One Year On | Surviving Ectopic Pregnancy

February marks the one year since our ectopic pregnancy loss. I never discussed it much at the time over on the blog because it was one of the most challenging situations we’ve both had to face as both physically and emotionally but I did cover a lot of our 'TTC' journey on Sweet Elyse Blog. It still is but one year one we won’t ever forget what happened and what we lost but we are in a stronger place for it.

See things like this can either break someone or make them stronger, for us it made us so much stronger. We’ve had a lot of heartache during our relationship between losses and surgeries and outside situations but we lean on each other and become bonded even more so. That’s a comfort in itself as it speaks volumes for our relationship but I do wish we hadn’t had to go through quite so much in such a short space of time.

So one year on I finally decided to discuss the ectopic pregnancy, loss and how it actually feels from a very real point of view as there’s so much that a medical journal or textbook just doesn’t explain or cover.

In 2016, I had an infection in my ureter that was somewhat ignored by the NHS and pawned my case off as cystitis, they felt I was ‘’too young’’ for kidney stones. However, fast forward three weeks later and my second trip to the emergency room and I was admitted. The next day I went into a 15-minute surgery only to come out hours later, why? Well, my ureter was infected so badly, and my bladder and kidney, sepsis had started to set in and they couldn’t remove the stone so a shunt was placed in to attempt to drain the infection. This resulted in three surgeries in three or so months and the pain, unbearable. They say kidney stones are one of the most painful conditions. I can guarantee you that it absolutely is, more so than childbirth in my opinion. The thing is you can literally feel your kidney (in my case at least) extending out of your back. You cannot escape the pain.

Well, ectopic is akin to that pain.

I suppose if you take anything of a large size and house it in a tube that’s teeny and expected to function in the human body, you will get the same result. It’s so very common for midwives, doctors and nurses to hear it feels like a kidney stone in my vagina’ because the reality is, it absolutely does.

For me, I knew something was wrong early on. I typically get aches and growing pains anyway quite early on, around the six-week mark in the evening I would get this extreme sharp pain that sat to the right of my public line, much too high for pregnancy at six weeks and slightly off to the centre, but thinking or at least, hoping it was ligaments I would try to relax and hope it went away. The next night the same would happen. At one point I couldn’t move at all due to the pain, I was ready to ask hairy boy to call the ambulance (and that’s not me, I hate hospitals) but eventually it went away. I started lying on my left-hand side each evening when I got in from work, with a pillow under my knees to attempt to take the pressure off my right-hand side. That worked to a certain degree.

At the same time, I was noticing brown spotting, nothing major, it hadn’t turned fresh or red so I wasn’t all that worried as I knew it would either result in miscarriage or it wouldn’t and at that point, we were still pregnant with none of the tell-tale signs of a miscarriage coming.

When we went for our early scan. I mentioned I’d had some pain on the right side, but was dismissed. The ultrasound technician had read our file and knew of our losses and when she put Wanda in, and so no viable pregnancy in my uterus she pulled Wanda out and said ‘sorry’ she never checked any of the surrounding areas. I mentioned this to the nurse, highlighting that I’d had pain on my right-hand side but again I was dismissed and presumed that history was repeating itself. They took a blood test to check if my HCG had dropped (as it does with miscarriage) and advised they would call me later to advise.

I was furious. I knew this was different. I had stated so many times to hairy boy and a friend I worried it was ectopic given the pain and placement, of course, they thought I was just over worrying.

The hospital called later to advise my HCG had increased. And, that I was to return for a repeat HCG to check if it had dropped in two days. I attended and waited for the call, at this point the pain I was feeling had increased. But no-one wanted to listen. Again the HCG increased but hadn’t doubled. They were slightly miffed as normally in a miscarriage HCG will drop dramatically signalling that a loss is on its way.

They scheduled a further blood test and advised they would call me again. Again the same thing happened. The nurse at the time called to say they would call me to get me in on Sunday for Methotrexate. I mentioned ectopic and she shouted at me that it wasn’t ectopic. However, they were still asking me to get methotrexate. I waited for the call and it never came. Calling back urgently I was told I was booked for the Monday clinic and someone would call me.

During this point, my ectopic symptoms had increased. I could no longer stand or be upright, I knew I had to stay as flat as possible as most movements caused huge amounts of pain, somewhat like labour. The pain never went away, the right-hand side pain was intense and no pain killers were touching it. I was still spotting brown blood and I had intense pain and pressure in my backside, like labour I suppose but all in the back and bum.

Eventually, Saturday came and without being disgusting, my backside exploded – not in the way you would think (eww) this was pure red, fresh blood in HUGE quantities. Apparently, this also is common, to find the toilet covered in blood. It’s so scary, especially because there’s so much and from an area that is unrelating to anything.

Eventually, after the hospital forgot to book me into the clinic, and me explaining that if I wasn’t seen that day I literally felt like I could die (the pain was that intense) they realised the situation was much more urgent than they originally thought. They advised I would have to come in for a scan as they cannot give Methotrexate if you are bleeding internally. So they would need to check first.

Monday came. We went into the ultrasound and I explained again where the pain was, the technician had a look and there he was, wriggling around, alive, but in my right tube. In the exact spot, I had the pain just to the right of my public region. I burst into tears, seeing him alive broke me. Especially as I was bleeding heavily into my cavities and I had become a life or death case, they were scared I’d move and pass out. The hardest part was knowing he would die so they could save me was tormenting, sure rationally I knew that he wouldn’t survive in the tube especially as it had ruptured but he was nearly eleven weeks old. ELEVEN WEEKS! That’s crazy. We had never reached that far in any of our pregnancies, but here we were with Jacob wriggling around in my tube quite happily.

Losing a tube and a baby hit me hard. Seeing hairy boy so grief-stricken for the loss of his baby, the worry that he’d lose me and the worry about what our future would become hit him hard also. I spent my days crying and worrying about him and, feeling like less of a woman. Not only had I lost my baby, but I’d also lost a body part and was left with the daily reminder of the loss through my scars which you can’t hide from.

Losing a body part, especially one so linked to the female reproductive system hit me hard. I know it’s irrational but I felt like less of a woman, not only had I had so many miscarriages and loss through pregnancy but I now had the loss of one-half of my tubes. One half of what would give us the chance of having a baby again. I felt wholly defunct. Over time I picked myself up with the help from hairy boy, it took a long time to feel anything other than broken and still now it hurts in every way. It hurts hairy boy also who really feels the loss of his baby and with the anniversary coming up, it’s hard to escape the hurt we felt then and feel now.

But generally each day we are positive, happy and so in love. I don’t think I would have coped quite so well if I had been with anyone else and likewise I think hairy boy would have been even more broken if I wasn’t aware that he had equal amounts of grief and pain. We support each other daily and hopefully, this post can support anyone else going through the same issues and grief. If you need to talk please email me, I am ALWAYS here for you.

Symptoms can vary from person to person however the ones I felt were:

HCG rising but not doubling every 48 hours.
 Niggling pain 4 weeks to 6 weeks on one side above the public bone region.
 Intense pains from 6 weeks+ on the same side.
 Pain that takes your breath away on one side.
 Brown spotting – 6 weeks + (no pain or cramping)
 Shoulder tip pain, like when you have trapped wind.
 Intense pain in my lower back and in my tailbone and bottom region
 A huge amount of fresh red blood loss from the anus.
 Ultrasound showing no viable pregnancy in the uterus.
 Intense pains when upright. I had to remain flat and lying down near the end.
 Feeling light-headed, dizzy, nauseous (blood loss into cavities)
 Feeling like I could ‘die’ I never get that feeling but you feel it during this
 Feeling like you have a kidney stone in your vagina.
 Pain when going to the bathroom (for either reason)

If you feel that your pregnancy could be ectopic or something doesn’t feel right, please, please, please go and get it checked out. You do not want to reach the point of losing your life, having salpingectomy or worse. If caught early Methotrexate is an option which although still hard, it’s better than surgery and losing body parts. 

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Elyse & Connor

Statement: Nothing to Disclose

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