“But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow; even darkness must pass.”
** TMI WARNING for those who don’t want to read about the details of what happens in a natural miscarriage. I have tried to be as straight forward as I can without unnecessary details.
You’d think after what we had already faced that things possibly couldn’t get any worse – well certainly from an emotional perspective. That’s what I thought too. What’s worse than seeing your unborn baby without a heartbeat?
I didn’t understand that finding out you had lost your baby was only the warning for Frodo that the Nazgul were coming. The fight had yet to begin and, like our naive Hobbit, I was in no way prepared, educated or ready for it. At least I had my Sam by my side.
When you read about miscarriage you usually hear about it being a sudden event (as I mentioned previously). Sudden loss. Over quickly. As traumatic as this would be, I think if I had the choice – I would prefer the quick version. Missed miscarriage is also known as a silent miscarriage. This means that the fetus has stopped developing at some stage but has not been physically miscarried. The body hasn’t realised that things have stopped or gone wrong. You can have a pregnancy stop developing around the 5.5 week mark and be none the wiser until you excitedly go in for your 9-12 week scan with your OB to find the devastating news.
Now I don’t mean to sound so negative and I am conscious, writing this now, that it does sound very doom and gloom. But unfortunately the facts and situation surrounding this is very gloomy. I can’t seem to word it in a way that it isn’t – and I am aware that this is our story and leaving out the emotion would be untruthful and become clinical. Clinical reports and information regarding miscarriage are EVERYWHERE on the internet. It removes the emotion from the situation and makes this whole process into a simple act of nature – which it is. But that’s not what you need to hear from a human being who has gone through it – it is a very physical and emotionally exhausting time. So apologies for the lack of unicorns and rainbows for the time being. As we know – this too shall pass. But for now – it’s ok to be in the dark.
So where were we – oh yes. The Nazgul. After hearing word they were approaching and there was nothing I could do about it. My GP advised my husband and I to wait out the weekend, take time for ourselves and rest and she would contact me on Monday to see how I was going. If things had started to progress naturally – then we would continue down this path. If not, there were a couple of options:
- Surgery (Dilation and cutterage – commonly referred to as a D&C)
- Medical management (taking a pill to accelerate the miscarriage at home which is quite full on and is usually over in 24 – 48 hours if all goes well. This can be quite full on and traumatic.
Basically, because my pregnancy didn’t make it past 8 weeks, I had a few options. The less far you are along in your journey, the easier it is and safer it is to miscarry naturally. Remember that at this stage the fetus is only between 1mm – 6mm in length. If you are over 8 weeks they will generally always recommend a D&C if possible. This is to ensure all the tissue is safely removed to prevent infection. If you have a partial miscarriage at home where your body leaves behind a bit of tissue you run the risk of that tissue becoming infected and you ultimately becoming septic.
I sat at home, scared of what was going to happen to me. I furiously googled miscarriages and my symptoms to try and get a handle from real women as to what was going to happen to my body. You see, because people don’t talk about miscarriage, all you have to go on usually is clinical information. Mine was as follows “You will get cramping and bleeding similar to a heavy period. It will ramp up over a few days and then calm down. You will need a week off work”. A week? I thought “You have to be kidding me!? I haven’t had more than 2 days off work in 15 years for illness”. I rang my boss and plagued with guilt, proceeded to explain why I couldn’t come in and apologise profusely for being a pest. You see, empaths and people like me feel guilt for not doing things for others and not working and generally making life harder for other people. We will usually ignore our own comfort and needs in place of others. This is not a good thing.
By the time I had received the call from my GP at 10am on Monday morning, my body had started to miscarry naturally. Basically (excuse the TMI – apologies to the blokes reading this!) the bleeding had gone from spotting to what you usually expect on a light day of your period, along with cramping (mild). I have had worse period pains and thought to myself – “Ok, this is familiar, this isn’t too bad. I can do this.” I knew I was in for a week of… something… but not sure what that was. I knew I had to pack a hospital bag in case I started hemorrhaging at home – as if that was’t scary enough. So I made myself at home on the couch, downloaded Super Mario Odyssey on the Switch and distracted my melting brain from the mental and physical for a while. My poor husband said goodbye as he went downstairs to work – I was able to escape from social situations and work but he still had to soldier on. I felt horrible for him and know how hard it is to place your emotions aside to have to be there for others. This was tough.
Monday – Wednesday were generally not unlike a normal period. Apart from general unpredictability. I couldn’t stand up to quick. I couldn’t go out to the shops or go for a walk for fear of an accident. Your usual “super” and “regular” pads will not help you. The thicker and more uncomfortable and embarassing the pad you can find – the better. I felt physically awful. Ugly. Useless – I couldn’t help with housework! I felt embarassed and all round miserable. I shared the details with my husband – poor thing and tears came in waves – so did the cramps. I glued myself to my heat pack and went through panamax after panamax after neurofen to try and numb the pain. Not because it was physically worse than a normal period, but because the emotion tied to it was horrible. Each cramp reminded me of what was actually happening. About the little one we would never get to meet. The journey had ended for us.
** For the men reading this – cramps are not too dissimilar to gastro cramps or constipation cramps if you have ever felt them. Just much more lower tummy and radiating into your low back. Pain level around 6/10.
I can’t remember which day it was now, but I do remember getting into bed with my husband and saying to him “I am sorry, I need to be irrational right now and I need to say some things”. What came out of my mouth saddens me terribly just to even recall it and think about it. I am in the medical profession, my husband and I had talked about this and understood that it was NO ONES FAULT and that this is a COMMON and NATURAL thing. It is my body making a choice not to continue with a pregnancy that was a genetic mismatch. It’s nature doing it’s thing and that is amazing (even though that word was far from my vocab at the time). Here’s what I was thinking and here is what I said (in a number of words):
- What did I do wrong? I broke our baby…I’m so sorry. I tried not to….
- I fucked up. My body is useless. I am sorry I am useless
- I understand if you don’t want to be around me and if you want to find someone younger and someone who isn’t broken who can easily give you a child. I understand if that’s what you want to do.
- I failed. I failed our baby, I failed me and I failed us. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this.
- I am so ugly and overweight and horrible. I understand if you don’t find me attractive anymore.
- I’m sorry I have to put you through this.
Now. My husband, being the Samwise that he is, simply wrapped me in a hug so tight I thought I would burst as I just sat there and cried and cried and shook with emotion. He simply kept saying “No, baby”, and “that’s not true and you know it” and “it is NOT your fault, it’s not anyone’s fault” and “you’ll be ok. I love you.”
After the emotions stopped. I felt silly. I felt like an idiot as I reacted to the words I had said and combined them now with logic. This is not my fault. I didn’t break anything. I didn’t fail and I am not alone. But you feel these things. You don’t think you will. But you do. And its SO hard. You NEED people around you who can be your Samwise and who can listen to you and hold you as you purge the emotions from your body that are making your brain sick. I needed to get it out and I needed someone who understood me. My husband is not perfect – which makes him perfect for me. Were it not for him at this moment – I think the darkness of those emotions would have bored into my system so strong that I would have really believed everything I said.
**I think it is important to mention, that when my husband read this blog before I posted it he said “I’m glad you said this because I felt so helpless. I didn’t think there was anything I could do to help you”. Even though he was helping SO much. Make sure you let your Samwise know how important they are and how much their presence helps.
By this point. I was emotionally exhausted and physically exhausted. Friday night came and my husband said his usual “Are you ok? I’m going down for work. Do you need anything?”. Work, for those who don’t know, is at home – so he wasn’t going far. I said “I’m fine. Thanks, baby. See you soon”.
Then it happened.
The cramps really came out of nowhere and I bent over and shuffled to the bathroom. All at once I had searing pain and cramps like you wouldn’t believe rip through my lower tummy. My body responded with piles of sweat and chills as I basically stripped off all my warm layers and lay in a pool of sweat on the bathroom floor. My vision went blurry. Then the nausea started. I crawled back to the toilet and hugged it – expecting the worst. Nothing. I lay on the floor and phoned my husband on the half hour when I knew he would be free for a second and said I wasn’t ok. By this time, I had crawled to the kitchen and popped two Panadiene and crawled back to the couch. I am not kidding when I said crawled.
My hubby rushed in – worried. Felt my cold and clammy head for a fever and asked if I needed to go to the hospital. I told him how I had just taken two Panadiene and to check on me in 30 mins and see how I am. Reluctantly, he left me on the couch.
Next thing I remember is him waking me up about 30 mins later. The pains had died down and the Panadiene had knocked me for 6 and caused me to fall asleep. I spent the rest of the night resting and sleeping the drugs off.
Saturday morning came and I got up, had my cup of tea and went to the bathroom. Usual routine. I will try to skim the surface of how to describe what happened next. Basically, at some point during your natural miscarriage you are effectively ‘giving birth’. This happened. I jumped up and my heart lodged in my throat. I was too scared initially to look down. But I did. All the pain the previous night was most likely my body trying to expel all the *remaining tissue. And there it all was.
*Remaining tissue means that you generally pass what they call the ‘pregnancy sac’. I say this to avoid people conjuring images of Voldemort under the table in the final installment of Harry Potter. It’s very much indistinguishable tissue. I write this because my husband immediately conjured said image…. very far from accurate!
I went numb and pale. But a sensation of relief and a feeling of lightness washed over me. The worst was over. I told my husband what had happened and sighed as I gave him a hug. My body was exhausted. My brain was exhausted. There was a feeling of release.
The following week was basically back to no pain. Simple spotting and more blood tests to confirm my HCG (pregnancy hormone) level was returning to zero again. It was, slowly. Here is a timeline summary for you.
Week 1: spotting started, found out about miscarriage
Week 2: started miscarrying naturally, total time 7 days.
Week 3: spotting and recovery
Week 4: HCG down to 210 (which is low) and blood tests stopped
Week 5: end of this week I got my period back again.
Now, for those women wondering. There is NO normal here. Some women have a quicker timeline. Others go on longer. Sometimes it can take months for your HCG to return to zero. Basically, your cycle will not come back until it does. Mine was very quick. I started bleeding again and thought the worse, but turns out it was my period back a mere 2.5 weeks after the miscarriage had completed.
So there you have it. My experience of a natural miscarriage. I was lucky in a way – I didn’t have any complications at all. No hospitalizations and no infections and no left over tissue that required a D&C afterwards to remove. Again, I cannot stress enough that there are SO many variations of normal. After the end of Week 2 we returned to theatre rehearsals for a concert that was going on in 3 weeks.
I had survived. We had survived.
When I look at it now. Women’s bodies are insane. This process of deciding that a pregnancy is not going to work and going through this whole process is incredible. You have no conscious control. Once you are miscarrying there is nothing you can do to prevent it from progressing. It’s not a pleasant experience but you are so strong. So very strong.
You won’t feel it.
You will feel so small. So weak. So helpless. So useless. So sad. So angry. So frustrated. So alone. So unprepared.
But you will do it. Your body has not failed you.
My one piece of advice is to surround yourself with love. Hugs. Warmth and those who make you feel good by simply being. You need this. Take time for yourself and be selfish for a while. The world will go on turning.
There is no way Frodo would have gotten to the end without his Samwise. Without The Fellowship.
As for us – we were back to some sense of ‘normal’ (whatever the hell that is). This was not going to be an easy road. But we will get back up and try again. Your cycle wont return to normal for a few months while your body basically resets itself. Mine went from 28 days every month to 26, 32, 27 post miscarriage. Be patient and allow it time. We were hermits for around 3 weeks during the miscarriage process and that is ok. Reach out when you need to but make sure you do. We made the choice to say “no” a lot more and to surround ourselves with people who made us feel good and situations that were helpful for us.
We decided to stop counting days. Stop using ovulation calendars. Stop making this natural process so clinical and planned and simply go back to enjoying being us in our bubble for a while.
Funny thing! My years of period pain and PMS symptoms pretty much disappeared after the miscarriage. Perhaps turning the system on and off again actually does work for these issues too!
We were back on the road. Samwise and I. The Nazgul had left us exhausted and scared, now always looking over our shoulders and taking cautious steps forward.
The adventure continues…..
In Memory of our little Ponyo.
We never got to meet you. We never got to hold you. We never got to see who would grow to be. But we love you – our angel baby. You will always be in our hearts and never forgotten.
Love your Mummy and Daddy xox