My Ectopic Pregnancy Story by Jenna Marshall Photography

In this photo I was pregnant with baby 3. This is the only photo in which all of my babies existed together <3

October 2017, this is the month we should be looking forward to and celebrating the birth of our third baby.  Washing all the new sleep suits, preparing the crib and ensuring my hospital bag is ready to go. Filled with excitement for the new arrival yet terrified of what this birth will hold for me. All births are so different you can never really know what to expect. The birth of my first baby was spontaneous at 39 weeks pregnant, we arrived the the hospital at 6am on the Sunday morning and by 9pm the same day we were driving home with our 8 hour old son Alex in quite a daydream of what we had just experienced. My second baby’s birth was a little more tricky. We knew she was in the breech position from about 34weeks pregnant, I naturally went into labour at 38weeks pregnant. Waters breaking as I walked out of an eyelash extension appointment, I went straight to the hospital knowing her difficult positioning. I arrived to the maternity ward at 2pm and by 3.33pm our beautiful little girl Willow was born by an emergency c-section.

Two gorgeous healthy children. What more could I want from life? I decided after Willow that I was content and not too keen on the idea of going through the whole pregnancy ordeals again. Both pregnancies I suffered terrible sickness and really struggled through them. So I put to bed the thought of having a third… That was until the end of last year.

My daughter started nursery and suddenly I missed that baby stage. Experiencing Willows first tooth, first steps and first day at nursery, were these really to be the last time I experienced these moments? The excitement and pure joy watching your child grow into their own little person. Being so proud of these seemingly tiny achievements. I suddenly was overcome with the urge to try for another one. My husband was honestly not convinced. He was very much content and happy with two as he didn’t much enjoy the baby stage anyway. He has all the logical thinking of the cost another child would be, holidays would become more difficult etc etc. To me though, another child was always going to worth it. Still, out for a meal back  with my husband in February I brought up the subject again and I felt I did get somewhere with convincing him. Saying in a years time I would like to try again. Little did I know I was already 2 months pregnant.

Friday the 24th of February

This day started like any other, I dropped the kids off to school and nursery and went to collect my Grandad. Fridays are coffee morning at my mums house. My grandad, mum, sister in and law and my myself all meet for some drinks, lunch and chat. I was feeling a little off. I was tired as I’d been up the night before with lower back pain (first symptom), I was also experiencing a bit of stomach pain and bleeding in-between a period.  When I arrived at my mums with my grandad the pain suddenly got worse. It got bad, very very quickly. I called NHS Direct, they said if the pain was that bad I wouldn’t be able to stand or talk to them on the phone, take some pain killers and see a GP that afternoon. Within 5 minutes of getting off the phone to them the pain was unbearable so I got my Nan to drive me up to A&E. The pain was so severe within ten minutes of arriving I had to be carried to a bed, was given IV morphine and the room filled with people. Straight away I was asked, it there any chance you could be pregnant, I said no. I didn’t see how there could be, I hadn’t missed any pills, I hadn’t missed any periods. No I was 100% certain I wasn’t. She said she needed to test anyhow. My husband arrived minutes before the nurse came back in and said ‘You are very pregnant! The positive result was immediate on the test”. This was the point I burst into tears. I was completely overwhelmed with shock, feeling sudden joy followed by the immediate realisation that considering my symptoms, it was very unlikely the outcome of the pregnancy was going to be positive. The Consultant explained that the fact I had fallen pregnant whilst taking contraception and with the symptoms I had the pregnancy was high risk for being ectopic. Meaning the baby was growing somewhere it shouldn’t be.

I was taken for an Ultra-sound. They had determined from the HCG levels in my blood (HCG is the pregnancy hormone and it doubles every 48hours for the roughly the first trimester of pregnancy), that I was around 8weeks pregnant meaning during the ultrasound the baby should be seen easily in the uterus. During the scan I watched anxiously as they looked for the baby, I had watched my other children scans so knew what to look for, there was nothing in the womb. My heart sank. They couldn’t find the baby anywhere so were hoping it was going to be a miscarriage instead of an ectopic pregnancy. They said as they are still unsure they could not let me go home, as if the baby was growing in the tube and the tube burst while I was at home, I would likely internally bleed to death. The consultant told me that ectopic pregnancies are the biggest reason for death in early pregnancy. I was terrified! They wanted to keep me in so they could redo my blood 2 days later, if the HCG had gone down, it meant I miscarried, if not then the baby was there somewhere. I went numb for the first two days in hospital. Emotionally I mean. I think the shock of everything that was happening just didn’t let it all sink in.

Sunday the 26th February

My bloods were taken again to see what my HCG levels were doing. The past couple of days on the ward were made easier by a lovely woman in he bed opposite me. She supplied me with chocolate and magazines. We talked a lot. I had so many texts from friends and family. They may not know but it really helped me, having people to talk to, not only as a distraction but to talk things through and process what was happening. I found myself hoping my HCG levels had gone down so that I had miscarried, purely so I could go home, be with my kids and deal with the loss. I didn’t want the complications of possibly needing surgery. I had a newborn sessions booked in on the Monday and a toddler session on the Tuesday. I needed to get home. But then I felt guilt, I didn’t want a miscarriage. I wanted it all to be a mistake and for baby to be fine.  The consultant came and told me my HCG levels had not gone down and that they needed to do a second scan. Again my heart sank. They took me down 10pm for the scan.  Within seconds they found the baby growing in my left tube.  I could see this tiny little thing on the screen, it’s heart beating. That was the moment it all changed for me. Pure feelings of heartbreak filled every inch of me. My whole being felt heavy. My baby was alive, but I was still going to lose this little person that I truly wanted. It is the worst feeling I have ever experienced. After a talk with the consultant it was decided I would have surgery the following day to remove baby and my left tube. I went back up to the ward and cried myself to sleep.

Monday the 27th February- Surgery Day

I woke up with a feather laying on my stomach. Not sure why that is important but it is something I remember so vividly, I couldn’t work out how it got there. I think I was hoping it was my nan looking out for me, giving me some sort of sign that everything was going to be ok. My surgery was in the afternoon. I was a nervous wreck. I have never been put under before and I was terrified I was never going to wake up again. I cried in the room they took me as they prepped me for surgery, the fear of what was happening and also knowing I was going into surgery pregnant and afterwards I wouldn’t be. The staff were lovely and so comforting. I don’t know how long my surgery took, but it was very late when I got back up to the ward.

Tuesday the 28th February- home time

I didn’t come round properly until the middle of the night. I had 4 holes in my stomach from the keyhole. My skin was dyed purple. I was in a lot of pain. I was hooked up to a lot. A lovely lady who worked on the ward, Charlee, came to help me wash and dress. She was even kind enough to put my hair in a french plait as I couldn’t get in the shower to wash it with all the things I was attached to. She chatted to me and really lightened my mood that morning. The consultants did their rounds in the morning, they told me if my blood results came back ok then I could go home that day. They did and my husband came to take me home. I couldn’t wait to get back to my own bed and to be with my kids.

The Aftermath

I really struggled for the first few weeks. The first week was the worst. I was a complete wreck. I cried most of the time. I couldn’t get off a chair without help due to the surgery. I was scared as the hospital had failed to tell me what to expect after surgery. I couldn’t sleep due to having constant anxiety attacks. My husband was everything I needed him to be. He took care of the kids, he cooked questionable dinners but dinners nonetheless (pizza with a side of yorkshire puddings was a strange combination). He sat with me and held me when I just needed to cry. The nights I couldn’t sleep he sat on the sofa with me, we would put a comedy on to distract me(Step Brothers- because it is hilarious), it would distract me enough to fall asleep and he would sleep next to me, on the sofa incase I needed anything. He kept a chart of my pain medications so I didn’t overdose myself. I really don’t know how I would have coped without him.

I also found a lot of help from The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust. I had a lot of unanswered questions after my ectopic pregnancy such as how does having one less tube affect my fertility, what pain is normal after surgery etc. I found the answers to all of them on The Ectopic Trust website. They have a fantastic forum filled with parents who have experienced ectopic pregnancies. I would sit and talk to other people who knew what I was going through in the middle of the night when we all struggled to sleep. It was such a help to know I wasn’t alone in my fears and feelings.

After a couple months I had a phonecall to say baby was ready to collect to be buried. Nobody really thinks about what happens to baby afterwards. It took me by surprise when the doctor brought it up with me. What to do with your babies remains is not a subject you ever imagine having to deal with. I went to the bereavement office to collect baby. I had discussed with my husband and some other ectopic pregnancy mums about what to do with baby afterwards, there is no law so we could do as we pleased. We opted to bury baby in a pretty planter in our garden so that if we moved we could take it with us. The lovely bereavement officer gave me this lovely remembrance gift box supplied by SiMBA as a reminder of our lost baby Marshall. The little certificate meant so so much to me. And in the box was also a butterfly shaped piece of paper filled with wildflower seeds that you bury with baby that will grow throughout the year. It was a lovely touch. I have the box sitting on my drawers in my bedroom.

I had a lot of people ask me how I could go back to photographing newborns so soon after losing baby. To be honest I didn’t really have a choice. Being completely honest, I did find it hard. I put on a mask for the first few weeks during sessions, but in the evenings I would cry. Every session was a reminder of what I had just lost. Seeing these parents with these gorgeous new little bundles, the smell of a newborn. It was hard. But even while being hard I still felt so much joy for these parents which is what kept me going. I do not know if I will get the chance to have baby 3. I would like to in the future. Right now I am not mentally ready to go through it all again. Due to having one tube I may find it harder to get pregnant, also there is a 10% chance my next pregnancy will also be ectopic. Having another child is still very much something I long for. However we will just have to wait and see what the future holds.

Feel free to message me if you yourself have experienced an ectopic pregnancy and are in need of someone to talk to. I am all ears <3

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