life can be ugly: the story of my miscarriage

Today is the day I’m going to talk about something that not many people are talking about, my miscarriage. Typically I hear things about people who have miscarried after they have had their miracle baby. They open up about how the journey to that baby was so long and difficult and freely discuss their challenges with how they got there. However, not many people are talking about it in the midst of the difficulty.

I had what’s considered a missed miscarriage. I was 11 weeks pregnant and there was never any bleeding or signs of miscarriage. I went to visit my husband’s family over Thanksgiving and got an ultrasound right at the end of the trip. They actually ended up having to do an internal ultrasound because the nurse practitioner was having a difficult time finding the baby. I had a moment where I was briefly nervous about why it couldn’t be seen. Shouldn’t it look like a gummy bear by now? At least that’s what everyone (and Google) had been saying. It was a fleeting thought that I quickly ignored, because surely I was 11 weeks and I would have known by now if it wasn’t a viable pregnancy.

She found the baby with the internal ultrasound, but I remember just seeing a large black circle on the screen. The placenta actually looked like it had already started to deteriorate on one side as it was slightly misshapen. The baby looked to only be at 6 weeks development, but there was also no umbilical cord visible (which you’d typically see) and no heartbeat. We were told that maybe it was just the wrong conception date, but we knew at that point, it was over.  

There were three options moving forward. Wait until I passed the baby on my own, take medicine to help expedite the process, or have a medical procedure to remove the baby. We were told we were probably fine just waiting to let it happen naturally. Many women choose the second or third options just due to the psychological trauma alone. I read some interesting side effects I wasn’t comfortable with and knew that those weren’t options for us. We decided to wait. It was some of the longest weeks I’ve ever experienced. It was almost four weeks to the day that it took to pass the baby. Four weeks of going to bed wondering if it would happen that night - wondering if I would wake up in a pool of blood.  

I remembering showering one day soon after we got home and thinking of a few questions I had for a close friend that I knew had miscarried. Will a regular pad be enough to contain the blood? Did you have any indication before that night that it was going to happen? Any warning signs? How long did it last? And I found myself thinking, “Only weeks ago I was preparing my mind and body for pregnancy and labor, never would I have imagined myself trying to prepare to miscarry.” It was interesting knowing (well) in advance that it was going to happen even though I didn’t know when. Many women have no warning signs and then it just happens. I had not even heard the term missed miscarriage let alone knew that they occurred (very rarely at that) and yet I sat wondering if today would be the day. I researched so much online and really only came across one blog and a few random baby boards. I had so many questions that I couldn’t find answers for.

It was Monday night and I wasn’t feeling too well. I think I might have been having cramps. I ended up having a beer and watching a movie with my husband. I think the beer definitely helped take the edge off the pain. Something to note: I really enjoy a good craft beer and hadn’t had anything to drink for over a year. Knowing that the baby was not alive, I felt like I could finally have my first drink in a long time. The next morning I woke up feeling even worse. I took some ibuprofen hoping it would take some of the pain away but it continued to escalate. I remember trying to call my friend who had miscarried. I think I always expected to wake up in a pool of blood, and have that be that. I never expected what was to come. I couldn’t get ahold of my friend so I ended up texting her husband. I remember asking if a shot of whiskey at 10am would be a bad thing. He gave a very long response that was helpful and encouraging, but I did not end up having a shot. I just thought that the beer helped last night and I wasn’t sure what was happening in that moment. My mind was very clouded, most likely due to the fact I was having severe cramping. 

(I’m about to tell the events that occurred of me passing the baby. When I was looking for answers, it was hard not knowing what could have happened. I feel the need to tell my experience in hopes that it might help someone out there know that they aren’t alone. Feel free to skip ahead to “Resume Reading” if you need to.) Standing was painful, sitting was worse, and laying down was unbearable. I think I hobbled from room to room bent over in pain for hours. I heard back from my friend and couldn’t even finish talking and had to give the phone to my husband. I couldn’t breathe. I was writhing in pain. I felt constipated, nauseous, and was cramping all at the same time. I then thought it was best to try to go the bathroom. Maybe I just needed to relieve myself. That seemed like the one thing that was a little better than standing while hunched over. Maybe because my bladder, bowels, and uterus were relaxed. After sitting there on the toilet for 5 minutes or so, I vomited. I felt terrible. Why was I vomiting, what was happening to me?! In my head, I “knew” (from what culture and researching tells you) that labor pains came and went in waves and had highs and lows of intensity. What I was experiencing felt nothing like what I imagined labor to be like. There was no relief, but just constant piercing pain. That entire morning I had what would be the equivalent to heavy period bleeding. It was definitely a good bit of blood that was in my pad and ended up coming out every time I sat on the toilet. No clotting or solid matter, but just blood.

After maybe another 45 minutes of that, the pain seemed to subside, maybe because the medicine kicked in (I took another 2 or 4 ibuprofen at that point). Maybe because I had started a movie, but couldn’t sit down. I thought the content on the screen would help distract and calm me. I eventually made my way to laying down on the couch. Some time into the movie, I felt like I maybe had a bit of blood make it’s way into my pad. I decided to get up and try to sit on the toilet. I relaxed my body and felt something slip out of my vagina and fall into the toilet. I looked down and it was the size of something I’d pass in a bowel movement. I was shocked. I don’t know what I was expecting - maybe just an unrecognizable mass of blood and tissue. This was a very formed object coming out at a very precise time. I can only imagine that what occurred that morning was my body laboring to get the remnants of the baby I onced carried out of my body. It was work I wasn’t expecting to do but at the very least relieved at the fact the end seemed to be near.

Resume Reading.

After I passed the baby it took around 2 months to get my HCG levels down to normal. I was tested at 6 weeks and they were still slightly elevated. I was pretty surprised that it was still in my system. From the research I did, it was normal for it to take 4-6 weeks. Another 3-4 weeks later I was tested again and it was normal. Our journey is still in progress and I don’t have a baby in my womb or in my arms at this point, and that’s ok. I know that I am consistently surprised at when talking to people, finding out how common miscarriages are, but yet no one is comfortable talking about them unless someone else first brings it up. So friends, I am the first one bringing it up and while there is no miracle baby at this point, I want you to know that it is ok. You. Are. Not. Alone. In. Your. Pain. I am more than happy to be there for you if you need a listening ear or a friendly face.