Trigger warning: This article contains information about pregnancy loss which may be distressing to some readers.
I found out I was pregnant on Good Friday. I had been off the pill for nearly six months and was suffering from self diagnosed post contraceptive pill amenorrhea. I was taking a Vitex supplement (Chaste Tree) and a Milk Thistle liver detox trying to get my periods back and then suddenly in early April it arrived with terrible cramps. Or so I thought. (There had been a bit of spotting in March but not enough to make me believe it was a period).
My husband suggested I take a pregnancy test the night before Good Friday. I was drinking a beer and told him not to be ridiculous, because I’d been bleeding all that week. It seemed to be a feast or a famine with my periods. But the next morning his words were still with me and two blue lines came up on the test. I posted a photo on Facebook of the sunset that evening with the caption “Tis a Good Friday”. That post was deleted a few days later, as I dreaded how Facebook would remind me a year later that it wasn’t good at all in the end.
I’m a planner, always have been. I ordered a pregnancy book online, looked at maternity clothes in H&M, drank my first and last decaf coffee. Begged my husband to name a son after my dad. Thought about returning the size 8 clothes I had just bought. Although miscarriage had been mentioned and I was still bleeding, I chose not to hear it.
My sister had recurrent miscarriages (along with three healthy pregnancies) and I always had the fear I would have similar problems to her. Even if I was lucky enough to get pregnant, I always had a small amount of paranoia it wouldn’t be a viable pregnancy. However, when I saw those two lines on the pregnancy test I thought it couldn’t possibly happen to the both of us. As awful as it sounds, I felt she had taken it for the team. What were the chances? For miscarriage, one in four apparently.
The pregnancy book has since been hidden by my husband on my request. He didn’t hide it very well, though. I know it’s in the spare bedroom.
My GP sent me straight to a maternity A&E on the Saturday. It didn’t help she couldn’t date the pregnancy as I hadn’t noted any periods. Bloods were taken, internals were done. The word ectopic was mentioned, as was miscarriage, but right then it was a waiting game. They told me to come back on Thursday, and they'd do a vaginal scan.
On the Sunday the cramping and bleeding was at its worst. When I saw clots on my sanitary towel, the tears began. The guilt of the beers on the Thursday eve, the cocktails in the Philippines the week before, the Pilates class I had done when I was cramping were very much present in my thoughts. There was no way I could wait until Thursday to find out if I was miscarrying. My husband and I went back to the A&E on Easter Monday and asked if I could get a blood test to see if my HCG levels had doubled in the last 48 hours (a sign of a viable pregnancy). One of the midwives called me “Little Miss Anxious” and I was told to do pregnancy yoga. She didn’t mean it in a nasty way, but I was right to be anxious. They had fallen and as the doctor delivered the news that I was “most likely having a miscarriage,” I saw the heartbreak on my husbands face. I was told again to come back on the Thursday and rule out an ectopic pregnancy.
I had to ring my mum in Ireland and tell her through tears that I was miscarrying. Waiting for her to wake up as I was eight hours ahead was awful. That day was quite surreal. I wasn’t quite sure what I was crying for. For most of it, I felt fine. Wasn’t it only 72 hours of feeling pregnant? I felt guilty for ruining mums Easter. I had seen how worried she had been through my sisters miscarriages, and I hated that I was doing it to her too.
I have been living in Australia for nearly five years. Mum and Dad were booked to arrive next December for the first time. If my calculating was correct the baby would have been due while they were here. Timing couldn’t have been better. I hadn’t considered that the fertilised egg had implanted in my right Fallopian tube.
UPDATE: Welcome back, Monz. A story about miscarriage. Post continues...
I told my husband not to come with me on the Thursday for the scan. I didn’t want that to be our first scan memory - it was supposes to be exciting like in the movies. I didn’t want him to see the emptiness on the screen. But there was something on the screen. I was shown a 25mm sac in my right tube. I let out a swear word as this Scottish midwife rubbed my knee and handed me a tissue. I was so annoyed when the sonographer turned the screen towards me and said, “Let me show you what I’m seeing”. Why on earth would he think I would want to see it? The sonographer talked about surgery, methotrexate injections or expectant management. I heard none of it as I cursed myself for telling my husband not to come. I was no longer fine, this changed things. I rang my mum and told her, “I didn’t think it could get any worse.” I got the train home while silent tears ran down my cheeks as the passengers sitting opposite me pretended not to see.
I was lucky the sac was small, my HCG levels were lowering. So after discussing it with my husband we decided to try expectant management.
I couldn’t find much on expectant management online so ordered a book ‘Ectopic Pregnancy’ by Claudia Gordon. I didn’t know anyone personally who had been through it.
Now, I’ve talked about it openly with family, friends and work colleagues. My husband has been my rock. I couldn’t imagine going through this pretending I wasn’t. There seems to be this awful taboo surrounding miscarrying and ectopic pregnancies. I didn’t want to be secretive about it, to be ashamed. I hoped talking about it would be therapeutic. And it has been.
My “Pregnancy” Pinterest board was deleted. I no longer needed to pin articles on food I couldn’t eat while pregnant. A new “Ectopic Pregnancy” board was created. I found it useful to pin articles or support pages that I could go back and read at a later date when my head was in a better place.
I wonder sometimes what emotions I'm feeling. I didn’t know I was pregnant for long, so surely I’m not grieving for a baby?
A best friend compared my grief to hers when she lost her mum. But I felt like such a fraud. How dare I belittle her grief with something that wasn’t even a foetus? I’m so confused. What am I crying for? Why are my cheeks wet most nights before I fall asleep? Am I just grieving for what could have been?
For me, expectant management is a waiting game. These are my symptoms but I can only presume it’s not the same for everyone. Expectant management is when the body naturally absorbs the embryo. There is bleeding but nothing like a miscarriage. I have to be monitored weekly with blood tests, making sure my HCG levels are decreasing. There is always a risk of rupture and haemorrhage but if your doctor thinks you’re at low risk it seems like the better option.
It’s the waiting that’s the most frustrating. I thought my hormones levels would return to zero in a matter of days. On Monday I go back for my seventh week, hoping again it will be at zero. Knowing deep down that it won’t be. The hormones that have come along with it have been awful. Tears, anger, highs that have been short lived. Headaches, fatigue, nausea, the paranoia that every time my right side cramps that my tube is rupturing. My skin has also broken out big time so on top of everything else I look like a spotty teenager!
My cousin had her first baby two weeks after I found out my pregnancy was ectopic. I knew it was coming, I was happy for her, (I am happy for her), and I prepared myself for the news. As soon as I woke up to a text from my mum that the baby had arrived, I ordered a parcel online. Looking back I think I was over compensating, my quick online ordering was screaming, “I’m so happy for you, I’m ok with this, I’m FINE! I’m so FINE I even bought a present”. I don’t resent her in any way. However I don’t think I was fine as I cried on the bus on the way to work that morning.
Libby Trickett on miscarrying. Post continues...
Everybody is telling me to give my body and mind a break and not to try again too soon. My doctor says I have to wait at least one cycle. The problem is I’m extremely impatient. I need to know if it’s going to happen again.
Ectopic pregnancies can be extremely serious. Women can lose tubes, or even their lives. I do believe people need to be aware of the symptoms. Had I not done that pregnancy test I would have believed it was just a bad period. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, bloating, vaginal bleeding and shoulder tip pain. I’m no doctor I’m just telling my story. Trust your gut and don’t be ashamed if you think you’re being “Little Miss Anxious”.
If this has post raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.