The Fear: Being Pregnant Again after an Ectopic Pregnancy
As I said I would, this post is about what happened to me after my ectopic pregnancy experience. I got pregnant again exactly 3 months after I had my ectopic pregnancy, on the first cycle that we tried to, in May 2012. This was unexpected and rather a shock to me; I hadn’t expected it to happen so soon. Which sounds a bit ridiculous when you have purposely tried to get pregnant! I guess I just didn’t think I would be that lucky. After coming to terms with what happened to me during that first experience of pregnancy, being pregnant again so soon filled me with excitement but more or less there was overriding fear that I would have another ectopic pregnancy.
As I said in my last post, when I was discharged from the EPU (Early Pregnancy Unit) once my HCG levels had lowered and then went, no-one ever said what to do if you got pregnant again. There appeared to be no follow-up or any check-up after an ectopic. I found this odd as I read up and you have more chance of having another ectopic if you have already had one. I was very lucky in that I did not have a fallopian tube removed and that I was treated with methotrexate. However this came with added worries for me. They told me not to get pregnant for at least 3 months after having methotrexate due to it being a very strong drug that affects every cell in your body – including egg cells. Getting pregnant before the drug has left your body could mean deformities in the fetus. Therefore when I got pregnant literally 13 weeks after having the medication, I was not only terrified that it would be another ectopic, but also that I could have inadvertently caused deformities by getting pregnant too soon.
I had a feeling I was pregnant again even before I took the test. I purposely didn’t take the test immediately though as I was afraid and also I didn’t want to find out too soon and have a very long wait ahead of me. I felt better being in the dark for a while. However curiosity got the better of me and I found out I was officially pregnant when I was about 5 weeks. I was happy of course that things were positive but I had an overwhelming anxiety and I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I tried my best to carry on as normal. This time things were different from the very beginning. This was encouraging – namely, I hadn’t bled at all and had missed a period, and I was also feel nauseous and tired. However this didn’t stop me checking every 5 minutes that I wasn’t bleeding and every twinge, ache or stomach rumble made me worried. I was becoming neurotic and anxious so much so that I felt I couldn’t go forward without knowing for certain whether or not the pregnancy was in the right place. I was terrified of suddenly collapsing with another ectopic.
I booked an appointment with my GP and I couldn’t see her until I was 7 weeks pregnant. It was the same GP I had seen before so she knew my history. I explained how anxious I was and how I was feeling worried about whether or not this was an ectopic. By this time I was starting to feel like I couldn’t breathe at times (which I think was panic taking over me) and I was tearful and upset. I was shocked when the GP told me that the EPU did not routinely check women who had an ectopic previously and the only way I could get a scan was if I was having pains or bleeding. It seems crazy to me that the EPU would not provide a reassurance scan especially if the woman has already had an ectopic pregnancy – all it would take is a scan to reassure the pregnancy was in the right place. In my mind I felt able to deal with whatever outcome the pregnancy may come to; other than an ectopic. With an ectopic there is a very real risk to your life if you do not get treatment sooner rather than later – I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t follow women up who had experienced this – especially those who had to have surgery for example.
Anyway my GP was great and I had blood tests and an ECG, and she wrote me a referral for the EPU explaining my anxieties and querying abdominal pain/tenderness (which was a little exaggeration really). However I was desperate to know and going out of my mind – I had to find out or else I would be living in fear for another 4 weeks and I wasn’t sure my mind could handle that.
So there I was again at the EPU, waiting with everyone else. I felt so sorry for the people there and I did feel bad I was there, more positive than I had been before, when there were others there that were really suffering. One woman actually collapsed waiting to be seen. However that just reinforced in my mind how badly I needed to know so that could get help and support if needed. This time the clinic was over-running badly and in the end a group of us had to go up to the ultrasound dept and wait to be seen there. In total I think I waited about 4 hours that day to be seen, which was agony.
When my turn finally came, I was a nervous wreck but at least this time I knew the drill. I had another internal scan and the relief flooded over me when the sonographer told me that the baby was in the right place, in the womb, and that there was a heartbeat. I could see that my partner was relieved, although he had reassured me all along that everything would be OK this time. Just knowing this information helped me enormously. I knew I could face this and start being cautiously optimistic about the future, knowing I wasnt going to have another ectopic pregnancy.
I was then able to book my appointment with the midwives, book in with them, and start looking forward to the next scan. However in the back of my mind was always the fear that the methotrexate may have caused damage. Although I was taking the extra strength folic acid as recommended.
I was surprised that there was no follow-up or reassurance scans for women who have had an ectopic. This may just be something that happens in my area, but I think it is really important, both physically and mentally, to have this. How could I trust my body again after it had got it so wrong last time? Having that scan meant I knew things were OK and I could carry on at work, and at home.
I think as my first experience of pregnancy had been anything but normal, I did find it hard to relax and enjoy the pregnancy and at every stage I have been worried or anxious that something would happen. I don’t think this anxiety will ever really go away until I have the baby in my arms. It has affected how I have been and felt through pregnancy – I didn’t tell people at work until I was 20 weeks pregnant and I didn’t start buying things or taking photos of the bump until I was over 20 weeks. Every appointment I have I feel anxious and worried, although this pregnancy has gone really well and I have had no issues or problems at all – thank goodness. In a way it has taken that innocent joy and happiness that other first time mums must experience with their pregnancies. However I have got through it, here I am, 38 weeks today, and I need to get my head around the fact that there will be a baby in the house very soon!
This was a Magic Moment for me, finding that heartbeat, and being able to move on. I now have a beautiful baby daughter. I have linked this post up with The Oliver’s Madhouse Magic Moments