Sunday, 27 May 2018

Ectopic Pregnancy - My Experience




I’ve been away from Instagram and my blog for a few weeks and haven’t felt like posting much. I’m trying to get back to normality so will be talking all about beauty again soon, but before I do I want to briefly explain the reason for my absence.

Initially I wasn’t sure whether to be open about what’s been going on as it’s very personal. It’s not really the kind of topic I would usually write about on here but I feel it’s important I share my story. I think it’s good to speak openly about pregnancy loss. It’s something that people don’t always talk candidly about, understandably so, but I have found so far that talking is helping me make sense of what’s happened and allows me to deal with it in a healthy way rather than bottling things up. I’m hoping this may also help others who are going through or have gone through something similar so they know they are not alone. My reason for sharing certainly isn’t to scare anyone or worry you if you are in the early stages of pregnancy, but more to highlight the condition as it’s not really something I contemplated when finding out I was pregnant.

To cut a long story short I found out last Bank Holiday Monday that I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. This is where the egg implants in the Fallopian tube and the fetus grows there, eventually rupturing the tube and causing internal bleeding if not discovered early. Which is sadly what happened to me. It’s extremely dangerous and I am annoyed with myself that I ignored some symptoms that I maybe should have got checked out. I feel guilty for not being diligent but at the same time I’d never gone through anything like this, so didn’t know what to look out for. Next time I will not hesitate to ask questions and get something checked out if I have a gut instinct or feel something isn’t right, and I would urge anyone else to do the same.

From the point of knowing I was pregnant I was massively bloated and looked around 4/5 months pregnant which was strange for me. I put it down to normal pregnancy symptoms but I was very uncomfortable and sore if my stomach was pressed. I remember my (very small) dog jumped on me one evening and I nearly cried from the pain! It’s important to note though I had absolutely no bleeding whatsoever. Obviously if I had then I would have immediately got it checked. I guess the absence of blood made me think everything was fine.

The Saturday previous to going into hospital I had started getting stretching, pulling cramps on my right side which again I ignored despite them being persistent. I just didn’t feel it was necessary to get it checked out, and I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time as I wasn’t in a great deal of pain. That was until around 2am on the Monday, I woke with horrendous cramps on my right side. I spent about 4hrs at home writhing around, I could barely move or walk without wanting to pass out. Jonny (my husband) thought I needed a shit and kept trying to feed me smoothies to ‘get me going’! He was in denial of what was happening and I was too much in pain and vomiting to even know what to do with myself. I just knew I needed to get to hospital. Eventually Jonny realised that things weren’t good and called our parents so they could come and sit with Charlie (our son) while we went.

When I arrived in A&E I passed out immediately, I don’t remember being lifted onto a bed but I wasn’t out for long. Upon coming around they informed us I was in critical condition, they believed I was bleeding heavily internally and would need emergency surgery. I really wanted them to scan me to check if their diagnosis was accurate but there was no time. I was worried that if it wasn’t that I’d lose the baby anyway because of the operation. Unfortunately, I was in such a bad way I had no choice, I was so panicked and scared as they explained to me the risks and what was happening. There wasn’t much time to think all that much to be honest but I was shaking like a leaf. They could barely get a needle in my veins as they had started to shut down so worrying about dying did cross my mind as I said goodbye to Jonny. They also said that because of how quickly they needed to operate the anaesthetic may not fully work at the beginning so I may remember/feel certain aspects of the operation. Of course this only petrified me further!

Luckily a wonderful consultant and team operated on me very quickly, and the NHS nurses who helped me before and after surgery were nothing short of amazing. I now have a whole new level of respect for the services they provide. I’d never been in a situation where I had needed them so urgently, and it was the first time I’ve ever been under general anaesthetic, so had no idea what to expect. I was in sheer panic but they tried to calm me and keep things positive. Their kindness and care throughout my stay in hospital was everything. I think it’s so easy to overlook the good they do and it’s rare to hear about how wonderful the NHS is. We are truly lucky that we have it available to us for free in the UK.

The surgery was done via keyhole and a laparoscopy was performed to remove my right Fallopian tube. I had 4 blood transfusions in total in the end as I lost just over 2 litres of blood. After surgery the pain was intense and I was extremely sore, I had morphine which certainly helped but it made me so sleepy and foggy. I stopped with that quite quickly and they moved me onto codeine and ibuprofen. If I tried to move, even to lift a book or magazine it was painful but it did get easier day by day. Around day 3 I managed to sit on the side of the bed with help. It felt like such a huge achievement! Day 4 I gradually started to stand (bent over but still standing!) and walked a few steps with help. They said I couldn’t go home unless I started moving so I was determined to get going!

3 weeks on I’m moving around with ease and my cuts aren’t painful anymore. My stomach is still tender if pressed too hard and I tend to ache more or feel pain if I walk for too long or attempt something strenuous, but I almost feel back to myself physically. I had dissolvable stitches which take ages to disappear so they are still in place. I’m still very bloated where they had to fill my stomach with air, apparently it can take around 5-6 weeks to improve so I’m just accepting it. Comfy clothes and big pants are all I’m living in at the moment!

The physical appearance of my 3 cuts are a constant reminder of what happened and that there is no new baby to override the pain with happiness, so find myself getting a bit upset and anxious when I look at them. But the surgeons did an amazing job and they are very neat, I’m adjusting to them and I know the scars will fade. In some ways though they are a reminder of how lucky I was so I can’t loathe them. They are part of me now.

As dramatic as it sounds (but true) I’m very thankful to be here. I’m well on the road to recovery, but I think it’s so easy to assume that despite looking well to others and gradually feeling better physically, there is still a mental battle that comes with losing a pregnancy. 

Fortunately, I had never experienced a pregnancy loss prior to this, but I have always sympathised with others who have gone through it, despite never really understanding how it must feel to be in that position. Obviously hoping I never would be

It’s still very early days so I can’t comment too much on how I’m dealing with it really but I’m choosing to try and think positively as much as I can. The quote ‘life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we deal with it’ really resonates with me. Despite this attitude I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m still very much coming to terms with the fact that my baby had to be removed from me or it would have killed me. The moment I came around from surgery knowing I was no longer pregnant was tough. Also knowing that it was developing correctly and healthily, just in the wrong place makes it even more difficult to comprehend.

Truthfully it has been much harder than I thought it would be. Not that I thought it would be easy but I just didn’t expect all the rollercoaster of emotions that have come with it. I often feel guilty, feeling like my body has failed me and I’ve let my loved ones down. I’m surprised at how quickly I can go from feeling fine to feeling crappy. It seems everywhere I turn I’m seeing new mums, pregnant ladies, babies etc. Anything relating to babies is painful at the moment but it’s not a bitterness I feel, more a sadness. I’m not hiding away from it though, I’m reassuring myself that it will get easier and I’m confident my time will come again. 

I’m trying not to be too hard on myself and I’m allowing myself to feel sad. I’m learning to embrace the times when I feel low and not feel bad for feeling that way. Initially I felt silly for feeling upset as I was only around 8 weeks pregnant, but of course it’s natural to start to plan the future in that short time and hope that all will be ok and that you will have a healthy baby. So, nothing really prepares you for what it feels like to lose that.

Thankfully I’ve had incredible support from my family and friends and that’s helped so much. I’ve made them aware that talking about it helps so I don’t want there to be any awkwardness. Jonny has been amazing and hasn’t shied away from the situation, allowing me to talk, vent and cry when needed. I’m very lucky but on the other hand he is also needing me while he goes through the grieving process as well. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own emotions you forget how others are feeling around you. 

It’s important to ride the wave so to speak, understand that good and bad days will happen but to recognise if you need help beyond the support your family and friends can provide. So far, I feel I’m coping, and dealing with it head on is helping. Taking each day as it comes and being honest with myself and others if I am feeling a bit wobbly, but I’m feeling positive for the future. Although the reason why it happened will always be unknown I was given a full MOT during surgery and told I should have no problems conceiving again, and more importantly having a healthy pregnancy. For that I am grateful.  

If you have had an ectopic pregnancy or any type of pregnancy loss then please feel free to use the comments section below to share your story. Also, if you have any questions further to this please ask, don’t feel afraid! I don’t want this to be a taboo subject. 

Thank you for reading xx

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