Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Ectopic Pregnancy Ireland in the Irish Times

A great article on the Irish Times this morning gives us once again visibility. We have achieved a lot but there is much more to do!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Meet Crystal!

Crystal suffered an EP very recently, and after her recovery herself and her husband decided to move abroad to start a new life and hopefully add to their family soon. Thank you Crystal or sharing your experience with us!

What type of ectopic pregnancy did you experience?
I experienced an ectopic pregnancy in my right fallopian tube in July 2011. I was 8 weeks pregnant with my first pregnancy.

What were your symptoms?
The only symptoms I had was slight spotting at 6 ½ weeks, which is why my diagnoses took so long.

How was your experience with the Doctors, & How were you treated?
I attended my GP after noticing some spotting. She referred me immediately to the Early Pregnancy Unit for assessment. I went straight to the hospital where I was examined. I was booked in for an ultrasound the following week. Because I had no pain, and the spotting had stopped, I didn’t feel an urgency in having an ultrasound and was happy to wait the week. Between appointments I still had no symptoms apart from a very slight cramping every now and then so I presumed everything was ok. They day of my ultrasound arrived. Initially the Dr pointed to the screen to what she thought was the sac, but she then asked for a 2nd opinion. The second Dr thought that there was nothing to be seen. But because I was still symptomless they were unsure. A blood test to confirm my HCG was ordered. This came back with a large reading confirming my pregnancy. I was admitted in order to have my HCG levels rechecked.
48 hrs. later my HCG levels had risen still confirming a pregnancy. I was prepared for surgery but beforehand I asked for a 2nd scan, to put my mind at rest considering I still had no significant symptoms. I wanted to be sure there was nothing in my womb before they opened me up. This scan was done and no pregnancy was seen. A dr. came to explain the surgery, It was only then I realised my pregnancy was not going to be viable. I was rushed to surgery where an ectopic pregnancy was confirmed. My right fallopian tube was removed.
My experiences with the Drs were mostly positive. Communication let them down. No one spoke to me about the possibility of an ectopic until I was being prepared for surgery. My GP couldn’t have been better, her aftercare and support has been amazing.

Can you tell us a bit about your emotions, family support (if shared) etc.
They physical pain from the operation healed quickly. Emotionally I am still dealing with it. My husband works abroad and was only able to arrive home the day after the operation, so in some respects things were probably as difficult for him as they were for me. Because he was abroad I made the decision to tell our immediate family and my close friends of my pregnancy more or less immediately, I felt I needed there support and needed them to know that I was expecting. In hindsight I was right. I couldn’t have foreseen what was to happen to me but I needed my family and friends around me while I was waiting to see what the outcome was going to be. Post op, everyone was a great support. However no one talks about it anymore. I’m not sure is it they have forgotten or is it they fear they may upset me by talking about things. My husband & I don’t speak about it either. I suppose we have our own way of dealing with the grief. I often wonder how big I would be by now, would I have chosen to find out the sex, etc. I am dreading my expected due date. Not a day goes by without me thinking of our little angel.

What’s happened since your ectopic pregnancy?
6 weeks post op, I packed my bags and moved abroad with my husband. We plan on trying for a baby in the new year, although I am scared and filled with apprehension that the same thing will happen again….. Only time will tell x

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Meet Jonelle!

Meet Jonelle, she's is also a blogger and blogs about her quest to add to her family after so many heartbreaks. Sometimes it is really difficult to stay positive when we struggle so much to achieve what for others is so easy. Jonelle is now pursuing adoption, if you want to follow her story she blogs at "Somewhere in the Middle".

What type of ectopic pregnancy did you experience?
My ectopic was in my right tube, near my ovary in February 2008. I was inbetween cycles, after having finished a Clomid cycle (hpt at the RE's office was negative) and waiting to start my period so I could have an HSG to start injections. (I didn't know I was pregnant until I was admited in the ER).

What were your symptoms?
I had spotting for about a week, and then a week later, out of nowhere severe pelvic pain-like cramping all over, not exclusive to one side. I had been waiting for my period, so I thought it was cramps. When the pain got worse and accompanied by pressure when I had to pee, I thought I had a UTI (even though I had never experienced one).

How was your experience with the doctors?
I was in the ER (A&E) for the first 24+ hours before I was transferred to a hospital that would treat me (the insurance that I had wasn't compatible with the local hospital my dad intitally took my too [DH was teaching a night class and couldn't take me to a hospital that would take our insurance]). In that time (24+ hours), I wasn't given any pain meds (I have a high pain tolerance) or anything to eat, because in a way, I think they knew I was surgical (being fitted for an IV fluid port kinda gave it away). The three different doctors that examined me while in the ER told me that they didn't think it was an ectopic, but an ovarian cyst. I even had an ultrasound and they told me I had "fluid" in my uterus, but they didn't know what kind of fluid.

How were you treated? (surgery, MTX)
Once I was transferred to another hospital, I was seen immediately by an OB. He did an ultrasound and told me that the "fluid' in the uterus was actually blood. And the shoulder pain I was now experiencing was blood pooling in my abdomen. I was rushed into emergency surgery within the hour. I had to have my right tube removed.

Can you tell us a bit about your emotions, family support (if shared) etc.?
My emotions were incredibly raw after it happened. After four years of struggling to get pregnant, it finally happened and it was an ectopic. I was very upset at myself too, hindsight plays evil tricks when grieving. I kept telling myself, if only I had taken another pregnancy test, if only I had made my dad take me to a Kaiser hospital, if only I had made my RE give me an HSG (which he refused as I "wasn't ovulating anyway, so what's the point"). My mom and husband were great. When DH had to go back to work the next day after surgery, my mom came over with breakfast and took care of me. She listened to me talk and cry. DH was the same, we talked an cried together. Even my cat wouldn't leave me alone.

What happened since your ectopic pregnancy?
May 2008 an HSG cleared my left tube and declared my uterus "unremarkable", we moved onto treatment with injections and IUI procedures in August 2008. I had eight medicated IUI cycles (4 cancelled due to incorrect ovary response). The very last cycle (July/August 2009) resulted in a chemical pregnancy, that was when DH and I decided to stop treatment and stop trying altogether. We agreed that grief counselling would be the best thing for us to help us move on from infertility and onto domestic infant adoption. In August 2010 we found an adoption agency. In December 2010 our homestudy was approved. In September 2011 we were matched, a month later the matched failed.  Now we are waiting to be matched again.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Meet Sheryl!

This is Sheryl's story, another beautiful testimony of how things can just turn around sooner than expected after the trauma of an ectopic pregnancy.

What type of ectopic pregnancy did you experience?
I had an ectopic pregnancy in Feb 2011 in my right fallopian tube.

What were your symptoms?
I didnt have any of the classic symptoms. However on the day I was admitted to hospital I had really bad pressure pains in my pelvic region and towards the back, which made walking and driving very uncomfortable.

How was your experience with the doctors?
I found Doctors, nurses and everybody involved to be absolutely fantastic. They were extremely sympathetic and understanding.

How were you treated? (surgery, MTX)
I had my right fallopian tube removed.
A week before I found out I was pregnant I fell down the stairs which resulted in very heavy bleeding. I visited my gp who treated me for a vaginal infection. I knew i hadn't an infection and on valentines night (Monday) I took a test and couldn't believe it was finally positive. I contacted the EPAU straight away and told them about the bleeding etc so they arranged an appointment for that same Friday. They scanned me and tested my hormone levels. Nothing showed up on the scan which they said was not uncommon at 6 weeks gestation, but they warned me I may have miscarried and the blood test would reveal all.
It was later that night I had the really bad pains and was admitted to hospital.
My hcg levels confirmed I was still pregnant but still nothing showed up on the scans. It was only on Monday 21st when I was scanned again that they discovered the pregnancy and also a lot of fluid. Within 15 mins I was rushed to Theatre.

Can you tell us a bit about your emotions, family support (if shared) etc.?
Where to start! Angry, sad, alone, frustrated.
Initially when I found out may have to have a tube removed I was totally devastated. We had tried for months to get pregnant and now are chances of it happening again were going to be slimmer.
I hadn't thought of the little baby we lost and used to get frustrated when people mentioned the word miscarriage.
As soon as the physical pain healed the emotional pain took over and all I could think of was our little baby and each week that passed I thought I should be x weeks pregnant now
I kept everything bottled up for a while and realised it wasn't helping at all. After reading stories from other women on the ectopic pregnancy Ireland page I decided I needed to talk about it. I was so surprised at how many people experienced an ep or knew someone who experienced it.

What happened since your ectopic pregnancy?
Well in June I decided to run the mini marathon for ectopic pregnancy Ireland to help raise awareness. It was very emotional crossing the finish line. Also I'm relatively fit and couldn't understand why it nearly killed me only to discover 2 days later that I was pregnant!!!!
I'm now 27 weeks and everything has been going great. The day our first little baby would have been due was still very hard to deal with though and I often think of what might have been.
However we know we are blessed to be pregnant again so soon and are cherishing every moment.
Never give up hope x

Friday, 18 November 2011

Meet Rita!

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.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Meet Sarah!

Another fantastic lady decided to participate in this project and share her story. Sarah thank you so much, we know it's really hard to bring back all the emotions and relive what happened, but there's no doubt this will help may other women to feel less lonely. Like Sarah said to us, writing this was somewhat therapeutic for her too.

What type of ectopic pregnancy did you experience?
I have had two ectopic pregnancies both resulting in loosing my tubes. The first one was in 2006, and I lost my right tube, my second pregnancy and most recent was in November 2011 (one week ago) - this was going to be my last baby and lost my left tube.

What were your symptoms?
On my first EP in 06 I was about 7wks pregnant. I was out with my mother and my little girl and I got really bad pains in my right side, it was so awful. I could hardly walk or drive. The pain eased off that evening but the next day I had very bad cramps in my stomach and went to my gp. On the way back I started to bleed lightly but that was the beginning of it really. I went to EPU [Early Pregnancy Unit] and scan couldn't confirm anything, back the next morning and a more detailed scan showed the pregnancy was in my right tube.

This time round I was only 6 wks but I really had zero symptoms, zero pregnancy symptoms or EP symptoms. I had an early scan booked for last Tuesday 8th November and they thought they could see a very small empty sac in my womb. So they took bloods and sent me home. EPU phoned last Wednesday morning and said to come back down for another scan as soon as I could that the hcg levels were at 3900 and at that stage they should be able to see something. So down we went, myself, dh and 3 children really expecting the best (but really deep down I knew it wasn't looking good). By the time I got there I had a very very mild pain on the left, low down in my pelvis. Two sonographers both scanned me internally and both confirmed that the womb was empty and that perhaps there was something in my left tube - I was deemed a mystery because I really didn't have any symptoms at all. The nurse in the EPU insisted to the doctor that I had to stay in the hospital as I live over an hour away - so they found me a bed and booked me in for laparoscopy that night, hoping to have me down in theatre by 9pm

How was your experience with the doctors?
Back in 2006 It was all very sudden, straight down to theatre, laparoscopy done, pregnancy and tube removed and sent home the next day. While the nurses where lovely I really just felt like I was rushed home.
This time round in 2011 - Pretty much like the first experience or rush, shock and fear, but I really couldn't have gotten any better care. From the nurse in the EPU who insisted I was kept in, to the doctors, to the surgeons, consultants, and nurses they really took care of me and looked after me really well.

How were you treated? (surgery, MTX)
In 2006 I was straight in for surgery. They did laparoscopy to remove my tube which by that point was rupturing. The healing time was much quicker, I was physically healed in just over a week. Emotionally was harder work. It really did take me months. As at that time they told me there was some damage to my left tube and my conception chances naturally where about 5% and IVF where probably the only other way for us. For months I really couldn't come to terms with that. But 8 months after I conceived my first son (I already had a daughter thank God for her) and then went on to have a second son.
2011 they presumed it would just be a "simple" laparoscopy - down and back in an hour is what the surgeon told my husband. When in fact when they took me down (at 7pm) and did the laparoscopy they discovered my tube had already ruptured and I was  bleeding into my pelvis (and I really only had a very mild pain) also the pregnancy was embedded into my ovary too that they had to do abdominal surgery - and cut about 7-8cm but the whole procedure took just over 2 hours.

Can you tell us a bit about your emotions, family support (if shared) etc?
God the emotions!! The first time round I really couldn't get my head around it at all. I went through it all I suppose. From feeling like a failure because I couldn't' even "get pregnant properly" to "was it my fault, did I do something wrong", to anxiety, even though I already had a child all I wanted more than anything was to be pregnant again. I soldiered on with the support of my wonderful husband and came to terms with it all, and thankfully went on to have 2 more beautiful children.
This time round, at the moment I really don't even know how I am feeling to be honest. It was only one week ago - so I really don't think it has sunk in. I have a lot going around in my head. On one hand I am so thankful to already be blessed with 3 great children, but I cant really even imagine that I will probably (unless ivf, which is not 100%) never be pregnant again, never have a baby growing inside of me, have that newborn feeling in the house. It is crazy really, as this baby was to be our "last" one. My family have been out of this world, my friends have been great and plenty of help from everyone. I also have in my head "oh my god I could have died", a feeling I never thought about the first time round. I suppose the first time my tube was rupturing in the hospital where as this time it had ruptured and I was bleeding internally. I really shudder to think of the what if's, what if they took more bloods and sent me home. My husband at the moment is really only thinking of this and I really wish he wouldn't beat himself up over it. We just need to keep talking to each other and making sure we are both OK emotionally.

What happened since your ectopic pregnancy?
Since 2006 and loosing my first tube a lot went on. We signed our names for inter country adoption also decided we would give ivf a try. The week before our first meeting with the consultant I found out I was pregnant again, which was a successful one, and in August 07 out popped my beautiful son. When he was 10 months we said "sure lets try again, it might take ages, it might never happen lets just see". Two months later I was pregnant again :) In April 2009 my next little fella was born.
So I am so lucky to have 3 great kids.
It has only been one week since my last ectopic and not much has happened other than thanking God to be alive, have my husband and my children. I may never have another so I am taking my blessings where I can I suppose. The next few months might be a bit of a roller-coaster but I'll take each day at a time for now.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Meet Niamh!

Niamh is our first featured story! Thank you Niamh, we really hope this will get the ball rolling!

What type of ectopic pregnancy did you experience? 
The EP was in my left tube. It happened last month (October 2011)

What were your symptoms?
I was 6 weeks pregnant on my 2nd pregnancy and had just been to my GP to confirm when I started to get spotting and bad pains. They weren't on one particular side, just a strong pressure pain very low down. After 2 days I realised they weren't going away and went to the hospital. I had an internal scan and they saw an ectopic pregnancy in my left tube.

How was your experience with the doctors?
I found the doctors (and nurses and all staff in the hospital) amazing. I was diagnosed straight away. I hate hospitals but they made me feel so at ease, and as if I was the most important person in the hospital.

How were you treated? (surgery, MTX)
I had both. The ectopic pregnancy was seen on the internal scan and the doctor on duty wanted to do follow up blood tests to confirm, as the pain subsided and I was stable so they didn't need to act immediately. 3 days after my scan the blood tests confirmed what was suspected on the scan. The doctor wanted to admit me straight away and prepare me for surgery the following day, as the level of hcg was just over the recommended level for the mtx injection. However the doctor on duty the following day felt it was worthwhile trying the injection,. I was relieved but still very anxious. I went home a couple of hours after the injection and the following day I went out for lunch as a distraction. After lunch I started getting the pain again. Within a few minutes I was in agony and barely made it to the car. We rushed back into the hospital where I was scanned as I squirmed around the bed, and they could see fluid in my abdomen. Within minutes I was surrounded by doctors and nurses and rushed into surgery where I lost my left tube and my baby.

Can you tell us a bit about your emotions, family support (if shared) etc?
I was surprised at how quickly I recovered from the physical pain of surgery but the emotional pain will be with me for a long time. We told our families and friends after it had happened as I felt I needed the support and everyone was great. Although after surgery the emphasis was on my physical recovery rather than emotional and I do feel like they dont understand what I am going through. I never thought something like this would happen me. I am getting through it by thinking positively and rather than looking at it as losing a baby I look at it that I have gained an angel who will always look over us. I am very anxious about becoming pregnant again. It was such a scary experience that I never want to be in a position where it could happen again, but it did only happen a month ago so I am sure my feelings will change.

What happened since your ectopic pregnancy?
It only happened a month ago, so I'm slowly but surely getting back to normal.