Ectopic Pregnancy – My Story

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Written by Chantal Pentland

It was my third time around, and I couldn't believe how blessed I was to be carrying another beautiful baby. We have been very fortunate in being able to get pregnant easily, I attest this to supplements, Chinese herbs, acupuncture and a healthy lifestyle. However this time we were boggled as there was not much action that month, especially around ovulation. 6 pregnancy tests later confirmed that I indeed was carrying our third, and we couldn't have been happier.

From that first pregnancy test I have to admit that something felt very different from the other 2 pregnancies, though filled with joy I had no other symptoms. The first two from the start I could barely walk down a sidewalk without gagging at the smells of perfume, cigarettes and food. In addition, my breasts had not changed. Last time only weeks in people were constantly staring and some brave souls asked me if I had a boob job, how does one keep the pregnancy secret for 3 months! Granted this time at this point I was only 5 weeks, so it could all start happening anytime right? At 5 weeks I did however start getting cramps, felt nothing more than gas pains, but soon I started to get lower back pain. My husband insisted that I lie down and I tried to rest. Later that day I went to the bathroom, when I wiped I saw brown blood. That moment I felt it was over, the pregnancy felt as though it left my body and I no longer felt full any more. I was devastated.

We went in to get an ultrasound and blood work done a couple days later. My HCG was at 1500, which meant nothing as I had nothing to base this on as yet, but at this level something should show in my uterus on ultrasound. The doctor couldn’t find anything. We had to wait to see what the next blood work HCG test would say 2 days later. It was Friday and we were taking a skytrain downtown when I got my results via ehealth. Spence checked as I was to nervous, I admit hopeful, he looked at me sadly and asked if I wanted to have some champagne that night and I half heatedly accepted. My numbers instead of doubling had gone from 1500 to 1800, so not a viable pregnancy.

The next day the doctor called, she suggested 2 things since the numbers where not going down but up, meaning something was happening, 1) ectopic pregnancy 2) multiple births. When I heard multiple birth I nearly started jumping up and down while thinking of names, although the nagging pit in my stomach told me to not attach, in addition, oh my god I had a couple glasses of champagne the night before! As I had already read about ectopic pregnancies via internet prior to and had no symptoms, twins in my future? This had been going on for 8 days now and I was going crazy not knowing what was going on. I needed answers, how can it be that in this time of amazing technology they can't tell if I was pregnant or not. What was going on?

I went back to get another ultrasound on the Monday, which is when my doctor saw something in my tube. Confirmed, ectopic pregnancy. She insisted I go to the hospital to take a drug to abort it that day. Since there was no signs of trouble as yet I decided go to work as the team needed me and I would go first thing the next day. What could one more day harm?

I went to work sad but content that I had an answer now and was going to move on from this. My back started to ache which had been normal these past couple of weeks. Then my stomach started to hurt, which was normal sitting for a long time in this condition, when things took a turn. All of a sudden the pain level raised to a 9 and I stumbled to the staff room to tell the other practitioners that something was wrong and started to black out. Spence came running and they tried to put me on a table as I tried not to faint or scream. The pain was comparable to childbirth but worse as it was relentless. Spence got me in the car while I screamed in agony as we drove to Women’s hospital emergency. When we got there, turns out there is no emergency ward at the women’s hospital, only for mommy’s birthing their babies. They were really kind however and started me on an IV pain medication drip while I listened to babies being born and babies heartbeats on monitors all around me. I took an ambulance to Vancouver General Hospital high as a kite, in fact, I got Spence to take a picture of me in the back of the ambulance to show my boys waving and smiling from the gurney. (deleted shortly there after!) 12 hours later they performed surgery on me, although it suppose to be 1-4 hours, but that is another story. I awoke from the surgery shaken. I was informed that the baby started to abort itself into my abdominal cavity, which caused bleeding, which caused the pain. The surgery went as good as I guess it could have, and now feel blessed to still have both my tubes not impeding too much on my future fertility beside raising my risk of future ectopic pregnancies from 7% to 15%.

The things I learned during my experience were these:

  • if the pregnancy was near miracle and you are not experiencing any pregnancy signs, talk to your doctor and start getting HCG levels checked just to be safe
  • listen to your inner whisper
  • listen to your doctor when they tell you to take the medication to abort tubal pregnancy right away. Had I listened I could have possibly avoided the now 5 scars on my stomach and being taken away from my family for 4 days.
  • stop googling and self diagnosing and talk to an expert
  • signs of ectopic pregnancy tend to start between 6-8 weeks, mine was like clockwork on the 6th week
  • an ectopic pregnancy if ignored, can kill you
  • there is no emergency ward at the women’s hospital in Vancouver, only for children

    To sum it all up, I do understand this experience could have been far worse. I am blessed to already have a family. I am blessed in so many ways. My intention for writing my ectopic experience is because it was not only scary but emotionally and physically painful and sharing is healing. Because the loss is one thing, but the fearing for your life above that is another. I hope that this entry may either comfort or help someone going through the same experience.

    My goal is to get pregnant again as soon as possible.

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