When Jessica Graham discovered she was pregnant with her first child, she was delighted.
But just a few weeks later she and her fiance Alex Phillips were facing the trauma of not only losing their baby, but also Jessica’s life being threatened.
She had suffered an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo grows outside the womb, and which can prove fatal.
Now the 24-year-old is determined to help others affected and fundraise for a support charity.
Jessica said: “We never thought when trying for a baby that we not only would have problems but that it would almost cost me my life.
“As part of the EPT1000 challenge for the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, I aim to raise awareness of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy and also to help women and their families not to feel alone when going through an ectopic pregnancy.
“I know what it is like to grieve a child I never knew and know I will never get to see my fiancé hold the baby we had started planning for.”
Jessica, from Rothwell, Leeds, fell pregnant quickly and when she started feeling unwell, initially put it down to normal pregnancy symptoms.
Over a few days, she suffered shoulder pain, bleeding and pain in her abdomen.
But it wasn’t until a second visit to her GP that she was booked in for a scan at hospital a few days later.
During the scan, it became apparent that something was seriously wrong: “The sonographer’s face said it all,” Jessica said. “She said ‘I can see the pregnancy implanted in your left tube’.”
The couple were told Jessica’s symptoms were typical of an ectopic pregnancy.
After being given the devastating news that they would lose their baby, a doctor then warned them that Jessica’s Fallopian tube was starting to rupture and would need to be removed very quickly.
“The doctor said ‘you are very lucky, if you’d come in a few days later, we’d be trying to save your life,” Jessica added.
She underwent surgery that night and was discharged the next day, but the couple were left to come to terms with what had happened.
“The physical pain begins to lessen, however the emotional pain carries on,” Jessica added.
They and their family were supported by the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust and now, the outreach worker is raising money by joining the charity’s EPT1000 challenge to run, walk or swim 1,000 miles over the next 12 months.
She also wants to help others affected by ectopic pregnancies: “This was our first pregnancy and we do not know what the future holds for us and the family we are dreaming of, but If I can help just one person feel less alone in their experience, I have achieved my goal.”
Ectopic pregnancy affects one in 80 pregnancies and can occasionally be life-threatening.
It occurs when the fertilised egg implants outside the womb, most commonly in the Fallopian tube. It is not possible to move an ectopic pregnancy into the womb to allow it to grow normally. Jessica now wants to share her experience and offer support to others going through the same thing. For information, follow her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jesssofatomilesEPTC/.