I had a heterotopic miscarriage and it was painful. Heterotopic pregnancy is when one is carrying twins, the one fetus grows in the uterus and another in the tube. It is rare in natural conception to have a heterotopic pregnancy, research estimates that 1 in 30,000 pregnancies are heterotopic pregnancies.
I lost my first child on Christmas day. I had just finished preparing Christmas lunch and was taking a bath when I started vomiting, felt what the doctor later called ‘acute abdominal pain’. My 10year old son had to help me out of the bath, assist me while I was getting dressed (my mother, my husband and my nieces had gone to get some last-minute necessities for the lunch). My son called his dad who came rushing and took me to the hospital.
At the ER, the doctor attending did a pregnancy test and the results were positive, she then told me that I was showing signs of an ectopic pregnancy. She wrote her diagnosis on my medical file and I was wheeled to the ward.
When the gynecologist arrived, he did a sonar and reconfirmed that I was indeed pregnant but that the pregnancy was in the womb and not an ectopic pregnancy. He then ordered the nurse to run some tests and in the morning told me that my estrogen levels were higher than normal which meant that I was pregnant, however my estrogen levels were lower than the previous day which meant that I was having a miscarriage. He further explained that I would undergo a ‘minor procedure’ i.e. evacuation of the womb.
December 26, 2016, I went for evacuation of the womb. I did not feel better, I was still bloated, I still could not do much, I was in pain.
10 January 2017: I was back in the hospital and the diagnosis, ruptured ectopic.
At 3 am that morning I felt so much pain, it felt like period pains, at the same time I was freezing cold and sweating at the same time. I woke my husband up and asked him to call someone to take us to the hospital (he panics so I’d not have made to the hospital). I told him that I was feeling faint and the next thing I remember is being carried out of the house to the car; by this time, I was vomiting and without energy.
I woke up in the ER briefly and the next thing I remember is waking up in ICU, surrounded by doctors and nurses who looked very concerned. Now when nurses get concerned and curious, then I know something is not good. “My dear can you hear me?” one of the nurses asked, I nodded. As she put lip balm on my lips she said “You look much better than you did last night…” she then told me that my doctor was on his way and he will discuss a few things with me.
My doctor arrived he looked at my medical file and when the nurse asked what the diagnosis was, he simply showed her the file. When my husband asked him what the diagnosis was, he said; “Don’t worry about that now, let’s take care of your wife’s health.”
I went to the theatre for a laparoscopy. In the surgery, three fairly small incisions were made, two in my tummy and one in the navel; and because my tubes were ruptured, the fallopian tube containing the pregnancy was surgically removed.
Upon my return to the ward, my doctor seemed to be concerned about something, he asked the nurse how much was ordered and the nurse replied “two”. “No no! We need five at least and we need it within the next hour” my doctor said.
Moments later blood was delivered, the nurse explained to me that I had lost blood. “It happens with ruptured ectopic pregnancies, so now your heart is pumping faster, trying to compensate for the blood loss and is beating at twice the normal rate. You need at least five blood ”. The nurse had been coming to my bedside at least three times a day just to see how I am and explain to me what the next steps would be.
Some struggles after the surgery:
- I went through physio therapy, to learn to walk and move
- I was constipated for about two weeks
- I was on schedule 5 pain medication for weeks
- I had no appetite
- I could not play my children or sleep because the pain was unbearable
A week after I was discharged from the hospital, I went for a check-up and the doctor told me that I had had a Heterotopic pregnancy. He apologised for not seeing the issue when I’d come in on Christmas day.
It only hit me as I set at home counting that in September 2017 I could have been a mother to twins, that I had to be at death’s door to get a proper diagnosis. My doctor apologised and told me that he did not know which of my tubes were removed, to this day I do not know.
Perhaps mommies will learn to ask their doctors to not only check the womb but the tubes as well, to avoid or diagnose what may be missed.
To my unborn children, I’d have loved you, as I do now