If you were following my Facebook updates two weeks ago, then you probably already know the short answer to how the miscarriage turned-out: Not Well.
As I posted awhile back, I found-out in my seventh week of pregnancy that the baby had no heartbeat. My doctor gave me the choice to get a D&C or to wait for my body to naturally miscarry. Since I didn’t relish the idea of surgery, and our deductible is high enough to where it would cost us some serious cash to get the D&C, I decided to wait.
And I waited. And waited. I actually waited for about six weeks. Neither I nor my doctor had any clue it would be that long, for most women it isn’t more than just a couple of weeks before their body recognizes that something has gone wrong with the pregnancy.
But as I grieved the miscarriage and started moving-on with my daily life, I didn’t mind the wait too much. It loomed in the back of my mind, but I just carried-on knowing that it would happen when it would happen. Making time for surgery would have interrupted my family life more than waiting for the inevitable, so I just waited and mostly didn’t think about it.
Finally, in the middle of the night about two weeks ago, I started to bleed. Quite a bit, enough to almost pass-out, but the bleeding stopped after about an hour, and I was able to carry-on with my day thinking that surely my body wasn’t finished yet… but hoping that maybe it was. I went to the doctor and got an ultrasound that told me that it definitely was not finished, and if I still wanted to avoid a D&C, I should take a medicine called misoprostol to kick-start my body into finishing the miscarriage.
I took it on a Saturday morning before Harris’ soccer game, and I won’t go into the nitty-gritty details here, but let’s just say that it worked. Very well. Within an hour and a half, I was losing a LOT of blood. I spent a few hours in the bathroom, most of it in the bathtub because I was afraid I would pass-out if I wasn’t lying down, and when Clay came to check-on me I had to warn him not to be shocked because my bathroom looked like a crime scene.
Once things slowed down, he helped me to bed, I took a nap, some iron supplements, and felt ok. Things started going downhill later in the afternoon.
I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and quickly had to lower myself to the floor because I was on the verge of passing out. It took 15 minutes of lying on the floor feeling like I was going to die before I could try to get back in bed. Crawling from the bathroom to my bed, I had to stop three times to rest because it was just too much.
This was when I made my second phone call to the doctor to check-in and ask how much blood loss is too much. She told me that she was really on the fence about sending me in to the hospital, but it sounded like I was getting better, so we would just watch the situation closely at home.
At this point I was nervous and knew I didn’t need to be by myself.
We called my sister to come over and sit with me so Clay could watch the kids downstairs. For the next few hours I was mostly ok. We lay in bed chatting and laughing, and things seemed like they were looking-up. Later that evening, my brother and his family came over to bring us dinner, and while my sister-in-law sat with me, it all started to go downhill again.
Lying in the bed, I felt gushes of blood and my body start to shut-down. I started to sweat, the room because fuzzy, I could feel myself on the verge of losing consciousness, and had a general feeling like I was going to die. I knew that I likely wasn’t dying… but the physical response that came upon me so suddenly caused such an instinctual fear that something was majorly wrong.
It was very scary to feel like that, knowing it was from blood loss, and I was at home. I knew something wasn’t right, and that I needed to be feeling like this in the hospital, not at home.
This is when we went to the ER. It took Clay and my brother to carry me downstairs and put me in the car, and the physical toll of the transport made things even worse. I temporarily lost consciousness in the car and had brief symptoms that appeared to be a seizure. Soon after getting to the ER, it all happened again. (Quickest way to bypass the waiting room in an ER: faint, convulse, and vomit on a nurse.)
I felt much better once they got me lying flat on a bed in the ER, but by that time I had scared Clay in a major way, and his eyes were red from crying in a way I had never seen before. I was scared, but since I was finally under the care of qualified medical professionals, I was more worried about Clay and the worry my parents would go through when they heard what was happening since they were out of the country.
Long story short, I had lost way too much blood. I was given medication to stop the bleeding, and after the doctor saw that my hematocrit was 16, I was given two units of blood. I was so weak that I couldn’t sit-up… to even roll to the side was too much effort and caused my heart to race. I had never felt like that in my life… so weak and vulnerable.
I went home from the hospital a day and a half later. My energy returned soon after receiving the blood, but it took several days for me to feel like myself again.
The second day home is when it all hit me. Like a mini-PTSD response, I was reliving what had happened, and I couldn’t stop crying. While it was all happening and I was in the hospital, I was ok. Talking and laughing and reading blogs, I lived each moment as it came and handled it. Once it was all over and I was at home was when my emotions caught-up with me, and I felt how scary an experience it had been.
The amount of bleeding that had occurred, mostly when I was by myself… the terrifying feeling of hovering on the edge of consciousness and knowing something very wrong was happening in my body… the uncertainty of how everything would turn out. Knowing that my baby was really gone and that I had flushed it down the toilet without realizing it. It was traumatic.
I had one good day of feeling it all, letting myself cry all day and be depressed. Grieving what had happened and the ending of this pregnancy.
I asked my doctor why this happened. Was it because I waited, because of the medicine I took, or was it just a freak thing. (A similar experience happened to my mom during a miscarriage, and the nurses at the hospital said they see it all the time, unfortunately.) She said that her best guess was that it was a combination of everything.
None of us had any idea that it would take my body six weeks to miscarry. I felt like I had asked all the right questions when this first happened, covered my bases in weighing the risks. No one told me that waiting so long created a greater risk of this happening, and in all my googling, I never read that that was the case. But it probably was a big contributor to the situation. I feel like I made the best decision I could have with the information I had, but in retrospect, I shouldn’t have waited that long, and my doctor probably shouldn’t have let me.
This all happened two weeks ago, and while I know that technically my body isn’t quite back to normal, I feel good. Emotionally, I’m good. When we talk about trying again for #4, I feel a little gun-shy, but I’m willing to do it in a few months.
Miscarriage sucks. It’s a sad, awful thing that happens inside you, but then you also get the experience of whatever comes next…whether it’s the physical pain, seeing the reality of what you’ve lost every time you go to the bathroom, or a surgery that restores your body to a normal state but leaves you feeling like something wonderful is missing.
None of it is good, and none of it is easy.
Unfortunately, this happens to SO many women, and it doesn’t always get talked about. So here is my experience (I left-out the gruesome parts). It’s left me with a deeper sense of gratefulness for my family, a more profound sense of my body’s strength and frailty, and a new understanding of the brokenness of our humanity.