My Twelve Week Miscarriage Story
My Twelve Week Miscarriage Story
Author: Amanda Fay
I keep replaying those three words over and over again in my head - “there’s no heartbeat”. I couldn't help it, tears started immediately flowing from my eyes, my own heartbeat starting to race with fear of the unknown. I was ten weeks and three days pregnant when I went in for an ultrasound that pronounced my first pregnancy was no longer viable. Ten whole weeks of growing, ten weeks of emotions, ten weeks of feelings, and then in one sentence, it was all over. Little did I know, ten weeks was not going to be the end it of, my miscarriage consumed me for over three weeks, finally releasing the fetus at twelve.
It truly amazes me that everything you know to be true can be diminished in a less than two minute ultrasound. I kept waiting for the moment when she was going to tell me there was a chance my baby was still alive and we would try again but no, as the doctor entered the room he too talked to me about my options moving forward. I continued to wonder, “could they have been wrong?”, “could the volume have been broken on the ultrasound machine and they didn’t know it?”
Images above: first, seven weeks pregnant - second, ten weeks, before I found out I had lost the baby.
My baby measured eight weeks and five days during my ten week ultrasound, meaning that he or she had probably stopped growing one and a half weeks prior. What I had experienced was a missed miscarriage, my baby had passed but my body had not recognized the loss yet. Unlike many of the stories I was reading online, I had not yet started cramping or bleeding - like what happened to a lot of women which is what made them go in for their ultrasound in the first place. My ultrasound was scheduled because I told my midwife I had already started to feel better, my nausea subsided, my energy was even back up. While to me I thought I was having an amazing healthy pregnancy, she on the other hand suspected my pregnancy had stopped and so my pregnancy hormones were dissipating, and my symptoms were going away. What I would do now to take back the all day nausea and extreme fatigue.. little did I know these symptoms are actually blessings.
To back things up a bit, I work in the pre and postnatal industry. I specialize in preconception planning. I myself had been preparing my body for this pregnancy for over two years, and even I experienced a pregnancy loss. These things happen to many, many more women than you would expect. It wasn't about something I did personally, and I wasn't going to try to go down a list in my head to try to figure it out. The Mayo Clinic states that miscarriages are “very common” and about three million cases happen per year. Of those cases, 40-75% are due to random genetic problems or chromosomal abnormalities in the developing fetus. This baby was not meant to be. I was really shocked to find out how many of my friends and relatives even had gone through a miscarriage too. All saying that they have beautiful babies or grown children now after the fact. I even learned my own husband is a rainbow baby! These are the women who helped me dearly during my own experience.
My midwife advised me that I had three options; wait until I naturally miscarry, take a medication (misoprostol) to start the miscarriage, or to have a surgery called a D and C (dilation and curettage). Since I was no longer in her care, I sought out the help of a very kind nurse practitioner in a clinic that specializes in miscarriage management and abortions. The clinic was in a converted home in downtown Concord, New Hampshire, only twenty-five minutes from my own home. As soon as I walked in I was immediately relieved about the absence of a sterilized medical feel and instead had my chat with the nurse in a cozy den on a sofa and had my ultrasound in a converted oversized walk in closet. It was such a relief to also get a second ultrasound, she slowly showed me things the hospital didn't, and double confirmed my babies size of eight and five. I had decided to opt for the misoprostol so she sent me home with directions and the medication.
Caution: Here is when we start to get “TMI” for some: I decided to wait until Wednesday of that week to take the medication, giving my body one week to naturally miscarry. At this point, I was technically eleven weeks and four days. Since there was zero signs of spotting or cramping, I took the misoprostol at 10:30 am on Wednesday morning. She had me take four pills, dissolving two on each side of my mouth in between my gums and cheeks for thirty minutes before swallowing. I was so grateful that my mother came up to be with me during this time, we hung out all day binge watching Instant Hotel on Netflix (which is actually a pretty amazing show). One hour before I took the misoprostol, I ate a huge breakfast and took 500mg of prescription Naproxen plus some pepto bismol for the nausea you can get from the misoprostol. Things were extremely uneventful until about 2:30 pm when I saw my first release of pregnancy tissue in the toilet. It was a very minimum amount and light pink. For the rest of the day, nothing more than slight pink on the toilet paper after I had gone to the bathroom. The nurse advised me to take a second round of misoprostol in the event that there was no prominent heavy bleeding or cramping. That night I got a good night’s sleep and the next morning at 9:30 am I took the second dose of medication. Again, nothing until around 2:00 pm when the light pink spotting then turned into small brownish clots. Around 5:00 pm was the first time I was actually releasing bright red blood, I thought “this is it!” I was ready to release the fetus, this ordeal had been dragged out enough. But again, everything slowed down and I went to sleep. The next day, Friday, I decided to give my body a break from the misoprostol and naproxen. I didn't even need to wear a pad on Friday or Saturday that's how little my body was doing.
I had my husband pick me up another prescription of misoprostol on Saturday. A third round was advised by my medical professional. This was my last chance, and if things didn’t happen between Saturday with the medicine, or throughout the week naturally, I was probably going to have to have the surgery on Friday. I took my third round of medication and pain killers around 1:00 pm Saturday and around 8:30 pm that night I started having really bad cramps. I would compare them to the cramps I have during my menstrual period since those are also really bad (I suffer from dysmenorrhea). The cramps started getting closer together and stronger, just like contractions, so I downloaded a contraction timer app and started to track them. After just two more “contractions” both lasting roughly one minute long and only one minute apart, I got up to go to the bathroom and swooosh, my “water broke”. Or at least that is what I assumed your water breaking during labor would feel like. I immediately went to the toilet and started freaking out. The feeling of my uterus dilated was extremely foreign and weird to me. My pad was soaked but not with blood, I assumed this was the liquid from my gestational sac, which my nurse said would have still continued to grow even though the fetus stopped around eight and five. After that initial release of liquid, all sorts of stuff was coming out of my vagina, at an alarming rate. Again, I was not used to the feeling of a dilated cervix, I did not like the feeling of not being in control of my body.
This was SO different from the first two rounds of medication. There was no guessing whether this was it, this was DEFINITELY it (or at least I thought). There was just so much blood and huge blood clots I spent the majority of my time on the toilet. Later, I found out all the blood clots are actually what your body started creating the placenta with releasing from your body. I took a bath for around thirty minutes which helped relax me and sooth my cramps but beware, your lovely bath water will turn brown from all the blood. This extreme bleeding lasted for about three hours. It finally slowed down at 12:30 am when I tried laying down to sleep. I woke every two hours to change my pad and make sure the bleeding had slowed down, which it did. Some women will notice or see they passed a large mass that resembles the fetus, some women even save the fetus and perform a burial. In my case, there was just so much blood and large clots I could not tell if any were the actual fetus and sometimes I just flushed the toilet without looking. I would call the experience traumatic to say the least.
Sunday, I was twelve weeks “pregnant”. I took it easy, laid in bed for most of the day. The bleeding was consistent to a heavy period still at this point. Sunday passed, as did Monday day as I continued to take it easy. That night, surprisingly I was extremely drawn to my husband and he made me orgasm. I think in some way that was my bodies way of saying “hey Amanda, you're actually not done and we need you to do something to get your uterus contracting again.” About twenty minutes after I orgasmed, severe cramping happened again, just like the ones on Saturday night, the night I thought “this is it!” I felt that urge again to go to the toilet and “SWOOSH” more stuff plummeted out of my vagina. This time, as I looked in the toilet, there it was. My gestation sack had finally released from my body, it was about the size of half of a large banana and inside would have been the fetus but I opted to not touch it. My husband and I said our goodbyes to Baby A, had a good hug sesh, shed some more tears, and flushed the toilet. I didn't think I was going to be able to just simply flush, but it felt like I had been to hell and back over the past three days and I just needed to process and move forward. Once you do pass the large mass at some point your bleeding should slow down, make sure you contact your doctor or head to the hospital if your bleeding does not slow down as this may indicate a hemorrhage.
In total, my miscarriage consumed my life for over a month, and even as I write this I am still bleeding. Our angel baby will remain in our hearts for the rest of our lives, and we will openly share our experiences with our future children.
Since I had announced my pregnancy on social media, I still had people congratulating me as I had just found out I lost the baby. This was extremely hard. The whole situation is unique when it comes to interacting with work. At the beginning, you are grieving and too sad to be in front of your co-workers, etc. I am also a coach at Orangetheory so thinking about being in front of 25 plus people for four classes in a row, was way too much pressure. I did not want to break down in front of that many people, and I knew I would have. After you are done with your grieving, the physical phase comes into play. Not being in control of your body, not wanting to go too far from home, or even leaving home at all! Some days I was bleeding too much I literally stayed in bed all day wearing diaper sized pads. In total, I missed three weeks of work, only doing work that I could do virtually from my computer at home or training private clients close to home. I am so very grateful that I was able to do this, having a husband and job that supported me fully through the process. Give yourself grace during this period, in all - you did deliver a baby! Unlike nothing else you will experience in your life, losing someone then having to go through physical woes, give yourself all the grace you need.
In summary: First dose of misoprostol taken on Wednesday, second taken on Thursday, and third taken on Saturday. Saturday (1/19/19) evening I passed huge amounts of clots (part of the placenta that had formed already) and blood with bad cramping. Monday evening (1/21/19) I passed the gestational sac containing the fetus with large amounts of blood and bad cramping. After that, occasional blood clots and pregnancy tissue, bleeding consistent with a heavy period for about four days total and spotting for another eight to ten days. My menstrual cycle resumed on 2/23/19.
What I wish someone had told me about the actual miscarriage experience: It will be scary. You will bleed A LOT. You will pass huge alien like clots from your vagina. You will bleed so much you might think something is wrong but honey, you got this and you are going to be okay. You may experience multiple stages of the miscarriage, days apart.
What helped a lot: Having my husband with me. I could not have done this alone, I would have legit freaked out and probably passed out. He was right by my side the entire time, calming me down, and getting me things I needed. You will want to have super overnight pads, you will probably go through a lot of them. Old towels, I laid these down around the toilet just because yea, there was so much blood. At one point my vagina was like a running faucet, I couldn't believe how much blood was coming out. I also slept on an old towel because you may leak through your pad, which I did. Make sure you eat throughout the day and stay on top of your ibuprofen for pain and inflammation. I stayed extra hydrated throughout the day and drank lots of water during the actual miscarriage, this helped me pass urine the whole time which also sped up the process since you contract your uterus when you tinkle. I also used my trusty heating pad for probably one week before and one week after due to a sore and achy low back and occasional cramping in my abdomen.
I can see now why so many women opt for the d&c surgery. I know each and every woman's miscarriage experience is probably totally different and unique to her. I think having been through what I have been through I still wouldn't have opted for the surgery. It freaks me out more thinking about an instrument being placed inside my cervix, I have always been extremely queasy and uneasy in medical settings, you should see me get my blood drawn! I also did some research on the surgery leaving scar tissue and with my history of potential early stage endometriosis, I did not want to risk adding even more scar tissue if I didn't need to. After a week and half from passing the fetus, I went in for my follow up ultrasound. It confirmed the fetus had passed, with there still being a pool of clotting to pass. My medical practitioner advised me to still remain to take it easy for the next five days. She said the remaining clot will either pass through my cervix or re-absorb into my body and no need to worry.
In all, having a lot of time to process the situation, I am extremely grateful, humbled, and at peace. I am a very positive person, I believe everything that comes to us is either a blessing or a lesson. My body was able to do amazing things, and it brought me and my husband closer together. When I shared my miscarriage openly on social media, so many people reached out to me. By me sharing my experience publicly, I hope it inspires more women to come out and share their stories when they are ready. Miscarriage can be so isolating, but we are not alone. We are so brave. We are so strong. Thank you so much for reading, and if you are currently going through your pregnancy loss, I am so very sorry, there are brighter days ahead of you and this loss does not define you, it only makes you stronger. Contact me if you want to chat, it helped me immensely to talk to my friends who went through the same exact thing. With love, Amanda