Here it is. The taboo word that no one wants to utter. Miscarriage. You wait to announce your pregnancy until past the first trimester so, just in case it happens to you, you’ll be safe. You won’t have to explain to anyone about the totally-not-your-fault loss of your pregnancy. You won’t have to make anyone else uncomfortable.
Miscarriage, unfortunately, happens.
Whether you talk about it or not is a personal choice, but honestly? I think it helps to hear about the experiences of others and to know you’re not alone. After I had my miscarriages I became an internet fiend and tried to hoard as much information as possible. There is a ton of information and misinformation out there.
There are many ways to deal with a miscarriage, and I’m not talking emotionally because there are even more ways to deal in that way. I mean physically what happens to your body and the ways to endure and the logistics of managing the loss of your pregnancy. For each of my three miscarriages, I chose three different methods of (there is no delicate way of putting this) the removal or expulsion of the fetal tissue.
My first miscarriage blindsided me. I knew deep down what was probably happening but until the doctor uttered the words, “I’m sorry,” I held on to hope. I started bleeding one evening and went to the hospital in the morning to learn the terrible news. The doctor gave me three options for expulsion of the fetal tissue. Medication, surgical or natural. I chose natural since she assured me I shouldn’t have any problems.
The natural method was less invasive and less managed.I admit, I felt adrift for the remainder of the weekend because I hadn’t seen my regular doctor and wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. The term heavy period doesn’t really cut it. During my period I don’t expel tissue that plops on the shower floor and shoots down the drain. It was devastating. Truly, one of the worst moments of my life. After that, it was like a heavy period. I bled for about two to three weeks with major cramping and contractions and it was over.
My next miscarriage was caught by ultrasound. My doctor again gave me options for proceeding, and this time I chose to have medical intervention. I could have gone with a D&C (dilation and curettage) where the cervix is opened either manually or with medication, and instruments or suction are used to remove uterine tissue. Or I could have gone with an MVA (manual vacuum aspiration) procedure which uses a vacuum to extract the uterine contents. I chose the in-office MVA procedure so I wouldn’t have to have anesthesia.
My doctor gave me a selection of medications and a timetable of when to take them. Misoprostol to soften the cervix, painkillers (self-explanatory), and anti-anxiety medication to relax you. I took those medications as prescribed but something reacted funny in my body. I started vomiting and couldn’t stop. The doctor did the procedure anyway, after a shot of Phenergan. It was quick and painless and only slightly horrifying if you stop to think about it. My bleeding lasted less than a week and there was less cramping, which was an improvement over the previous time.
My third and final miscarriage was also detected via ultrasound. Unwilling to repeat the vomiting episode of my previous experience and equally unwilling to undergo the procedure without the painkillers, et al. I chose medication to get me through the experience.
My doctor gave me misoprostol with the instructions to insert three tablets into the vagina as close to the cervix as possible.She prescribed painkillers again just in case, but I chose not to take them and Ibuprofen sufficed. With this method, I was able to control when the miscarriage happened so I could stay home and deal with it privately without worrying when the tissue would pass. This time my bleeding stopped within one to two weeks, but the majority of it happened in the first twelve hours. The cramping during that time was bad and the bleeding after that was lighter and more manageable.
In all honesty, no one wants to make this choice and none of the choices are very palatable.
I present these experiences as a way for you to know, should it happen to you, what your options are. Obviously, I wouldn’t want to go through any of the experiences again, and choosing one seems wrong. They are all awful, but knowing what they involve may allow you to pick the least terrible way to miscarry.
I’ve had 2.5 healthy pregnancies since, but the experience of the year of the miscarriage is indelibly etched into my memory. I wish I’d had someone to explain my options to me, and the outcomes of each.
Related: Loss and Miscarriage