Coming to terms with a Miscarriage

(Warning: this article contains some graphic information, some of which I have never told anyone before.)

miscarriage2Having a miscarriage is a tragedy … but to the women who suffer through the loss of a baby, it is beyond heartbreaking.  Medical terminology refers to a miscarriage as a “spontaneous abortion” where the body rejects the fetus, often for unknown reasons. Sometimes the woman’s body will “pass” the baby, other times the woman will have to have a minor surgery to remove the baby – known as a “d & c” or dilation and curettage. The word “abortion” is viewed in a horrible way due to the women who purposely have a fetus killed – no matter what the reason. For a woman who has a miscarriage, hearing the term abortion linked to the loss of her baby … it is like pouring salt, lemon juice, and rubbing alcohol together on an open wound … over and over … absolutely devastating.

On top of dealing with the sudden loss of her baby, a woman also has to deal with the changing hormones and the emotional upheaval. Anyone who has not gone through a miscarriage personally has no idea how traumatic it truly is for the woman. Most women will go through a time of depression after having a miscarriage, for some women the depression will last for a few days and for other women the depression can last for months or even years. It is even harder on a woman who already suffers from depression. A woman will spend hours at time wondering if she did something wrong? Was there something she could have done to stop the miscarriage? The questions go on and on with no easy answers.

My story is difficult to tell because of the other issues that were happening during the time frame. In early 2006, I became engaged to a young man I met while doing a paper route. We moved in together toward the end of May 2006 and I became pregnant just shy of a year later. I was almost 2 months along when I had my first miscarriage at the end of June 2007. At first, I wasn’t sure what was happening. I woke up with some mild cramping in my lower back. A little later in the day, I went to the bathroom and was spotting blood. That evening I started having extreme pain in my lower back, cramping in my pelvic area, and a heavy blood flow. In less than an hour, I passed two clumps of tissue about the size of small lemons along with several smaller clumps. After a couple hours, the pain and bleeding stopped.

2mthfetusA week or two later, I had a doctor appointment where my pregnancy test came back negative. When I told the doctor about what happened, she told me that I had had a miscarriage and that the two larger clumps of tissue were probably twins. The doctor told me that once the miscarriage starts, the chances of stopping it are very slim, even if I had been in the hospital when it started. I took the loss really hard since I was looking forward to being a mom. I had only known that I was pregnant for a week or two when I lost the babies. I hadn’t even had the chance to tell any of my family or friends but I was glad I hadn’t after I lost the babies. I blamed myself for the loss. I was working 2 jobs and going to college at the time – while my boyfriend was not working – so I thought that my stress level was the reason I lost the babies. To make the loss even harder, my boyfriend accused me of sleeping around, claiming that it couldn’t have been his because he was told he couldn’t have children. I already suffered from depression so it was really hard to function for several weeks.

fudge roundsA couple months later I became pregnant again. My first sign that I was pregnant was the smell of chocolate would make me sick, mainly the smell of Little Debbie Fudge Rounds. When that happened, I knew I was pregnant even before the little stick showed positive. As soon as I knew, I started eating healthier and being extremely careful about what I did. Toward the end of December 2007, once again just shy of 2 months, I woke up to the pain in my lower back but I was already bleeding pretty heavy. I wasn’t as scared this time since I had been through it before. I passed one lemon sized clump of tissue then the pain eased off and it was over. While recovering from the second loss, I finally told my mom about the first miscarriage – but didn’t tell her about the second. Her reaction to my miscarriage made me feel guilty … for not telling her sooner, for getting pregnant before I was married, for not taking better care of myself, for not going to the emergency room, for not being able to give her a healthy grandbaby. Once again, my boyfriend accused me of sleeping around, claiming that it couldn’t have been his because he was told he couldn’t have children – even though his girlfriend before me had a miscarriage. I was still trying to work 2 jobs and go to college – while my boyfriend was still not working – so once again I blamed it on being too stressed out.

4mthfetusA couple months later I became pregnant again. I thought to myself that third time’s a charm. I was going to make it through the entire 9 months this time. Once I passed the 2 month mark, I was just sure that I would make it. Somewhere in the back of my mind I must have still had my doubts because I didn’t tell anyone in my family, my friends, or my boyfriend’s family. I was still trying to work 2 jobs and go to college but I was taking it fairly easy. My boyfriend was working at this time – but not really helping pay the bills. I was eating better and trying to take real good care of myself and my baby. June 2008, a week past the 4 month mark, I woke up from a nap to extreme back pain, cramping, and bleeding. My boyfriend decided that he could not deal with me having another miscarriage so he went to a friend’s house to party – drinking, smoking, and hanging out with several people. The pain was so intense that all I could do was lie on the bed (with a puppy house-training pad under me) and push like I was giving birth. After a couple hours, I finally passed 2 large clumps of tissue. It took me a couple more hours to recover enough to get out of bed and clean up. This is when I noticed that the 2 large clumps of tissue looked like babies. They were somewhat deformed but I could make out the features, the little arms and legs. It hit me really hard then that I had once again lost my babies. I sat on the bed, holding a baby in each hand, and cried for what felt like days but was probably only a hour or two. Eventually, I pulled myself together enough to finish cleaning up and got ready for work. Instead of getting more depressed this time, I became numb to everything. I was basically a zombie, just going through the movements without really being aware of what was going on.

abuse1A couple months later I became pregnant again, not willingly. By this time, my relationship was falling apart. I was still pretty much running on auto-pilot. When my boyfriend wanted sex, I tried to make him wear a condom, but there were times when he wouldn’t. It did no good for me to refuse to “put out” because he would take what he felt was his “right” since we were engaged. Finding out that I was pregnant again kind of pulled me out of the fog. I had mixed feeling about being pregnant this time. I really wanted a baby but didn’t want to go through the emotional pain of losing another baby … and I didn’t want to bring a baby into the abusive relationship I was in. The first week of December 2008, I started having the pain in my lower back again with some mild cramping in my pelvic area and spotting blood. The pain was different this time and never really increased. I was only working one part time job and my boyfriend had quit his job in September, so we couldn’t afford for me to go to the emergency room. I thought that maybe I had not lost the baby since I didn’t go through the normal process of a miscarriage. After a couple weeks, I was still spotting blood and having mild pain in my back so I went ahead and took another pregnancy test – negative. I wasn’t sure what to do … so I went about the motions of my daily life.

Toward the end of January 2009, I was still having the pain in my lower back and the bleeding … then the bleeding and pain increased. I reached a point where I was bleeding through a super absorbent tampon AND a super absorbent over-night maxi pad in less than 30 minutes, while passing blood clots and clumps of tissue the size of an orange. I gave in and went to the emergency room. I explained that I had lost my baby several weeks before but had continued bleeding. They put me in an exam room, sitting on the hospital equivalent to a puppy training pad – for a little less than 2 hours. They took a small amount of blood from my arm to run a pregnancy test and left me sitting there until they got the results back. The doctor wouldn’t even do an exam because I was bleeding too heavy. The test came back negative – which I told them it would – so the doctor decided that I was just having a heavy period. He prescribed me birth control pills and told me to go to an OBGYN if I was still bleeding that heavy after being on the pills for a week. I was not given anything for the pain.

BabystepsAfter a couple days of taking the birth control pills, the bleeding slowed down and the pain eased up some. I thought maybe the doctor was right and it was just my period. Then a few days later – early February 2009, about a week from my emergency room visit – the pain came back strong and I started bleeding again. It was bad enough that I had to leave work early and went straight to the women’s hospital, thinking that I would have better treatment there. I don’t remember if they did blood work or not. I know they sent a request to the other hospital for the test results. I was given a shot for the pain – basically the equivalent of 800 mg Ibuprofen. A doctor did a brief exam but couldn’t tell me anything due to the bleeding. Once again I was told that I was probably just having a heavy period and was told to go see an OBGYN.

Finding an OBGYN that would see me was not an easy task since I had not insurance and very little money. I ended up going to a doctor I had seen before for my “yearly exam” and told her what was going on. She referred me to an OBGYN who sent me for a pelvic ultra sound. This ultra sound was different to the ones I had in the past. Instead of rubbing the little scanner over the outside of my pelvic area, this one had a wand that went inside of me to get a reading from the inside. The results came back that I had a large amount of tissue built up in my uterus that my body was trying to pass with several abnormal areas, but no sign of a baby. At the appointment with the OBGYN, she explained that what probably happened was that with my previous “abortions” my body did not shed all of the tissue and so it had continued to build up. I was extremely upset that she kept saying “abortion” and I pointed out that I did not have an abortion, I had had miscarriages. This was when I was told that a miscarriage is considered a spontaneous abortion in the medical world. The OBGYN decided surgery to remove the excess tissue was needed and scheduled the d & c for the first available opening she had – March 13, 2009 – Friday the 13th. I had to take a couple days off from work for the surgery, which didn’t help my already low funds. It was decided that I would spend a couple nights at my parents’ house so that they could drive me to and from the surgery and I wouldn’t have any cats jumping on me right after the surgery. (I am a cat lover and had several inside cats at the time.) My boyfriend decided that he would spend the weekend with his father in another state – rather than be with me – and left the day before my surgery.

miscarriageThe surgery went fine and I was able to return back to work after the weekend. (I ended up having some “complications” from the surgery but I am going to save that for another article.) When I have tried talking to people about my miscarriages, I get told stuff like “everything happens for a reason”, “maybe it just wasn’t meant to be”, “just turn to your faith and God will get you through it”. These are not what a grieving mother wants to hear and I found little comfort from a God who would give me hope then rip it away over and over again. Even today, years later, I am still having trouble coming to terms with my miscarriages. I still have dreams of holding and nursing a healthy baby. I still have nightmares of sitting on the bed holding the lifeless, deformed bodies of my twins. I still question if there was something I could or should have done that would have saved my babies. I question if their loss was related to why my boyfriend was told that he couldn’t have children. I had hoped that I would be able to have children later – with a different, less abusive boyfriend – but that is also for another story.

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