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Rosie’s story: an ectopic pregnancy

Rosie shares her experience of an ectopic pregnancy. She talks about her feelings and her worries for her future fertility.

I was feeling a range of conflicting emotions all at once. Sadness for the loss of a baby I already had hopes and dreams for. Angry that we were so unlucky. Relieved that the operation had saved my life... Scared for the future.

I know that a lot of people feel numb after a traumatic event, but it was the complete opposite for me.

When I came round from the emergency surgery following my ectopic pregnancy diagnosis, my mind was racing and, despite being exhausted, I couldn’t sleep.

I was feeling a range of conflicting emotions all at once.

Sadness for the loss of a baby I already had hopes and dreams for. Angry that we were so unlucky. Relieved that the operation had saved my life. Grateful to live in a country with free accessible healthcare. Scared for the future.

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant, we were so excited. We’d been trying for a couple of months and told our closest family members straight away.

In my seventh week of pregnancy though, on a normal Sunday afternoon, I suddenly started experiencing excruciating pain in the right side of my abdomen.

Since this was my first pregnancy, I wasn’t entirely sure what symptoms were normal, but the pain was severe and my gut immediately told me that something was wrong.

We rushed to A&E, where we waited for six hours to be seen and for a scan appointment to be booked for two days’ time.

I was so confused. How could they leave me in so much pain for 48 hours? Why couldn’t they check me immediately and why did no one else seem to feel the urgency I felt? Did this mean that everything was probably OK with our baby?

The next 48 hours were horrendous. I was in so much pain, unable to take any strong pain relief due to my pregnancy, and we were back and forward to the hospital, only to be told to wait for our scan. I was barely sleeping or eating and couldn’t work.

The day of the scan came and we were relieved to finally be getting some answers. I could tell by the sonographer’s face immediately that something was wrong. She told us the bad news, that I’d suspected for two days, that the baby had been growing in my right fallopian tube and I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.

She also told me she could see a lot of blood, that the tube had likely ruptured, and I would need emergency surgery immediately to save my life.

The next hour was a blur of tears, serious faces and medical jargon. I was rushed to a hospital bed, where my bloods were taken and a cannula fitted. A surgeon soon attended my bedside to explain the procedure, highlighting the dangers but stressing my situation was life threatening and urgent.

I was then rushed into theatre, where my right fallopian tube and my baby were removed, and the 1.5 pints of blood I had lost were attended to.

Looking back now, I think this time period was most challenging for my husband. Whilst I was oblivious and undergoing surgery, he was phoning our closest family and friends to break the news and waiting to see if his wife would be OK.

The morning after the operation I was running on very little sleep. I felt physically and emotionally drained and couldn’t stop crying.

The doctors visited my bedside before I was discharged to discuss my operation and recovery. It was at this point they advised me that, during the operation, they’d taken a look at my remaining left fallopian tube and felt that it didn’t look completely healthy and may make conceiving naturally again difficult. They couldn’t be certain, but wanted to advise me. This was probably the hardest thing to hear after everything I’d already been through.

In the following days and weeks I spent time recovering at home with my loved ones. At first I was very emotional and sore, but I was surprised how quickly I recovered physically and how, with the support of my husband, family and friends, I was also able to move forward emotionally too.

I am now hoping to gain some clarity on our fertility future. I understand that healthcare resources are stretched, but I don’t believe it is enough to speak with someone for a few minutes the morning after their emergency surgery and then send them home with no follow ups. I would like to speak to a specialist in more detail to understand our options and the safest way to move forward.

I hope that by sharing my story I can help someone else to feel less alone. It’s still early days for me, so I don’t have all the answers, but my advice would be trust your gut if you think something is wrong, push to be seen urgently and make sure you give yourself the time and space to recover.

If you feel able to, talk openly about what you’ve gone through – there is nothing to be ashamed of and we need to break the stigma associated with discussing pregnancy loss, as silence will only make you feel more alone. The first few conversations will be difficult and emotional, but I have found that openly sharing my experience has been the best way to heal and push forward.

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