In 2018, my husband and I began trying to conceive a 3rd child. Our first 2 were born following losses, and I had suffered more losses before we began actively trying. In January 2019, I found myself having heavy bleeding. I had assumed that it was my period, and that we hadn’t managed to conceive. I always suffered with very heavy periods, but the colour and consistency were not at all normal. I was spotting for four days before bleeding heavily for two, and then moderately for two. After it ended, I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I felt off, tired, headachy, and moody. More so than usual after a period.
I decided to take a pregnancy test, and to my shock, it was positive. I called the local Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU), who advised that I had probably suffered another loss, bringing our total losses to seven. Devastated, I was told to test in a few days. I purchased a digital test and was shocked again to find it was still positive and had changed from 1-2 weeks to 2-3. Unconvinced, I took another first response test, and it was darker than my previous tests.
I called the Early Pregnancy Unit again, and they took me in for a scan and blood samples. The scan proved difficult as one of my ovaries was stuck to my uterus, and they called it a Pregnancy of Unknown Location (PUL). They informed me that I would need to return in 2 days for repeat beta hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin – a hormone produced in early pregnancy) levels.
Tests continued to be positive, but they weren’t getting darker. My hCG showed what they called suboptimal (not at the best possible level) rise and was only rising by about 100-200 every 48 hours.
They estimated I was approximately 7 weeks pregnant based on my last period, but scans were still inconclusive. I continued to have bloods taken every 48 hours for almost two weeks, and scans were still showing as Pregnancy of Unknown Location. It was very frustrating, and I was on first name terms with the nurses and knew who to expect on shift by the time my pregnancy was resolved.
At just shy of 9 weeks, I was called in by the consultant who decided to scan me himself, and he too could not find the pregnancy. However, he identified what he believed was one in my uterus, which he said was measuring only 7 weeks, and he was sure had ended but failed to miscarry. But this didn’t account for my continuing rising hCG, so he was reluctant to say for sure or take any action.
Needing a second opinion, he had a colleague scan me the following day. In my uterus, obscured by my left ovary which was stuck to it, she concluded that there was a ‘non-viable’ 7-week pregnancy. In my right Fallopian tube, she found another pregnancy.
She pointed it out as a little “doughnut” looking thing on the screen. It was a twin pregnancy except one had implanted in my Fallopian tube and one in my uterus, which should have miscarried due to not being viable. The doctor explained the ectopic was keeping my hCG and progesterone levels elevated, and that’s why I hadn’t begun miscarrying or noticed any signs of another loss.
I was dazed, confused, angry and devastated. All of the information I had been given were just words swimming in my brain. I felt numb.
I was immediately taken for hCG testing and asked to wait at the hospital for the results.
I had always assumed ectopic pregnancies needed surgery and always caused intense pains, but I was given an information pack from The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust and told about my options. While waiting, I read through and decided I wanted to be treated with Methotrexate. My hCG, however, showed a very small decrease since my previous test, and the consultant suggested expectant management instead.
I returned to the hospital for beta hCG testing every 48 hours for 2 more weeks until levels were less than 5. I did not suffer with any pain but some discomfort similar to when I ovulate. I had no other symptoms that would have alerted me to an ectopic pregnancy except from the bleeding, followed by a positive test.
It was a difficult experience and so very drawn out. My husband struggled with terrible anxiety and fear that my life was in danger as we were told to be vigilant while waiting for nature to take its course and to come straight back if I experienced any symptoms of impending rupture. The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust information on signs and symptoms was extremely helpful. It made me feel more prepared for what to expect.
The physical recovery was painful and long. I bled very heavily for 16 days in total. I required iron tablets due to becoming anaemic in that time.
We sadly experienced two more losses after our heterotopic pregnancy, and with each pregnancy I was checked early at 7-8 weeks to ensure it wasn’t ectopic.
Thankfully, we finally conceived and had our baby girl in 2020 with the help of a specialist miscarriage consultant.
The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust was invaluable to me during my experience. At the hospital, the consultants used complex medical terms and tried to explain things, but my headspace was wrong, and I struggled to process this information. The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust made it simple to understand. Their information leaflets and website were compassionate in nature, and I felt like a person rather than a patient number. They also answered all my questions over online chat and by phone, no matter how silly they seemed to be. This was invaluable as I tried to get my head around not only the loss of another pregnancy and the experience of an ectopic, but also my anxiety at trying to conceive again and the fear of experiencing another ectopic pregnancy.