Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Miscarriage Part 5: The Physical Process of Miscarriage

Here's links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 in case you need to catch up. Thankfully, this is the last post. These are hard to write and tho I'm really thankful to have the record, I'm so happy I'll be done.

This post is going to be TMI, with blood, gore, and amniotic fluid. I'm going to say what happened because it was helpful for me to read these stories while waiting for my miscarriage, and I know it might help someone else prepare themselves.  Everyone wants to know what to expect. I also want to preserve this memory for myself. I'll warn those waiting to miscarry, my story was different in a lot of ways than those I read. I now know every story is really different. For the record, at the time of the miscarriage I would have been exactly 12 weeks pregnant, tho the fetus only measured 8 weeks and 5 days. Miscarriage is supposed to be more difficult the further along you are. Is this a 9w or a 12w miscarriage story? I don't know. When talking about my pregnancy I've actually started dividing it up in my own mind. I'll talk about when I was pregnant, and when I thought I was pregnant. The latter referring to the 3 weeks I walked around with a dead baby inside me.

This isn't a sad or emotional post, because going through the actual process wasn't sad for me. I thought it would be, but it wasn't. My baby was gone. For me, there was no connection between this physical process I had to go through and my baby who was now elsewhere. I was sad to think back on the process and then make the connection, but at the time, it was like a bizarre science experiment. What's going to happen next?!

It was the day after I'd found out I'd lost my baby, and at that morning's OB appt they'd confirmed what I'd learned at the ER. no heartbeat, baby only measures 8w5d. The doctor prescribed me 6 pills  misoprostal. 3 to get contractions going, and 3 more in case nothing had happened within 8hrs of taking the first dose. We came home and put my son to nap, and then I said goodbye to my husband. My best friend usually comes over on Mondays and I asked him to still come. I was out of the sobbing stage, and I knew I wouldn't cry in front of him. DH and I had decided it was best for me to take the first dose of the misoprostal that night, and before I continued this horrible process I wanted/needed a break. I just wanted one normal afternoon where I forgot what happened before I would be physically reminded.

I'd done some research online and saw that most people felt the pains about 5 hours after taking the pills. My husband wouldn't be home until 11, and tho i didn't mind starting the process without him, I didn't want anything to happen before my son went to bed around 8 or 9. But, I wanted to have it be over with as soon as possible so I could go to bed and still be useful the next day. Ideally my first pain would be immediately after my son went to bed. At first, I was going to take the pills at 5pm, but I chickened out. It was so important that I be able to put my son to bed without pain I decided on 6pm. My friend ended up staying past that time, and he convinced me to wait until 7pm. I kept delaying because I had a feeling the pills would work right away. My body was already starting this process, I'd been bleeding more and more throughout the day. Finally committed and downed them a little after 7. I swore I felt tightening in my uterus about twenty minutes later, but dismissed it as being in my mind.

By 8:30 I was breastfeeding my son. If you're thinking, "I can't believe she was breastfeeding while on that medication," I had the same panic attack as soon as he latched when I realized what I'd done.  But, there was nothing I could do about it at that time, and he isn't feeding for nourishment at this age. He just comfort nurses to sleep. I don't think he gets very much actual milk. This topic was soon pushed far from my mind as I began having very strong contractions while breastfeeding! I later learned this was more from the breastfeeding than the pills. It was actually stimulating the contractions. I had about 5 pains in twenty minutes and they were actually the strongest pains of the entire process, but not strong enough that I couldn't breath through them. DS was in bed. I went downstairs very curious what would happen next.

This part I don't remember very clearly, and it's not really important anyway. Same old story, pain gets worse and worse over the next hour. I recall texting my husband that things were really picking up. The pains were getting so intense I felt I had to walk around and move through them. I've heard people describe it as a really bad period. I think it was more like a really easy labor. I tried to clean, but it required a lot of concentration to get through the pain and I wasn't really making any progress. Then I started to feel pressure, a lot of it. Felt like if I could just have a BM all the pressure would be relieved and I could do this. I went to the bathroom twice to try to go and I couldn't. I've read a million birth stories and I still can't believe I didn't realize what was happening. I was about to pass 'the pregnancy' as my OB put it. The sac was putting pressure everywhere and caused me to feel like I had to poo. 

Clueless, I continued to text DH how bad it was getting and finally just went to the bathroom determined to strain and pass this BM no matter what. It felt like it was right there, if I could only push it out. (Hello? Urge to push? I still can't believe I didn't recognize what was going on at the time.) I strained and strained. I pushed and pushed. For about ten minutes I gave it everything I had, until....SPLOOOOSH. I have never heard of this happening to anyone else, but my water broke. There's nothing else it could have been. Clear liquid came out with such force it gave gravity no chance to bring it down into the toilet bowl, but shot straight forward to the floor.  I knew immediately what happened and texted DH the update. It was so bizarre. It completely blew my mind. I hadn't read that in any of the miscarriage stories I'd researched. Then I finally had the tiniest BM ever, and I believe I then passed the baby in a tremendous outpouring of blood and tissue.

Stunned, surprised, and a little disappointed things had gone so quickly, I looked in the toilet. My greatest fear had been that I would see the baby. The black and white image of my lifeless baby on the ultrasound screen still haunts me, and I nearly chose the D&C just to avoid this moment. I could have flushed without looking, but I looked. I don't know if I should be ashamed to admit it or not, but I reached into the toilet to look at things further. I offer no excuses.  It's just what happened, and I didn't find the baby. I'm so glad I couldn't find it. I flushed. I cleaned up. I put on a fresh pad, and, again, waited to see what would happen next. It was 10:30. I'd passed the baby about 3 hours after I'd taken the misoprostal.

What happened next? SO. MUCH. BLEEDING. It wasn't painful, but it was a little scary. By the time my husband was walking through the door at 11 I was desperate for his arrival. I was stuck on the toilet due to the massive bleeding, out of toilet paper, and had bloodied my pj pants and needed new ones. Between 11 and 1am, I mostly had to just sit on the toilet because of the bleeding.  Everyone once in a while my boredom would give me some bravery and I'd put on the largest diaper-like maxi they make and venture to the couch. I never lasted more than twenty minutes as massive amounts of blood and clots the size of golf balls were passed. My one regret is that I didn't just get the Depends adult diapers. They would have worked so much better.  At 1am, it was over.  The bleeding had slowed to a crawl. I cleaned up the bathroom, cleaned up myself, and went to bed.

Looking back, I wish I'd taken the rest of the misoprostal right then. I later learned there was a lot of blood and lining remaining, and assuming I'm done bleeding today. (fingers crossed!) It totalled 20 days of bleeding.  This was a monday night (jan 2nd). On friday I had the u/s confirming that I'd passed 'the pregnancy', and over the next week I took the remaining three pills of misoprostal. Each time there was tightening, cramping, and a lot more bleeding, but only for an hour or two.

On Jan 15th I tried black cohosh, a controversial herbal supplement to help complete a miscarriage. I took 1500 to 2000mg in capsule form every 4 hours for 24hrs. I worked 3rd shift while doing it so I even did it at night. It really helped a lot, but I don't know if it was worth the worst headache of my life that followed. The headache lasted two days and was probably not a migraine because there was no nausea or light sensitivity, but there was pain. Intense, blinding pain that radiated from my temples. I wouldn't change what I did because I'm happy to be done bleeding, but I don't know that I'd recommend this herb to someone who wanted to do anything more than finish up the last little bit. It's super strong, and has documented side effects which I won't get into.

This is it. I'm done. I've told my miscarriage story. Phew.

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