‘I’m constantly asking myself why’: Mother shares heartbreak of ectopic pregnancy

Jill Foster
·5-min read
Kate Simpson was devastated to learn that her longed for pregnancy was ectopic. (Supplied, Kate Simpson)
Kate Simpson was devastated to learn that a longed-for pregnancy was ectopic. (Supplied, Kate Simpson)

Kate Simpson came down the stairs with the positive pregnancy test in her hand and could barely believe what she was about to tell her husband.

"I’d had our second miscarriage only a few weeks before and so I was amazed that I was pregnant again so soon," says Simpson, 35, a business development manager from Woking, Surrey.

"We joked that it was like an immaculate conception because I’d been so low after the miscarriage that we’d hardly tried for a baby.

"But this was definitely a positive result and I was excited but also very apprehensive and anxious. Our two previous miscarriages – one in November 2017 and one in December 2020 – had both been before eight weeks and were horrendous.

"We’d been fortunate to conceive our little girl Sienna, now two, very shortly after my first miscarriage. So I let myself hope that the same thing could be happening again."

Sadly, for Simpson and her husband Daniel, 32, a gas engineer, it was not to be. Their fourth pregnancy turned out to be ectopic, where the embryo develops outside of the womb.

Read more: Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy may trigger post-traumatic stress

According to the Miscarriage Association, one in 80 pregnancies are ectopic, and for some women they can be life-threatening.

Kate Simpson says she feels blessed to have her two-year-old daughter Sienna. (Supplied, Kate Simpson)
Kate Simpson says she feels blessed to have her two-year-old daughter Sienna. (Supplied, Kate Simpson)

Although the embryo can develop in places like the cervix or scar from a c-section, in most cases the pregnancy is found in one of the fallopian tubes – the place where sperm and egg meet and the egg is fertilised.

This is what happened to Simpson.

"The first we knew that something was wrong was when I started bleeding a few days later," she says.

"I rang the Early Pregnancy Unit, who did urine and blood tests a few days later that showed my hCG (the pregnancy hormone) levels were low and a further scan could not detect a pregnancy sac. They said they couldn’t rule out ‘a pregnancy of unknown location’ or a miscarriage.

"I was really worried. I knew about ectopic pregnancy already because at one point with my pregnancy with Sienna, they thought it might be ectopic. But the doctors said I should do another urine test a week later, just to make sure. They said I was something ‘of a conundrum'."

Watch: Miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies can lead to long-lasting PTSD

What followed were days of confusion with more blood and urine tests that seemed to show that Simpson's hormone levels were up and down.

At first a miscarriage was confirmed. But eventually, Simpson was given a scan and was told the devastating news that the pregnancy was indeed in her fallopian tube.

"I was really upset and couldn’t stop crying,’ says Simpson. "I’d told Dan not to come with me to the scan as we’d already taken too much time off work. If I’d known I was going to receive news like that I’d have thought otherwise. All I could think was: ‘Why me?’"

It's a common reaction for many women, but according to the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, there is nothing a woman can do to prevent an ectopic pregnancy.

Women who have undergone fertility treatment, have had endometriosis or smoke may have a higher chance of having one. But for Simpson, it was pure bad luck.

Read more: Best friend becomes woman's surrogate after she spent £50k on IVF

"The doctors rang Dan and together we discussed our options – either surgery or medical management where they inject a drug that stops the pregnancy developing further and it is reabsorbed into the body," says Simpson. 

"But there’s more of a chance of rupture with this drug which can be very dangerous and as it was the weekend, the consultant didn’t want me to take the risk. Instead, she admitted me for surgery."

Simpson underwent the operation – after more confusion over her hormone levels and a delay of several days for tests – and the pregnancy was removed along with her fallopian tube.

Read more: Woman posts heartbreaking video on losing baby to ectopic pregnancy

"I’d been told that this was a risk with the surgery if my other fallopian tube was healthy but was reassured that it doesn’t affect my chances of getting pregnant in the future," says Simpson.

"My body is beginning to heal but emotionally an ectopic is very stressful. I’m just beginning to get my head around the fact we’ve lost another baby and we have no idea if we’ll be able to have another.

"I’ve been open about my experiences this time with friends and colleagues which has made such a difference. Women shouldn’t hide these things.

"I’m constantly asking myself why – as a healthy woman who doesn't smoke and hardly drinks – it keeps happening to me. But we have to move forward. 

"We’re blessed to have Sienna, and if we’re only supposed to have one child then so be it. But we have to remain hopeful."

Watch: Ending the stigma of miscarriage: Why do people shy away from talking publicly about it?

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