Hello, my name is Greta. I am originally from Argentina, lived in Spain for 13 years, and ended up in Cornwall eight years ago when I met my husband. I am 41 years old; my partner and I have been together for eight years, seven years married in September.
We didn’t want children in the beginning. My husband has a 21-year-old daughter, and I was never broody, so we didn’t even consider it for a few years. But then social and family pressure made us think. Everyone was asking, “When are you going to have kids?”, so
I stopped taking the contraceptive pill in the summer of 2018 and started taking folic acid daily as other mothers told me it would help. A few months later, my period was a week late, and I did a pregnancy test. When it came out positive, I was so happy.
That same day, I started spotting brown blood. I remember asking my dad, who is a doctor, about it via WhatsApp. He said not to worry, that sometimes you can bleed in between periods. Anyway, I did contact my general practitioner and they called me in. They did a pregnancy test, saw it was positive, and then started talking about the EPAU (early pregnancy assessment unit). A few weeks later, my first ectopic pregnancy was identified on the right Fallopian tube. I was offered all the interventions; I choose the methotrexate (medical management) to preserve my Fallopian tube.
I was told not to get pregnant again for at least 90 days, but unfortunately, I got pregnant near the end of that window. I say “unfortunately” because it ended in a miscarriage at 11 weeks while I was away in Costa Rica on New Year’s Eve of 2018-19.
It was a horrific experience; I have never seen that much blood in my life. My husband was afraid of losing me. My experience in Liberia, Costa Rica, in a public hospital was horrific. The pregnancy tissue was removed without any anaesthetic, and the experience was made worse when I came back to the UK and learned I still had pregnancy tissue that required further intervention. That miscarriage experience in Costa Rica would need its own special chapter.
Pregnancy number three happened around December of 2020, during lockdown. At this stage, I thought: Are you kidding me? Another one? What have I done to deserve this? Why me? I don’t understand. All these thoughts were in my head. Again, the pregnancy was on the right Fallopian tube, so I asked for it to be removed along with the Fallopian tube; I didn’t care. I had a keyhole surgery – all done, out and on to recovery.
It felt like my body was failing me and that it was trying to kill me. At this stage, no one was pointing me in the right direction. Doctors were telling me to keep trying naturally and that I did not qualify to be referred to a fertility clinic because you must suffer three or four miscarriages to be referred. In my head, I was thinking, “Oh my god. Seriously?”. At the age of 38, I had already had two ectopic pregnancies and one miscarriage, but it was not enough suffering. I couldn’t understand it, and I still don’t.
I had a few weeks off from work. My bosses were very supportive and asked me if I needed more time, but I was desperate to get back into a routine and pretend that nothing had happened. I thought I was tough, I was strong, I was brave, and that I didn’t need to talk to a professional about it. I thought I could handle it on my own. I was wrong. Every month, I was afraid of my period not coming and having another ectopic pregnancy. If there was any unusual bleeding or an extended period, I would have even worse thoughts.
It was during my 40th birthday in March of 2022 when I was at my best again. I was feeling physically and mentally very strong and determined. I felt like I was back on track – until the last ectopic pregnancy appeared, my fourth failed pregnancy. This was hard, and I went downhill from there. This time, it was on the left Fallopian tube, the one I had left – devastating. I was asked what intervention I wanted, and I asked for Fallopian tube removal. I didn’t want to have to experience this anymore, ever again.
Only then, after four traumatic failed pregnancy experiences, did talk about in vitro fertilization (IVF) and seeing a fertility clinic start – but I was 40 and had wasted three years trying to get pregnant naturally. If only I had been offered these options after the first or second one, then today I would be telling a different story. Five sessions of counselling weren’t enough. I am still grieving and experiencing symptoms of anxiety and maybe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTS). I had to self-fund my counselling and luckily managed to speak to someone who would not judge me and allowed me to cry my eyes out at every session.