I sat facing the doctor as she tapped away at the computer. It was 5.30pm on a Thursday evening in North West London. She was hoping this last appointment would be brief, an easily diagnosed problem.
"Mmm... eh...." I stammered, stuttered and though the words forming in my mouth were nothing short of miraculous, they took a while to articulate, eventually I announced, "I'm pregnant."
For the past couple of weeks I had been emotionally at sea, tears breaking free, fast flowing downward. I am not normally a crier. I assumed stress was the culprit. I had of late been very stressed, hence the missed period. It had to be that or an ovarian cyst, female trouble but not trouble of the pregnant kind.
The doctor glanced up from the screen.
"You seem shocked?"
I was shocked.
Earlier in the afternoon, I had taken a test, to be on the safe side, to confirm the impossibility of what it then indicated to be possible.
See, this should not have happened.
"I'm on the coil, Doctor."
For the past ten years, I had used the same reliable method of contraception.
"Oh," she said, "So it wasn't planned?"
Planned? I am not the planning sort. I usually let things just happen; sometimes it has to be admitted, to my own detriment.
Hours earlier, perched on the edge of my bath, I watched as two pink bars appeared in the plastic rectangular window of the tester. One bar signified single status, two bars - well, double the trouble.
Immediately breaking into sobs I then googled the words; coil, pregnancy, IUD and copper. Within seconds the following came up, miscarriage (high chance of), ectopic pregnancy (ditto), and 99.8% effective (coil).
Back at the Doctor's surgery, I described the pains I had been having on the right side of my womb.
"It's most probably an ectopic pregnancy," I ventured.
She nodded, "You'll have to have an emergency scan as soon as possible. Can you go to the hospital tomorrow?"
"I'm playing tennis."
"You'll have to cancel tennis."
The tone of her voice suggested a hospital visit took precedence.
"If,' she continued, 'this is an ectopic pregnancy, you may need surgery."
I am a 42-year-old single mother of a 12 year old. I am no spring chicken. My fertility should be on the wane. Around me are friends desperate to conceive; IVFd up to the eyeballs, contemplating all manner of 21st century technology just to get pregnant. The chances of this happening were one in a... my maths desert me. Blue moon? My head was in a muddle.
The doctor printed a letter detailing that the subject, (myself) required an emergency scan due to a suspected ectopic pregnancy. Handing it to me, she smiled 'Let me know how you get on.'
Honestly, this really shouldn't have happened or be happening. Three weeks ago, I split up from the man I was seeing. We had reached the six month mark, the 'where do we go from here', stage. A decision (his) was made, rather than set sail into the sunset it was better to abandon ship. Since then, there had been zero communication between us. All I knew was that currently he was on tour with his band.
I stood on the pavement and took my mobile from my coat pocket. The call went straight to his answer phone.
"Hey, it's me... I've just been to the doctor's and well, we need to talk, so... if you could call... I'd really appreciate it."
I stuffed the phone back in my pocket, then realised I could just as easily have been talking about an STD.
What's happening on the inside?
All I knew for certain was that I was in possession of a fertilized cell or zygote, which was rapidly dividing into a ball of cells known as the blastocyst. If more than one egg was released and fertilised, I'd have multiple zygotes. The zygote has 46 chromosomes, 23 from you and 23 from your partner. Chromosomes help determine gender and traits such as eye and hair colour, and, to some extent, personality and intelligence. My body was producing a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). The pregnancy test detected this hormone. My breasts were tender and swollen and I had pains (twinges) in my lower abdomen.
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