Getting through a Miscarriage

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.

 

Story of a Miscarriage

Oh goodness. Here we go; diving into the deep, the sad and the ugly truth of it all.

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At our first prenatal appointment, our baby measured small, about 10 days behind our gestimated age, not something I thought was too alarming, but my husband, he knew. He knew it was not a good apointment.  And so I began to worry.  Just a little bit; the idea would sneak up late at night, when I was alone.  I started not sleeping, blaming it on my newly pregnant body, not the fact that my mind wouldn’t shut down because there was something I needed to think about, a reality that I needed to consider.  Constantly vacillating between between terrified that something was wrong with the baby, upset that I was likely going to miscarry and talking myself out of being a unnecessary worrier.  I was in a constant state of denial.  Denial to sadness, denial to joy, denial to anything about this new baby.  People constantly asked how the baby and I were doing and I became withdrawn and quiet, evading the question, anwering vaguely.  It’s no wonder I was so grumpy and sleep deprived.

Our next prenatal was scheduled to be April 20th, Kenny went out of town on April 7th.  April 8th I got really scared, felt like I’m definitely going to miscarry. I just didn’t feel pregnant.  I wasn’t ganing weight, my hair wasn’t thicker  and my exhaustion was starting to wane.  I did what anyone else would do and talked myself out of worrying.  I justified all that I was feeling:  I feel less tired because the 1st trimester is almost done, my pregnancy weight gain doesn’t come on until the end, I’m being paranoid.  And just like that I was done, done with the worrying and stressing about whether or not this child will stick around.  After dinner on Tuesday the 12th, with my husband still out of town, I started bleeding.  And I knew.  Knew that it was the miscarriage I had been expecting.  The miscarriage I had expected with my first, but the one that I didn’t anticipate for my second.  Even though I knew, there was still that glimmer of hope, the chance that I could be wrong.  Some women bleed while pregnant and everything is fine. The ob pointed out a blood clot in my uterus during the ultrasound, perhaps that’s what was happening.  That’s right, a miscarriage still holds all of the same 5 stages of grief as any other other tradegy.

Kenny’s parents were thankfully in town and while John watched Eli, Kim drove me to the hospital.  I had wanted to be alone.  To be vulnerable, afraid and scared alone.  I’m so grateful that she was there.  Being poked and prodded, having blood drawn and an intense ultrasound, waiting three hours to hear the words you’re expecting, “there is no heartbeat.”  It was comforting to have someone there with me.  Someone to join in the waiting.  The feelings surrounding the whole process have been all over the place.

Laying in the dark ultrasound room, slowly crying and knowing, pregnant women don’t bleed for 2 hours and have a healthy pregnancy.  The room was quiet and still and I felt comforted, I felt held.  I know that this is all going to be a little… out there and extreme, but the word that fits this miscarriage best is holy. Holy and refining.  I have had an arms length relationship with God, a respectful distance if you will.  When other people talked about feeling God’ s presence or hearing from Him, I felt either judgemental (liars) or left out (why not me?).  And where did God and I really meet?  In a hospital room while a piece of me literally and figurativelly died.  I don’t know how to put any of this in to words.   I was so sad and yet peaceful.  I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t blaming anyone, I wasn’t hurt, didn’t feel as though I was being punished.  It’s not that those thoughts and emotions didn’t come up, it’s that they couldn’t be entertained, they were gently, but quickly, pushed aside.

It has been sad and tragic, I have had moments of heartbreak and brokenness.  I have felt as though I am too upset and not upset enough.  What I want to feel more than anything else is back to normal.  It’s odd how something like this, something that in reality only changes my plans by setting them back about 7 months can feel like there has been a cosmic shift.  Everything feels different and everything feels the same. In some ways we had both begun to distance ourselves from our growing child, fearing the worst, hoping for the best. We were lucky in the fact that we had been dealing with the possibilty for weeks and this was just the end to the wondering. But maybe not.  With this little one, everything was planned, everything was set up.  With Eli, everything was new and scary, foreign and unknown.  He wasn’t the child we felt was missing and needed in our life.  He was the surprise that we didn’t know we desperately wanted.  While I was in the hospital, I sat with Jesus, it was a most peaceful and strange feeling to be comforted and held.  That is what I have felt more than anything, held.  I have never felt big moments of God’s presence and here I was in this freezing hospital room while a woman took 15 minutes of pictures of my insides and tears were running down my cheeks and I felt held, I felt known and comforted in no way I had ever felt before.  I layed in that bed and cried slow silent tears for the child I wouldn’t meet, the life we wouldn’t know with that specific one and the heartache that this moment would cause.  I was not fearful, angry, blaming anyone or anything. I believe in a merciful and loving God.  The idea, that that great being sends babies and takes babies in the same breathe is not an idealogy I can get on bored with.  But the idea that God is excited and dancing with joy when the good things happen and is quiet and present, loving and faithful when the bad things happen, that is a God I trust.  I feel as though God is saying not yet.  Not yet to those memories, to those decisions, to that life.  My way, would be yes to all of those things. I don’t feel like he is say no to any of the changes that this new baby would have brought, but I feel a strong not yet, and a strong presence.  I don’t really know what to do about this feeling.

Right now we are in a holding period.  Taking a breather from any big plans and spending time being in the moment.  Which for awhile meant not putting away laundry so that I wouldn’t have to deal with maternity clothes.  Now it just means waiting on the minivan and travel plans.  The outpouring of love and support has been unreal.  I feel so blessed that Kenny and I have such amazing family, friends and coworkers.  Thank you all so very much for grieving with us.

I should be back tomorrow with information on the physical aspect of the miscarriage, be forewarned that it is very TMI, but the internet is strangely devoid of information on what do expect during a miscarriage so it needs to be said.  I would have gladly known what I could expect in regards to what my body would do after finding out that I wasn’t going to carry a full term baby.