Fiona is another strong lady who went through the mills and came out the other side. Thank you Fiona for sharing your story with us!
What type of ectopic pregnancy did you experience?
I experienced an ectopic pregnancy in my right fallopian tube in August 2008. It was my first pregnancy and I was 8 weeks pregnant.
What were your symptoms?
Inititally I had a small amount of brown spotting. This went away but at around 6.5 weeks I had small bleed. I never had any pain only a mild cramp on my left side (opposite side to the ectopic). They told me it was a ‘silent’ ectopic.
How was your experience with the Doctor, & how were you treated?
Unfortunately my experience wasn’t very positive. I went to casualty after the small bleed. Although it wasn’t much I instinctively knew something was wrong. I was scanned by a junior doctor and then a senior doctor. They were very busy and he, very matter of factly (in a busy corridor), told me I was pregnant but they didn’t know where the pregnancy was and that was it. I went home with my head in a spin. I didn’t understand what that meant and I didn’t ask enough/any questions at the time. I spent the night searching the internet for information. The next week was tough I had to go back every 48 hours for bloods and scanning. The HCG levels were rising but not enough so they knew there was a problem but nothing was showing on the scan so I was continually sent home and told to come back if I got a bad pain. After a week I started to feel unwell, had a mild cramp on the left side and heavier bleeding so they told me to come back in. They still couldn’t see anything on the scan but the doctor in casualty thought I looked very pale and wasn’t happy sending me home. On the ward I was examined by a very rough doctor who told me to go home that there was no way it was an ectopic as I would be in a lot more pain and wouldn’t be able to stand the examination. Even if it was ectopic she said casually ‘its not going to burst right away you would be in way more pain’. I was so emotionally drained at this stage it seemed endless and I just wanted it to be over. The next day they called me and asked me to come back in urgently that they were not happy with the latest bloods. This time thankfully they could see the ectopic on my right tube and I was admitted. I felt really light headed, sweaty and generally very unwell. It was late that evening so they said a doctor would discuss it with me in the morning. I felt so sad that night and there was just no support or kindness from anyone on the night shift. At every stage I dealt with different doctors and nurses and had to explain everything from scratch to each of them. Every time I came into the hospital for bloods/scans etc I was waiting for hours which added to the stress. That night the nurse started to ask me it all again for the file ‘Is this is your first pregnancy?’ It was all too much and I started to cry. She just looked at the other nurse and said ‘She’s a bit upset’ and they drew the curtains around me and left. No one took even five minutes to talk to me about anything that was happening. I was devastated over the loss of the baby but at that stage I just wanted the surgery as I was really scared. The next morning before surgery I did get one fleeting stabbing pain in my right. The doctor told me the operation would be 10 minutes if they decided not to operate or 40 minutes if they operated. I woke up 40 minutes later. The ectopic was large and had ruptured and I was bleeding into the stomach. After the operation (literally right after I was half unconscious and my husband hadn’t even seen me) the doctor told me what happened and said they were surprised I wasn’t in agony and I was very lucky. I managed to ask about future fertility and she said no problem try again whenever you want but come in for an early scan when pregnant. That was it released with no follow up and no further discussions. Looking back I know my case was not textbook for an ectopic so was difficult to diagnose but the experience was made a alot worse by the lack of any medical or emotional support from start to finish in the hospital. Although medication may not have been an option for me it was never discussed. In fact there was no discussions at any point and I never saw the same doctor to ask any question too.
Can you tell us a bit about your emotions, family support (if shared) etc.
It was a huge surprise to me how much of an emotional rollarcoaster this all was. I’m usually a very good coper, easy going and take things in my stride. My mother had experienced several miscarriages (some late) and often talked openly about how devastated she was over these. I could never really understand this until this happened to me. I also had the added concern about my future fertility given the surgery. My husband, close family and friends were great and very supportive. I didn’t tell a lot of people as found it too painful to talk about. Looking back I wasn’t really in a good place and went through a range of emotions and perhaps even a bit of post traumatic stress. Months later I ended up going for a couple of counselling sessions (first time in my life) which were very helpful. Although it was never going to be easy I do believe that if the hospital/doctors had talked to me a bit more that it wouldn’t have been so traumatic.
What has happened since?
Life could not be better for me since those dark days. In 2009, I got pregnant and thankfully I had a perfect baby girl. I had miscarriage in 2011 which was very upsetting but I personally didn’t find it in any way as traumatic as the ectopic. I’m very happy to say I am now typing this beside my beautiful baby boy born over 8 weeks ago. I can’t express how lucky I feel to have these two babies. While the experience of ectopic was terrible I don’t think I would appreciate them as much if it were not for the experience. I take nothing for granted anymore and know that these babies and life in general is very precious.