Before we jump into the bloody details of a miscarriage, feel free to skip over this! It is going to be graphic and you will know way too much about me after reading, but I would have given anything to have the information I’m about to dispense.
With it’s great wealth of knowledge, stories, advice and meaningless drivel, the interent is stangley void of stories detailing what is physically involved with a miscarriage. In reality, it makes sense. Miscarriage is a very private and rarely talked about process, strange given that 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Hearing stories about miscarriage are nothing like hearing birth stories; all of the pain and challenge of a birth story has a happy ending and is ripe with hope and joy, hearing stories about miscarriage is heartbreaking and leaves people feeling akward and uncomfortable, fumbling for the right words to say (fyi, there are no right words, there are very few wrong words, the very act of saying something is displaying how much you care).
The problem is that, much like births, miscarriages are all different and hearing other peoples’ experiences can only help someone going through a miscarriage. Some women may have a dialation and cutterage (D&C) a medical procedure that clears out the uterus, but it does have risks, I like to think of it as the c-section option. Some women may take medicine to help their uterus’s contract and their cervix dilate, think of it has the pitocin option. Some women (me!) may go through a natural miscarriage without any help.
If you are going through a miscarriage or know someone that has lost their unborn little one, my utmost sympathies. Please read on for some knowledge about what you may expect.
1. If you go to the hospital, you are in charge of your body. It is ok to say no to the fluids and the blood draws, no to the urine analysis. It is ok to say I am only here to have an ultrasound to confirm whether or not I am having a miscarriage. It is also ok to clam up and go with the flow because you are scared and just want to be taken care of instead of argue (me!).
2. If you go to the er instead of just to your doctor, remember that the people in the emergency room, while highly skilled, are there to treat emergencies, that is their main skill. Miscarriages are not an emergency, therefore when the er doctor tells you that you can use tampons or pads, don’t believe them. You can use pads, tissue and blood clots are going to come out of your body, tampons are not the answer.
3. Now that you know you’ll be going through a miscarriage, gather up your knowledge pertaining to labor, menstrual cramps and post natal care. If you’ve experienced labor before, great, try to remember what worked for you for pain management and relief. If you haven’t experienced labor, flip to that chapter in your baby books and study up. For me, it meant hot water, sitting in a bath tub and laying in a modified version of child’s pose.
4. There will be so much blood, treat your body the same way you should when you’re on your period, rest, drink water, be gentle with yourself.
5. This may not be a short process. My whole miscarriage lasted four days, I had three distinct and terrible contraction periods, ranging in time from 45 minutes to 2 hours. During this time, it felt like being in mid to late labor in which I endured either consisent or constant contractions, until my body finally pushed out the dead tissue. Meaning you will essentially deliver pieces of a placenta, massive blood clots and at some point your baby. This will be the worse part. During my constant 45 minute contraction, it was the only time that I complained about how clearly unfair miscarriages are. It is demoralizing, embarrasing and heartbreaking to continue to fill up a bathtub with hot water in an effort to get through pushing out the dead tissue that will cause your body harm if it stays and trying not to just sit in your own blood. It is truly awful. If this is the case for you, I am so so sorry. It helped me to know how amazingly and divinly designed our bodies are, that they know how to take care of making us better.
6. Your doctor will not be able to tell you what your miscarriage will be like. I stared bleeding on tuesday, had the heavy cramping and passed most of the placenta on Wednesday and saw the doctor on Thursday. He thought that I was probably done with my miscarriage, instead I had two more harrowing birth like experiences.
7. If possible, you and your husband should both take some time off work. You’ll need someone to watch your other children, if you have any, help you through the process and just someone to generally take care of you.
8. What to do with the tissue? Some people bury it and plant a tree to commemorate what might have been. Those with consistent miscarriages may be asked to save any tissue and bring it in for testing. I flushed everything away. Like a goldfish. It was weird and uncomfortable. How do you make that decision? I just didn’t want to do anything else with it. Also, for reference, the placenta will be spongy feeling. I passed the placenta on Wednesday and Thursday. I finally pushed out everything else on Saturday. It was large and had a lot of blood clots and different colors and textures. I’m assuming wrapped up somewhere in everything was the baby, but a 7 week fetus is the size of a blueberry so who knows. I had sent Kenny back to work for the first time that day. I called my mom, my doctor, Kenny, wondering what I was supposed to do. I flushed it, took a shower and remained shellshocked. Everyone talks about how awful miscarriages are from an emotional standpoint, the physical can be just as horrible.
9. The aftercare is very similar to after giving birth. There will be bleeding, for up to two weeks (me!). So dig around for those heinous granny panties to contain the massive 7th grade pads that you get to wear. Grab a drink and sit with your husband trying to find your new normal.
10. Allow other people to love on you, without letting fear and pride stop you from accepting care from others. Those around you want to help shoulder the burder of grief, allow it. Allow yourself time to heal; allow yourself to feel sad, relieved, angry, jealous, hopeful, downtrodden. You will get through this.