This is not what I normally write about. Traveling, recipes and photos of my dog are things that I love. This, is a thing that I hated. But, it is a real thing, an authentic experience that I had and will continue to have for a long time and something that I’ve thought long and hard about sharing. You see, when I was in the thick of everything, I desperately wanted information. And not just the web MD type. I wanted to read other women’s stories. I wanted to know what to expect, if what I was experiencing was normal, what came ‘after’ for them. I wanted to feel a little less alone in what has to be one of the loneliest experiences there is. I scoured the internet and the stories I found either on old message boards or on blogs, were few and far between. So here is my story, my experience, this chapter that I hate in a life that I otherwise love. I wish that no other women would have to go through this, but the reality is that many will, and if it can help inform or prepare or even just help someone feel less alone, then I won’t regret sharing it. So here goes ❤
Today marks exactly one month. One month since I woke up excited to see our baby for the first time. One month since I drew a little heart next to ’11 weeks’ in my planner. One month since I sat on that exam table and found out there would be no baby. One month since I cried on Robert’s shoulder with my paper gown still on, saying “it’s ok, everything’s ok” and “how could this be” all in the same breath. It seems like a long time ago, but it’s only been one month.
I’ve learned a lot in one month. But first things first. First, I want to share my experience after the appointment, in all its gory detail. It was unpleasant to experience and will be unpleasant to read, so skip this part if you’ve no interest. The reason I want to share this in detail is because I got NO information from my doctor (I’ve since found a new one) and had no idea what to expect other than first hand accounts I found online. There weren’t many of them, so here is one more, hopefully it will help prepare someone or inform a choice.
I had what they call a “missed miscarriage”. This means that I miscarried early, but instead of starting to bleed and thinking I was miscarrying, as many women experience, my body never realized there was a problem, and went right along thinking there was still a viable baby inside of it. According to my doctor this meant that I would not miscarry naturally and would have to “do something about it”. She offered me a D and C or misoprostol pills. She offered me zero information about either option and I’m not just being dramatic, she literally told me that she “couldn’t recommend one over the other and that there were risks with everything”. Comforting and informative right? When I found out how expensive the D and C would be ($3,000) and realized that it was December and would do me very little good to meet my deductible, I opted for the pills. My ‘caring’ doctor then told me that “if I was worried about the price of the D and C I could go to the abortion clinic in the next city over and have it done for a lot cheaper”. Some people shouldn’t practice the type of medicine they do. I still opted for the pills. I think subconsciously I felt that this option was more natural, although I can’t claim that I was thinking rationally at the time. I do not regret this choice.
I took the misoprostol at about 10:30 that night. The directions on the bottle said to insert the pills vaginally, that was it. Afterwards I read online that you should wet them first to speed things along, I did not know to do this. I thought that perhaps it would happen in my sleep and it would all be over in the morning. Boy was I wrong. I had cramps ALL night long. I don’t normally get period cramps so I would liken them to the feeling of a very bad stomach bug. I got up several times throughout the night and went to the bathroom positive I would see blood, but there was none. I finally fell asleep about 5 AM and woke up at 7. I had a bowel movement (a side effect of the pills) but still, no blood. I called the doctor at 7:30 to report that the pills weren’t working but found out that they didn’t open til 9. I decided I’d call back then rather than leave a message. At around 8 or 8:30 I felt a burning sensation and got up to use the restroom. There was lots and lots of blood. At the time I felt relieved that the pills were doing their job and hoped that it would all be over soon.
I spent the next few hours laying in bed watching television. Every 10 to 15 minutes I would get a small cramp and use the restroom. Each time I was amazed at the amount of blood, and all of the large clots that accompanied it. This went on for hours. At some point I felt a little faint and realized I should probably eat something so I made myself a sandwich and kept pushing water because I didn’t want to pass out . At some point, I believe it was around 2 o’clock, I did pass out. I have no idea for how long, as I was home alone. I think it must have happened on my way back to bed from the bathroom. I woke up on the floor with a giant knot on my head and my sweet dog standing over me whimpering. At this point, I got very scared and became convinced that I was going to die from blood loss.
I called my husband who rushed home from work and was reassured by the doctor that my blood pressure had probably just gotten too low and I needed to eat more and drink Gatorade. I did, and I felt better, although my poor head was extremely sore. Robert helped me to the bathroom a few more times but after that, the bleeding had slowed significantly. I thought it was all over but again, I was wrong. The rest of that night is a bit of a blur. I’ll blame it on lack of sleep, significant loss of blood and a blow to the head.
I woke up the next morning with a very stiff neck, an extremely sore jaw and a tender head. I think that all of those symptoms were probably caused by my fall and hitting my head. Again, hard to say since I was alone, but it took a few days for my neck to feel better, and a few weeks for my head and jaw to feel normal. Other than the aforementioned, I felt fine. I spent the day in front of the television, wrapping Christmas presents. I was still bleeding, but lightly, no more clots. Late that afternoon, I got another cramp and was shocked when I passed more tissue. Upon further investigation it wasn’t just more tissue, it was the gestational sac. It looked different than the blood clots I had been passing, when you see it, if you choose to look, you’ll know.
I think that since the appointment and right up until this point I had been a bit in shock. It didn’t really seem real until I saw that tiny sac floating in the toilet. I got it out so that I could look at it more closely. It was a bit heart shaped and in my opinion, beautiful. It was a part of me, that wasn’t a part of me, something that Robert and I and my body had created. As miraculous as I felt it was to see and to hold, it made the heartbreak real and finally brought my grief home.
Here are the things I wish my doctor would have told me, and I will tell you, in case you are on the verge of using misoprostol: 1. Don’t be alone, it is a lot for your body to go through and having someone bring you drinks, help you to the toilet or even just give you a hug may be necessary. 2. Drink a lot, and not just water. You need to replenish what you are losing. 3. Eat, whatever you want. I’ve seen suggestions to eat things rich in nutrients which seems like pretty sound advice, but I figure the rest of your day will be pretty awful so eat what sounds good to you, the calories are more important than the content at this point. 4. Take a prenatal vitamin, I think the extra iron would have been helpful. 5. You’re going to bleed A LOT, so be prepared. I have since read online that some doctors suggest you call them if you go through more than 2 maxi pads in an hour. 6. And this is maybe the most important thing, I’m so incredibly sorry you are going to go through this. All of it. It’s hard on your body and your mind and your heart and you are so strong and not alone ❤
I have learned that people don’t understand miscarriage until they’ve had one. I’m sure that is true for every type of tragedy. You don’t really get it until you’ve been there; until you’ve joined the club that none of the members want to be in. Miscarriage is very common, but that doesn’t make it any easier to go through, and it isn’t something that is talked about, so it can be an extremely isolating experience. I have felt extreme loneliness over the last month. On the flip side, and there’s always a flip side, I have felt true love and compassion over the last month. I have felt a lot of different things and I am now able to see that I have also learned a lot of different things over the last month. Life experiences are like that I suppose, especially the tough ones.
A dear friend gave me a daily devotional for my birthday last year. I purposely waited until the new year to begin it so that my days would line up (Type A and not ashamed). True to form I then forgot about the devotional until January 3rd…whoops! I quickly read through days 1 and 2 and then was stopped abruptly in my tracks by day 3. It was titled, “Bittersweet” and in a nutshell was about how we have to experience both the bitter and the sweet to develop character and become the people we’re meant to be in this life. If all we ever had was sweet, then we’d have no backbone or strength. If all we ever knew was bitter, we’d have no joy or hope. Beauty and brokenness, both are essential. After reading, I decided to make a list of both the bitter and the sweet truths that I have learned through this experience, I’m sure the lessons aren’t over, but I’ll share what I have so far.
The Bitter: – Friends and family who know this happened to me, but have not acknowledged it. It hurts. If someone you love is going through something difficult, reach out, even if you don’t know what to say. ‘I’m sorry’ is always acceptable. – Feeling distanced from my husband. I truly feel that I have the most wonderful, supportive husband in the world, but this experience has taught me that men and women experience many things differently, especially pregnancy and all that goes along with it. As much as my husband loves me and wants a baby, our experiences and grieving were different and that was very hard for me. My advice is to spend time alone together, free from distractions, it was very helpful for us. – The physical effects. Miscarriage is hard on your body. Give yourself a break and rest, it is necessary. – The missed joy. A friend who has also been here advised me that there would be hard dates. She was correct. We were going to share the happy news with everyone at Christmas. Instead this past holiday became somewhat of a “What might have been” for me. I’m sure the due date and many other dates will probably be the same. Lean on those you love when these days happen, that’s my plan. – Jealousy. I am thrilled for everyone who is expecting, I truly am. But at least 5 of my facebook friends made Christmas posts announcing babies due in July and each one was very difficult to see and made me feel envious which in turn made me feel like a jerk. Delete social media for a while if you need to. – Changed relationships. Hard times definitely show you who your friends are, the good and the not so good. Life is short, so let go of what and even who you need to. I think this also belongs on the sweet list so I’ll expound on it there. – Impacted Faith. It is hard to have faith when any bad things happen. It’s difficult to understand why people who abuse their babies get to have them and others who truly want them lose them. I won’t pretend to understand that, but I am trying to keep and lean on my faith. – Worry. I am a notorious WEB MD’er and natural worrier already. Experiencing a miscarriage definitely takes away the innocence and joy of being pregnant. I want very badly to be pregnant again someday, and I hope very strongly that I will not be consumed by worry throughout it. I mourn that lost innocence, but I hope that if I am able to have a baby someday I will be even more thankful, which brings me to my list of sweets.
The Sweet: – Compassion from unexpected sources. I have been the recipient of some very unexpected kindness, from co-workers taking over job duties for me while I took days off, to women I don’t know well sharing their own miscarriage stories with me, to my ‘gruffest’ uncle pulling me aside and giving me a hug and telling me he was sorry. The unexpected can be very wonderful. – True Friendships. I have some of the most true and wonderful friends, and I am abundantly thankful for them. This includes family who are also friends. The good relationships in my life have been made even more clear to me through this experience. The not so good relationships have also become very clear, and while sad, it is freeing to know exactly where to put my love, time and energy moving forward. – New Friendships. Your experience will probably lead you to develop new friendships with others who have been in the same boat. Having support from your friends is invaluable, but being able to talk to someone who knows exactly how you feel is also very cathartic. – Learning to be a better friend. The people who love me got me through this, and moving forward I want to be the absolute best friend I can to all those I love in their times of joy and especially in their times of sadness. Re-Connecting with my husband. This month of marriage has certainly been our hardest, but it has also brought with it very intimate moments of pure love and joy that we may never have otherwise experienced. I am so incredibly thankful for my husband and his love. I know that we are going to be stronger for this trial. I love you, I love you, I love you. – Acts of kindness. Oh my sweet friends and family. One dropped off cookies and coffee, one sent me a card, another flowers, one took me to lunch, one drove four hours round trip just to hug me. One laid in bed with me and just listened. Many checked on me frequently through calls or texts. I could go on. I feel every ounce of your love and love you each completely. – A healing body. Our bodies are truly amazing. In the week that I felt horrible physically following the miscarriage I thought that I’d never feel normal again. But I did. I healed. Our bodies are amazingly resilient, our spirits are too, although I think those often take a little longer. And last but not least, – Newfound Strength. One of the feelings I experienced was sadness and despair so deep that I wasn’t sure I’d make it out. But again, I did. The fact that I had the physical miscarriage experience that I had, largely on my own, is horrifying, but also makes me feel strong. I survived it physically and I am surviving it emotionally, and that is nothing to turn your nose up at.
So, to go full circle with my day 3 devotional, “In the sweet times, say thank you and celebrate, and in the bitter times, say thank you and grow”. Here’s to growing in 2017.