Within the span of 48 hours I discovered I was likely to experience a miscarriage and made it to the other side. In what felt like an instant and forever all at once, I became the 1 in 4 women who experiences pregnancy loss. It was strange to experience this loss because I pride myself in healthy living, and come from a long and fertile line of women. This miscarriage has been an emotional whirlwind, the following months were a complete blur and only now do I feel some clarity regarding the situation, meaning I only feel pangs of sadness sporadically throughout the week, instead of every day.
In an effort to better equip other women who may either experience a miscarriage or know someone who does, I decided to document what it was like to miscarry, because it was surprisingly traumatic and painful. I even took a few pics, because it was all so overwhelming, and mostly because I had never seen anything like it. Please be gentle with me, as this is difficult and personal for me to share with the world, but my hope is that it helps someone else as they enter such a tragic time.
- Expect to Feel Overwhelmed, Confused, and Sad
When I learned that I would miscarry it was so overwhelming I thought I might explode. The weight of the sadness, disappointment, and grief froze time for me. My husband and I drove home, ordered Chinese food and relaxed for the evening. I sent a brief text to friend's and family members who had previously known I was pregnant, but gently mentioned that I wasn't ready to talk. For me, I wanted space and time to accept what was happening. It's a funny thing being pregnant and then being not. It's like my due date was etched in my mind and the sudden loss created a cloud of confusion over me. It made me feel like my body had failed me. It made me feel like I would never carry a baby again. It made me feel alone.
2. Expect it to be like a miniature labor
My cramping began early in the day and progressively became worse. It was like period cramps, so a quick tightening in my abdomen, but also a lot of constant lower back pain. Similar to labor, as the day progressed so did the length of and strength of these contractions. I found it helpful to be at home and moving comfortably (rocking my hips, resting on hands and knees) and drinking tea. I chose to drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea in order to help support my uterus because it just seemed like a good idea at the time, but after the fact I came across this article on Livestrong that supports the notion of drinking tea after miscarriage to help stop bleeding. It also helped to have my husband with me to support me through it, as it can feel very isolating.
3. There will be blood.
As I mentioned in my previous post about what it was like to miscarry, I was wearing a menstrual cup as to avoid any bleeding while at work or out later that day. As I rocked my hips on hands and knees in my living room with my husband, I felt blood begin to flow over the cup. I ran to the bathroom and pulled out the cup, only to see large, half dollar sized globs of blood clots. It was shocking, as I had never seen something so large come out of my body. This is the point that I decided to take pictures, because I wished someone would have warned me what it would look like. The bleeding was intense and steadily flowing for about 3 hours straight. It was truly exhausting, both mentally and physically.
4. You will pass the baby and/or gestational sack and will see it.
I had no idea what to expect when I was miscarrying. My google searches came up fairly empty, with mostly baby sites consisted of women commenting on only a few things: how surprisingly painful it was, how they wished they hadn't flushed the baby down the toilet because they didn't know what else to do with it, and how they wished they could have rested instead of getting "on with life". With every clot or tissue I felt pass, I caught it with my hands and searched through it, as if to see if it was my baby. I saw many things: large blood clots, excess tissue that looked like umbilical cord, and lastly the gestational sack. Since my baby had stopped progressing around 5 weeks the sack was small (it fit in the palm of my hand) but was still intact. I was unable to see anything inside the sack as I miscarried at 11 weeks, so likely the tissue had been reabsorbed or calcified. Either way, holding what could have become a placenta and also my child in the palm of my hand was daunting. I was grateful to have read the stories of other women's regret of flushing everything down the toilet, as it prompted me to save mine and think about what I wanted to do. We ended up placing the gestational sac in a small box filled with rocks sprinkled with Frankincense and Myrrh, which as hippie as that sounds was oddly comforting to think about my unborn baby resting on. We found a small spot at the edge of our yard where an old granite marker was placed years ago as a boundary line. We buried the box there and cried together. It was uncomfortable to do, but in the end, I'm grateful we did it as it helped bring some closure to us and serves as a small and healthy reminder to us whenever we need it.
5. Expect to Feel Hormonal and Emotional
During the last few weeks of what I thought was a pregnancy through the month after my miscarriage my hormones were raging. I was also incredibly sad following my miscarriage and would randomly cry, mostly when I was alone or driving my car and had the time (mom life, I suppose). It's as if my body had built up an army of hormones to get my through 9 months of pregnancy and took it's sweet time balancing back out after it realized the baby wasn't going to make it. It was one of the hardest parts of losing the pregnancy, feeling so out of control hormonally and emotionally. It was almost as if I could feel my body filling with hormones from my toes to my head, slowly and then bubbling over and making me feel crazy.
One of the best ways I found to reduce these hormones was acupuncture. Acupuncture worked to settle my hormones, and also allowed me time and space to sit, reflect, and cry. I found an acupuncture clinic nearby and went once a week, which was affordable because it was a clinic and all the patients sit in one room. The acupuncturists are a calming force in and of themselves, listening to what I was feeling both emotionally and physically, and we place small needles in certain areas on my ears, lower arms/hands, and lower legs/feet. It worked to the point that I am now an avid acupuncture goer, and still go about once a month.
I hope that this was informative and or helpful to read, particularly if you're about to miscarry, already have, or know someone who has. I think knowing what a woman goes through is instrumental in being able to support them better as they progress through something so painful and isolating. And perhaps knowing what it looks like to miscarry will help someone get through it a bit easier than I did. Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for miscarriage support or if you would like to see my pictures for a better idea of what to expect!