My Pregnancy Is My Choice—The Realities of Ectopic Pregnancy

Erica Swallow at the hospital during her ectopic pregnancy emergency—one photo when she found out she's pregnant and one photo after the surgical removal of her Fallopian tube and pregnancy.
From left: Me at 11:30am in the hospital, shortly after I found out I was pregnant, awaiting more tests and the eventual surgery that would end the pregnancy; dressed, post-surgery, ready to be wheeled out of the hospital around 10pm.

“Do you want to keep it if it’s viable?” the doctor asked.

“Yes,” I responded.

And that was my choice.

My body. My choice.

I knew the answer immediately. I was surprised by my resolve, and at peace that I might wake up a future mother. But that is not how my day ended.

On February 3rd of this year, I had an ectopic pregnancy that resulted in the removal of my left Fallopian tube and the pregnancy that had ruptured out of it, sending me to the emergency room in the worst physical pain I’ve ever experienced.

I woke up and vomited out of sheer pain. Afraid of the cost of healthcare, I waited an entire day. Instead of panick and potentially incur ER costs, I made a next-day appointment with my OB/GYN, assuming it was an issue with my Fallopian tube (I had a known condition, a hydrosalpinx). The next morning, I woke up and immediately vomited out of pain again, barely able to walk. I felt like I might be in a life-or-death situation, so I decided to go in right when the office opened at 8am, instead of for my appointment (which was supposed to be for 11am). I thought I might die if I waited.

I tried to call my neighbors for help, but they were not awake yet. So, I drove myself to the doctor’s office, where my OB/GYN examined me and told me I needed immediate assistance. I barely made it out of that negotiation without an ambulance, but she agreed to let me drive myself to the ER to save the ambulance cost.

It was in the ER a couple hours later, after many tests and lots of waiting, that I learned I was pregnant. But it didn’t look good.

Yes, I would have kept it if it was viable. But in the end, it was not.

And in that case, my choice was that I wanted medical treatment. Which was life-saving for me.

I had abdominal and heavy-flow vaginal bleeding, could not walk or move my left leg shortly after arriving at the ER, and was on the verge of blacking out from pain before they got me to a room with medication to ease it.

And my doctor? Before I was put under for surgery, she told me it was very unlikely the pregnancy would be viable, and that it was possible they would need to remove my entire reproductive system (in a worst-case scenario). Luckily, that was not the case. But sadly, she did have to remove the tube and pregnancy and perform an “evacuation” of my uterus, where there was bleeding.

In some states, OB/GYNs are now in a legal grey area—with the overturn of Roe v. Wade—of not being able to determine if this life-saving medical procedure would even be LEGAL. When it comes to reproductive care, doctors should be focused on their patients’ health, not their own legal liability to give the treatment they should be ethically bound to give.

Thank goodness I needed medical assistance in Massachusetts and not my home state of Arkansas, as in many other states, where women’s rights are being rolled back 50 years. I am angered that lawmakers think it is their right to put our lives at risk—or that they have ANY right to tell us what to do with our bodies or lives.

I would have wanted the baby—and though it didn’t happen that way, I was given a choice. It is not a lawmaker’s choice, not a doctor’s choice—it is MY choice.

9 thoughts on “My Pregnancy Is My Choice—The Realities of Ectopic Pregnancy

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  2. Heartbreaking, Erica! Much love to you, my friend! Thank you for sharing your story. You are a bright light and I’m glad you’re ok.

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