Monday 17 December 2012

Meet Ethna!

Ethna's experience is still so fresh, her pain is transpiring through her words. There is hope Ethna, we are glad writing this down helped you a bit, you are one strong lady and will come through this even stronger.

What type of ectopic pregnancy did you experience?
On November the 28th, the day after my four year old son's birthday I was admitted to hospital for emergency surgery and had my 7 week old baby and right Fallopian tube removed.

What were your symptoms?
I knew I was pregnant immediately. I had just experienced a miscarriage at 12 weeks in early September and while we had decided to wait and allow time to heal after that traumatic experience we were thrilled to discover I was pregnant again. I was naturally very nervous but was feeling great. Then I started having a lot of severe pain in my right side and back and some spotting. I rang the hospital over the weekend as with my recent history the midwife in the EPAU had told me to get in touch as soon as I knew I was pregnant again but particularly if I had pain. I was told to sit tight over the weekend and that I was better off at home than sitting down there. Looking back now, I'm so thankful that it didn't progress into a more serious situation. I was light headed and dizzy but by Monday my pain had disappeared and spotting stopped and I put it down to implantation bleeding but rang EPAU anyway and was told to come in on Wednesday. I was again feeling great. Myself and my husband packed up our two children and headed to the hospital, planning on going for a nice lunch and doing some Christmas shopping. My husband stayed in the car with the children as our 15 month old was asleep.

How was your experience with the doctor? And how were you treated?
I was waiting over an hour for my scan which was a very anxious time, given that last time we were there we were told our baby had died so I was very nervous but at the same time pretty confident everything was ok. When I was brought in I couldn't look at the screen. I just lay there looking at the ceiling hoping to God everything would be ok. In the initial scan they didn't find anything in the womb and even though the sonographer said the scan doesn't always show up so early, my heart sank and I knew something was wrong. They did an internal then and the pain came back like a dull ache creeping over me. The two nurses were very quiet and one was telling the other to take measurements etc but no words of reassurance. So I asked could they see anything. The nurse sat down beside me and started rubbing my arms, I was already crying. She told me that sadly what they were seeing was an ectopic pregnancy and that there was no way the baby could survive. I was devastated. I just thought life couldn't be that cruel. She asked would I like to see my baby and at first I said no but then asked to see and there was my tiny bean with a little heart beat. She then showed me my empty womb. I really just couldn't take it in. The last scan I'd had showed a dead baby in the right place and here I was looking at a strong, beating heartbeat just in the wrong place. I was convinced it was my own fault for getting pregnant so soon after my miscarriage but the nurse assured me the two were completely unrelated. I was really floored. She said I had internal bleeding and would need emergency surgery to remove my tube. I think that's when the real fear set in. I phoned my husband in tears but conscious he had our children with him and told him he needed to come in. When he did I took great comfort from seeing my children and knew I had to be strong so as not to frighten them. The doctor came in and explained the surgery and why they would take my tube and feeling like I was signing my life away, I signed the consent form and was admitted. After calculating my last meal, they said I'd have surgery at three. It was about lunchtime and I just couldn't believe the speed at which it all happened. The staff were so lovely and treated me and my family with great respect and dignity. After I was admitted I walked out to the car with my husband who was going to bring the kids to my mum's, pack a bag for me and come back. I thought about getting in the car and just going home with them, convinced everything would be fine but I knew I was in shock and in danger of being very ill and needed to go back. Walking into the hospital alone, knowing they were going to take away that flickering white heart beat was the hardest thing I've ever done.

Can you tell us a bit about your emotions, family support, if shared etc
I'm never really away from my children. I had a home birth with my daughter and am still breastfeeding her so knew physically she'd miss me but I was worried about my son. He'd left me at the hospital upset and I knew that would play on his mind. When I went back to my room I went into a kind of daze. I just lay there, not really feeling anything. Saying goodbye to my husband and being wheeled down to theatre when the time came was so sad. When I woke up I just wanted him and was calling for him. I was brought back to my room and rested with him beside me holding my hand. I was in my own room but on the maternity ward and the sound of the tiny newborn babies crying broke my heart. I lay there thinking I've two dead babies now and all I wanted was to hold one. I was very confused, very hurt and very angry. I didn't sleep much, just wept huge heart wrenching tears one minute and then I'd be completely calm the next.

I spent two nights in hospital and since coming home I've gotten fantastic support, my mum took my son to preschool and collected him everyday for a week so I didn't even have to get dressed, just lit the fire most days and stayed cuddled up with my daughter. My children are what get me up in the morning. And even though I take great comfort in them it also saddens me as I know another little baby would be so loved and would grow into an amazing little person just like their big brother and sister, so the enormity of what I'm missing out on hits me a lot.
I have good days and bad but overall I know that when the hurt and anger subside I'll be a better mother because I truly know just how precious my babies are. I also have wonderful family and friends, who have listened and cried with me, both now and over the past few months. I rely on my husband and although initially very angry with him ( I'm not sure why) I know we'll get through all the horribleness together.

What has happened since? 
It's still very raw for us. I was brought back into hospital with severe pains and bleeding 9 days after surgery but thankfully after more scans everything appears fine. Today was my first pain free day and myself and my husband went for lunch and spent some time out together. It felt good putting on lipstick! I was devastated to hear from the hospital that my baby won't be coming home. After my miscarriage we made a beautiful little garden for the children and we buried that baby there and I really wanted to be able to do the same for this baby so that when I close my eyes at night I know we are all close by. The hospital said that my baby was so tiny there is nothing for them to give me. I'm angry at that and confused as I saw my baby on screen but I'm just going to have to accept it and in time we'll do something special to mark this sad time and say goodbye.

My biggest concern now is for the future. I've gone from having two perfect pregnancies, births and children to having two very traumatic pregnancies ending in emptiness and sadness. I always wanted a big family but now I'm worried that something like this could happen again and I'm not sure I could deal with the heartache. I need time to heal, I know that and hopefully down the line we'll see how things go. I'm thankful to yourselves for giving me this space to share and grieve and for the beautiful tea light holder to remember my jelly bean x

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