Sunday, 12 January 2014

Ectopic pregnancy - my unexpected November

Some of you will know (and some of you will not) that in November I was rushed into hospital, where I ended up with emergency surgery for a ruptured Ectopic Pregnancy.

Being honest, I knew very little about Ectopic's myself and I don't know anyone who has had one. Or if they have, they have never said. Lets ensure we are all on the same page, it is a big deal!  Big deal or not, I don't want to keep it a secret, I don't want it to become another taboo thing that no-one talks about because its important we do! Perhaps if I had known more, or known what to look for I would still have two fallopian tubes. With this in mind, please read, share and feel free to ask questions however stupid, big or small I am happy to answer (if I can).  The following details my experience.

Let me start by saying that I didn't know I was pregnant, in fact I was adamant that I wasn't, I shouldn't be! I had what I thought was a normal period a few weeks before, and I didn't have any of the key 'indicators' that I had had in my two previous pregnancies. In fact one of the only clues was a few days of very light spotting, which being out of character for me I had been to see the doctor about just a few days before (he had referred me for a scan). What I didn't know is that spotting can be one of the signs of an ectopic - characterised as 'unusual bleeding'. If you want to find out more about the key symptoms of an ectopic I recommend reading the NHS page, as it sums it up pretty well.

On that Monday, I had just being doing normal Mum things. My job list had reached about a million bullet points and I was gradually starting to work my way down it. I had dropped my eldest Son off at play school and my youngest son was busy playing whilst I was sitting down, calling councils, drafting out a letter and returning emails. It happened very quickly and without warning, one minute I was fine and the next I had searing abdominal pain. I tried to stand (don't ask me why!) and I struggled up, thinking I was going to faint I sat right back down again. The pain reminded me of that final moment just before you have to push your baby out when your in labour. This worried me a lot, as, as far as I knew I wasn't pregnant and I certainly didn't have a baby to push out.

My practical head kicked in very quickly, I needed help, and quick. I called my Dad, as my other options were too far away and asked him to check on me in 30 minutes, giving time for the painkillers I had grabbed to kick in (which did nothing in case you are wondered). I also was going to need him to collect my eldest son from play school, whilst I called the ambulance. When the ambulance arrived my eldest son was very excited. Who wouldn't be, to a 3 year old an ambulance sitting on your drive is an amazing thing, and what was even more exciting is that Mummy was going to get to ride in it! My youngest son, who is only 1, was not so sure and despite me reassuring him that Daddy (who had also arrived home) would look after him, he was not so sure, he struggled the most and has been quite clingy since.

The ambulance crew were excellent, but A & E was really busy. With it being busy I had a lot of time to think, and I had guessed that I was most likely pregnant, and something was really not right. I have seen one of my friends miscarrying and I felt that that didn't fit with what I was feeling. They kept asking me if I had pain more on one side, which is very typical with ectopic pregnancies. But the pain was so severe I couldn't distinguish which side it was on. About 5 hours in from when the pain had started came the worse pain of all. Up until this point I had been very calm, so calm that the ambulance man told me I needed to work on my pain face. I started to get this shooting pain, which went from my abdomen up to my the middle of my shoulder, it was like cramp, only worse, much worse and it only got more painful every time it came. I didn't know at the time that this is the clearest indicator there is for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.

I am extremely thankful to the ob-gyn doctor that I saw in the hospital as before he had even examined me, he had made a judgment call that this had a high possibility of ending in emergency surgery. He, without mentioning the surgery part put everything in place to make it as easy as possible for all of the staff that followed him. I can only imagine how scared my husband felt seeing my body weaken and my life hang in the balance, it is only in hindsight that I see how close I was to the edge. It all happened so quickly and within hours of arriving at the hospital I was being prepared for theatre.

At 2am, groggy but awake after theatre, I saw my husband before he disappeared home to sleep and I was moved onto the ward. The operation was successful, but they had to remove my right fallopian tube due to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. It was keyhole and I have 3 of the most tiniest scars. This still impresses me that even with it being an emergency to look at me you would never know what had happened. I only stayed in hospital for one night (the night they operated) and then came home the next day.

When an ectopic is in your fallopian tube there is nothing they can do to save it, no miracle cure. Believe me in the weeks where I was in recovery I searched high and low looking for answers finding out more about ectopics. But the truth is they can't do anything. Your body isn't geared up to have a baby anywhere but in your womb.

My family have been amazing in the recovery process, being patient with me. I lost a lot of blood and my body needed time to pull itself back together, and thats hard when you have two small children. Friends have also been so kind in their words and support too.

What I find interesting is the reaction you get from people when you tell them. Its a bit of a conversation killer to be honest! My husband has found it very hard when people say "I am so sorry about the baby", as I know deep down he wants to shout "What about the part where my wife nearly died?". Random people have asked if they can hug me - its weird! I really don't want to be hugged by a stranger. Yes I lost a baby, and yes I am terribly sad about that, but what people forget is that my life hung in the balance too. The thought of not being with my two very special little boys that I have already scares me far more than the baby I lost.

Life does go on after an ectopic pregnancy and yes if I want to and I can still get pregnant again even with only one tube. The risk having an ectopic normally is 1 in 100, but after an ectopic its 1 in 10, even higher within the first few months after.  The whole situation was, and still is a lot for everyone to handle and we need time to heal emotionally too, before fully looking to the future and planning for the years ahead.

Finally, emotionally I am not sure that I am ready to move on yet.  I don't have all of the words to describe to people how I feel about the ectopic pregnancy, not just a pregnancy - a baby, my third baby. I hope to write more about how I feel about this baby, when time has spent more time healing. But for now, this baby will always remain with me, in my thoughts, my family's thoughts and is already in its place in heaven.

1 comment:

  1. Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

    Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” we miss you!