Heterotopic Pregnancy Awareness 

Since my near death experience, and the loss of yet another pregnancy, I have been thinking about if there is some good that could come from it all (other than the beautiful life still inside of my uterus of course). 

Although I do not know the exact answer as to why it all happened to me, and likely never will, I do know that it is now my responsibility to bring awareness to this rare, dangerous condition.  

When I first started experiencing spotting that Thursday morning, I was just 1 day short of 5 weeks pregnant. It was initially light, and mostly brown. I didnt think much of it. I chalked it up to implantation bleeding since it was so early on.  

We had just transferred two beautiful embryos 14 days prior and had received the news it worked. Our betas that week came back very high. We all (doctor included) immediately thought twins. We were thrilled. 

The spotting continued and started to turn to pink and red bleeding. By Sunday, I was experiencing sharp, shooting pains on my left side (posterior) by my hip. I called the on call service at my clinic and they set me up an appointment for Monday morning. I was sure I was miscarrying again. 

Monday morning I went in for an ultrasound. My RE was on vacation so my nurse performed the scan. I was just 5 weeks and 3 days, so there was very well a possibility of seeing nothing. But she did see one gestational and yolk sac. I was initally surprised by only one, especially with my high numbers and transferring 2. She reminded me that by next week we could see the other sac since it was so early on. The scan was over with in a few minutes, and she reassured me that bleeding early on in pregnancy is common. 

I went on my way, grateful that I had a life growing inside of me and that I hadnt miscarried. The bleeding didnt stop though. Within 2 days it was gushing out of me. I went in for a blood test to make sure my levels werent dropping. They were perfect. 

Over the next few days, I bled, passing a few clots and just feeling off. Something didnt seem right. I was 6 weeks and 2 days when things took a turn for the worse. I woke up in the middle of the night to a sharp, stabbing, shooting pain like I had never felt before. Again, it was on my left posterior side by my hip. This time though, a week later, it was much more intense. I got up, and tried to make it to the bathroom as I was seeing stars. It felt as if I had too much to drink and the room was spinning. I was either miscarrying or dying in my mind. I puked in my mouth. It was awful. 

I called the doctor (who was now back in town) the next morning. By this time, I could barely move. It felt as if I was being crushed. I couldnt even take a deep breath. She told me to come in right away. 

Immediately she saw a beating heart. I was happy but knew something still was not right. This time, instead of telling me bleeding is common early on, she started to really scan me. She was in there for about 10 minutes at least, having me move certain ways and such. 

At that point it became clear-our other embryo had implanted into my left tube. It had now ruptured and I was bleeding internally. Blood was all thoughout my stomach, up to my liver. She gave it one more day and I would have been gone. 

The point of me sharing this is to help someone out there. Not once, did anyone, myself included, consider that I could have had a tubal pregnancy until it ruptured. Especially since I had a uterine pregnancy. I do believe if the uterine pregnancy wasnt there, it would have been found sooner. All the signs of a tubal pregnancy were there but we were all blinded. 

In my case, things worked out for the best. My RE was able to remove my tube and save me and my uterine pregnancy. Had my nurse found it when my RE was out of town, I dont know how it would have played out. I know my RE is the only one I wanted operating on me, hence God works in mysterious ways. 

Heterotopic pregnancies via IVF are a 1 in 10,000 occurrence. In natural pregnancies, I believe it is even more rare, not sure of the exact number, something like 1 in 30,000. Many are under the impression that IVF cannot result in a tubal pregnancy, which is simply not the case. When an IVF transfer is done, the embryos are placed into the uterus through a catheter. Hubby & I watched this happen on the screen as little white dots. Once in the uterus, they are basically floating around, looking for a spot to implant. They can go wherever they please. 

In no way am I a doctor, but here are some signs that I feel should not be ignored or accepted as common, especially after placing 2 embryos in the uterus and getting back extremely high betas-

  • Continous bleeding that starts as spotting, goes from brown to pink to red and back again 
  • Sharp shooting pains in the hips on the posterior side 
  • Vision obscured 
  • Having difficulty breathing
  • Feeling that something is just not right (listen to your body!) 

I hope I can turn our sadness to some good, and that this post can save someones life, their tube, their baby, whatever it might be. 

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23 thoughts on “Heterotopic Pregnancy Awareness 

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I am so relieved that you are now on the road of recovery. I have always been weary of tubal pregnancy. A friend of mine in her 40s transferred 13 day 3 embryos (yes, 13!). The whole time I was very nervous for her that the embryos would travel up to the tubes. She ended up not being pregnant, which was sad, but I was very glad that nothing catastrophic happened.

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  2. I think it’s great that you are spreading the awareness. There is a women in my uterine anomaly online support group who just had this happen to her and she wrote about it days after you did. I gave her your blog address so she could read your story and contact you if she wanted. Otherwise I had never even heard of it. I’m just so glad you and baby are ok and I am so sorry for the loss of your twin and tube. Hugs and keep resting up.

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  3. During my last loss, when I was miscarrying but my betas kept climbing, I was really afraid of having another unnoticed ectopic, besides the pregnancy in my uterus (since I had an ectopic before, I have a higher risk of having it again). Your bleeding symptoms were really similar to my ectopic (first pregnancy), so when you finally figured it out I felt bad for not having earned you before about heterotopic pregnancies. Sorry. But I’m just glad you and this baby are fine. Hope you recover soon, it took me quite some weeks to feel better from the surgery. Hugs

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  4. I think that your honesty in describing these details will be incredibly helpful to others. It sounds like a truly awful and traumatic experience. I’m so relieved you and your baby are ok.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing your experience! my heterotopic pregnancy was conceived naturally, so there were even less clues (no “missing” embryo). i did have a sharp pain at 5+ weeks and mentioned the fear of an ectopic to my doctor but when he saw the sac in the uterus the pain was attributed to a corpus luteum in my left ovary.
    be very aware of spottong and pain. the day i went to the ER my pain felt like a combination of menstrual cramps, appendicitis, kidney infection, a UTI and a heart attack, radiating into my chest, the diaphragm and my left shoulder.
    unfortunately, yesterday on my birthday and my 7+ week scan/post surgery follow-up it was discovered that the embryo in my uterus didn’t make it. most likely due to the anaesthesia, injections and hormonal imbalance due to massive blood loss, but who knows. i am devastated, this was my first pregnancy and my only chance of ever conceiving a child naturally, since my right tube never worked and the left one was removed during the surgery now.
    Good luck for you and keep sharing your story ♡♡♡♡♡

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  6. Thanks for spreading the word and helping people be informed. As someone who had a less common type of pregnancy in 2014 (interstitial/cornual pregnancy), I would have loved to be able to find someone sharing information on their experience with it.

    So often the only things out there are scary message board posts with no follow up info. While we love Dr. M and our nurses there, I wanted to educate myself beyond what they told us and I couldn’t find anyone who had experienced what we were experiencing (neither good nor bad outcome).

    While I’m not as brave as you to blog about it, I do try to educate my friends because these types of situations can be so dangerous to the mother if they go unnoticed and unmonitored.

    While that pregnancy didn’t have a happy ending, Dr. M did sent us to a specialist and between the two of them I was so well monitored that I did not end up in a more dangerous situation and thank God I didn’t have a uterine rupture and was eventually able to go on and have my take home baby 7 months ago.

    Praying that your little fighter is growing stronger than ever and I am so sorry for your loss of the other baby. Even knowing that ours didn’t have a chance where he was didn’t make loosing him any easier : )

    Liked by 1 person

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