Saturday, 11 January 2014

The First Ectopic Pregnancy

It took me only a few months of trying before I got pregnant a second time. Knowing that I was able to move forward with my life after being stuck in medical limbo for so long was such a wonderful feeling. I was finally seeing light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

I had been taking pregnancy tests in the days leading up to what would have been my period, but each test was painfully negative. There was no line to be seen. On the day that my period was due, I took one last test in the hopes that I would see something but still nada. I put the test aside and got on with things, disappointed, but knowing that we would just have to try again.

A few hours later, I picked up the test to have another look, and low and behold, there was the faintest of faint lines to be seen. Shocked, I headed out and picked up a First Response pregnancy test to confirm my suspicions. This also gave me a faint positive!

I called my doctor straight away as he had told me that he wanted to closely monitor me the next time I got pregnant, and he sent me in for an hCG test. That came back at a level of 14 and my heart sank. I could tell that things didn't look great from the nurse's voice when she gave me the number over the phone. The level was too low for 4 weeks into a pregnancy. And from that point on, I told myself I wasn't going to get attached. I knew in my heart that this pregnancy probably wasn't going to make it and so I didn't even let myself calculate my due date. I couldn't bear the thought of counting down to another birthday that should have been.

My heart leaped however, when a second and third blood test over the following days showed appropriate doubling of  hCG levels, although they were still really low. I tried desperately not to get my hopes up, but when you're carrying something so precious, it is almost impossible not to get emotionally attached. 

Over the next 10 days or so, I would experience sharp pains in my abdomen. I was a little concerned, but a quick internet search showed that gas pains were very common in pregnant women, and so I didn't think too much about it.

At about 5 weeks, I had a small amount of spotting which then progressed into painful cramps on the left side of my abdomen, similar to the ones that I had when I had taken cytotec. I waited through the night and then went to the hospital to find out if I had miscarried. It was too early to do an ultrasound and so more blood was taken to see where my hCG levels were at. Surprisingly, they looked ok. The nurse told me not to worry and that bleeding in early pregnancy was common.

The bleeding tapered off, but over the next four or five days, the pain in my left side remained. It wasn't a terrible pain - hell, we moved house during those few days so it definitely wasn't crippling, but I just knew in the back of my mind that something wasn't right with this pregnancy. With the hCG numbers being so low and the fact that the pain was only on one side of my body, I was starting to get concerned. 

I finally decided to go to the ER. It was a public holiday and everything else was closed. After being there for 5 hours and having an ultrasound done, they determined that they couldn’t see a gestational sac in my uterus but that I had a lot of blood in my pelvic area. They were unable to see my left ovary on the ultrasound because of the amount of blood and it was decided that I had an ectopic pregnancy that had ruptured my left fallopian tube which had resulted in internal bleeding. Within an hour of that diagnosis, I was on the operating table.

I have never felt more incapacitated than I did after the surgery. My D&C was a cakewalk compared to that. Not surprising considering they cut three holes in my abdomen. Unfortunately, they were unable to save my fallopian tube and so it was removed.

I was released from hospital the next day. As I was wheeled out, I passed a very pregnant woman in her 20’s puffing away on a cigarette. I was totally shocked but it made me so angry as well. I wanted to go up to her and shake her and ask her if she knew how lucky she was? That she was able to get pregnant and have a successful pregnancy. And how many women would kill to be in her shoes?  Instead, I went home to grieve the loss of another baby.

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