Before you read this, please note there are parts of this post that are extremely graphic. I was very uninformed going into this and I didn’t want anyone else to be as uninformed. If you do not handle descriptions of blood (and other parts of the body) well, you may not want to read this. I’m am extremely honest and extremely candid in my description of my experience with a miscarriage. PLEASE TAKE NOTE.
(Also, don’t be scared by my disheveled appearance! Hospitals aren’t quite as fashion forward as most places. )
As some of you already know, and many others do not, I was informed last week that I had a miscarriage. After some research by my mother-in-law, we believe I had what’s called a blighted ovum.
A blighted ovum (also known as “anembryonic pregnancy”) happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop. Cells develop to form the pregnancy sac, but not the embryo itself. A blighted ovum usually occurs within the first trimester before a woman knows she is pregnant. A high level of chromosome abnormalities usually causes a woman’s body to naturally miscarry. -www.americanpregnancy.org
Basically, my body thought I was pregnant even though there was no embryo. I still had some symptoms of pregnancy, but without the fetus. When my doctor did the ultrasound, she (and the technician who performed a second one) couldn’t see anything. My doctor told me that I would have cramping and a period and my body should pass it normally. She said 20% of women miscarry. That’s one in five! Unfortunately, it’s pretty common in the pregnancy world. I went home thinking things would be fine.
I had tremendous support from everyone around me. Really, I have never experienced this amount of love and support in my life. It really makes me appreciate things in ways I never thought possible. Thank you, all, for everything you’ve done and said. It means more to me than you know.
Tuesday, the day after I found out, I began my period as usual. It was pretty standard. I have never been a very heavy bleeder and certainly have never had very severe cramping, so this period was right on track. Then on Friday, I began to have more severe cramping. It wasn’t unbearable, but it was definitely the strongest cramping I’d ever had. I downed some Midol and went on my way. I have these heated booties that I warmed up and would put on my abdomen to help alleviate some of the pain.
My bleeding didn’t get worse though, just the cramping. Then Monday happened… (the below is an email I wrote to Carolyn detailing my situation)
I woke up yesterday at 4a with severe stomach cramping. I had had some of this cramping a couple days before, which went away after taking Midol. I got up, got some Midol and went to lay on the couch. I didn’t want to go back to bed because I kept squirming and I didn’t want to wake Jeff up. A few times while watching TV I got up to try to use the bathroom. Afterall I didn’t know if my pain was because of the miscarriage or because I had to poop. It sort of felt the same way. You know how your stomach feels when you eat something that really doesn’t agree with you and you end up having to spend the night on the toilet. Yeah…that’s what it felt like.
So after going to the bathroom a few times, I went once more. This time, when I went to pee, my tampon fell out into the toilet. It was drenched with blood. I looked down and there was blood dripping out of me into the toilet. I wiped, thinking maybe it was just from the tampon, but then it kept pouring out. I stuck a tampon in, hoping it would catch it, but after a couple minutes (literally two minutes), it fell out again, soaked.
I knew something was really wrong and I knew I had to wake Jeff up. I also knew he gets really queasy even thinking about blood, so it had to be handled a certain way. I put in another tampon, packed my underwear with toilet paper, and went it to wake Jeff up. I said, “Honey, I need you to wake up and I need you to be really strong.” “OK…what’s wrong?” “I am bleeding out of my vagina so bad I can’t stop it.” And then, in the middle of explaining it to him, I had to run to the toilet before I soaked my pants. Sure enough, the blood had pooled so much it leaked through the tampon, the toilet paper, my underwear and my pants.
I felt like I couldn’t move from the toilet. I called my sister and she asked the GYN resident (luckily she was at work) who told me it was normal, but if I felt it was necessary I could go to the doctor. Of course, who knows when it’s necessary or not. At this point I was thinking everything would be OK and Jeff would go to work. I didn’t want to be “leaking” while he was getting ready because I thought it would gross him out. I was grossed out myself! I moved myself back to the other bathroom, grabbed my computer and my phone, and set up camp. I called the OBGYN line and, after MUCH difficulty because of my phone, I got an OB who told me it was normal, but if I started feeling lightheaded I should go to the Labor and Delivery unit at Kettering Hospital.
After a bit, it seemed to be slowing, so I put in a tampon and went to watch TV on the couch. A few minutes later (I’m guessing five), it hit again, and I ran to the bathroom. Jeff called his mom, who brought over some pads. I didn’t have any and tampons weren’t working. After probably thirty minutes (from when I talked to the doctor), I started to get really hot, queasy, and felt like I was going to pass out. I told Jeff I thought it was time to go to the hospital and that I didn’t want to mess around with this stuff. I tried to get to the other bathroom and nearly fainted in the process. Jeff thought the reason I was so lightheaded was that I wasn’t taking in any calories after bleeding so much. He was really great in the whole thing. He brought me apple juice and a banana, which I managed to get down in part. Then we got dressed and headed to the hospital. I almost had Jeff turn around, but then I figured better safe than sorry, so we kept going.
Once there, we made it up to labor and delivery. They put me in a room and gave me a great nurse, Marilee. She was awesome! She took my vitals, my history, etc and changed me into a gown. She also gave me these super absorbent pad things that went from the front all the way to the back so, even though it was gross, I knew it was getting caught somewhere. She gave me IV fluids too, which I’m sure I needed.
It was so disgusting. I would feel “seepage” and then a little blub blub blub and some clots would come out. Every time I went to the bathroom, I would expel more and more clots. I didn’t know if it was tissue or clots until the end. They caught it with this plastic bowl thing. Then, after I would use the bathroom, they would go in and examine it to see what exactly I was getting out. That’s how it went for a while. I got examined by the doctor a couple times and she kept feeling tissue she knew would need to come out. She would try to loosen it with her hand and then usually I would get a bigger blob blob blob feeling after. Yummy… She also told me I was slightly dilated, which told her I wasn’t through the miscarriage yet.
(I think this is after the pain medicine…I seem a little loopy here.)
I started getting cramping pains a couple times, which they gave me Nubain for. It felt like a nice wine buzz. Very warm and fuzzy feeling. It was great because most of the day I felt SO COLD until the drugs. Which reminds me she kept bringing in warm blankets, which helped so much. Like I said, she was awesome. Jeff left for work around 1P because all I was doing was sleeping and watching TV. I knew he was bored and really didn’t need him to be there. I felt like I was in really good hands.
Around 4P I needed to go to the bathroom again, but this time when I went the blood was much thinner (like mostly urine mixed with a little blood). It was much lighter in color too. I passed a big ball of something, which at first I thought was a clot, but then when I really looked at it, it looked like a small figure with no appendages. It was a circle with a smaller circle attached to it. I figured it was tissue or fetus or both. I paged my nurse and she told me it was definitely tissue, so she called Dr. Kimble. Eventually Dr. Kimble came in and checked me. I was no longer dilated and she couldn’t feel any more tissue. YAY! It was finally over!
I texted Jeff that I was ready to go home and asked him to bring me some soup and crackers. My last nurse, Cheryl, was really sweet too. She answered all my questions and made me feel really comfortable. Maybe that’s what nurses do…I don’t know. I do know that Dr. Kimble has some changes she could make…like explaining what a miscarriage is really like to a first time pregnant lady! Oh well…it’s over now I hope.
Here’s what I learned and what I wish I would have known beforehand:
1. Questions, questions, questions. Ask as many questions as you can, even if you think it’s unimportant. Doctors and nurses deal with this stuff every single day and sometimes they forget that you don’t know as much as they do. Pay attention to what they say and if you don’t understand something, ask. They are there to help you.
2. Know what signs to look for and be aware of what should be happening. Depending on what week you are in will depend on how much “stuff” you expel. I was in my eleventh week when I found out I had miscarried. Eventually, I bled a LOT and had to get rid of all the tissue that my body had produced to house my fetus. Think of how big a pregnant belly can get. That’s not all baby. That’s blood, tissue, membranes, etc. They have to come out of you at some point. Being eleven weeks along doesn’t change that. It only changes the amount of product. Something to be aware of: I started cramping a couple days before this happened, which leads me to believe it was my body’s way of preparing me for “delivery” of the blood and tissue. If you start cramping, prepare yourself for the worst. Make sure you get extra-super-max absorbency pads and maybe even some bed pads just in case. Things are about to get messy…
3. Know when things take a turn for the worse. The doctors I talked to said if you are soaking a pad in less than an hour or if you experience lightheadedness, you should go to the hospital. Blood loss is not something you want to mess around with. I don’t exactly know how much blood I was losing as I spent most of the time at home on the toilet, but I’m guessing it was close to the limit. I also nearly fainted twice, which is when I decided enough is enough and went to the hospital.
4. Know who to call if you have questions. Do you know your OBGYN’s number? I have it programmed in my phone now just in case. They should always have someone on staff that’s on call just in case. If you can’t reach them, call the hospital you would go to. If nothing else, they can answer some questions for you or at least put you in touch with the right person.
5. Know where to go in case you need to go to the hospital. I have never been a very sick person and only went to the hospital to visit someone. I am also someone who likes to know all the information ahead of time so they aren’t surprised. I didn’t know anything about this situation including where to go once at the hospital. Luckily the staff there was really nice and able to direct me to the location I needed to be. The on call doctor told me to go to Labor and Delivery. Otherwise I would probably have gone to the emergency room.
My experience with miscarriage was horrible and enlightening at the same time. I would never wish a miscarriage on anyone, but it did teach me a thing or two about doctors, nurses, and hospitals (as well as gave me a small glimpse into pregnancy).
Nurses are your best friends when you are in the hospital. They will help you in any way they can. Be nice and gracious to them. They can make you as comfortable as you let them. And don’t be afraid or shy to ask for something. They are there to help you. I loved every nurse I had. They really made me feel better at a time when I was scared out of my mind. (PS…check your hospitals website. They may have a Thank-A-Nurse feature that really would make your nurse feel special.) Before she left, Marilee came in and told me she was leaving for the day. She told me I was being very strong and brave and made me feel that much better.
Again, doctors are used to seeing the things you are going through day in and day out. Just because you’ve never experienced what you’re going through before doesn’t mean they remember that. If you have any questions at all, you have to ask. I do wish my doctor had explained what could happen to my body in a little more detail, but I understand it may not have been her first instinct. I’m not sure. I just know that’s why I’m sharing my story…to keep those of you who haven’t experienced it more informed just in case it happens to you.
As I stated above, if you have any questions, you have to ask. That includes asking me. I’m not shy and will give you a straight up answer. Some people may feel this experience is a private matter, and it is, but it’s also something no one talks about, therefore no one knows what might happen. I think it’s important to be informed. I’m hoping this post will help you determine what questions to ask if you find yourself in a similar situation (which I’m hoping you don’t). I know this post is definitely in the TMI category, but in my opinion, too much information is better than not enough in situations like this.
(I tend to make the same face in all my pictures, don’t I! Lol)