I googled it. A lot. During and after my miscarriage. The ultrasound confirmed they couldn’t find a heartbeat. No one really prepared me for the events that were about to unfold. So, here’s the breakdown of life leading up to, during and after my miscarriage. If you are miscarrying, I am sorry for your loss. May you stay positive and find acceptance during this life event.
Leading up to the miscarriage:
My first pregnancy resulted in a textbook birth and spunky little boy. I had been on birth control pills a little over 10 years, went off it and never got my girl time. I think my husband must have sneezed sperm on me or I conceived via immaculate conception. It wasn’t a struggle to get pregnant or having miscarriages like what seemed to be a large amount of our friends were experiencing. We were grateful and felt blessed.
I never went back on the pill after the birth of our child and pumped boobie milk for about a year. We figured eventually we would try for spunky kid numero dos. Once again, we never “tried” to conceive. Our spunky boy was almost 2 years old when I started my dream job, a new daycare and moved my family across the state. I also realized my girl time was 2 days late. Eeks! So I took a prego test and about fell over. Confirmed. We were excited to start our new adventure with a wee wod on the way.
I had an idea we conceived around Valentine’s Day (like a large majority of Americans…duh). Due to my personality, always wanting to know and plan, I begged the doctor for an ultrasound to find out how far along I was and if there was only 1 grain of rice in there or 2. (I secretly hoped for twins!). A radiology technician performed the ultrasound and confirmed only one kiddo in there. I also received a followup email from my doc, “Your ultrasound shows that you are VERY early in your pregnancy (about 6 weeks) and your due date is mid November. Congrats! Hope this helps!”
Yay! Perfect! About a week later we started to tell close family and friends.
A few more weeks went by, and then the miscarriage happened.
During the miscarriage:
I was sitting at my computer desk one day, when it started to feel like I was having my girl time so I went to the ladies room. Confirmed. I tried to convince myself it was OK. People spot all the time and it’s nothing. I also had no other symptoms. But in the back of my mind, I began to prepare for the worst. I went home for lunch and called a nurse. She explained, “If you are bleeding like you got your period, I’m sorry, chances are this is a miscarriage. Let’s get an ultrasound this afternoon.”
Away we went to clinic. The radiology technician couldn’t have been nicer. But quiet. Her silence was deafening. Her poker face confirmed the miscarriage. I broke down and started weeping.
After the exam, I had to walk through the hall of shame. Pregnant women and toddlers everywhere. “Fawk.” I didn’t want to see them, lowered my head and bawled until I made it to the room where the doc was going to meet with us.
It was all a blur and fuzzy memory the next few hours, or minutes, or whatever. A nurse asked her usual check in questions, “Have you ever been pregnant, are pregnant or had a miscarriage?” (I know. WTF). Umm – Look at my damn chart why the F I am here. I played along to her Q&As. No, I’ve never smoked. Yes, 1 live birth. Yes, 1 miscarriage. Today. Duh. No, I do not give permission for a medical student to tag along with the doc when he comes in. Now go away. I was mean. And rude. I didn’t care. After all this miscarriage happened to me and I can react however I want to react, right?
It was a significant long time after the nurse left before the doctor came in. I’d never met him before. But started hating him for making me wait in a place I wanted to run away from. However, sitting there with my husband, I spiraled down the stairway of grief and somehow landed at acceptance before the doc came in. You see, in that time, I thought of a former coworker of mine. Her story was similar to mine.
She had moved with her family and started her dream job pregnant. Dejavu? She was a vivacious gal. You couldn’t help but feel upbeat after having a conversation with her quirky, positive spirit. About 6 months into her pregnancy, she had a spontaneous miscarriage and was induced to deliver her stillborn baby. A couple weeks later, she came back to work her same positive, lively spirit. Most of us cried talking to her because we couldn’t imagine going what she went through. Many didn’t know what to say to her. So, she filled the silence. She educated us on everything from anatomy and physiology, to statistics to coping. I left the conversation feeling good about myself (how she always made others feel), wiser and kept her words in the back of my mind, “It’s OK to have a miscarriage.”
When the doctor finally came in, he apologized for the wait and the proceeded to treat us like we had just lost a family member in a tragic car accident. Extremely thoughtful and sympathetic. And, like my former coworker, educated us. He went over the ultrasound I had weeks prior, “The heartbeat was low, irregular, and I think you were measuring small. By the date of your last period, you should have been about 8 weeks, but barely measured 6. In your ultrasound today, you were still measuring only 6 weeks, and you should have been 10. This indicates the baby did not grow. Your body recognized there was something wrong, and by design, began to abort the pregnancy. This is OK. And shows your body is working on healing itself.”
Another emphasis on “It’s OK to have a miscarriage.”
He then went over the options I could do during the miscarriage: D&C. Which, I knew nothing of but by how it was described, I interpreted as an abortion and would be harder on the body. Drugs to “speed up the process.” What the what? What process? Make what move along quickly? That sounded painful as well so I went with option c – to go home and naturally do it. After all, he mentioned my body was healing itself so it was working right?
This is where I made the mistake of I really should have asked what to expect when you go this option. He did mention I may experience a lot of discomfort, or I may be one of the lucky few who have any minimal pain and bleeding. Well, since I felt fine, I thought it was a good indicator I would be one of the lucky few he mentioned.
Warning. These next sections may get a little graphic. Hey, I’m trying to be real here on what to expect when miscarrying, so here goes….
I began to miscarry on a Thursday. On Friday, I felt fine and went to work. I wanted to keep up my positive outlook and be productive. The doctor AND nurse even called me to ask how I was doing, “really great! I feel fine!” They emphasized if the pain was unmanageable, I could come in. I brushed it off as after all, I was going to be one of the lucky few and not have any complications. By the afternoon, a mental fog set in and I went home as I didn’t want to be a dud.
By Saturday morning, the cramping hit me like a brick wall. It felt like I was contracting every 5 minutes and I was in actual labor. Nausea to the point of dry heaving and throwing up. While simultaneously uncontrollably peeing-out-of-butt diarrhea. How could this be?! I was barely pregnant?!
I passed some mucous substances throughout that morning. At one point I thought I passed the fetus but I didn’t see it due to my toddler bolting into the bathroom yelling, “I flush it! I flush it!” (you forget to lock the bathroom door when you are scurrying in to throw up or poop or both). And so, maybe he spared me from seeing something maybe I wouldn’t want to see or handle, and for that, I’m OK with. Besides, was I to scold him for flushing when he was so proud and beaming from ear to ear? Nope. Patted his bedhead and said thank you.
Saturday afternoon I thought it was all over. A friend even visited me. I felt fine. We talked about loss. And depression. And coping. And not suffering in silence. We now both had life experiences where suffering in silence can lead to an unhealthy path, and so, we filled the silence with anything from a positive outlook, to random snap chats of random objects.
Sunday and Monday were amazing days. I thought I went through it all on Saturday, and I was on the path to healing and moving this all behind me.
Tuesday, the cramping started again. I was taking classes for work and couldn’t miss any. But by 1pm in the afternoon the pain was unbearable. I was sweating, shaking, felt nauseous and then thoughts of ‘oh no, what if it didn’t all come out on Saturday and now things are infected’ started running through my head (just a little paranoia set it). I called the nurse and she advised me to go to the ER.
At the ER, we waited. And waited. Druggies that were tweaking out were being hauled in. Grandmas who were complaining of a stiff neck came in (I mean really…please call and make an appointment to your regular doctor). I just paced there in unbelievable pain that made me almost black out to the point where my eye sight got weird. Through my tunnel vision, I made it to the bathroom. There, I relieved what seemed to be about a gallon of blood and I gave birth to a huge red mass.
It was F’ing excruciating. I emerged from the bathroom looking pale, feeling weak and like I was septic. I had no idea what had just happened. I finally told the check-in gal and they got me in to a private room. Eventually they performed an ultrasound to see if I had any tissue or other remaining material left in me. Nope. All evacuated.
Finally, about 2 hours later, I got to see the same doctor I saw the week before. I couldn’t believe he was working the on-call shift at the ER. I asked why all these things happened to me as I was only 10 weeks along. He explained my body had 10 weeks to prepare an environment to grow and sustain a baby for 9 months. This was my placenta and everything else in there. He said the pain was my placenta tearing away from my uterine walls, and my body flushing it out of my system. In a normal delivery, the body produces signals to widen the birth canal and release the baby. However, this doesn’t occur during a miscarriage. There’s no widening or softening of the cervix, and so, your body is trying to flush a large mass out of a very small opening as quickly as possible to heal itself.
Ohhhhhh. That makes sense.
So basically, your body can experience sometimes even more pain during a miscarriage than actually giving birth – depending on the situation and the person. It’s different for every women. Again, there are those that do not have any pain or experience the massive “evacuation” all at once which is what my body chose to do. He said that the ultrasound revealed my body had evacuated everything from what they could tell, I would still bleed for up to three weeks (which I did…that sucked btw) and I needed to have my blood tested every 2 weeks until my hormone levels were zero.
At the time of the “evacuation” my pregnancy hormone levels were 7,000. It took a 8 weeks for them to get to 0. Each bi-weekly appointment was a trigger of depression and a reminder of the loss I experienced. I just wanted to move forward. “Thank you for the timely reminder I’m still hormonally pregnant.”
If you are miscarrying, I do encourage you to get your pregnancy hormone level tested until it is zero. I’d advise to make that the last appointment to your day. Don’t go back to work. Go home or go to another appointment after and keep busy. The reminders you are still “pregnant” and that you miscarried suck. Not gonna lie. What they don’t say is why you should keep going back until your numbers are zero. And one answer is that if you get pregnant, while still producing pregnancy hormones, increases your chances of miscarrying again. After this experience, I’m all about reducing my risks. So please, if you can, take a personal health break and focus on yourself, your numbers and getting things right before you try again.
If you are miscarrying, I am sorry for your loss. I hope this article will help you prepare for what you are physically and mentally about to go through. Please remember it is OK to miscarry, you are not alone, and do not suffer in silence.
Photo: My one and only bathroom selfie I took at about 10 weeks along. After I miscarried, a friend edited the picture & sent this back to me. I find comfort in the reminder this spirit is watching over us.