In October 2022 I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) after not having a period for 16 months. From then I was put on medication to manage my insulin resistance in an attempt to get my cycle ready to try for baby number two. I was told I would find it difficult to conceive but “at least you already have one”.
When you hear these words it sends you into a spiral of thinking you won’t get the big family you wanted, you automatically blame yourself. After this, having a baby just became my most obsessive thought. My daughter asked for a sibling, and when I’d see her with cousins and family friends, it would break my heart that I couldn’t give her that wish.
Jump to 15 October 2023, a positive pregnancy test, you know the ones with the faintest line that you begin to feel like you’re hallucinating it because you know that’s what your heart wants to see? But it was there, I was pregnant. I wanted to scream it from the rooftops but something inside me told me to calm down as it was early days. I didn’t want to get attached, what if my PCOS affected my pregnancy (I didn’t know what to expect as I didn’t have symptoms of it with my first pregnancy), did it increase my chance of miscarriage? Did I need to keep taking my metformin? Is it safe?
After stopping my anxiety medication due to the positive test, I wanted to go for a reassurance scan to make sure everything was okay and growing in the right place. I had two reassurance scans by two separate companies which both used abdominal ultrasound and they couldn’t see a gestational sac, but stated they couldn’t see anything anywhere else either. They advised it was probably too early to detect anything and that I should go back in two weeks for another scan. At the same time I was experiencing some pinkish-red spotting very randomly on wiping since before I had tested positive. Along with mild cramping, at first I had thought this may be due to implantation or because I was due my period.
31 October 2023, Halloween, I woke up at 4am with severe pain in my left side, I took some pain relief medication, but it didn’t even touch the pain. I was also bleeding. Hyperventilating, I curled up on my living room floor, sobbing. This was what I was afraid of, I was losing my baby.
A call to NHS 111 (a free-to-call single non-emergency number medical helpline operating in England, Scotland and Wales), we then made the journey to A&E (accident and emergency) ourselves. We sat around waiting for doctors to handover, then for a room to free up on the assessment unit. A urine test and some blood tests later, we were referred for a scan the next day.
1 November 2023 – my scan was booked for 2.30pm, but I wasn’t called until 3.30pm. The abdominal scan was attempted but again, nothing was seen so a quick trip to the toilet to empty my bladder and they performed a transvaginal scan. Within a few minutes I heard the sonographer say, “live ectopic”, “FH (foetal heart rate) visible” to her colleague. Then she turned to me and said she need a second opinion even though she was “pretty sure”. After the longest five minutes of my life, they confirmed that I was indeed pregnant, about six weeks, baby was growing and developing, but unfortunately in the wrong place. They said due to the location, gestation and baby being “live” they would need to operate in the next 24-48 hours to remove the pregnancy and my left Fallopian tube.
From there everything got a bit blurry, I was seen by nurses, bereavement specialists, surgeons, anaesthetists. I had a cannula put in, weight and height recorded, pre-op checklists, and was changed into the gown and TED stockings. My partner didn’t even have time to get there before they took me to theatre as the doctors explained I had already started bleeding internally. I waved goodbye to my mum and my daughter, got put into the back of a cold dark ambulance, transported to the surgical department of the hospital and taken straight into theatre where I was put under general anaesthetic.
Not only did I have to grieve the loss of my baby, but the loss of an important organ to someone who already has limited fertility due to an endocrine disorder. I felt, and still feel, empty and a little bit numb, like I haven’t acknowledged what’s happened. It’s only when I talk about it that I break from this overwhelming wave of emotions. Writing my experience down has helped me to open myself up to these feelings and allow myself to be vulnerable during this grieving process.