I met my husband at 25 years of age after graduating from university. We were soul mates and within eight short weeks we found out we were pregnant. It wasn’t the nicest way of being told the news. I was driving to work and suddenly developed lower abdominal pain which resulted in a trip to the emergency ward. After urine and blood tests and ultrasounds the doctors informed me that the pain I was experiencing was in fact some sort of pregnancy related complication. Here is my fiancé of only eight weeks sitting beside me in a hospital room as my family arrive concerned regarding my ill health and hospitalisation. The obstetrician informed us that we were possibly having twins and one of the embryo’s was aborting or it may have been a ruptured cyst left after the embryo implanted. Either way, it was 24 hours of wait and see followed by a further week of still not knowing. Eventually at six weeks a single viable embryo was revealed by ultrasound.
We were over the moon about the prospect of having our first baby together. In September 2003 our beautiful Molly Grace was born in a simple, uncomplicated vaginal delivery. She brought us great joy and continues to do so every single day.
In 2005 we were celebrating our anniversary when a second emergency trip to the hospital following severe abdominal pain was needed. At this stage I had no indications of being pregnant so we were absolutely gobsmacked to find out that we were in fact pregnant for a second time. But disaster was to follow as 12 hours later they performed emergency surgery to remove a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, attempting to repair the tube that had been obliterated. For five months following the surgery I continued to feel unwell until a second ectopic pregnancy was confirmed. This time the ectopic embryonic tissue had settled on the superior part of my uterus and caused further damage to the tube. More surgery removing the right fallopian tube and the cornua (top corner) of my uterus was performed. My husband reminds me often that the pain of waiting for me to return from surgery was a difficult time – not knowing what the outcome would be.
At this stage we were told that it was most likely any further pregnancies would have a high chance of being ectopic and if I did manage to carry an unborn child, I may not go to term and would have to have a caesarian section as the risk of contractions in labour was too damaging to my scarred and damaged uterus. Our dreams of having a big family were shattered. I felt that something I had yearned for and wanted in my life had been taken away from me at that very moment.
Asking ourselves if we could face further loss and hospitalisation and surgery, we decided that a higher intelligence would make the decision for us. We had never used contraception and chose to continue this way believing it would be in the hands of the gods.
Late 2005 we were elated to have a missed period and a positive pregnancy test – two things we never had the opportunity to be excited about in the previous three pregnancies. We were gifted with our son Cooper in April 2006 – three weeks early but healthy and full of life.
Trouble struck again in 2007 when I was suffering from pneumonia. I was hospitalised and told in my blood tests that I had HCG (the pregnancy hormone) present at erratic levels. My obstetrician began to expect the worst. We had full body MRI and CT scans done thinking that the HCG may have been present as a result of a rare type of tumour. I had two precious children at home that needed their mum. My husband sat by my hospital bed for three weeks while we waited and searched and scanned and searched some more to try and locate a foetus. After six weeks my obstetrician decided to perform surgery, suspecting that the embryo may have been attached to my bowel and we were prepared for the possibility of hysterectomy or bowel surgery. My husband anxiously waited for the news following my surgery to be told that I had an embryo growing on the scrap of fallopian tube floating on my right side (where the tube had been removed!). This scrap of tube floating free in my abdominal cavity had harboured the foetal tissue for almost eight weeks of development.
After suffering an ectopic pregnancy not once, not twice but three times – we should have given up. But I believed in the power of my body as a woman to conceive and carry the children that I longed for.
To our absolute delight we were gifted with our second son Bailey four weeks early in April 2008 and then an absolute miracle occurred when we welcomed our second daughter Chloe in January 2010. Chloe was born almost seven weeks early and remained in the neonatal intensive care unit for some weeks after her early delivery. My uterus physically had had enough. We knew the time was right to call a close to our family. Our children were arriving earlier and earlier and the risks of carrying these precious people had become too high.
Every day we are thankful for the beautiful four children that we have with us today. There are many moments that I think of the three ectopic pregnancies that have been such a big part of our lives for the past eight years. I had seven pregnancies and the experience of carrying a precious human being inside me – for whatever period of time – is the most rewarding, satisfying, humbling experience that I believe I will ever have. Now as I watch my children grow and share their every moment – I am so thankful that I pushed on and allowed myself the chance to have the big family that I so dearly wanted.