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Home Health The traumatic effects of an ectopic pregnancy are described in \”Worst thing that’s ever happened to me\”
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The traumatic effects of an ectopic pregnancy are described in \”Worst thing that’s ever happened to me\”

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Cox, 33, who lives in Denton, Greater Manchester, attended her hospital’s early pregnancy unit (EPU) in February 2018 after a positive pregnancy test. She was being monitored due to a previous miscarriage, and a blood test showed that her levels of HCG, a hormone that rises rapidly in early pregnancy, had fallen. She was also experiencing some spotting and cramping. “I was told it was an early miscarriage,” she says.

She continued to experience pain and irregular bleeding and in mid-March she attended A&E but was advised that what she was experiencing was normal. “My bleeding got particularly bad,” she says. “But I was just told my body was regulating itself and it would take time.”

Another month went by, and on 13 April Cox had to leave work due to excruciating pain. She had also begun to feel very unwell. She went to A&E with her mother, where she was told she might have retained tissue from the presumed miscarriage and was given antibiotics. But it was a Friday evening and the EPU had closed for the weekend, so she was asked to return for a scan on the Monday. “It just seems ridiculous considering this is so dangerous,” she says.

The scan revealed a large ovarian cyst on the right side, but the ectopic pregnancy was not detected – and does not appear to have been considered. It was only when she attended a recurrent miscarriage clinic a few days later that her symptoms were taken more seriously. A blood test revealed that her HCG levels had risen again and the consultant was concerned by her continued bleeding and pain.

She was admitted to hospital and had surgery to drain the cyst a few days later. During the operation, her ectopic pregnancy was discovered and her fallopian tube had to be removed in an emergency procedure.

“When I came around, they told me they’d had to take my tube, which was very shocking,” she says. “And it wasn’t long after I’d come around from the anaesthetic that I was handed a cremation form.”

She regrets not having had the chance to name her baby or reflect on what had happened. “They named my baby for me, Baby Cox,” she says. “It was horrible. I developed PTSD as a result. That really affected me for a number of years.

“What made it worse for me was how many people said: ‘It’s OK, you’ve still got another tube.’”

Looking back, Cox feels her symptoms were minimised by health professionals and that her concerns were not taken seriously. “I was made to feel like a silly woman and told ‘it’s just your body regulating things’,” she says. “All the flags were there and they didn’t pay attention.”

The hospital subsequently settled a medical negligence case with Cox, acknowledging that her life had been placed at risk.

Cox went on to have three more ectopic pregnancies, before becoming pregnant with her daughter, who is now two, through IVF.

She says women should be offered better psychological support to cope with the experience. She is now in her final year as a trainee counsellor and hopes to specialise in supporting women through pregnancy loss when she qualifies.

“I’m going on a placement at the hospital where I had my daughter to counsel women who’ve lost babies at under 20 weeks,” she says. “I know how it feels to be that low.”

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