Disclaimer: this post will have cursing and will be somewhat graphic at times. If you don’t think you can handle it, please don’t read it.
As most of you know from Facebook, I recently had a miscarriage. I was almost 12 weeks pregnant. The whole experience, even though I know there is always good in every situation, has pretty much sucked ass.
I want to share my story for several reasons:
It is therapeutic for me. I have been so tight lipped about previous miscarriages, that I feel like this miscarriage is an opportunity for me to pull everything back up from the past, things I stuffed down, and really grieve and process them all.
I also think that more women should talk openly about miscarriages. It happens so frequently and it is such a normal part of being a woman, but hardly anyone talks about it or even acknowledges it. For me, in the past when I was younger, I did not want to talk about it at all, even with close friends, because I was so ashamed. I felt like I deserved it and that it was my fault and that it meant I wasn’t good enough to be a mother.
I also want to tell the story of what natural miscarriage at home is like. There is hardly anything online about it. I found this article and this one and then a few random comments on forums. Here is a wonderful blog about pregnancy loss. She even has lots of pictures of what babies look like when they are born this early. And I think it can be a very scary process, especially if you have not had a natural live birth (as in totally drug free) before and do not know what to expect.
So here we go.
At almost 12 weeks, I thought I was in the clear. The pregnancy started out tough with spotting happening from the placenta tearing away and then reattaching. Being on bed rest was hard but I thought it was all behind me and everything would be ok. Viable pregnancy, the doctor said!
When I started spotting again, I figured it would be ok. I figured I would go get an ultrasound and see the heartbeat and it would all be fine. I was trying to stay positive, but I think I must have been a bit delusional.
I had been spotting all weekend and called my high-risk ob first thing in the morning on Monday. I dropped Penelope off at a friend’s and Peter met me at the hospital from work later that morning.
At the ultrasound appointment, the technician was very quiet, and that should have been my tipping point, but finally she said, “Unfortunately, I don’t see a heartbeat.” As a side note, not once did either she or the OB say, “I am sorry.” Or even definitely say, “Your baby is dead.” Peter actually had to ask them to say it and spell it out. Before he left that office, he needed to hear the doctor say that he was 100% sure the baby was dead.
They left us alone and Peter and I hugged and cried. When the doctor came in, he told me that I could go to the hospital for a D&C or have a natural miscarriage at home. Having a natural miscarriage was a no brainer for me, no question about it. I wanted to avoid the hospital and an operation if I could.
We also talked about having tissue sent off to be biopsed, but opted not to. Peter and I are at a point were we have not 100% closed the door on getting pregnant again, but we are pretty much done being pregnant and we are not going to take any extreme measures or even try to have another baby so it seemed kind of pointless to go to great measures to get tissued. I also did not want to give up any piece of placenta or my baby’s body. I wanted everything to be buried together in my garden.
And then we left. Peter asked if I wanted him to take the day off work and be with me. I just wanted to be alone. I came home and took a long walk around my neighborhood to process everything and make sure I was centered. I also wanted to bring on labor and start the miscarriage as soon as possible. I had long talks with my body about getting this show on the road. I did not want to have to wait weeks for it to start.
Thankfully, I was lucky. My body got right with the program and labor started that night. It started as soon as I put Penelope to bed. I walked around the house for awhile and rocked my hips back and forth during contractions. It started off slow and then got very painful, very fast.
I came out of our bedroom and got Peter and just fell to my knees and started crying. I kept crying and telling him it hurt so bad. After a few minutes I went to sit on the toilet. I sat there thinking, “This is fucking bullshit.” All this pain and all I am going to get out of it at the end is a dead baby to bury. I wanted to go to the hospital to get a D&C. I never actually said it out loud but the thought lingered in my mind for awhile as I worked up the courage to carry on at home.
Then my water broke. Peter looked at me and said, “Um, are you peeing?” And I was all like, no dude, that is blood and water, not pee. Looking back, similar to Penelope’s birth, right before my water broke I had the same major freak out and thought I wasn’t going to be able to go on.
I passed lots of blood that night, and contractions eased up enough for me to go to sleep around 1am.
The next day I felt fine in the morning, but around 2:30pm the contractions started up again. Peter was home by 3pm and I tried to sit on the couch and watch TV with him and Penelope, to cuddle and nurse her to distract me, but I couldn’t handle the pain. I felt a strong urge to get in the bath.
Again, just liked Penelope’s birth, all I wanted was to get in the warm water. I sat in the warm water for about an hour having contractions. During the contraction, I would tell my body to open. After the contraction, I would just breathe and relax and sometimes curse at the universe for this fucked up shit.
I am not sure how much I dilated, but based on the amount of pain, I would say I got to anywhere between 6 and 8 centimeters. The pain was the same feeling as live birth, but just not as intense. I could feel my cervix opening and my belly getting hard with the contractions. My back felt like it was on fire.
And then the baby came out. It just sort of slid out, similar to the feeling of birthing a full term placenta, but obviously the baby takes up much less space coming out. I put him in my hands and just looked at him. He looked just like a little fetus, all curled up and tiny. I called for Peter to come and he touched him and said some sweet words. I held him for a little bit and I seemed to have a break between contractions. When they started up again, I put him in a Tibetan singing bowl that I have. A cereal bowl didn’t seem to be special enough to hold him.
As a side note, I am so glad that I had that time to hold him and look at him. The day after, I had this huge empty feeling. All I wanted was my baby and to hold my baby. Having had the experience of holding him, even though he was dead, was very comforting to me and gave me a sense of closure.
Then a little while later, I kinda of lost track of time, I birthed a huge chunk of the placenta. I am not sure why it does not all come out in one piece, but breaks apart in chunks. At that point, Peter said “Um, are you going to eat it?” Which made me laugh because the thought had crossed my mind. But, I didn’t want to. I wanted every piece to be together when we buried everything in the back yard.
I had another little break and decided to get out of the tub and rinse off. The tub at that point was completely dark and red from the blood. It was kind of creepy to be sitting in a pool of blood, but it was also kind of inspiring. The female body never ceases to amaze me. Even during this miscarriage, I am in awe of what my body is capable of.
I got into the shower and had more contractions. A little while later, I birthed another big chunk of placenta. I felt much better after that and got out of the shower a little later.
I am really glad I was in the tub and shower. Sitting on the toilet feels good for many people while miscarrying, but logistically it is pretty gross to go in after and fish out the fetus and placenta if you want to save it. Everything that came out was nice and clean from the fresh water of the tub and shower.
By 9pm, the contractions had stopped and I was eating some soup. I was totally exhausted. And so thirsty I inhaled like a gallon of Gatorade, just like I did after Penelope was born.
That night I felt lighter, and knew the worst was over. I had survived, yet again.
Over the course of the rest of the week, I continued to have cramps and back ache, but I was still able to function. I also started drugging myself with ibuprofen. I also had times of full on contractions. During those contractions, they would come on out of nowhere and then I would go the bathroom and little piece of placenta or tissue would come out.
The first two days, after the worst was over, I felt like a rotting corpse and as if the weight of the world was on my chest, holding me back. Each day has gotten easier and easier. I have been lucky to have Peter taking good care of me and Penelope, and I have already had several acupuncture, energy healing and massage appointments. After my energy healing appointment, the heavy grief lifted immediately.
Physically, I am doing ok. Started some light exercise by the end of the week. I am still bleeding and expect to continue bleeding for at least another week. I am really looking forward to being done bleeding. I am sick of looking at blood, and walking around with a ginormous pad in your crotch is not fun at all.
In the end, I am really glad I was able to do everything on my own and at home. The pain and physical process has helped me deal with the emotional pain. Forcing me to be present and connect my emotional heart to what is going on in my body.
If you have any questions, just let me know and I will try to answer as best I can. This is a pretty good site for more information about natural miscarriage and pregnancy loss. And this blog post has good information about things you can get done to find out why you had a miscarriage.
If anyone is reading this going through a miscarriage and searching for information, my heart goes out to you. I pray that grace washes over you and makes things easier.
Also, one more note, please know that every miscarriage is different. Everybody is different, every pregnancy is different, and every miscarriage, especially depending on how far along you are, is different. An early first trimester miscarriage, in my experience, is not this physically hard. It is more like a heavy period.
*Update* I wrote about the steps to go through a natural miscarriage so you can avoid a D&C here.