at reception and yelled “Kat Murphy ectopic pregnancy this morning”. A very calm receptionist who clearly knew more than me about how serious this was quickly walked me through the waiting area and through some doors to Kat. She was on a bed surrounded by about eight people all in different coloured scrubs who were preparing her and themselves for surgery. Kat said to me “Dan I was pregnant and have lost the baby”. I automatically replied with “It’s OK, I love you” and then she wheeled into surgery.
I was walked in to this tiny room to wait for the surgery to be over and then I was on my own. I had a lot to think about but all I wanted to do was beat the [heck] out of this bin in the corner of the room. I got angry and was swearing, shouting and punched the wall a few times. I noticed a security camera in the top corner and stopped everything as I didn’t want to be thrown out of hospital when Kat needed me most. I was joined by her parents and we cried. I was trying to get my head around being a dad, then not being one, and then being a widower in my mid-twenties. I just stared at the window in the door assuming that every person that walked by was going to come in and tell me horrible news.
After about an hour and a half, a nurse or doctor came in to tell us that the surgery was successful, how much blood she had lost, and that we could go up to the ward she would be staying on and wait there. I was feeling numb. I didn’t think anything apart from wanting to see Kat. I didn’t know what an ectopic pregnancy was, why this meant Kat was in emergency surgery, and I felt incredibly guilty and upset that I didn’t bring her to hospital the night before.
Whilst waiting at the ward for an eternity I was asked if I was her husband and would I like to come down to recovery to see her. I obviously said yes and came to see Kat with blood stains all over her and tonnes of equipment hooked up to her. She kept on drifting in and out of consciousness making talking to her pointless. Also, a nurse kept on taking readings and checking her scar so I had to leave them alone a few times. I asked the nurse questions about what had happened and why. I kept on calling it ‘eptopic’. I knew so little that I didn’t even know how the word was spelt. I followed her up to the ward and waited by her side as long possible before going home. I don’t know whether I had the choice to stay all night with her which I also feel ashamed about. I know when I left hospital there was not a single person about and that the way out is a very long corridor. I felt completely alone and started to take in everything that happened whilst walking out. I cannot and will not walk along this corridor on my own now anytime we go to hospital. I associate it with leaving my wife alone, losing a child, and not knowing whether Kat was alive.
I’d informed my family about what was happening and, despite being asked “is there anything we can do?”, I just went home and sat on our bed trying to feel any of the many feelings or process my thoughts, but I felt numb and useless. I drank a whole bottle of whiskey to just get wasted, try to have some feelings come out through being drunk, and to use it to sleep. It did none of this as it might as well have been water.
By no means was the worst over as the recovery has just as much an emotional and mental element as it does physical. Due to the surgery being rushed, bruising around the scar was immense and it put Kat out of action with trying to use her body as usual. I ended up helping her on and off the toilet, got her dressed, walked her up and down stairs, in and out of chairs, bed, car etc.
It took a long time for the physical recovery to be complete, however the trauma was still in our heads but in different ways. I didn’t go through this by feeling any of the pain. All I could do was watch and be what felt like a useless witness. I couldn’t help anything get better and, despite always saying this to Kat and being told to just keep doing what I’m doing and being there, it still doesn’t help me to give help to her.
I refer to this as something that has happened and how I felt then, but I still am struggling with it now. Rather than helping myself with how to process my feelings, I’ve only focused on helping Kat. I don’t talk to anybody about it and so nobody knows that this happened. I feel like it is a very personal time in my life and isn’t something that should be advertised. I can only assume that because it didn’t happen to me and that I didn’t take Kat to hospital earlier that I feel I’m to blame and I don’t accept that just being there for her is a form of helping.
Partners often focus on their loved one who has experienced the ectopic pregnancy physically. We recognise that partners also have complex emotions of their own to navigate at the same time. After a traumatic experience like ectopic pregnancy, having a supportive partner counts and “being there” does make all the difference.
If you would like to share your experience of ectopic pregnancy, please visit our guide for more information.
Please remember our support services are available at any time.