Charlotte Haynes, 30 from Southchurch is in the midst of a hellish ectopic pregnancy.

The condition, sometimes life-threatening, affects one in 90 pregnant women and always ends in a failed pregnancy. The senior accounts handler for a London based insurance brokers is still going through her ordeal but wants to help others in the same boat by speaking out about ectopic pregnancies. Here, in her own words, Charlotte bravely shares her story.

My fiance and I were trying for our first baby, I felt that something was different, so we took a pregnancy test and it was positive.

We were both really excited but knew that this was very early, and I would only be four weeks or so.

Over the next week I had some mild bleeding and cramping which friends and family told me were normal symptoms of implantation.

A week later I started to get a sharp pain on my left side just above my hip which concerned me. I called my fiance who is a doctor in Colchester, and he told me to go to hospital and he would meet me there as ‘this is an ectopic pregnancy until proven otherwise’.

I attended Southend A&E with my mum and my pregnancy was confirmed. I was transferred to the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) where they examined me, and my bloods were taken.

I was stable and the pain was manageable, so I went home and returned the following day for an internal ultrasound and to discuss all the investigations.

As expected from my dates and the hormone level (HCG) nothing was seen on the internal ultrasound. My progesterone level was also very low, even for such an early pregnancy. I was told that this was not good and could be a sign of a failing pregnancy or miscarriage.

This was devastating to hear as this was a planned pregnancy, but nothing was certain at this point. We came back the following day to have a blood test. In a healthy pregnancy, the HCG level would normally double over this time.

On awaking the next morning, I had a heavy bleed with clots. I was very concerned that this was a miscarriage, so I called the EPU who advised me to come in for my bloods as planned.

My HCG level had dropped slightly instead of doubling therefore what I had experienced that morning may have been a miscarriage, but I would need further bloods under their care.

Two days later I again returned for bloods which showed a small rise in my HCG. This was a surprise to me as I thought I had had a miscarriage. I was informed that this could be a sign of an “ectopic pregnancy”.

The staff at the EPU gently explained to me that an ectopic pregnancy is where an embryo attaches somewhere outside of the uterus/womb. They are never viable but can have complications depending where they are. The most common place for an ectopic to attach is within the fallopian tube, which can in some cases rupture.

I was told all the signs and symptoms to look out for, including severe abdominal pain, shoulder tip pain, feeling faint/dizzy and heavy bleeding.

This was another devastating blow as I was still coming to terms with a miscarriage. I was now being told that this journey may be far from over and would require many more tests and scans and potentially medications or even surgery.

The EPU nurses were amazing throughout this time, the compassion and kindness they have shown me has made an immense difference to me and I am eternally grateful to them.

After another trip to Southend A&E with severe left sided abdominal pain and repeated blood tests, my options were a medication to end the pregnancy or surgery to look into my abdomen to investigate further and to remove my tube if needed. Neither option was appealing, but after supportive discussions with staff, my fiance and I decided to opt for the medication. This treatment requires ongoing blood tests for many weeks.

This is where I find myself today; in the midst of an ongoing array of blood tests and appointments, still positive on pregnancy tests but knowing that this pregnancy will never bear a child. The best I am hoping for is that nothing has been damaged in a way that might impact future pregnancies.

Throughout this pregnancy one of the most challenging aspects for me was trying to convey what I have been going through to my friends, family and even work colleagues.

Apart from my fiance, only a handful of people had even heard of an ectopic pregnancy. I want to share my story because despite ectopic pregnancies occurring in around 1 in 90 pregnancies, it seems that women don’t really talk about these things.

Having not heard about these things previously left me feeling like I was alone and a failure, searching for something I had done wrong that may have caused this. I now know that this thinking was completely wrong, and this sadly can strike anyone without reason.

I hope that by telling my story, women like me will not feel alone. The help and support I have received from Southend EPU has been outstanding and has made this horrible experience that bit more bearable. We are lucky to have these kind and dedicated people on our doorstep in Southend.