[Caution! Long post, potential triggers, lots of whining. Don’t say you weren’t warned.]

It’s now been over a month since I got the all-clear after my ectopic pregnancy, back in November, and now that I’ve had time to recover, and start to process everything that happened, I thought I’d post a bit of an update, for those of you who’ve asked. I really hope this isn’t awkward, but I suspect it probably will be, so, as always feel free to skip this one…

So, the good news is that, physically at least, I seem to be pretty much back to normal after the whole experience. Emotionally, too, I feel almost embarrassingly normal. I say “embarrassing”: I know I should probably still be feeling devastated, but the fact is, an ectopic pregnancy doesn’t feel remotely like a “real” pregnancy – or, at least, it didn’t for me. In fact, because I was diagnosed so early, and had known right from the start that there was something very wrong, the whole experience felt more like an illness than anything else – and when it was finally over, almost two months later, my main emotion was relief. I know that’s probably awful of me, but it was such a horrific experience that being able to get back to normal life, and not having to constantly attend hospital appointments, and worry about what might happen next really has been the best medicine for me. I’ve been working hard, doing my best to stay busy, and generally just trying to enjoy life again, without any of the anxiety which ruined November and December. So, things are good…

BUT.

You just knew there had to be a “but”, didn’t you?

As well as being a very traumatic experience in itself, ectopic pregnancy has huge implications for the health – or even likelihood – of future pregnancies. Around 30% of women find that they’re infertile after experiencing an ectopic: of the ones who aren’t, meanwhile, around 1 in 10 will go on to experience another one. To put this in context, within the general population, the risk of ectopic pregnancy is just 1 in 100: to me, that seems like a HUGE increase in risk… and it’s just not one I’m sure I’m willing to take.

ectopic pregnancy and health anxiety - an updateI have never been a risk-taker. I don’t ride the roller-coasters that scare me. I don’t break the speed limit, or cross the street when the sign tells me not to. I am scared of almost everything, but the thing that scares me most is the thought of hospitalisation, medical procedures and – worst of all – general anaesthetic. These things absolutely terrify me – in a way that I can’t even hope to make you understand, because, the fact is, no-one really relishes the thought of surgery, do they?

I mean, I’m sure most people feel apprehensive when faced with the prospect of being rendered unconscious and then sliced open with a sharp knife, so it’s impossible for me to explain how all-consuming this fear is for me, or how far I would go to avoid it. I’ve literally spent almost my entire adult life worrying about the very situation I found myself in last November: I know that probably seems odd to a lot of you, because many people haven’t even heard of ectopic pregnancy, let alone spent years and years of their lives worrying about it, but my mum had an ectopic pregnancy a couple of years after I was born and, because of that, I’d grown up, not just knowing that it was possible for a pregnancy to develop outside the womb, but feeling that, in my case, it was also probable that it would happen. There was no real reason for me to worry so excessively about this: yes, my age did elevate my risk slightly, but the main reason for my fear was simply down to heath anxiety – which leads you to believe that the worst case scenario is always the one you’ll end up with.

When the doctor told me that worst-case scenario WAS, in fact, the one I’d ended up with, then, and that surgery was one of the options to remove it, I was so terrified that I told her I would literally rather die – and, at the time, I honestly meant it. I really wish I could say I didn’t, and that it was just the stress of the moment, or whatever, but the idea of surgery is SO frightening to me, that that was how I felt. (And if I HAD ended up having to have surgery, I was planning to ask them to do it under a spinal block, rather than a general. THAT’S how scared I was.) Yes, I am very aware of how utterly irrational that is, but that’s the thing about phobias, isn’t it? They’re NOT rational, and there is no way to rationalise someone out of them.

Actually, I think the word “phobia” is over-used, and misunderstood by a lot of people. People tend to say they have a “phobia” when they simply feel afraid of something, but a true phobia goes far beyond “feeling a bit scared” – it involves a powerful fight-or-flight response,  and, in my case, “flight” is normally the winner. I will do anything to avoid the things I’m phobic about (crustaceans and general anaesthetics, just FYI), which is why my experience last year was, without a doubt, the worst thing that I’ve ever gone through.

I found out I was pregnant at the start of November: I was given the all-clear just a few days before what would have been my 12-week scan. I spent almost two full months knowing that the pregnancy wasn’t viable, knowing that it could, quite literally, kill me, and with the threat of surgery constantly hanging over me: it was horrific.

Now, the fact is, the experience of an ectopic pregnancy is horrific for anyone who has to go through it. Even women with no history of anxiety, and no fear of hospitals, etc, find themselves utterly traumatised by it: in fact, many of the women who have the option of being treated with methotrexate, as I was, opt to have the surgery instead, just so they can get it over with. Others, meanwhile, don’t even have that choice: because what I know now, from all of the various support groups I’ve since joined, is that, despite how awful  it all was, I was actually very, very lucky.

And, I mean, obviously “lucky” is not a word that’s really appropriate here, is it? All the same, it could have been SO much worse. Because my ectopic was caught at the earliest possible stage (When I had my scan, the ectopic was so tiny the sonographer could barely see it: she was using the most high-tech, super close-up scanning technology available, and she told me she STILL couldn’t be 100% sure that it wasn’t just a shadow, or a completely normal part of the body), and was not growing at the normal rate, I was able to avoid surgery (although, even then, I was told that there was still a possibility that the tube would rupture, and I’d need it anyway…). Many women with ectopics aren’t so fortunate: either the ectopic is so large, or growing so quickly, that they end up losing an ovary, or a fallopian tube, or it ruptures, causing a huge amount of pain, and, of course, a risk of death from internal bleeding. In fact, if the internet is to be believed (and, rationally I know it isn’t, but it’s hard to just dismiss all of the horror stories…), I’m pretty much the only person in the world to have been successfully treated with methotrexate, and everyone else just wakes up in the back of an ambulance, having collapsed due to the immense pain, before being rushed into surgery, mere minutes from death. Which, yikes.

(Side note: this is why you shouldn’t ever Google the words ”ectopic pregnancy story” if you’re pregnant, or hoping to one day BE pregnant: trust me on this…)

I was lucky. There’s no guarantee that I would be again, though, and if I DID have another ectopic, there’s every chance that next time it could be in a different location, growing faster, or be undetectable until it was too late. Which, quite honestly, scares the living daylights out of me, and makes me wake up in the night, panicking at the very thought of it.

On the other hand, though, there’s ALSO a chance that NONE of this might happen. A 10% risk of ectopic pregnancy means there’s a 90% chance of having a NORMAL pregnancy. Those aren’t great odds, as far as I’m concerned, but they’re not TERRIBLE, either. And, of course, statistics can be misleading, can’t they? The problem with the statistics relating to ectopic pregnancy, for instance, is that they take into account ALL ectopic pregnancies: so my tiny, caught-early, successfully-treated-without-surgery, no-real-indication -of-why-it-happened  ectopic is lumped in with those which were caused by known issues with the tubes or ovaries, and which resulted in removal of one or both. Which makes deciding whether or not to try again even harder.

In the very early days of my ectopic, when we still thought it was “just” a miscarriage, we spoke to the Early Pregnancy Unit at the hospital, and asked if there were any tests they could run to give me an idea of why this had happened to me. “NO,” was the short answer to that. There ARE tests, of course: but, the fact is, the NHS doesn’t consider two miscarriages in a row, even at my age, to be indicative of a definite problem. They acknowledge that there COULD be an underlying issue, obviously, but as miscarriage is so incredibly common, most of the time they’ll attribute it to “bad luck”. Where I live, you have to have THREE miscarriages in a row (At least, this is the case in our area: I know it’s different in other places.) before they’ll start to do any kind of testing at all. And, of course, mine turned out NOT to be a miscarriage, so I now have “just” one miscarriage under my belt, and one ectopic – which, it turns out, there’s no real testing for, either.

When I was discharged from hospital, at the end of December, we asked if there would be any follow-up, or any way to try to establish why this happened to me. Again, the answer was no: I was told that, if I DID become pregnant again (Which I was told to avoid for 3 months/ 2 cycles after having the shot), I should call the hospital immediately, and I would be closely monitored right from the very start… but there’s no way to find out why it happened, and no way to mitigate the chances of it happening again. So, it’s basically a case of, “Well, just take this massive risk, and let us know how that works out for you!” Awesome.

And this is the decision we now have to make: do we take that risk, or do we simply accept that it’s not meant to be, and move on?

Hmmm.

If there was a way to guarantee that it wouldn’t happen again, we would definitely try again: no question. As it is, however, I’m left feeling like the decision to try again would be a little bit like playing Russian Roulette, and just hoping the barrel wasn’t loaded this time – even although I know it most definitely IS.

What I DON’T know, on the other hand, is just how many barrels I’m dealing with here: they could ALL be loaded (Which would make the decision a no-brainer, obviously), or it could be none. I just don’t know, because while I’m told I have a 1 in 10 chance of another ectopic, that figure is an average, based, in part, on experiences which were completely different from mine, and therefore not particularly  relevant. You can’t really compare someone whose tube ruptured at 8 weeks, say, and who required surgery to remove it, with someone diagnosed at 5 weeks, and successfully treated with methotrexate: the two are just not the same. Equally, you can’t compare someone whose tubes were blocked due to severe endometriosis, to someone with no physical issues, who was just the victim of chance. The statistics DO compare those different situations, though, and lump them together, which makes it hard to know what the ACTUAL risk is to an individual.

I know from the ultrasounds I had done (which looked very closely at the fallopian tubes and ovaries) that there doesn’t APPEAR to be any physical problem: everything looked “normal”, according to those ultrasounds, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s less risk. The ectopic itself could have caused scarring, which would be problematic in the future, or the tubes could be blocked in  a way that wasn’t visible on the ultrasound. I’ve also read about hormonal imbalances which can make an ectopic more likely, and which, if detected, might give us a clearer idea of my actual risk.

Finally, there’s a test called an HSG, in which ink is injected into the fallopian tubes, in a bid to identify any blockages. This, quite honestly, sounds absolutely horrific to me, and I’m not sure I’d be able to face it just yet, but it’s one more thing that could potentially give us some answers, so the current plan is to speak to my consultant, in a bid to discuss our options and find out if there’s anything they can do to give me an idea of what went wrong, and what the likelihood is of it happening again.

Of course, going back to hospital to have the HSG test, or even just for another blood test, would be such an ordeal for me that I’m honestly not sure I’m up to it. And, the fact is, even in the best case scenario, I know that a positive pregnancy test wouldn’t be a cause for celebration: instead, it would mean an immediate trip to the hospital, and then a repeat of the worst anxiety of my life, as we attempted to establish if it was another ectopic, and how to deal with it, if so. Even if it wasn’t, meanwhile, there’s still the possibility of miscarriage, plus the small matter of my lifelong fear of pregnancy and childbirth, which would make even a textbook pregnancy incredibly difficult for me. These are the reasons I spent most of my adult life resolutely child free, after all, and it’s hard not to take last year’s experiences as confirmation of the fact that I was right to do that, because pregnancy really is every bit as risky and traumatic as I’d always thought it would be.

Can I put myself through all of that? Honestly, I don’t really think so. But, at the same time, I’m haunted by the idea that time is running out: that the third time may well be the charm, and that if we DON’T try again, I might end up regretting it in a few years time. If I were younger, I’d probably be saying, “Well, let’s wait a few years, and see how we feel then.” I don’t have a few years, though: in fact, I probably don’t even have a few MONTHS. At my age, if we decide we do want to try again, we’d have to make that decision ASAP – and that’s a pretty daunting thought.

Er, I have no idea how to end this post now: I know no one can make the decision for me (For what it’s worth, Terry would like to try again, but knows how risky and difficult that could be for me, so he’s not going to try to talk me into it if I decide I can’t do it. He obviously has his own thoughts on all of this, and it’s not my place to put those thoughts on the internet, but suffice to say that we’ve been talking about it a lot, we’ll make the decision together, and there’s no pressure from him either way.), or even really advise me, but I wanted to just write all this down, as a way of processing it, and because some people have asked about where we might go from here. I debated about whether or not to post it, but ultimately it’s part of my story, and I guess it would feel a bit odd to me to have spoken so openly about everything that happened, and then just never mention it again. (Er, wouldn’t it?)

Finally, because I know someone is going to bring up therapy: yes, it’s something I’m planning to raise with my doctor, but it’s also something I’m not holding out a whole lot of hope for. I know most people swear by it, but the problem for people with health anxiety is that accessing help generally involves speaking to doctors, visiting hospitals, and generally doing a lot of things that the anxiety makes 100x harder. In other words, I’d have to conquer my health anxiety in order to get help for it – Catch-22. I could go private, and find an option that doesn’t involve hospitals, etc, (Although I honestly don’t know if  we could afford it), but –  and I know I’ll be criticised for saying this – I’m kind of reluctant to do that, because I haven’t found therapy helpful in the past. I find that I just start crying when faced with any kind of counselling situation: and although I can write about what I’m feeling, I’m completely unable to articulate those thoughts in person – I just feel awkward and embarrassed, and leave feeling worse than when I arrived. I’m sure there is a way around this, but I’m also pretty sure that therapy isn’t going to offer a quick fix: right now, I feel like it could take years of therapy for me to even start to get over these fears I have, and, as I said, I don’t really have years , unfortunately.

(Meanwhile, the online support groups aren’t a whole lot of help either, because, as well as being filled with scary stories, they also seem to rely quite heavily on ideas like, “What’s for you won’t pass you by,” or “You just have to stay positive!” – neither of which are of any help to me whatsoever.)

So, that’s where we’re at. How’s your week going?

42 Comments
  1. Hi Amber, first and foremost, huge bear hugs for you.

    I don’t really have much to say other than I’m obviously glad you are starting to feel more normal again and I totally understand the ticking clock. I’ve been thinking about you a lot these last couple of months and hoping you are doing ok. I know you don’t like hearing about procedures, so I’m not just going to launch into a description here but I have had the HSG and I can give you some info on my experience if you want and if you think it would help you at all? If you would rather not then I completely understand! xx

  2. Gosh, you’ve really been through the wringer with this. I hope that whatever you and Terry decide, you find peace with it. Anxiety can be so consuming, and it’s so hard to explain to anyone who doesn’t understand it. Therapy has been very helpful to me but it’s not easy opening up to someone! As I mentioned previously, I work at an ultrasound clinic (as an admin, not clinical staff) so I come across ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages quite often. It’s definitely made me a bit nervous of having a baby one day – not that that’ll be any time soon, I don’t even have a boyfriend!…okay that was a tangent. Basically, lots of love to you <3

  3. Firstly, it’s a relief to hear that, physically, you are back to feeling like yourself again. Like everyone else, i can’t answer your questions for you – all I can do is send love and hope that you will swiftly find the path that’s right for you (and it doesn’t have to be right for anyone else but you and Terry). I hope you’re also able to access support for the anxiety in a non-medicalised environment – I’ve even heard of online counselling, though I’m not sure of the details. Sending hugs and best wishes. xx

  4. Hi Amber,
    I just wanted to comment to send you a big hug – words aren’t really enough!
    I also know it’s frustrating when people offer well-meaning suggestions, but as someone who gets anxious in hospitals and around doctors (I wouldn’t say it’s a phobia for me but I certainly suffer a little when faced with even my GP) thanks to previous experiences, I can commiserate a tiny bit.

    I’ve tried counselling several times over the years, for a variety of things and honestly, it’s just a slog for me. I don’t feel better afterwards and maybe I’ve been unlucky with the therapists I’ve seen, but I felt like it wasn’t helping me move forward at all. And I’m going through a big life change at the moment and really needed some sort of coping technique, without spending hours with a counsellor.
    So I’m giving hypnotherapy a go.
    I can definitely understand people being cynical about it, but the attitude is just so different to “regular” therapy (and there’s no need to be referred by a GP). Obviously it depends on the individual but I’ve found it incredibly relaxing and the techniques they teach to calm yourself in times of anxiety and fear are easier than they sound. It’s like having a spa day or a massage, but for your mind! It also helps me fall asleep at night, such an innocuous thing for some, but it’s made a big difference to me.

    Whatever you do I wish you all the strength in the world and hope that things get better for you. Much love xxx

  5. Amber, you are so brave – honestly. I can’t even imagine going through everything you’ve been through in the last few months, and I don’t have the health anxiety issues you also face. I can see exactly why you’re torn and it must be such a difficult position for you and Terry. Like you say, none of us can really offer answers or guidance for you, just support and know that all your readers are doing that just by clicking on this post and taking the time to read it. I’m similar to you in the way you describe needing to know all the facts and the possible outcomes, and analysing all the stats so I can understand you doing that, but at the same time I’ve rarely found any stats to be accurate across any areas of my life – which is a cruel trick really, almost as if you can’t POSSIBLY plan or predict or prepare yourself for any of it. I’d say time might be the only thing right now, and if you’re still unsure at the moment then maybe take more time to come to a clearer decision. Ultimately there’s no right or wrong decision and the liklihood is that you may have regrets either way so you can only do what feels right for you at this time. Which probably isn’t at all helpful… sorry. Anyway thinking of you both and glad at least that your health is back on track and you’re feeling good right now.

    Big hugs,
    Jac
    x

  6. Oh Amber, I’m really feeling for you. I’m glad you’ve recovered now both physically and emotionally though. Obviously, I can’t answer your questions, but I wish you all the best in whatever step you choose to take next – and just know that there aren’t rights or wrongs.

    Charmaine Ng
    Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  7. Thank you for sharing this with us. I wanted to cry for you from beginning to end, especially for the terribly hard decisions you are trying to make. I know its no help at all, but I send a huge virtual hug to you and Terry. I wish you all the happiness in the world, and I wish my wishes meant more than the zero they do.

    1. Oh, they don’t mean zero at all! Honestly, the support of people here, and in real life, has been the only thing that’s kept me going, so thank you so much, and please don’t ever think it doesn’t mean anything!

  8. I totally understand the relief you feel now that the medical side of this ordeal is over. I can’t offer any advice on the rest of your situation but i sincerely hope that you (and Terry) work out whatever is best for you. Sending big hugs to you both, and to Rubin as well xxx

  9. I have health anxiety, just like you. I’ve spent most of my adult life in fear of my imminent death from one ailment or another. Whilst that sounds funny, it really, really isn’t. I’ve also had medical problems that mean I’ve had a few ops. And they haven’t gone well, which has made the anxiety worse. It’s crippling. I won’t go on holiday to lots of places that I think don’t have great medical care, I don’t do things other people would because of it. I limit my diet in case things make me ill and I have to get medical treatment… none of which is good.

    Having said that, although I would rather do anything in the world than even have a scan (just getting an ultrasound means weeks of no sleep- let alone an op) I’d still try again for a baby.

    Why? Because it’s the best thing in the world, and however much you are afraid and feel horrible it’s worth it. The day before I had my daughter I went to the hospital to be induced. I was so anxious that when they came to give me the drugs I ran out of the hospital and lay on the pavement (in central London!) crying, shaking and trying not to vomit. My consultant had to come and talk to me outside. The shame! But the next day, having ended up with a c section -one of my absolute worst nightmares, I told my husband I would have a c section every day of my life to get my baby. I meant it then and I still mean it now.

    So whilst I know how horrible you feel (and I spent my whole pregnancy in one long panic attack- the number of extra tests I paid for was obscene) think carefully about whether you can overcome this. If you had a scan at 6 weeks pregnant you’d know if it was ectopic from the start and could relax about that? Would that be an answer. I don’t mean to preach, and I’m sorry if I sound like it. I just know that I almost didn’t have a child because of my health anxiety and yet it’s the best thing I’ve ever done by far. I’d hate you to miss out on being a mother because of anxiety – I almost did and I’m so glad I didn’t. Good luck, whatever you decide. BTW, I’m submitting this under a false name because I don’t want people I work with to know about this- sorry!

    1. I think the problem is that it’s hard to know what you’re missing out on unless you’ve actually experienced it, if that makes sense? (Sorry, not trying to sound flippant, it’s just that, from what people have told me, that feeling is something you don’t really get until you’ve experienced, so I’d just have to take it on faith, which is hard for me!) If I did get pregnant again, I’d be monitored right from the start, but as ectopics are notoriously difficult to diagnose, there’s no guarantee that I’d definitely be able to avoid surgery etc – some ectopics rupture at 5 weeks, at which point most people have only just found out they’re pregnant, and even if it wasn’t ectopic, I’m very aware that my fear would then just transfer to something else. I don’t think I would be able to relax until the baby was actually here, which is obviously a long time to spend feeling that level of anxiety! I do worry about regretting not trying, though, for all of the reasons you mention – it’s such a tough decision!

  10. Your story touches me deeply, especially your honesty and willingness to share it. I think to write your fears and hopes is in itself a form of therapy, and hope it is helpful to you.

    Dani’s suggestion of hypnotherapy seems good for her, but I suspect that taking away your conscious control would be a step too far for you. As you know I am an angelic and Reiki healer and wonder if you have considered any alternative therapies – those that work with energy and light and where words are not needed.
    Sending you and Terry much love.

    1. Thanks, Myra. I actually think the control thing you mention is at the crux of it – having talked a lot about it to Terry, I think a lot of my fears about hospitalisation, general anaesthetic etc are really about the lack of control, which is a huge thing for me. Hypnotherapy scares me a bit for exactly that reason – I hate the thought of not being fully in control, although I have a friend who absolutely swears by it, so I know it’s really helpful for some people. I have actually tried Reiki in the past, and didn’t find it made any difference to me – I’m a bit of a cynic about a lot of these things, unfortunately, and also find them quite awkward (I don’t even like having beauty treatments done, as I hate having to make smalltalk with people I don’t know!), so I think the thing that would help me most would be to speak to someone who has access to my medical records, and can maybe give us a bit more insight – fingers crossed!

    1. I *was* actually considering publishing some of it – I started keeping a journal after my miscarriage, and I was thinking of publishing some of the extracts from that, because I really don’t think people talk honestly about this kind of stuff, but when I read it back it was just so depressing I figured no one would ever want to read it!

      1. It might not be fun reading but sometimes knowing that you’re not the only one feeling that way can really help, going through something like an ectopic is something that most people never have to deal with so even talking about it with your friends can be more isolating.

        I also think that letting yourself take the time to be miserable and angry (and not just “be positive”) is important, I find it really frustrating when people just give that advice to anyone with a medical condition (if you know that person well and it’s appropriate advice go for it, but most the time it’s not), yes a positive attitude can sometimes help but so often that advice seems to backfire and make the poor person feel worse because they can’t be positive with whatever they are dealing with. That’s just me though, everyone different.

  11. I don’t have any useful advice to offer, but I just wanted to wish you all the best: I can’t imagine what you’re going through, and I hope you are able to come to a decision that you’re happy with.

  12. Amber, I’ve been thinking about you both a lot over the last while. I’m really glad to hear that you’re feeling more like yourself – as you are facing a fairly big decision, this can only be a good thing. Obviously nobody can tell you what the best thing to do here is, not least because there is no one best course of action, so I’m going to avoid giving advice. That said, it is worth remembering that if you do decide that you want to try again – well, you have survived the thing that you were most afraid of. Of course it was awful – unspeakably so – but you survived it. I suppose all you can do now is consider what it cost you to survive (because of course it came at a massive cost to you – this isn’t like one of those awful instagram ‘she believed she could so she did’ cliches) and decide whether, if it went wrong again, you could bear that cost.

    I hope you’ll both be well, whatever you decide to do xxx

    1. For me, the thing I was most afraid of was the possibility of surgery, so I actually feel more like I dodged that particular bullet, but might not be so lucky the next time! I became totally hysterical when I thought I might need it, so I really worry about how I’d cope if it did happen next time – I just go to pieces 😳

      1. Ah, well, that makes things a little different. But not totally. Either way, you walked through the fire and came out the other side. If you had to do it again, chances are you could. I hope more than anything that you’ll be okay xxx

  13. Amber – thank you so much for sharing these kind of posts. Honestly, this is why I started reading blogs – real stories, thoughts, and a personal voice. I’m sorry that the subject matter isn’t uplifting and I feel terrible about what you have been going through. I continue to send positive vibes, and also great compliments on your writing. I’m sure these posts have been incredibly helpful to many people with either health anxiety or pregnancy-related issues and I hope that writing about your feelings is a bit of the therapy that you are looking for. I hope that you and Terry are able to choose the best option for your family, and I think you’ll have a huge cheering section here no matter what you decide to do <3

    1. Thank you for saying that – I must have un-scheduled and then re-scehduled this one a dozen times before getting up the courage to hit publish: I was worried that people would think it was too much of an over-share, but while I’m sure some well, I also really think people should be talking more about this kind of thing! Writing has always been the best therapy for me, so it does really help me to write these – thanks for reading it!

  14. Thank you for sharing this, Amber. You’ve had a horrendous time, and I’m so glad that part of it is over. As for the future… it’s such a tough decision and sounds like it’s all just too raw to think clearly about right now. It’s hard to know what to do for the best, but I’m really glad you have an outlet here and with Terry.

    I’m facing surgery under general anaesthetic myself, to my mouth, and I’m really struggling not to run away from it due to horrendous past experiences with dental work (I won’t write them out, it would be upsetting for people). I still might decide to cancel the surgery and put up with things getting progressively worse and worse rather than go through with it, I’m THAT freaked out. So although mine isn’t a phobia or health anxiety, maybe I can understand how it is for you a little bit.

    Re: therapy, if you find face to face work too difficult but would still like to access it, some private therapists offer counselling by email. If you find it easier to write things out and process that way, email therapy might be something that works for you. It’s not something that is publicised much, face-to-face work dominates, but there are other ways.

  15. A really brave post again and I truly feel for you. I don’t have health anxiety and boy from everything you’ve said how lucky am I that I don’t?! I am a dreadful worrier, though, which while not the same thing at all does let me glimpse a little bit into your world. And I don’t like it 🙁 I don’t think there’s much anyone can say to help you with the choice you have to make, which you well know, but I hope coming to it is as ok as it possibly can be. I feel like I’m just spouting nonsense at this point because I don’t know how to help, but wanted to say something to show I was here! And I really respect you for putting up these posts and am very glad that you have.

  16. Oh, Amber. I’m both incredibly glad for you (because you’ve started to feel like yourself) and incredibly sorry for you (because well… all the rest, really). It must an awful time for you, and having to make such a big, difficult decision surely makes it harder. I found the Russian roulette metaphor to be so strong and compelling I had to re-read it. Being almost certain that at least one barrel is loaded, but not knowing which one and not knowing if you’ll manage to get away with it, that must be one the most desperate and hopeless moments any human can live through. And if you have any level of anxiety, then it will be even worse.
    Whatever you and Terry decide to do, we will support you. Like others have said, either choice you make will probably leave you with some regret- it sounds horrible, but I think it can really help the choice. Which regret can you live with? Which one will hurt you less? It might put things in perspective. I don’t know anything about pregnancy and its risks, but have you looked into other methods like IVF? New technology pops up every day, maybe there’s something that helps reduce the chance of an ectopic pregnancy (and if there isn’t, someone should really get on it!). And if that doesn’t convince you, maybe adoption could be an option? Fear of a pregnancy shouldn’t stop you from having a child if you so desire.
    Lots of love and support sent your way. And know that no matter how long, sad and horrible these posts may be, I will read every single one of them a hundred times if it makes you feel a little bit better, understood or less alone.

    (Now I worry that maybe you’ll find my suggestions offensive, insulting or just annoying? In case you do, I was just trying to be helpful, even from my ignorant stance. Sorry, maybe I should have been only supportive instead?)

    1. Aww,don’t worry, your suggestions aren’t any of those things – I”m just really grateful that people care enough to try to help me! IVF actually carries a slightly higher risk of ectopic pregnancy, believe it or not (and I believe the egg retrieval is done under general anaesthetic anyway, so I’d basically be having an anaesthetic in order to try to avoid having an anaesthetic!), and we don’t feel adoption would be right for us, so trying again would be our only option, unfortunately. I do think it basically comes down to a decision of which regret we can live with, as you say: unfortunately there doesn’t really seem to be a lot of research into ectopic pregnancy at the moment, but maybe in the future there will be, and it’ll be easier for people! Anyway, thanks so much for your lovely comment, and please don’t worry about offending me!

  17. My heart goes out to you. I had the ink test done when I was undergoing tests to find out why I hadn’t been able to get pregnant. It wasn’t bad being tested but as it worked out of my system it was painful! I had driven to my appointment alone and had to pull over and sleep it off for a while before I could drive home. When my sister-in-law had the test done I made sure she didn’t go alone. I’ve been so happy to see that Terry is always with you and your parents too.
    Just my opinion here-but I think you should do whatever testing you can to help you make your decision. As you have said you need to decide which regret you can live with. Getting as many facts as you can will help.
    I am behind you in what you decide, glad you are starting to feel back to normal.
    Holly

  18. I feel for you, Amber. It all sounds do traumatic and a lot to deal with, plus the consideration of whether to try for a third time or not.

    Hopefully the surgery dilemma has been solved. In case this helps, when I found out I had to have my broken collarbone repaired under general anesthetic I was terrified. At the age of 48 I was literally asking each and every medical professional if It would be okay. While my very tactful mother told me it was a silly question (thanks Mum!), all those I asked were kind and reassuring. My mind was finally set to rest when the surgeon said you were at more risk walking along the pavement of a busy street (which we do without question, putting our trust in the hands of God knows who whenever we go out). She also pointed out that I was relatively young, the right weight and didn’t have diabetes which are times when they’re more concerned about general anesthetics. In fact the worst part of the whole process for me was feeling nauseous afterwards and very, very tired the next day (I was in hospital on my birthday too, which was fun as my boyfriend brought me a cake and the doctors and nurses sang Happy Birthday to me!). In the end though I’d waited so long for my op that I just wanted it done.

    Good luck with whatever you decide, Amber, and thank you for your story. It’s true what you say that unless you’ve been in this situation it’s hard to appreciate it. I never wanted children (although I do love them!), but am pretty sure I would find such a situation similarly difficult. Xx

    1. For me, it’s not so much a fear of something happening to me under anaesthetic – it’s a totally irrational fear of being put under, and losing consciousness (I literally have nightmares about it), which, as I said, you just can’t rationalise yourself out of – the whole idea just utterly terrifies me, and then there are other fears about waking up in hospital, being surrounded by people I don’t know, being put onto a ward with lots of other people (so lack of privacy, at a time when I’d already be feeling really vulnerable) – I think it’s all basically about lack of control, really!

  19. Amber I really hope that you soon find the right way forward for you whichever way you go. I wish you the courage and strength you need to make your very difficult decision. Very best wishes as always. xx

  20. So sorry you’re going through this. Just wanted to share my story in hopes maybe it helps you a little…even though I don’t have experience with ectopic pregnancy. I was TERRIFIED of becoming pregnant, to the point where I suggested adopting instead and avoiding the whole thing (my husband felt strongly about having our own child). I put the decision off into our 30s to the point it caused some problems in our marriage, everyone else was starting to have kids and my husband wanted to, and I just couldn’t do it. It wasn’t that I didn’t want a child, I just did NOT want to be pregnant. Let alone deal with the delivery! I ended up having a really straightforward pregnancy so I was lucky in that sense, but I was still terrified of the thought of having to push the baby out. I have a super low pain tolerance (yay redheads!!!) and had serious anxiety over it. I found out the baby was breech and I had to have a scheduled csection, but to my surprise I was actually relieved knowing I didn’t have to push him out (that sounds crazy I’m sure). I’d never had surgery or been admitted to the hospital overnight or anything like that so yes, it was scary, but not nearly as bad as I thought. Bonus – I never had to go through contractions or any of that nightmare painful stuff at least.

    To be honest I would have been totally ok if my husband had said just kidding, let’s just not have a baby. And obviously it’s impossible to know what you’re missing if you haven’t experienced it. But I’m so thankful I went ahead and took the risk and did it, and I look back and know what I would have missed if I hadn’t, which is heartbreaking. I guess what I’m saying is would you look back and wonder “what if” for the rest of your life if you didn’t try again? (Hopefully that doesn’t sound preachy/pushy!! Sorry!) or would you be totally comfortable with being the two of you and not have regrets? I know it’s such a personal decision but I’m rooting for you whatever you do! Love the blog and it always puts a smile on my face. xo

  21. Oh, Amber, I feel for you so much. I remember having so many doubts and fears about trying again – obviously, I’m glad I did NOW but it was hard to look past my fear of what the next year might hold and think clearly about what I wanted the rest of my life to be like; in my case, I knew that I’d regret not trying when all my friends kids started graduating and getting careers and getting married and having kids of their own and I didn’t have a grown up child to feel proud of. But that’s me; you might feel completely differently.

    What I can say for definite is that you are not awful for feeling relieved that your ectopic pregnancy is behind you; you’re not awful for not feeling the same level of grief you did for your miscarriage; you’re not awful for thinking about the two pregnancies differently – they were completely different experiences. You can’t control emotional reactions – there is no right or wrong or appropriate or inappropriate; this happened to you and your body and nobody can tell you how you’re supposed to feel.

  22. Sending you my love, this sort of post always takes bravery and isn’t easy to write!

    On a practical note, and I’m aware it will come down to money, but there are very good CBT therapists outside the NHS which could avoid the need for any more medical contact. Just a thought!

    1. I’ve actually had CBT before, and it didn’t help at all, unfortunately – I think I’ll probably look into some kind of online counselling, though, as a few people have recommended that!

  23. I’m so glad that you wrote and published this post. Your clarity and bravery inspire me. I think online counseling would work well for you as you write the details and nuances of your situation in quite a clear manner. It’s also great to see all the love, support and advice others give you. As all “the good stuff” has already been covered, I’ll just say that I agree with those who feel that it comes down to which regret you can live with best. Also, I make lists of pros and cons. 🙂 We’ll be here online and supporting you. (((hugs)))

  24. Amber, your comment if there was a guarantee you would definitely try again is something to really consider. One thing having children has taught me is there are no guarantees and you get to control far less than you think or hope you can. Having children is a wild roller coaster ride, but oh so worth it. I know you can’t rationalise your way through this though. I would say you have been very lucky conceiving so easily even if it has not worked out well so far. Having children is a big leap of faith for everybody really, you never know the hand you will be dealt. Surely its your turn for a lucky one, I so hope so for both of you. Xx

  25. Firstly I didn’t really want to offer any advice but just to say that while I don’t have the same level of anxiety, I also have control issues (I even hate being a passenger in a car). While I was massively skeptical, I tried some hypnotherapy CDs in pregnancy just to help me to relax as my tension manifests very physically, tight muscles, clenched jaw, chewed cheek etc. I’m a crap sleeper but every time I’d put the CD on I fell asleep within five to ten minutes (minor miracle) so I even though I never heard most of it I did get some benefit. I’m quite the cynic about any thing alternative and I NEVER thought it would work but I have to admit I was wrong in this instance. Not saying it would work for you but it might be worth trying out some freebees on YouTube etc and having little expectation – you just never know.

    Anyway, best wishes to you and Terry. Don’t forget that you are far stronger than you think you are. Writing about it alone, shows immense bravery.

  26. Hi Amber,
    I am a doctor (not in fertility or gynaecology though) and practice in Australia where our health system is different of course. I have also worked in the UK. I think that given all of the issues, it would be worthwhile having a second opinion e.g. From a private fertility specialist to go through all of the options with you – either where you live or another city.

    I know that private practice is not as common in the UK and I note that you have severe anxiety when talking to doctors and attending hospitals. I just want to point out that there are ongoing new developments all medical fields and the most important thing is to have all of the knowledge and information about what is available at your disposal. Sometimes this may mean talking to further specialists to get an idea about all of the options and how they are achieved/what is involved.

    Best wishes.

  27. Oh Amber, I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through. I don’t have health anxiety, more money and other general anxiety, so I do understand. I would like to say that your child would be so, so cute. But, ha, that sounds flippant and very much downplays the hard decision you guys have to come to. Both childfree and with kids are wonderful in their own ways. I offer you my thoughts and I’m glad the ordeal of the ectopic is behind you Amber. And thank you again for your honesty.

  28. This is so crazy – I just discovered your blog last week and had just found out I was pregnant with my second. It didn’t feel right somehow and I even dreamt I had had a miscarriage. Today was my first doctors’ appointment and I read your Instagram post by chance when I was sitting there waiting. Minutes later I was told I had an ectopic pregnancy… What are the chances? I think it was life preparing me and my body just knew. It’s been such a scary day (I’ve already had surgery now). Anyway still thanks for posting this. It does make it easier to know I’m not the only one going through this.
    I feel for you!! :*

    1. Oh my goodness, I’m SO sorry 🙁 I know there’s nothing anyone can say, but if you ever need someone to talk to, feel free to get in touch – always happy to chat!

  29. Hi Amber,

    I stumbled upon your blog maybe a year ago when I was looking for the best foundation for pale skin (of all things, it’s so hard to find one!). I’ve never commented before, but I keep coming back to your blog because you are such a genuine and unpretentious writer. You let us in and see not only your “highlight reel” but your real life. I’m so sorry you’ve had all these health issues to get through and so happy that you are physically ok. It’s a tough spot you’re in, and I know you and Terry will get through it. Y’all sound like a great team to me. You’re in my thoughts all the way over in Texas!

    Shannon

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