August 30th was an exceptionally overwhelming day for me. I was starting back at work as a French Teacher after a 4 year hiatus, leaving my son for the first time in 2 years, and found out the day before that I had lost my pregnancy. (you can read about the day I found out I would miscarry here)
I made it through the day of teaching, but truth be told I didn't do a great job. My mind was scattered, my hormones were raging and I had sporadic stomach cramps. I was so worried that I might start miscarrying while at school (and even more unsure about what happens when you miscarry) that I put in a menstrual cup and wore a pad....just in case. I memorized the emergency number to the nurse's office in case I started bleeding while teaching and had to run out of the classroom. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the only miscarriage story I had heard up until this point was my good friend's and she fell unconscious on her metro ride to work and had to be take by ambulance to the Emergency Room, so really, I had no idea what to expect, and certainly felt anxious about having that experience in a high school.
My husband and I already had plans to see one of our favorite comedians that exact night with my younger brother and sister, and had already arranged for my 2 year old to sleep over my older sister's house. As odd as it was to carry on with that plan, it also worked out wonderfully as a distraction from the sadness that was waiting for the miscarriage, and offered me an afternoon at the beach free from being a mom of a busy toddler.
I enjoyed the craziness and hilarity that is Bill Burr, but really my mind was racing. We didn't want to upset or alarm my younger siblings who were with us for the night by sharing our bad news, so we kept it to ourselves and carried on with the comedy. Throughout the evening I had off and on cramping, and I sat in a sketchy casino ballroom on a metal chair, praying that God would have me miscarry that night. I just wanted it to be over with, and honestly I wanted to do it in peace, while my son wasn't home and I didn't have the extra emotional stress that is being a mom for the night. And there really is something sad and altogether uncomfortable about holding a baby in your body that is no longer growing. As the show progressed so did my cramps. It started with a lot of cramping in my back and a tightness in my uterus. As we began our drive home, I noted the time and noticed I had been cramping consistently for an hour straight.
When we returned home, I made myself a red raspberry leaf tea and spent another hour in the kitchen, resting my head on the counter and rocking my hips. What I found so strange about the beginning of my miscarriage is how similar it was to actual labor. It was slow and steady throughout the afternoon with light cramps, but they built up in strength and in duration. As much as I tried to relax about what was happening and go with the flow (as I would with normal labor) it was also incredibly terrifying to see the amount of blood and clotting that came out of me that night.
It was draining, it was painful, and it was emotionally insane. The strangest part for me was how long it went on. It felt like forever. I was actively bleeding for about 3 hours straight, so much so that I had to remain in the bathroom over the toilet--I really felt like I was going to go crazy in there. You don't really want anyone with you, but you also feel so alone. You literally watch your hopes and dreams go down the drain, and it is beyond upsetting. What's worse is that it seems to be just the beginning of the grieving process, which for me, has taken months to recover from.
Maybe it was the hormones, maybe it was the loss, but mostly I was angry. I was mad that I had lost my baby, sad to join a club I didn't want any part of, and shocked that no one had adequately prepared me for what happened to me that night. What was normal? What was to expect? I think part of the trauma of miscarrying a baby is having no clue as to what is to be expected. Every little clot that you physically feel pass through your cervix worries you--was that the baby?! In the end you know it when it happens, it's larger than anything else and, similar to labor, you can feel your cervix open and something pass. It's hard to see but also relieving, as the process is so painful. After I passed the gestational sac, I bled for quite a while longer. I felt strange afterwards, as I put a maxi pad on my underwear and climbed into bed. Maybe it was shock, but I felt like I was buzzing and couldn't sleep, only to wake up the next morning in a daze but having to face reality and get back to the real world. The world looked different that day, not because I didn't enjoy my time, I loved watching my son run around the local petting zoo with glee. But it was because I was stunned at what had happened the previous 48 hours of my life, shocked that my 9 month plan was randomly squandered by a few hours of uninvented bleeding. Undoubtedly, experiencing pregnancy loss has changed me immensely, and is something I am still working to accept and process.