What they don’t tell you – After

They don’t tell you that every time you do something that was off limits during pregnancy you feel like a knife is twisting inside you. Those things that you thought you missed, like eating sushi, having some wine, going out for drinks with friends – all of a sudden you realize that you only missed them because there was happiness inside you. Now that you can do those things again, you don’t enjoy them. Even after a month, that bite of sushi is a reminder – that the only reason you are able to eat this again is because of your loss. The bittersweet.

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Family Support

A few days after the D&C we went out to dinner with my in-laws. We knew they were there for support although we never talked about the thing we weren’t talking about. It was actually really nice to have a pretend normal evening. There were topics that we didn’t discuss, to make it easier for everyone, but there was also acknowledgment that they were there for us, for whatever we needed. We had a support system and that was important.

After they left, my husband and I realized that both of us had moments where we forgot about the miscarriage. Only a few minutes for each of us, but it was nice, nice not to remember, if even for a very short time.

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Back at work

Going back to work…
What you expect: Being grateful for being so busy you can’t think too much about the loss.
What you don’t expect: Having people ask if you’re feeling better (thinking you were out sick). The punch it throws every time they ask that, and every time you have to respond “yeah, mostly.” Because in reality you aren’t better. You’re still stuck, wondering what just happened, it still hurts. Physically you’re mostly okay, but mentally… it’s not okay and here you are lying. Lying because it’s so much easier than having a conversation explaining to people that you were pregnant and now are not.

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Miscarriage – Part 3

(Please be aware that the below post contains detailed information relating to my miscarriage)

Wednesday morning

After a brief appointment with my doctor first thing in the morning, she went ahead and scheduled me for a D&C later that day.

An hour before the procedure I took 800mg Ibuprofen, 2 vicodin, then 2 more misoprostol. We went back to the office at the appointed time, were brought back to the room. And then we waited. And waited. We ended up waiting for the better part of an hour (although the nurse came in to give us updates). That was honestly the worst part of the day – waiting. We were so close to having some finalization but we had to wait. I understand the waiting – she started her day off running late and then she had squeezed us in between other appointments in what was already a very busy day. Thank goodness for a phone with internet – we ended up talking about all sorts of random things while we were waiting and just because we needed to keep our minds off of the task at hand (kind of hard seeing as how I was lying on an exam table in one of those lovely blue gowns), we looked up anything we had questions about – fish, geography, the weather, random historical figures, etc.

The procedure

First off my doctor is wonderful. She asked before starting if I wanted her to talk or if she should just let me dig inside myself creating a mental oasis. I’m the kind of person who likes being prepared, so I asked her to let me know what was about to happen as things went on.

I closed my eyes and she began. The first thing she did was inject something – I suspect a local numbing agent or perhaps something to prevent infection – she told me, but the only part I focused on was that I would feel a pinch from the needle. After a bit she let me know I was about to hear the noise of the suction machine. She reminded me to breath when I forgot. The pain was so much less than I expected it to be. She said part of that was because I was already dilated so much (a result of Saturday’s cramps/contractions).

My husband was a trooper – he sat right next to me and held my hand the whole time. A part of this experience that I hadn’t thought about is that he also saw what was happening – the amount of blood that came out of my body for a second time and all of the blood on the hose of the machine. I blissfully was unaware of these details – I heard the noise, I experienced the tugging, but really it was so much less painful than what I had gone through Saturday night and for that I was grateful. The entire procedure only took a few minutes (less than 10, maybe more than 5?).

Immediately after she was done I had some cramping, but within 2 minutes I was relaxing. I expected to feel a great sense of loss. Instead, I felt at ease. I started to get the jitters some and felt like I needed to move but also felt like I should stay still for a bit. I took my time getting up. I felt oddly okay. I was worried at how okay I felt – I was certain I should be grieving, be in pain, be upset, not just feel OKAY. My husband pointed out that some of that may have been due to the drug cocktail (ie that I might be flying a bit high) and he definitely had a point. About an hour after the D&C my adrenaline started to drop back down and while I still felt okay physically, my sense of immense “okay-ness” dropped some.

I can’t express how key having closure was in this process. We were still sad, we were still grieving, but we weren’t waiting for my body anymore. We didn’t have to wonder when the rest was going to come out. We were no longer waiting on things beyond our control. We could move forward.

My doctor told me to stay home – she recommended for the rest of the week, I thought she was just being kind. I felt so physically okay on Wednesday that I even thought I might go into work on Thursday. In the end, I stayed home on both Thursday and Friday. There are times in your life when you have to let go of your feelings of obligation. Maybe there are things that won’t get done at work. Oh well. At the end of the day what matters is that you take care of yourself first. I have a boss who supports this and I took her up on it. I stayed at home with my husband and worked on healing.

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Miscarriage – Part 2

Monday morning rolled around and my cramps had mostly subsided. There were still some, but the pain was negligible. Physically I was doing okay so I made a stupid decision – I went into work. My advice to others – take the time off if you can. I was visibly upset. I mostly hid in my office. Someone asked me about my weekend and I said I’d rather not talk about it. I think I managed to come up with one funny story about something my cats did, but that was about it. I just came in and sat at my desk and worked. My brain was numb. My boss hugged me and it was too much and I just started crying again. I spent some of the day with my door closed. I made it through the day and curled up in bed when I got home. I think we took the dogs out on a walk, we didn’t talk much. Too much to process.

By Tuesday morning my cramping had completely stopped. I emailed my doctor to ask her advice since I was 90% certain that I hadn’t passed the embryo yet. She scheduled an appointment for me to come in first thing on Wednesday. The second day at work was easier than the first (because at least people don’t ask questions about your weekend on a Tuesday) but it was still hard. A coworker came into my office and said she knew something sad had happened and wish she could do something to make me feel better. Another hug, another bout of tears. I truly appreciate her support and her ability to acknowledge sadness without prying as to what was happening. While I was so glad I had told my boss about my pregnancy because it made everything relating to the miscarriage so much easier, I was also glad I hadn’t told my coworkers. I really don’t think I would’ve made it through that first day if everyone knew. If they had all been asking what happened at Friday’s appointment, if I had to tell them that I was going through a miscarriage. If they had all been sad for me without knowing what to say. It was better this way – having a coworker who didn’t know why I was sad but knew what to say.

I made it through most of Tuesday before I started cramping again and at that point I just couldn’t take it emotionally. The paranoia of remembering how quickly things escalated on Saturday and worrying that it would happen again. The fact that I had zero pain meds with me. The fact that I was emotionally just numb. I couldn’t pretend anymore and so I just went home (I have the most understanding boss in the world who had told me to take the whole week off if I needed to). Home I went, ready for the appointment Wednesday morning.

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Miscarriage – Part 1

(Please be aware that the below post contains detailed information relating to my miscarriage)

I knew the word. I felt badly for people I knew who had miscarried. I couldn’t fathom how they must feel. I had certainly never thought about the logistics before. I guess you typically hear about spontaneous miscarriage – people discovering because they are cramping and their body is in the process of actively expelling the baby. Well here I was, going through a miscarriage and discovering I knew nothing about the process. I was in a different category than the ones I heard about before. I had a “missed” miscarriage. The embryo had failed to develop after a certain point, but my body hadn’t realized there was anything wrong, in a word, my body missed it.

While we were trying to process all of this on Friday, we also tried to figure out whether or not I would be up to going to a friends’ house for dinner on Saturday. The only reason we we were worried about this was we were going to meet their newborn and emotionally we thought this might be too much. This is hilarious in retrospect because there was no way physically I would’ve been capable of going to dinner that night. On Friday I was still in a fog, I didn’t get it, I didn’t understand what I was about to go through. However Saturday morning we canceled our plans and I went ahead and took the misoprostol.

Saturday morning I ran errands – I went to the store to get some snacks to have on hand. I rented some DVDs. I took the dogs on a walk. If you came across this post because you’re preparing for taking misoprostol, please take this advice – do not interact with other people on the day of. Those random little words that are said at check-out – “How are you today?” and “Have a nice day” – you can’t collapse and tell them life SUCKS, that this is one of the worst days for you – but it’s also so hard to smile and play along with the game. You just don’t have the energy to pretend. So you respond minimally, not saying anything that would invite questions, hoping that you can get back to the shelter of your home as soon as possible. The place where you don’t have to answer any questions and you don’t have to acknowledge the world around you. The cocoon of safety, of the ability to isolate yourself from the world around so you can focus on what’s about to happen and let yourself feel anything and everything.

At 9:30am I inserted 2 tablets internally. By noon I had some cramping but no bleeding. I went ahead and took 1 pain pill to ward off the pain to come. At 1:30pm I placed two more tablets internally. The cramping continued (akin to my heaviest day of my period and starting to get worse). I had expected something to happen by now, but it wasn’t until 4:15pm that I had any spotting.

Around 5:30pm my husband took one of our dogs on a walk. Ironically enough it was only 15 minutes later that the pain went from cramping to ow-ow-ow and continued to increase. At 6pm I took another pain pill and started to move around to help manage the pain – walking, sitting on my exercise ball, focused breathing, and more walking. The constant motion seemed to provide comfort to me – distraction mostly. The cramping was continuing to increase significantly. The breathing helped for awhile and then everything got worse. While I have not been in labor I would argue that one could call these small contractions. Around 6:30pm I was curled up on my bed crying, I couldn’t handle walking or breathing. I think the biggest thing to realize is that you don’t have any endorphins to help you out during this process. There isn’t happiness waiting at the other end of this. There are minutes when the pain is so bad you just want it all to end and you don’t understand how anyone could ever go through this. You question whether or not you will be able to make it through childbirth eventually if this is what it feels like at only 12 weeks.

My husband came back during this time and asked what he could do. The answer was simply to sit next to me and be there. Hold my hand, touch my back, just be present. He also convinced me to take another pain pill – I argued against it. It’s amazing how much I fought taking the pain meds during this whole process. Part of it could be the fact that I had spent so many months weaning myself off prescription pain meds (for migraines) and keeping my body completely free of any drugs (prescription and over the counter) that now taking medication again just seemed WRONG. I wasn’t supposed to be allowed to take any pain meds, this wasn’t supposed to be okay. I was mad. In any case, I’m now grateful. It was time to take medication, it was time to use the aid of medicine to make this process easier.

Someone asked me to quantify the pain – was it the worst pain in my life? It was hard to answer – it was a very different pain. The headaches I get with my migraines are dull aches with sharp twinges. They hurt, but there’s a way to manage it to some degree, a way to make it hurt less. Sometimes they last for several days. Sometimes I’m laid up in bed and just letting tears stream down my cheeks because it hurts to move my face at all. This pain was different – it was sharp as a knife, it came in waves but never truly subsided, and the worst part was I didn’t know how long it was going to last. Was this the beginning of a six hour experience or would it be over in 30 minutes? In the end, the excruciating pain only lasted for about an hour. At 7:20pm, 10 hours after I took the first two pills, I felt a “burst” and blood just gushed out of me. A lot of blood. I was sitting on the toilet and it sounded like I was peeing – like I had been drinking tons of water and stuck in a car for five hours and only now getting a chance to use the bathroom. You never realize how much blood is truly in your uterus until it all starts to come out of you. I think that part terrified my husband the most – being told that the noise he just heard was all blood. For me, as soon as there was a burst the pain decreased significantly. I could breath normally, I could sit up straight. I stayed put for awhile to let more blood escape, but after a bit I got up and went back to sitting in bed.

Nothing other than blood came out during that episode. Based on reading I had done I expected that I might go through another set of this later on in the night. Nothing came. I was still cramping during the night, and took another pain pill at 11:30pm, but by Sunday morning the pain was completely at a normal level again. I was still cramping but nothing like before. Sunday was physically easy, and emotionally a day of tears. I had lost a lot of blood, but my little embryo, my little baby who nature determined wasn’t ready was still inside of me.

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The Appointment

My husband and I went to our 12 week check-up, excited at the thought of actually hearing the heartbeat this time. We had seen the heartbeat at the 8 week appointment – the amazingly fast flutter. But somehow I thought it would all start to seem more real once we heard it. We started the ultrasound and she suggested that my uterus might be tilted because she really couldn’t get a good picture with the external wand, so she switched to the internal wand. As the image came on screen, I started noticing that I wasn’t seeing the rapid flutter from the last time. Then she started measuring and getting measurements of around 9 weeks 5 days. I knew something was wrong. She quietly said she was going to get my ob for a consult because she wasn’t seeing a heart beat.
That intervening time… my husband came over to hold my hand. I squeezed so tightly. I knew what we were talking about. I didn’t want it to be real.
When my OB came in she confirmed that she also didn’t see a heartbeat, and that combined with the lack of growth indicated…
She said all the right things, I knew they were the “right” things… and let me tell you – it mattered. It mattered so much to hear her say “it wasn’t anything you did or didn’t do.” Basically that in most cases there is just something wrong with the embryo and it isn’t viable.

Although she said we could have time to process, I told her I did much better with information. So she started to walk us through our options. Wait and see if my body aborts it naturally. Get assistance from a drug called misoprostol (induces cramping). Schedule a D&C. My inclination was to wait and see if my body would do this naturally however she gently suggested that I might want to have the pills just in case. Due to how far along I was and since it had been a few weeks and my body still hadn’t realized the embryo was no longer viable. She suggested that she prescribe the pills so I would have them if I decided to use them (along with vicodin for the pain). We went with that.

I was supposed to go back to work (that wasn’t happening) and with tears streaming down my face I start to dial my boss. My husband took the phone from me and talked to her for me. Because I told her about the pregnancy on Monday, all he had to say was that the appointment didn’t go well – there was no need for complicated explanations or questions. It was short and simple and she said her thoughts were with us and that I should take whatever time I needed.

The rest of Friday afternoon we were just in a haze. Tears, numbness, a feeling that this is all just unreal.

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