Rita is another brave woman who survived a very rare form of EP. Deirdre, one of the founders of this association, also experienced the same type of EP (her story is above). Thank you Rita for sharing your story!
What type of ectopic pregnancy did you experience?
I suffered a heterotopic pregnancy in June 2003. See definition below, this was a 1 in 30,000 case. I was almost 11 weeks pregnant. For the previous week before it happened I had funny unusual pains in my side and up and down my shoulder. As this was a first pregnancy I didn't know that this wasn't the norm. I had confirmed the pregnancy but no scan had been done.
A rare type of multiple pregnancies involving one viable pregnancy implanted in the uterus and the other implanted elsewhere as an ectopic pregnancy. Heterotopic pregnancies occur very rarely in couples who do not use assisted reproduction to conceive, with rates less than 1 in 30,000 naturally occurring pregnancies. Heterotopic pregnancies can occur in as many as 1 in 100 couples who conceive through assisted reproduction.
What were your symptoms?
Pains in my side sometimes very painful and terrible pain in my shoulder, this was for a couple of days before the rupture.
How was your experience with the doctors?
My experience was a complete emergency situation. It happened on a Sunday morning, I was alone in the house my husband was working abroad, I had the most horrific terrifying experience of my life, I was awake all night in pain, I knew that this was not normal, I had no bleeding at this stage but the pain in my sides and shoulder became so bad, that I called my sister and told her I wasnt well, luckily at the time she lived only 2miles away. My skin took a very funny colour; the only way to describe it was grey. I felt hot and cold and then clammy. I called my sister but didnt get to finish the conversation because I collapsed and fainted. I have only vague recollections of what happened in the next 24 hours. Luckily my sister's husband was alarmed and jumped in the car and came over to my place, I was lying on the floor and he had to carry me to the car and try to keep me awake, I was at this stage in agony in pain and was in and out of consciousness. I arrived within 10mins to the closest Hospital where I was asked a few questions, at this stage, my sister had to answer all the questions as again I had passed, and this was a complete ER situation.
I was not diagnosed straight away as the doctor didnt know at the time what had happened, so it was an emergency surgery. I had to have an immediate operation on my tummy. It was my sister who had to sign the consent as I was out cold at this stage, and to be honest I later found out that I had come very close to death.
How were you treated? (surgery, MTX)
I had tubal surgery to remove the tube. I am not sure about the exact terminology and I don't have my medical charts. When I woke up from the surgery, I saw my mother and my sister crying, I didn't know what to think. I hadn't known I was carrying what potentially could have been twins, so I was so so scared. My sister then told me that there had been two babies but unfortunately one baby had developed in the tube, luckily there was still one in the womb and so far so good, all seemed normal at that stage. I was on morphine for the pain and I was still in and out of a consciousness. The consultant who did the operation was a lovely lady and she explained in simple terms what happened, she told me that they almost lost me, but luckily I had got to the maternity unit so quickly after I collapsed that they were able to do an emergency operation to save me and the other baby. I stayed in hospital for 10 days where I slowly got better; I was released home into the care of my husband who had to take 2 months leave from his job in the Middle East. I was then on bed rest for a couple of weeks to recover, and get stronger.
I was given injections to increase my chance of holding on to the baby.
Can you tell us a bit about your emotions, family support (if shared) etc.?
I was offered counselling at the hospital but didn't feel I needed it at the time. I was sad of course, but also relieved that I had held onto one of the babies. My family, mother, father, and my sister were very supportive. I was very weak for a long time and towards the end of the summer felt strong enough to join my husband back in the Middle East where he had been working at the time.
What happened since your ectopic pregnancy?
I gave birth by elective C-section on 22nd December 2003 to a beautiful but petite baby girl. Holly was 5lb 8 oz.; she was born in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. She was absolutely perfect. I chose to have an elective section as I was extremely traumatised after the ectopic pregnancy. I was advised that because I had a history of ectopic pregnancy my chances of conceiving naturally again would be lower than an average woman, but luckily I fell pregnant again in 2006 and gave birth to a big healthy baby boy in March 2007. Christopher was a healthy 7lb 10oz when he was born. I am so relieved to have my two children and I thank my lucky stars every day that I survived such a traumatic event in my life. I would advise anyone who suspects that they have very unusual symptoms like shoulder/joint pain, excruciating pain in your sides, to get it checked as soon as possible.