Susanne's Story

Growing up, I always thought that by the age of 30 I’d be married with at least one child. I have always loved children, there was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted at least 2. I met my husband in June 2001. We got married in June 2007, when I was 27, and I seemed to be on track with my “plan”. So one day in January 2008 we decided to “see what happens”. I’d stopped taking the pills a few years earlier for a number of reasons, so by that time my cycle was back to normal. I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant the first month, so when I got my period, I wasn’t that disappointed. About 2 weeks later though, I started spotting, on and off. Then I started getting horrible shooting pains in my lower back – it felt like a needle prick, and it nearly made me jump out of my chair. When I got really bad cramps one day, I decided to get myself to the doctor. After asking me loads of questions, my GP did a pregnancy test – it was positive. Although I was thrilled, I didn’t allow myself to get too excited – it was clear to me that something wasn’t quite right. My GP referred me to the Early Pregnancy Unit and I had a scan there a few days later. However, even with an internal scan, they couldn’t find anything and I was sent home “at risk of miscarrying”, told to rest and asked to come back 3 days later. I felt frustrated – I knew in my heart that something wasn’t right – I knew I wasn’t going have this baby, and not knowing for sure was the worst bit. How I got through those few days I don’t know. I was trying to think positive, but somehow I knew. So when I went back for the second scan and they eventually found the ectopic pregnancy, I was just relieved to know. It was 4cm big already and hidden behind my left tube. My husband was with me, the doctors explained everything and I had the laparoscopy that evening. The following day I was allowed to go home. Physically I recovered well, I had instructions how to clean the stitches, and a small leaflet with a bit of information.
We started trying again as soon as we could. Now that I knew what I could have had, I was desperate to get pregnant. My sister in law was pregnant, her bump was growing, and I was dreaming of having our kids grow up together. Month after month passed, and nothing happened. I tried acupuncture, bought ovulation kits – every month going through the emotions: trying on the “right days”, then the hoping and praying, and watching out for every little twitch. Then the disappointment when my period arrived. To talk about an emotional rollercoaster is an understatement. Everyone around me seemed to get pregnant all of a sudden.
Then, in February 2009, I was late – I was trying not to get excited, but in the end I bought a test. It was positive. We were thrilled. We were going to have our baby. My GP referred me to the Early Pregnancy Unit for an early scan, just to be sure everything was ok. I was convinced everything was fine – I had none of the complaints I’d had the year before. Still, it was the longest 4 weeks of my life. We went for the scan on the 11th of March. That was the day our whole life changed. When the doctor told me it was another ectopic pregnancy, I just screamed and broke down. I was nearly 9 weeks gone, and I knew there was little chance that my remaining tube could be saved. It was my worst nightmare. I kept thinking “this can’t be right, this can’t be right”. The doctor was great though. She gave us a few minutes to let everything sink in and then she started talking about our options - IVF. In the end, I just wanted to get the operation over with and get home. We were both devastated, but I knew I had to accept things as they were. I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. The Hospital offered a free counselling service and I took advantage of that. It was a great help. I also wrote a diary. My family were absolutely amazing. I don’t know what I would have done without them. Having another ectopic pregnancy was my worst nightmare, and if someone had told me what was going to happen, I wouldn’t have thought that I’d get through it. But I did. Every day it got a little bit better. I’m not saying it was easy, because it wasn’t  – especially with a colleague pregnant and due the same day I would have been due. When I came into work one day - a few weeks after she’d gone on maternity leave – to find emails with pictures of her baby in my inbox I just broke down in the middle of the office.
But somehow you just cope. We were very open about it from the start – family, friends, work, they all know, and we found that it made it easier and avoided getting asked potentially upsetting questions – the kind of questions people tend to ask when you’ve been married a while.
We took a bit of a break from it all after the second ectopic and finally in May 2010 year we started our first IVF cycle. I was put on the short protocol with blastocyst transfer, meaning straight into the stimulation injections. It was a textbook cycle – my ovaries responded well to the stimulation, and I had 12 eggs collected, 9 fertilised and by transfer day, the 28th May, we had 6 blastocysts – one was transferred, 5 frozen. Another 2 were frozen the next day. So the dreaded 2 week wait started. The first week was ok, I tried not to think about it too much. Then 9 days after transfer I started spotting. The next day it had turned into a bleed. I did a test anyway and it was negative. We were devastated. We rang the clinic who told us just to book for a review when we were ready. So we got over the fact that the cycle hadn’t worked and decided to go again as soon as we could. However, a week and a half after the negative test, I was still spotting, more brown than red, but enough for me to be concerned. I rang the clinic and they advised me to test again if I was worried. I tested again 3 weeks after transfer and it was positive. Immediately I was worried it was another ectopic, as the symptoms (bleeding, then brown spotting) were similar to those on my first ectopic. The next 2 weeks we were in and out of the hospital for blood tests. Initially they were rising normally, and a scan showed a “shadow” in the womb. But the spotting had turned into bleeding again and I wasn’t convinced. After the 3rd blood test in a week I was told my hormone levels were falling and that I was miscarrying. But something told me that it was not as simple as that. The clinic referred me to the Early Pregnancy Unit. The doctor scanned me, she didn’t say anything at first, just kept looking at the scan. Then she asked “So, what’s your feeling on this, what do you think?” My answer was that I was hoping it was a “straight forward miscarriage” – she paused, looked at the scan again and shook her head. That’s when I knew – I had been right all along and it was ectopic again. I couldn’t believe it.
The doctor wasn’t 100% sure about it, so they took my bloods and told me to come back the next day for another scan. The blood test confirmed it and this time it was very clearly visible on the scan too – my little blastocyst had attached itself to the stump of my right tube.
Luckily I had the option of methotrexate on this occasion – I just couldn’t face more surgery. I got the injection that afternoon. A few days later I ended up in A&E with extremely bad pains, but thankfully a scan showed no rupture. Pain is normal after methotrexate, but needs to be checked out as there is still a chance that the ectopic will rupture. A week after the injection, after a blood test, I got confirmation that it had worked, my hormone levels had fallen dramatically – finally a bit of good news (under the circumstances).
At our review with the clinic in August it was decided that the remainder of my tubes would be clipped back to reduce the chances of another embryo being able to migrate. The procedure was done in September.
We tried again in November, but unfortunately that cycle failed, so we decided to give ourselves a break and it was June 2011 before we tried again. This time it felt different from the start, and on the 10th of July 2011 we got a positive pregnancy test. I rang the clinic straight away to arrange blood tests, and a scan at 5 weeks showed a perfect pregnancy sac in the womb. 2 weeks later another scan showed us the heartbeat. The relief was immense, but the first 3 months were tense. But week after week passed, appointment after appointment showed everything was going to plan. Being able to tell the world that we were finally expecting a baby (which we did after our booking in appointment at 13 weeks) was one of the best days ever.
I was lucky and had a really easy pregnancy, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
The last few weeks of the pregnancy my blood pressure was up, so I was induced 4 days before my due date. The induction failed and I ended up with a c-section, but the moment our little baby girl arrived was just overwhelming. It’s true what they say – when you finally hold your baby in your arms, everything else just falls away.

We are married 5 years now – so much happened in those 5 years. We will never forget the babies we lost, the heartbreak we went through, but we came out the other side. It made me stronger, and I believe it made me a better person – it made me who I am now.