I was pretty sure I was pregnant but as my husband Amit was away for work, I waited to share the test moment with him.
He was hardly in the door when I ran to the bathroom and took the test, running back to him to announce that I was pregnant. We’d been married for over a year and had recently decided to come off contraception, but we were fairly relaxed about it all and delighted I was pregnant so quickly.
Even at that early stage, I felt there was something unusual as I was experiencing some spotting. My doctor told me that spotting did sometimes occur in pregnancy and suggested that I be referred for an early scan.
The scan was booked for the following week and because it was so early in the pregnancy, it was carried out with a probe into the vagina.
The most vivid memory that I have is the staff staring at the screen in total silence. I suspected something was wrong and while I got dressed felt really foolish and wondered if I’d imagined being pregnant.
I was totally shocked – I’d never heard of ectopic pregnancies and it was hard to take in the information
The sonographers told me they suspected an ectopic pregnancy as there was a mass in my right Fallopian tube but were not 100% sure.
I was totally shocked – I’d never heard of ectopic pregnancies and it was hard to take in the information.
We were being told that the pregnancy wasn’t viable and was a life-threatening condition for me but found this confusing as I wasn’t in any pain. I was told my options were having a series of blood tests or exploratory surgery but I rejected surgery as I felt totally fine.
It was surreal. I was thinking everyone was behaving very strangely and why couldn’t I just go home? Every time a doctor approached me, I thought they were about to tell me they had got it wrong, that baby and I were both fine and I could go home.
I was in total denial until Amit and my sister made me realise that the doctors were serious about surgery, so I agreed.
It’s fortunate I did because I had ruptured, was haemorrhaging heavily and had lost a huge amount of blood yet all the time I had been feeling completely fine, had barely any symptoms and had absolutely no idea.
It’s frightening to think how seriously and dangerously unwell I was and had no clue, but my situation was relatively unusual and most women suffering an ectopic pregnancy have worse symptoms. I came out of surgery to be told all of this and that my affected Fallopian tube had been removed.
I was discharged a day or so later and, for the first week, I thought I was fine. My physical healing was ongoing, I was on pain relief and I was alive so I was doing ok – or so I thought.
I was devastated that we had lost our baby and couldn’t understand how Amit was carrying on almost as normal
It all came crashing down after that week when Amit went back to work. I felt utterly lost and alone. I didn’t know who to talk to or how and didn’t trust my body. I had friends who’d gone through a miscarriage but didn’t know anyone who’d had an ectopic pregnancy.
I was devastated that we had lost our baby and couldn’t understand how Amit was carrying on almost as normal but I didn’t realise then was that he was deeply thankful that I was alive. He had been petrified of losing me. I, meanwhile, couldn’t get through my anger and grief.
I saw a poster for an organisation that provides support to women who have lost a pregnancy and phoned their helpline and cried and cried.
They put me in touch with The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust and I read every page on its website and every single story on the forum. I sat in my pyjamas with a cup of tea every morning for hours.
That became my routine and it was my lifeline. I asked questions on the forum and craved positive stories of women managing to get through their grief and being able to conceive. It was my constant question – “Have you had children?”
Grief like that is so emotionally debilitating but it doesn’t have a timeframe and coming to terms with that loss is immense.
Recovering from emergency surgery is hard in itself but after a few weeks generally most women are able to go about their day-to-day lives from a physical perspective. But emotionally, it’s different.
There are no “shoulds” or “musts”. It is a deeply personal journey and each woman has her own path. I felt utterly broken like a china doll and vulnerable in a way I’d never felt before.
I was heartbroken over our loss, angry about what had happened and anxious about the future. It seemed like Amit was going on ahead of me and it took a lot of painful discussion to realise he was also mourning the loss of our baby but had also dealt with a fear I hadn’t really processed– the possibility of losing me too.
Our intimacy was always an important part of our relationship and, as before, decided not to try actively to conceive again.
The idea of physical intimacy itself was nerve-wracking. We followed the EPT’s information regarding waiting two proper menstrual cycles before trying again to allow for physical and emotional healing.
An experience like an ectopic pregnancy has a huge impact on subsequent pregnancies
When we discovered a few months later that I was pregnant again, I burst into tears with a mixture of joy, relief and fear and that fear continued not just until our son was born safely, but until he was about one-year-old.
An experience like an ectopic pregnancy has a huge impact on subsequent pregnancies – it is no longer a carefree time and it’s hard to relax.
When we decided to try again for a sibling for our son, I had an early miscarriage which brought its own pain.
When I conceived for the fourth time, I had pain at around six or seven weeks which was frightening because of everything that I had already been through.
When I went for the early scan, I was reassured that all was fine, but again, I don’t think I relaxed until our second son was born safely.
The boys are now seven and four and they are our world. We feel our family is complete – I’m one of two children and so is Amit so this was always our perfect number – but we could never have imagined what we would go through to have our children.
I volunteered with The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust at first and took over as Director four-and-a-half years ago.
I’m so often asked – as I asked myself – if I went on to have children and I’m so grateful that I can say yes, not just for us, but I know I can give others hope.
The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust – ectopic.org.uk
The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust provides information, education and support to those affected by ectopic pregnancy and to the health professionals who care for them. It ensures women and their families leave hospital with relevant information and have someone to talk to about their trauma.
Seek medical help immediately if you suspect you might have an ectopic pregnancy.
Munira Oza was talking to Joan McFadden