Search icon


09th Oct 2015

Ectopic pregnancy: My story

Susanne Brodigan

Having kids was always part of my plan. I met my husband when I was 21-years-old, and we got married at 27. The following year we started trying for a baby.

I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant the first month, so when I got my period, I wasn’t that disappointed. About two weeks later though, I started spotting, on and off. Then I started getting horrible shooting pains in my lower back – it felt like a needle prick, and it nearly made me jump out of my chair. A trip to the doctor after getting really bad cramps one day revealed I was pregnant.

Although I was thrilled, I didn’t allow myself to get too excited – it was clear something wasn’t quite right. The first trip to the Early Pregnancy Unit was inconclusive, and I was sent home “at risk of miscarrying,” told to rest and asked to come back three days later.

I felt frustrated – I knew in my heart something wasn’t right – I knew I wasn’t going have this baby, and not knowing for sure was the worst bit. I went back for a second scan and eventually they found the pregnancy to be Ectopic – a pregnancy in which the fetus develops outside the womb, typically in a fallopian tube.

It was hidden right behind my left tube. The doctors explained I needed a keyhole surgery procedure and an overnight stay.

We started trying again as soon as we could. Now, I was desperate to get pregnant. But month after month passed, and nothing happened. Acupuncture, ovulation kits, going through the emotions – trying on the ‘right days,’ then the hoping and praying, and watching out for every little twitch. Followed by the disappointment when my period arrived. Of course, it seemed everyone around was pregnant all of a sudden, and all I could see were bumps everywhere.

Then, in February 2009, I was late. The pregnancy test was positive. We were so thrilled. We were finally going to have our baby. I was convinced everything was fine – I had none of the complaints I’d had the year before. I remember the day so well, we went for the scan on the 11th of March – it was the day our whole life changed. When the doctor told me it was another ectopic pregnancy, I just screamed and broke down. I was nearly nine weeks gone, and I knew there was little chance that my remaining tube could be saved. I kept thinking “this can’t be right?” I had surgery a few hours later.

Having another ectopic pregnancy was my worst nightmare, and if someone had told me what was going to happen, I wouldn’t have thought I’d get through it. But I did.

But, each day got that little bit easier. I’m not saying it was easy because it wasn’t – my colleague was pregnant and due the exact day I would have been. It was tough going. I came into work one day to find emails with pictures of her new baby in my inbox, and I just broke down in the middle of the office.

But somehow you just cope.

Our only option now was IVF and in May 2010 we started our first cycle. It was textbook – nine eggs fertilised, one was transferred, the rest frozen. The dreaded two week wait started. Nine days after transfer, I started spotting, then bleeding. I did a test anyway, and it was negative. We were devastated. It hadn’t worked.

But, a week and a half after the negative test, I was still spotting, enough for me to be concerned. I rang the clinic, and a test confirmed it actually was positive.

Of course, I was worried it was another ectopic as the symptoms (bleeding, then brown spotting) were all-too familiar. The next two weeks were a blur of hospital visits and blood tests. After the third blood test in a week, I was told my hormone levels were falling, the doctor scanned me – her face said it all – another ectopic. My little blastocyst embryo had attached itself to the stump of my right tube.

To reduce the chances of it happening again, the remainder of my tubes were clipped back. This followed another failed IVF cycle in November, and it was six months before we decided to try again. And we got pregnant. But this pregnancy felt different from the start – a scan at five weeks showed a perfect pregnancy sac in the womb – two weeks later we saw the heartbeat. Being able to tell the world we were finally expecting a baby was one of the best days of our lives.

Our baby girl was born in March 2012.

We will never forget the babies we lost, the heartbreak we went through, but we came out the other side. It made me stronger, and I believe it made me a better person – it made me who I am now.

Susanne Brodigan tells her story to highlight The Baby Loss Awareness and Remembrance Evening which is co-hosted by Ectopic Pregnancy Ireland, The Miscarriage Association of Ireland and Feileacain – just three of countless charities supporting families dealing with pregnancy or baby loss.

The free event takes place on October 15, 6.30 – 9.30 at the Davenport Hotel, Dublin 2. Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital Holles Street amongst others, will speak. The event will cover: what you can do after a loss, moving forward emotionally, dealing with grief and what support services are available. To register for attendance at