• We For Women

Katie Ness' Story

Trigger warning: this story contains descriptions of ectopic pregnancy which readers might find triggering.

Surviving my Ectopic Pregnancy Stranger Baby Colliding comet, Crashing into earth womb flesh, Sail to Xibalba. December rain, A dying star enveloped in a galaxy of blood, Microcosm Macrocosm. Ecliptic Ectopic, Lonely gibbous ovary drifts in ghost tube, Black hole orbits graveyard Uterus. Sweet-dark astronaut, Ammonite curled swimming up Orion’s belt, Armageddon butchered body. Violent birth, That was your attempt at dying, A sacrificial life-giving voyage. Cataclysmic asteroid, There was a Virgo moon in my heart, Stranger baby. **** “I’m so sorry Miss Ness, it’s ectopic, I can’t even see the left side of your womb on the scan, there is that much blood….You will need to have an operation. But don’t worry, we will book you in for the procedure this afternoon, this gives you the whole morning to come to terms with the news and emotionally prepare...Again I’m so sorry….”

“I can’t even see the left side of your womb, there is that much blood”- Those words echo through my psyche. I see a dying star collide with a planet, a cataclysm in the space of my womb.

Eyes bewildered like a deer, shaking like a mouse, silent tears and staring past the doctor at an image on the wall of a happy pregnant woman being hugged by her devoted partner in a meadow.

In contrast, I'm sitting in a clinical room, partner holding my hand, his face consumed by worry, the doctor pulls out the bloodied hysteroscope from my vagina.

I’m not used to being this vulnerable, I’ve been in situations before that attacked my vulnerability-my softness at the core of my being, that my darling partner loves so much.

But these attacks have always been from outside of me-school bullies, problems in my childhood home, customers and co-workers, chronic illness and doctors fobbing me off time and time again, abusive ex-partners, the judgement of ex friends and my own errors in life.

And with every situation, no matter how dark, I’ve always held it together, I’ve always been the gentle diplomat, always understood that life outside of me fluctuates like the tides and that people have their own back stories as to why they are the way they are, so I find grace from within knowing that people and external circumstances are just another aspect of reality beyond myself, therefore I’ve always been a rather serene, patient and compassionate person when life becomes messy or brutal. I ride those harsh waves, knowing in the pain and life lesson, I will discover calmer waters.

However, for the first time in my life the attack has been from within, a tiny being symbolic of love, the manifestation of two people loving each other, accidentally hurt me and almost killed me. Within the space of 2.5 hours I experienced two deaths and my own near death. I lost a 7 week old embryo, my left fallopian tube and I was on the precipice of crossing the rainbow bridge.

A death happened inside me?

A death happened inside my body?

THE WOMB: An organ whose sole purpose is to create life. At least this is what you’re taught in sex education. Nobody talks of miscarriages, still borns and ectopics. Nobody prepares you, no woman believes it’ll happen to her.

Ectopic Pregnancy is a common, life threatening condition that is the leading cause of death in early pregnancy that affects 1 in 80 women. It occurs when an ovum (egg) that has been fertilised implants (gets stuck) outside the cavity of the uterus (womb). The most common place for an ectopic pregnancy is the Fallopian tube but there are many other sites where an ectopic pregnancy can be located.- Ectopic Pregnancy Trust **** Two Weeks Earlier It was early December, I had just moved to London with my partner only a few months ago, we were looking forward to our first Christmas living together and it was the first time in my life I knew stability and harmony, so creating a home with someone I love made me feel settled.

But then I started to develop severe stabbing pains in my lower abdomen and back. I also began to bleed heavily. I’ve been chronic with bladder and kidney infections since I was 18, I’m so used to the signs and I know exactly the protocol to get it sorted, I thought I had a kidney infection whilst on a period. It’s midnight so we made a trip to A&E and after numerous hours waiting for a doctor to examine me. She told me there were no signs of an infection in my urine and my blood samples came back healthy….

“However I did a standard pregnancy test and it's positive. The bleeding and pain you are experiencing is implantation, it’s very normal.” she told me.

Lost for words but surprisingly happy I told my partner who was over the moon.

We didn’t plan for this and I confess I’m not a maternal person, my sister has always wanted children (she now has two) and I’ve always said ‘If I have children, great. If not, then I’m ok with that.’

I’m 35 years old and my feelings about pregnancy and children changed when I met my partner. Something in my brain just clicked, something both primal and loving all at once. It is a maddening feeling, absolutely insatiable! Absolutely joyful! The best way I can describe it for me is: My heart and womb had a conversation and said “He’s the one”.

Sadly It was not meant to be and our love was not prepared for this…...

Twice I went back to A&E over the course of two weeks because something didn’t feel right, the pain escalated and the bleeding increased. It felt like I had been shot in my side, like a bullet lodged deep in my hip and I’m breathless. I’m heaving on the floor. Curled up like a rose bud. Blood trailing down my thigh. “Help me” I whisper. My partner rang the paramedics who couldn’t get to us but warned us that my pregnancy might be ectopic and advised my partner to drive me back to A&E.

Back at A&E the doctor read my notes from my previous visit. “It says here you’re pregnant...Possible miscarriage.”

Miscarriage? MISCARRIAGE! WHY WASN’T I INFORMED? WHY DIDN’T THEY SEND ME FOR AN EARLY SCAN? Why did they say it was implantation when they felt it was something woeful?

Looking at me, the doctor continued. “It’s probably implantation bleeding but I’ll send you to the early pregnancy unit. You’re booked for an appointment in two days time. Spend the weekend relaxing. Everything will be fine.”

**** At the early pregnancy unit “I’m so sorry Miss Ness. It’s ectopic, the embryo has ruptured your fallopian tube. You are bleeding internally into your abdomen. You will need an operation.” 30 minutes after hearing the news I am told I am to have the surgery late afternoon and I am ushered into another room to fill out forms.

Moments later, an array of nurses and doctors swarmed around me like bees.

“We need to prep you for surgery now”

“Are we able to give you a blood transfusion? Sign here.”

“You need to sign all these consent forms”

“We are putting two canullas in your arms, one for a drip, one for the blood transfusion. Miss Ness, you’ve lost a lot of blood.”

“You need to put this on, take off your clothes and all your jewellery”

“We offer a monthly burial service for babies that didn’t make it, would you like that or would you prefer your own?”

Blood transfusion? Baby? Lost a lot of blood? Surgery now?

I’m so scared my body goes into instant shock, I’m rigid yet shivering uncontrollably, teeth rattling, I’m turning pale. The nurse struggled to fit the canulas in my arms because my veins were failing. I screamed in pain at the multiple attempts to find healthy veins. My blood was spurting all over the nurses uniform. I’m crying out to my partner who feels helpless being told to step back and just watch in this tiny box room full of medical professionals scurrying about me. **** Keith Craig Katie was so pale, she couldn’t stop shaking and she was muttering and mumbling incoherently. I have never seen someone so frightened, so fragile like that before. It was horrific. I pulled the doctor aside and asked in confidence “Why now? We were told she wasn’t to have the operation until late afternoon.”

The doctor replied “Upon looking more at her scan we noticed she won’t survive within the hour. Her fallopian tube has ruptured and she is bleeding internally into her abdomen, she’s already lost a lot of blood. If we don’t operate now, you’ll lose them both.”

My heart broke at being told this information yet I had to remain strong and hold Katie’s hand telling her “Everything is going to be alright”. I couldn’t let this tsunami of emotions envelop me, for Katie’s sake, I didn’t want to instill more fear in her that she might die.

What was meant to be a one hour procedure, took two and a half hours and I was left to wait. It was excruciating being left alone, after that hour passed I’m wondering if they were fighting for her life and why it took so long? Did she make it?

Taking a breath of fresh air in the hospital garden alone, I looked up at the sky and cried

“Please don’t take her away from me!” **** Alive I wake in the recovery room with two small tubes sticking out of my stomach. I was only meant to have the one on my left side where they took my fallopian tube but the internal bleeding was so bad, another incision was made near my right hip bone for another tube to drain the blood. I had a laparoscopy as well- this is where the surgeon makes an incision in the belly button, inserts a tube and blows up the stomach in order for the medical tool with the camera attached to it to perform the surgery. My ruptured fallopian tube and 7 week old embryo was cut away from my ovary and uterus and dragged up and out of my belly button like an alien birth.

Both arms were heavily bruised from the nurse’s attempt at putting the canulas in my failing veins. These remained in my arms until I left the hospital because I was on a drip and in case they needed to rush me back into surgery. For the next four days, multiple times a day I was injected with strong medication through a tube in a vein of my left wrist, my legs and I had a catheter placed in my urethra because the high dose of medication shut down my urinary and digestive system.

I was so poorly I couldn’t sit up, eat or walk. Due to lack of food to line my stomach I kept throwing up the medication and I didn’t want to eat because I felt sick-it was a vicious circle. Due to lack of food and loss of blood my blood pressure was extremely low, causing weakness, fainting and muscle fatigue. I also didn’t know I was close to death until Keith Craig told me in the early days of recovery.

Laying in the hospital bed alone with my thoughts and flashbacks, I tried to fathom my near death, the physical pain, feeling sick at seeing the blood drain out of the tube in my side and the grief of my loss. Not only had I lost a pregnancy, but I was grieving the death of a part of my sacred feminine also- my fallopian tube. I imagined my ovary, floating alone and full of sorrow over the death of her companion. I began to wonder what all this meant for my body going forward? Can I still have periods? Where does the egg go? How does the remaining ovary stay in place? Is it possible to fall pregnant again? The thought of trying for a baby instilled fear in me-what if this happens again? Will I ever dare to passionately make love with my partner ever again?

And then I began to visualise thousands of womens faces throughout time, their sorrows, their difficult and tragic birthing stories. How alone they must have felt and even today in the age of science and technology women are still mistreated and unheard and our bodies are not our own. There seems to be this insidious subtle behaviour that women’s bodies are the property of society and the medical system, giving others the entitlement to peer pressure women to “get over” their trauma, men to take possession of us and the medical system to neglect us. I felt myself connecting to this deep rooted societal and ancestral wound that is so much bigger than me and I cried an ocean for women all over the world suffering in silence. ***** Reflections There is a diamond inside of me that lights up the sky of my soul, Where fell the diamond when I believed that all of the hurt was my fault, I'm opening the heart door, letting in the light, Opening the heart door and giving life to me that died- Paula Cole I am thankful to my loving partner Keith Craig and my dear friend Sarah for rushing to my side to care for me the first weekend I came out of hospital and another dear friend Dr Sairupa, an Ayurvedic and Naturopathic doctor who guided me and taught my partner how to care for me in a holistic and gentle way. I was flooded with beautiful and caring messages, flowers, cards and gifts too. I was astounded at the amount of people who cared and reached out.

It is an honour to be in grief. The honour in grief is the rejoicing of having love, making something out of love- that the departure of that love breaks your heart wide open to see the bigger picture, to be filled with more love. Within the loss there is this heartfelt joy for life.

With surviving the ectopic but losing a part of me and the tiny being growing inside me, I’ve developed a heightened sense of mercy. The embryo didn’t mean to hurt me, it was an accident and so I apply that wisdom to myself and others. This whole experience changed my frequency and I am so much more accepting and forgiving.

Us humans are incredibly paradoxical in that we live as though we’re immortal- our behaviours, actions and words can be so careless and in the process we create our own drama, hurt others and this planet, forgetting that life is so short. But we’re also frightened of death too, so much so we forget to truly live with authenticity and tenderness!

My Mantra: Live every day as though it is your last and be kind to others as though it's their last.

None of us know what tomorrow brings and that person you’ve had a disagreement with today, might not be here the next day. Are your last words to them going to be malevolent and unkind? Do you want to live with resentment and regret? Do you want to waste your life seething with anger at the world? Or do you want to add some proactive love and beauty to it? Be the change you wish to see? **** New Beginnings My partner and I are in the process of organising a fundraising skydive for the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust. They are the only charity in the world focusing on ectopic pregnancy, providing extensive general information and peer support for anyone experiencing the condition.

“Each year in the UK nearly 12,000 women have ectopic pregnancies diagnosed (Source: The 2016 MBRRACE Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths and Morbidity 2009-2014). From anecdotal evidence and due to how statistics are recorded, this is thought to be an underestimation. It is believed the number of cases of ectopic pregnancy may number more than 30,000 per year in the UK alone.”- Ectopic Pregnancy Trust.

Their work and research is part of the big fight for women’s equality and treatment within the health care system and the push for advancing knowledge in regards to women’s bodies, women’s health, pregnancy and birthing which we all know is exceedingly lacking and outdated.

I have also become a ‘Grove Tender’ with Tree Sisters which is a women-led social change and reforestation charity that helps plant trees in the tropics. I felt, regardless of my loss, I’ll become a mama to baby trees. With every women’s circle, workshop or retreat I facilitate, some of the proceeds will be donated to Tree Sisters. I also support an ocean conservation project too.

Currently I am offering online support and donation based circles for women who’ve been through miscarriage, ectopics and tragic birthing stories, this also includes related conditions such as infertility, endometriosis, vaginismus and more-creating a sisterhood of support and unconditional love for our wombs. In my pain I see the bigger picture, transmuting my hurt, suffering and the death into love, life and grace like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.

Phoenix: mythical bird is a symbol of hope, renewal, rebirth, immortality, resurrection, solitude, creativity and grace. Just like the phoenix emerges from its ashes, so can we after devastation and loss. -WorldBirds.Org

Within the months of recovery, life blessed me with multiple creative projects which have been deeply healing and rewarding-writing for We for Women is one of them. A clearing like a forest fire has created space for creativity, renewed outlook on life and a letting go of things that no longer serve me-dust to dust and ashes to ashes-letting go of the past with love and forgiveness.

I’ve also established myself as a published poet on three literary sites, created a collection of illustrations for a website, trained as a Cacao Ceremonialist and specialized my yoga teaching knowledge in the field of pre/post natal Ayurveda. In this death I have been given a rebirth. I’m so grateful to be here in this moment. So grateful I can be of service, facilitating wellbeing retreats for women and in the process, support mother earth too.

I surrender to the great unfolding tides of life; In all its pains and joys, I love each day more fiercely than ever before.

The Beautiful Metamorphosis Every night I die When I think of you, Small beam and a heartbeat with no name. Wondering in the soft twilight, If you’re in the light. River of red memories, Hand on stomach, No one is home. Every day I live, As you float away And grow in a distant galaxy. Astronomical grief, Calm yet devastating, But; it's quite beautiful...

Links: Ectopic Pregnancy Trust: https://ectopic.org.uk/ Tree Sisters: https://treesisters.org/ Dr Sairupa-Ayurvedic expert on women’s wellness, pregnancy and fertility: https://www.instagram.com/dr.sairupa/ Painting: https://www.instagram.com/8houseofwater8/ *Poem Stranger Baby first published with Poetry Undressed Magazine June 2021.

Bio: At a glance Katie Ness is a mermaid, in our world she is a writer, artist, ayurvedic yoga teacher, women's circle keeper, Cacao ceremonialist and ectopic pregnancy survivor.

She specializes in women’s wellness and pre/postnatal Ayurveda.

Dancing makes her bloom. She thrives along quirky edges, roving with the rippling rhythms of shadows and light that we call life.

As a practising hedgewitch and Magdalene priestess she teaches of the sacred feminine and goddess archetypes in her fusion healing workshops. She facilitates women’s wellbeing and writing retreats across Europe and beyond.

Katie is also a published poet with Hecate Magazine’s BIRTH anthology (Print), Poetry Undressed Magazine and Pressure Cooker Literary Journal. She has essays and articles published with Rebelle Society, Kindred Spirit Magazine (Print),Yogi Approved and Elephant Journal. She also has work published in two books, the first is six women's collection of memoirs entitled "Phoenix Rising" and the second is a bevy of sacred feminine stories by thirteen women entitled “Wild Women Rising”.

She is currently producing a short story collection and illustrated Poetry book.

Katie has an honours degree in Fine Art, distinction diploma in Art as Therapy and an array of psychology and mental health qualifications. Fusing creativity with mind, body and spirit wisdom to support women and teen girls is her passion. She lives in London with her loving partner.

Find her on Instagram @katie_wild_yogi

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