I told the nurse: “You’re taking my fallopian tube and my baby.”
James and I met at university and got engaged soon after graduation. In May 2016, we got married, and we’d planned to start trying for a family straight away – but the Zika virus outbreak on our honeymoon delayed this by a few months!
We fell pregnant quickly when we started trying
We were so excited when we fell pregnant in December. James couldn’t believe his eyes when the 2 lines came up on the pregnancy test. We told our immediate family on Christmas Day – it was perfect.
In January, I had some light spotting while we were on a trip in Rome. It was old blood, so after some Googling I calmed down and convinced myself it was normal. When we arrived back home it started again. I rang 111 and was put through to the local Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU), who arranged a scan for me. When we arrived, we had a chat with a lovely lady who reassured me that everything I was experiencing could be very normal in early pregnancy, and not to worry too much.
Then we got the devastating news
We then went in for the scan and the sonographer said: “Unfortunately, the pregnancy isn’t what we would expect to see at this gestation”. I should have been 11 weeks pregnant, but our baby’s heart had stopped beating at 8 weeks. We were heartbroken.
We were taken into a special room and given some time to come to terms with the news before they talked us through our options. They told me I’d had a ‘missed miscarriage’ and it was unlikely it would come away naturally. We decided on surgical miscarriage management, and I was booked in for a D&C a few days later.
We tried for another baby soon after
The doctor advised for us to have at least one normal cycle before trying again, so we followed their advice. We found out we were expecting a baby in early April – but when I was 6 weeks pregnant, I woke up early one morning in excruciating pain. Something was wrong.
I rang 111 and they sent an ambulance. By this point, I was doubled over in pain and vomiting. Once we arrived at hospital, the pain was getting worse. Unfortunately, it was a bank holiday, so there were no out-of-hours scanning facilities available. Then the pain came to a head and somehow completely died down, so I was discharged with painkillers and given an appointment for a scan in a few days’ time.
The scan day arrived, and everything seemed fine
I hadn’t been in any more pain and was hopeful for a positive outcome. Unfortunately, we were wrong. The sonographer told us it was an ectopic pregnancy. Instead of implanting into the lining of the womb, our baby had implanted in my right fallopian tube.
Worst of all, my fallopian tube had actually ruptured, which is why I’d been so much pain a couple of days before. Since then, I had been bleeding internally.
At this time everything happened very quickly, and it was hard to process – but, looking back, it’s scary to think what could have happened to me.
I needed emergency surgery
A doctor came to see me and told me they needed to perform emergency surgery to remove my ruptured fallopian tube. Before I knew it, I was being rushed to surgery.
James was allowed with me as they put me to sleep, but they had trouble inserting a cannula. By the time they’d managed to do it, I was sobbing and traumatised. The nurse kept asking me to repeat which procedure I was having. I’m not sure if this is standard practice, but it seemed strange at the time.
I said: “You’re taking my fallopian tube and my baby.” I didn’t know what else to say.
Saying it out loud broke my heart. The last time she asked me I just shook my head, tears rolling down my eyes. That’s the last thing I remember before drifting off.
The doctor said it might happen again
Before I was discharged, the doctor told me the surgery could have an impact on my fertility, and that I was at risk of having another ectopic pregnancy.
I just felt at rock bottom. Not only was I mourning the loss of 2 babies in 12 weeks, but also coming to term with the fact that it could be harder to conceive in the future.
A few months later, we fell pregnant
We were overjoyed, but also incredibly anxious, unable to enjoy the experience at all. Thankfully, we were kept a very close eye on. We had early blood tests done to monitor my hCG levels, and I had regular early scans from 6 weeks.
The first scan confirmed that this pregnancy was in the right place, which felt like we’d made it over the first hurdle. Our second scan at 8 weeks showed a strong heartbeat, and again at 10 weeks. We were so emotional when it finally came to our 12-week scan – we’d never made it that far before.
Although our baby looked healthy, I was struggling
I developed hyperemesis gravidarium (severe morning sickness) and was vomiting a lot. I checked for blood every time I went to the toilet and found it impossible relax.
Navigating pregnancy after loss is so tough. No-one prepares you for it. I was constantly on edge, just waiting for something bad to happen.
As we hit our third trimester, I started to relax a little. I could feel her moving and kicking, which helped reassure me. Unfortunately, this was the calm before the storm.
At 29 weeks, I thought my waters had broken
But when I went to the toilet, I realised they hadn’t. There was blood, and it showed no signs of stopping.
All I could hear myself saying was “Please, not now. I can’t do this again. I can’t”. We were convinced our baby had died. I think we had been through so much loss already that this seemed like the only outcome to us.
When we arrived at hospital, I was rushed onto the labour ward. Midwives started trying to stop the bleeding whilst another put me on the CTG monitor. I couldn’t believe it when I heard her heartbeat – but we weren’t out of the woods yet. The consultant came to see me and said it was a real possibility that I’d have to give birth very soon, and I was given steroid injections to strengthen our baby’s lungs.
After that, they kept me in hospital, as the bleeding never truly stopped. They were worried I could go into premature labour at any point. At 32 weeks, my waters started leaking, but I didn’t go into labour, so I was put on antibiotics and monitored closely for any signs of infection.
They decided to induce labour at 34 weeks
Isla Grace was born on 28 February 2018 at 6.55pm, weighing 4lbs 1oz. I held her briefly before she was taken to the special care baby unit (SCBU). It was a few hours before I saw her again. I was wheeled into the high dependency unit, and I felt so silly as I had to go and ask one of the nurses which baby was mine.
She looked so fragile
We held her again briefly, but she was hooked up to lots of machines and we were so scared to knock something out of place or hurt her.
She started to become very jaundiced the next day and I was told she had haemolytic disease of the newborn. My blood is rhesus negative and hers is positive, and our blood had mixed when I had the bleeding. She needed some phototherapy and medication to help replenish her red blood cells. After 19 nights in SCBU, we were finally discharged to start our family life at home.
Another addition to the family
We were very lucky to complete our family in June 2021 with another beautiful daughter: Maisie Evelyn. Isla has just started primary school this week and is thriving. Despite the pain we went through to have our family, we are forever grateful for our wonderful girls.
I also want to say a big thank you to Tommy’s for all of their hard work. Throughout everything, their website has been one of my main ports of call for trusted information and advice.