First, my apologies if this is how you find out. This isn’t an easy thing to share. I am really only sharing because I think I could save someone’s life. There isn’t a lot of emotion in this post because if someone stumbles upon it, I want them to be able to get the information and act – not get bogged down with my feelings. I hope to post about those at some point. Right now I am not ready.
I think most of what is portrayed about ectopic pregnancy in TV, movies, and even books, is misleading at best. You usually see a woman doubled over in pain, screaming in an overcrowded emergency room, being told she needs surgery immediately. And while yes, this is how an ectopic pregnancy can progress, it doesn’t necessarily have to get to that point. I was actually one of the fortunate ones who caught it early enough, and didn’t require surgery.
I confirmed that I was pregnant with a home pregnancy test on February 28. Not long after, I started spotting. And then I started Googling. I learned that Dr. Google has much conflicting information to share. If he were a real doctor, I’d kick him where it hurts.
There is only one correct answer to the question, “What should I do if I am pregnant and spotting?” It is, “Go see an OB/GYN as soon as possible.” Do not delay. Explain to the person on the phone what is happening, and ask for an immediate appointment.
While many of the sites that I read noted that about half of the woman who report spotting in pregnancy go on to have healthy babies, it means that the other half do not. That is too much of a risk to take, especially when ectopic pregnancy is the number one killer of women in their first trimester. Thankfully it is also rare, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Let them call you crazy. That is better than dead any day.
As I said, I had no pain (neither abdominal nor back). I wasn’t cramping. I didn’t have a fever. Everything else seemed normal. I was having signs of pregnancy too (constipation, swollen breasts, mood swings).
The ultrasound though, was not normal. It appeared that something was near my left ovary. There was a small chance that it was a very early pregnancy or that got a false positive on the home test. That meant we needed to test my HGC levels. It meant going for blood tests and waiting.
The waiting was the most difficult part because I was warned that at any time, I could find myself in that pain that has been described in all those books and movies and made for TV dramas. It would mean going to the emergency room (a 25 minute drive), and most likely surgery that would require full anesthesia and take at least a full week or more to recover. I felt like I was walking around with a grenade in my abdomen.
It took almost a week to get a clear picture of my HCG levels. They were going down, which confirmed that I did indeed have an ectopic pregnancy. Also more than likely, I was only 8 or 9 weeks along, and not the 11 or 12 that my last period indicated.
Another ultrasound (this time transvaginal) confirmed that I was a good candidate for the drug therapy (Methotrexate). It has to be given as a shot in the muscle. My needle phobia kicked in and I almost fainted after it was administered. I basically had a panic attack.
What I had read about the drug seemed to indicate that it was horrible. I read that I would be nauseous and throwing up on top of cramping and feeling extremely tired. I had mild cramping and felt somewhat tired a few times in the week that we once again waited to see how my HGC levels were doing.
After a week, my levels were down 50%. A drop of 15% is considered successful, so I didn’t need another dose of the medication. I still had to take it easy, not have sex, and continue to monitor my HGC levels.
Today I got word that my HGC levels are still not at 0. We expected this, so I must go back to the lab on Monday. I am hoping that this is the last blood test I need, although I have paperwork for at least one more test. According to what I have read, it typically takes about a month, but in some cases can take up to three months.