One Mama’s Journey with an Ectopic Pregnancy along the way…

As previously mentioned, in the past month of August 2014, I excitedly found out I was pregnant with our second child.  The exact feeling is very much hard to put into words, as with my little Dude I had believed I couldn’t have children at all, and then blessed it seemed with another pregnant fairly quickly too (our little dude is 14 months old).

When I saw those little lines though, I knew I had to be early stages, and reminded of the thought that I have always had when people share pregnancy news very soon – “You never know though what can happen, so don’t tell the world too quickly”.

The truth is that 1 in 4 pregnancies end up in miscarriage – usually before some women even know they are pregnant and usually in the first 12 weeks.  Therefore since we already had a baby Boy in our life, I didn’t want to get anyone too excited until everything seemed to be well under way and doing nicely.  Guess nature had prepared my mind already for the potential that sometimes things always don’t go to plan.

About 4 days after I found out I was pregnant, roughly about 5 weeks pregnant for me, I remember having a nap as I was feeling tired and waking up with a horrible pain in  my right shoulder.  A shooting pain that was so sharp, I just assumed I had slept funny.  Perhaps this was one of the first signs.

Then that night I noticed some blood.  Worried sick I stayed up most of the night and even asked my sister for advice just in case she had known of something similar in pregnancy.

Then the next morning, it was like a heavy period.  I had never experienced anything like this before with our little dude, so something didn’t feel right.  And even if it was right, I knew I would be worried what it had all meant and why my body was reacting this way.  I phoned the wonderful NHS 24 service, who put me through to the Early Pregnancy Unit at the local hospital.   They did their best to put my mind at ease, and as long as I wasn’t in sharp pain or loosing alot of blood – they told me to rest and hope things would pass.

In that moment on though, all you do is focus on the fact that you might be losing your baby.  No amount of “rest” takes away the mental games that you are now stuck in.  Every time you do anything you are wondering if you are bleeding still, you pray for it to stop, you search Google for “It worked out fine for me with all the symptoms in the world!”, you hope that someone can tell you it will all be right on the night……it goes on and on.

And you still keep hope despite all the odds

With the next few days, brought the onset of investigation work of blood hcg tests and internal scans.  This is one area that with hindsight I don’t believe does the mother or the caring staff any good really.  Let me explain….

I received two blood tests 48 hours apart as you would expect.  They were to measure that all important HCG levels, plus an internal scan to see if they could figure out what was causing the bleeding.  From two bloods, they confirmed I was still pregnant (the bleeding wasn’t a miscarriage, as your HCG levels drop right away after one), but basically as the mathematics of the numbers weren’t what they wanted (66% increase or above in 48 hrs), then this pregnancy woudn’t work out.

This is where the problem lies for me – albeit that the ultimate diagnosis was correct in that this pregnancy would fail (due to location), they cannot use just two HCG readings to confirm that.  Roughly 15% of women have non-doubling levels and carry full term.  Also they failed to say that HCG levels need to be in combination with an accurate scan to provide solid evidence of either ectopic or normal pregnancy.  My HCG levels were too low even to see a normal pregnancy in the womb.

My advice to any Mama who faces blood tests in early pregnancy is that unless they can show you there is a baby growing in the wrong place, and your numbers are high enough that they should be able to see a baby normally growing in your womb – ask for a second opinion and a third…and a fourth.

All I can say is that in total I had 14 days straight of being in hospitals either every day or every second day – to have blood drawn and numbers measured then – and only after nearly 3 weeks of hospital work did they finally find an ectopic pregnancy.  Some readings my numbers would look perfect and double – sometimes they would not.  Babies and nature is not an accurate science I’m afraid as any Mid-wife or Doctor will tell you.  Go on your gut feeling, and have the right to ask for proof before you agree to terminate anything that “doesn’t seem normal”.

In the end, the pregnancy reached nearly HCG levels of 4000 before they spotted a collection of cells (not a formed baby sac) in my right tube.  Luckily my body appeared to have started to enter the abortion phase of the pregnancy of it’s own, and was bleeding for the past few weeks as a result of either damage to the tube or trying to correct the situation.  However, it did mean that I would need to either face surgery or Methatraxate injections.

I was one of the lucky Mamas who has an ectopic pregnancy growing in her tubes and it was spotted before an explosion.  I had the chance to have it found and confirmed before it exploded and caused internal bleeding.

As I was not in immediate danger and hadn’t developed pain yet, I decided to have the injections which ultimately dissolve the cells in the pregnancy and then require 3 months recovery time fully for your body to be back to normal.

For anyone facing this treatment, I can honestly say that the procedure itself was nothing to be scared of.  I have four injections in my thighs over the space of 2 or 3 minutes and it felt nothing more than when you have a flu injection or Anti-D injection in your arm.

As this is an anti-Cancer drug traditionally, so the side effects are very well documented.  My personal side effects were fatigue (you need at least a good few weeks off work to fully feel normal I am advised, and can see what they mean), upset stomach and couldn’t really eat too much for a week or so, the worst cramps in my legs and tummy I have ever felt in my life, and mouth ulcers.  As expected though, you need to effectively “miscarry” the cells so that does mean some form of bleeding but apparently far less than if you had suffered a natural miscarry.  The idea of the injections are so that rather than surgery to remove the cells, your body will break it down and reabsorb the cells.

I’m a tough cookie I like to think.  I am able to sit and honestly write that probably somewhere during the duration of the few weeks whilst bloods and scans were all used to eventually back up the evidence of an ectopic pregnancy, I had realised in myself that this pregnancy was over.

To be honest, with every blood test or scan that instead of coming back as good news came back as “MMmmmm it isn’t good”, I was ready for my body to be out of it’s physical and mental misery and get better and back to being my normal Mama self.  I was ready for nature and medicine to let me repair and start again.  And that isn’t a thought that comes naturally, as your whole soul begs you to wait as you could really be one of the lucky ones and everything works out with a healthy baby……really it could be……..

I am now 1 week post my injections, and the medicine is tough on your body – but I am now feeling like I hopefully can physically repair to be well again for the world I love.  This means resting (which I don’t like), taking better care of myself as the drugs can give you colds/infections easily, and given me a kick up the bum to be a better version overall of me moving forward.

Life tends to give you some lessons, either for you to tell the world your experience so others can know they are not alone if going through something similar, or so you shake up your life.  All experiences are knowledge – personal knowledge for you to become stronger and better from.  You can face everything life has to throw at you.

And so with the injections, came the knowledge that I cannot think or consider pregnancy for at least 3 months till the drugs are definitely out my system – and I can think this only as a positive.  I have taken the opportunity of knowing that the next 90 days are exclusively for me to get stronger, fitter, healthier both mentally & physically – just in case life blesses me with a bigger family again.

I would be nothing though without my immediate family throughout this whole experience.  Ectopic pregnancy, where you know there is a sense of urgency sometimes and uncertainty and sorrow, brings out people’s true sides.  My husband has sat and listened to me cry at 3am, my sister has calmed my nerves at 7am, my Mum has let me sleep on her bed during the days whilst our Little Dude plays, my dad has stayed in a hospital for up to 6 hours at a time with me during multiple visits in the past 3 weeks, my Little Dude has smiled and laughed when I was tired to cheer me up….the list goes on.

Sacrifice from everyone in my life in which I am completely indebted to again….

Life – I thank you for all the opportunities and for what I have learned the past month.

I shall squeeze and kiss the ones I love a little more as a result…..

Love MFF xx

 

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