Saturday, 7 August 2010

The Hospital: Part 2

After finishing with the scan, it wasn't long before we spoke with one of the doctors.  She was really good and we had actually seen her before when Princess was born.  She explained to us that it was definitely an ectopic pregnancy, and that our only real choice was for me to go in for emergency surgery. 

If you're not familiar with what an ectopic pregnancy is, I'll give just a brief explanation.  An ectopic pregnancy is basically when the pregnancy is in the wrong place.  Normally, the ovary releases the egg.  It then travels along the Fallopian Tube.  Somewhere along the way, the egg gets fertilized by sperm.  In a healthy pregnancy, the fertilized egg then keeps going down the tube and implants itself in the lining of the uterus.  In an ectopic pregnancy, the egg implants itself somewhere else (normally, including in my case, inside the Fallopian Tube).  Sometimes there is a reason for this to happen (infections, having a contraceptive coil, damage to or malformations of the tubes, etc.).  About half of the time there is no apparent reason for it to happen.  (The surgeon eventually told me that it was "bad luck" as there was no apparent reason for me to have had an ectopic pregnancy.)

Ectopic pregnancies are never viable.  That sounds really clinical.  What it really means is that your baby has absolutely no chance of survival.  Ectopic pregnancies never make it to term (in fact they almost never survive past about 7 weeks, and most end much sooner), and there is no way to save the baby. 

Ectopic pregnancies can also be dangerous for the mothers.  According to WebMD, ectopic pregnancies are: "the leading cause of pregnancy-related death during the first trimester in the United States."  Many ectopic pregnancies will naturally miscarry before they become dangerous for the mother (often before she even knows that she was pregnant).  In other cases, they are caught early enough to avoid serious health risks.  A lot of the time, though, ectopic pregnancies aren't diagnosed until they rupture the area where they have implanted.  In my case, the first sign that my pregnancy was ectopic was when I experienced severe abdominal pain, etc. because the pregnancy had grown large enough that it was literally causing my fallopian tube to burst (leading to internal bleeding, etc.).  In many parts of the world, this still leads to a lot of maternal fatalities.  Where people don't have access to prompt and quality medical care, they can die from the internal bleeding and infections.

My ectopic pregnancy had reached the point where the only option was to have emergency surgery to remove it.  There was no chance of saving my baby.  At this point, the doctors were concerned about saving my life.  The doctor that we were meeting with sent me over to the ward to be prepared for emergency surgery.  Then she rushed off to book me for the next available operating room in the hospital, and to enlist the help of the best surgery team that she could.

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