In February 2023, we found out that I was pregnant, always a time tainted with anxiety (but tiny glimmers of hope when we allow them in) for my husband and I. Conversations about all the dark hair they might have and whether they’d be as laid back as my husband or fiercely independent like me. The anxiety comes from the fact I have been pregnant many times before and yet we have never brought a baby home. This was in fact my 8th pregnancy. My previous pregnancies having all ended in early miscarriages.
I felt very pregnant, very early on. I took so many pregnancy tests because it baffled me that I could have so many symptoms so soon. When I was about four weeks, a sudden very uncomfortable pain came out of nowhere in my lower right side one Sunday afternoon. We had been for a run the day before, so I wondered if I was just tired. I also started passing some light brown discharge, which went away as quickly as it started. I thought best to call my local Early Pregnancy Unit the next morning and they booked me in for a scan the following week when I would be 5+ weeks. I told them about my symptoms, but they didn’t seem too concerned.
I felt great for the rest of that week, until the Sunday, when I started passing some brown discharge again, accompanied by some mild abdominal and lower back pain. We were both becoming increasingly anxious by this point that it might be an ectopic pregnancy. These symptoms continued to come and go over the next 24 hours.
The following day, I went to the toilet and could barely stand up afterwards, I was so dizzy from the indescribable pain that had rapidly started building in the left side of my abdomen, which was also really starting to swell. I felt hot and sick.
I tried to stay calm and not panic my husband, I asked him to call a taxi to the accident and emergency department whilst I threw a few things into a bag – knowing that I probably wouldn’t be coming back home that evening. I had a strong feeling that I knew what was going on. Inside, I was absolutely terrified and all I could think of was how much I desperately wished this baby could have been the “one” that found its way into our arms.
We were treated with great efficiency and compassion in the accident and emergency department by a wonderful nurse who I will never forget. After all her triage investigations, she whisked us down to the gynaecology/early pregnancy ward where we could sit in privacy and quiet whilst we waited to see a doctor.
After what felt like many, many blood tests, painful internal investigations and a scan, we were delivered the devastating news that confirmed all of our fears. It was an ectopic pregnancy, and our little baby had no way of surviving. In fact, we were told clearly that possibly neither would I, unless they took me into surgery very swiftly as my abdomen was filling with blood.
Everything from that point onwards feels quite blurry. I was in unspeakable amounts of pain, terrified at the fact the situation had become life threatening and already grieving the loss of a much wanted and already loved baby.
I was told when I was recovering from the surgery, that my left Fallopian tube had ruptured, so it had to be removed at the same time as a “large ectopic pregnancy”. It all just felt too much to comprehend and if it wasn’t for the unwavering love and support from my husband, I honestly do not know how I would have got through it at all. The days and weeks that followed were heavy, distressing and I was exhausted. I was in physical pain from the surgery, my iron levels were low; causing me to feel very tired and lightheaded, and emotionally I was in absolute turmoil. I think that the intense grief combined with the trauma of facing your own mortality at the age of 33 is a totally life changing experience.
The months that followed were hard for us both. I started counselling which is still ongoing and is helping me to deal with the trauma of the ectopic pregnancy and the heartbreak of our fertility journey. This has helped me recognise that it’s ok to put us and our needs first and protect our energy and emotions. This is especially important as we have now been referred to a recurrent miscarriage clinic.
We will always have hope.