Processing the Physical part of Miscarriage (and Hemorrhaging)

*The reason that I decided to write about my physical process of miscarriage is in hopes that it might help other women in similar situations.  When I came home from the hospital, I had no idea how to start processing what had happened and felt desperate for someone to understand what I was going through.  I googled it, and found one blogger who had gone through what I had gone through and was brave enough to write about her experience.  It was incredibly helpful for me.  It was helpful to know that my physical symptoms were similar to what someone else had gone through, helpful to know what I could expect, and perhaps most helpful was being able to identify with someone else in this.  Everything she described about her emotional and physical process hit the nail on the head of what I was experiencing. So if my unfortunate experience can be used to help anyone else in any way, I want to put it out there.

**If you don’t want to read anything about blood, don’t read this post.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

It is ironic that in my last blog post, I talked about how helpful it is in the midst of mourning a miscarriage to have “normal” days.  I had typed that post a couple of weeks before actually publishing it, when I had yet to go through the actual physical process of miscarrying the baby.  Once that process started, “normal” was no longer an option for a couple of weeks.

Let me back up a little bit.

When we found out on January 3rd that we had lost the baby, I was told that I had two choices in how I wanted to miscarry: I could have a D and C; or I could try to have a “spontaneous miscarriage” where I would let my body take its course and miscarry naturally.  I opted for the later.  I have had several friends miscarry naturally in the past year, so it seemed normal to me.  Also, I had read that there is a small chance that having a d and c could potentially cause infertility issues, and I didn’t want to risk that.

Little did I know, I was actually taking a much bigger risk with the choice that I ended up making.

Monday January 13th turned out to be one of the most surprising and scary nights of my life.

On Monday the 13th, I started bleeding very heavily.  In a note that the doctor had given us at our last visit, we were told to contact the on-call nurse if I were to bleed through more than one pad per hour for more than one hour.  Well to spare you the details, let’s just say that I was bleeding significantly more than that all night.  From 9pm until 12:30 am when we finally went to bed, I had been in major pain and had ruined several outfits from the bleeding.  Jordan reminded me about the note from the doctor and wanted to call the on call nurse.  I don’t know why I was so stubborn, but I didn’t want to call.  I just assumed I would be ok.  I told him that if this continued into the next morning, we could call.

Although we went to bed at 12:30, I never fell asleep because of how heavy the bleeding was.  Finally at 2am, I got out of bed to change again, and the strangest thing happened.  I started sweating and shaking, I felt dizzy and nauseous, and a loud ringing noise was in my ears.  I suddenly knew that something was wrong.   I started yelling for Jordan, and came back into the bedroom to find him.  Good thing he saw and heard me, because as soon as he got out of bed, I passed out.  He called 911.

The paramedics arrived and took my blood pressure.  It was 74/39 (incredibly low).  They told me to change my clothes and get into the ambulance so that they could connect me to an IV and bring me to the hospital.  This is how I remember the events from there:

  • Arriving at the ER by myself (Jordan was finding someone to come stay with Riley so that he could join me), and feeling very confused.  Honestly, I was kind of in a haze and didn’t really understand what was happening or the severity of the situation.  Apparently I even texted Jordan and said something like: “I don’t even know why I’m here, I don’t need to be here.”
  • The doctor coming in and sitting down across from me, telling me with compassion in his eyes that he was so sorry for my loss and so sorry that this was happening.  I really appreciated that.  It is awesome to have a doctor who makes you feel important and cared for.
  • Jordan coming in, and being so thankful he was there with me.
  • Shaking uncontrollably and feeling really cold and weak.
  • The nurse constantly having to change my bedding and my clothes, since I was bleeding through everything every 10-15 minutes.
  • My blood pressure lowering, and being given more fluids through an IV.
  • Being given morphine and feeling really weird.
  • Telling Jordan that I felt like a puffy marshmallow, I guess from all of the fluid.
  • Exams being done.
  • Not being able to walk, and being wheeled to each different room in a wheel chair.
  • An ultrasound that revealed that I still hadn’t passed the sac yet, a concerning fact given how much blood I had already lost.
  • Being told that my body couldn’t lose any more blood, and that they were going to take me to the OR to perform a d and c operation.
  • Talking to a really nice anesthesiologist about the general anesthesia he was about to give me, and feeling ready to go in for surgery because I just felt ready to stop bleeding and feeling so weird.
  • Waking up, having no memory of anything after talking to the anesthesiologist. I then realized that he was the one wheeling me into the recovery room,  and I remember thanking him for giving me the best sleep of my life and asking him if we could do it again  (I was still pretty drugged at that point.  But it really was amazing sleep…)

After the surgery, they kept me on fluids for a few more hours to continue to try and get my blood pressure back up.  By 12:30 that afternoon, I was discharged from the hospital and Jordan and Riley came to pick me up.  I remember feeling exhausted and hazy, and asking for some Panera mac & cheese.

Here is what the recovery process has been like for me:

  • I felt drugged and exhausted, nauseous and swollen for about a day after coming home from the hospital.
  • I had bad headaches throughout the week after that, especially when I woke up in the morning
  • I felt pretty weak for the rest of the week.  Small tasks would wear me out, and I really struggled to be a mom.  Laying down helped.  Standing or walking would often make me feel lightheaded and dizzy.
  • If I stood up too fast, I felt like I was going to pass out
  • I bled lightly for about 5 days post-surgery.  Then the bleeding stopped completely, and started again a week later
  • I also started having moderate cramping a week after, which surprised me and caught me a bit off-guard.
  • One thing that was really challenging for me  emotionally, was that I felt a strong need to get out and about with Riley and do fun things with her.  The thought of visiting children’s museums, parks, and scheduling play dates sounded very appealing!  It offered me the hope of a normal day with my daughter, as a normal mom.  Only, I couldn’t.  Because I could barely walk across the room without feeling lightheaded. I was told that it would take a while to replace my blood volume and that it might be weeks before I feel better.  I’m glad that I knew what to expect, but it was so discouraging to me.  I longed to give Riley the type of day that I felt like I was depriving her of for weeks.

One thing that is difficult to explain about the physical part of a miscarriage to anyone who hasn’t had one, is the feeling that your body has betrayed you.  I felt completely out of control.  I couldn’t keep the baby alive.  I couldn’t stop my body from bleeding.  I couldn’t play with Riley or help Jordan around the house.  I felt so discouraged and helpless.

In struggling with this, one thing I would cling to was this idea that I was going to take charge of my body again!  Soon, I was going to get it back.  I was going to get back to eating clean and I was going to get into yoga.  I felt like yoga was going to help me to re-unite my body and soul, which have felt at war with each other the past few weeks.  I also thought that perhaps it would give me more respect for my body again.  I went to my first yoga class and while I was in it I was thinking, “Yes, I am going to get strong again!  I CAN do this!”  But as soon as the class ended, I started feeling lightheaded and dizzy.  I came home and ended up in bed for the rest of the day.  I also started cramping and bleeding again – something that hadn’t happened in a week.  I felt so angry and emotional.  Once again, I felt that my body had betrayed me.  Once again I was forced to realize that I am not in control.

Another thing that I want to mention is that the physical part of miscarriage feels very lonely.  I can’t really explain it, but the more my body would go through physically, the more isolated I would feel.

Jordan is obviously the person that I am closest to, and the person who most closely understands what I’m going through.  We are both going through the same tragedy.  But I am the only one going through it physically.  I feel like no one really understands what I am feeling physically, and how frustrating it can be.  It is an experience that is unique to me in this.  It drives the despair into deeper places, and forces me to ask for help, which makes me feel even weaker.

For a few days after the yoga class, and I continued to feel pretty weak.  I tried to take it easy. I started (and still am) taking iron supplements, and eating a lot of spinach.  Now I’m just trying to figure out the line between listening to my body and resting, and figuring how much I can push my body as I try to get back to “normal.”

Obviously, I’m still in the midst of this, trying to figure it all out.  But I did want to offer a few tips in retrospect, to other women going through the same thing.  Sometimes, it just helps to have someone else tell you that what you’re feeling is legitimate, and give you permission to take care of yourself.

Suggestions for surviving a hemorrhaging miscarriage:

  • Say “Yes” when people offer help
  • Be honest with people about the help that you need, and don’t feel bad asking.
  • I highly recommend chocolate therapy.  And bubble baths with wine.
  • Normally I wouldn’t encourage emotional eating.  But you know, during this time I realized that it is a sweet gift from God that food can offer the comfort that it does.  So many amazing friends and family found joy in being able to provide us food, and it nourished us deeply.  So feel the freedom to enjoy food and find comfort in, say, a Chipotle burrito bowl 😉
  • Read books.  I found fiction helpful.
  • In general, pamper yourself a bit.  Don’t feel bad.  It can be challenging to take care of yourself.  Give yourself a manicure or pedicure, watch movies in bed, go out with a girlfriend for brunch, use bath salts, sit outside and soak in some sunshine, or put on a little bit of makeup.  Even though it’s temporary, it will make you feel better and you and your family will benefit from you giving yourself a little bit of special care.
  • Give yourself the freedom to live in survival mode for a little while (you may not have a choice anyway).  But don’t beat yourself up for using the things you need to rely on to get through the day (TV, movies, extra coffee, naps, babysitting offers, etc).  And ask your close friends or family to remind you of this.

If anyone reading this is in a similar place and needs someone to talk to, or if you are considering a d and c or a natural miscarriage and would like to know more of my thoughts after this experience, don’t hesitate to contact me.  You can find an email address in the “About Me” section of this blog.

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