This story has a happy ending, I promise!
After suffering a miscarriage myself at the end of 2013 (accursed year), I am currently happily expecting our first baby. Fingers crossed that all continues to go well.
This topic, though, is something that needs to be talked about. So, here goes.
(For the record, I am not a doctor and I am using my personal experience and trustworthy online resources and written materials to compile the information for this article. If you suspect you might be having a miscarriage, contact your doctor immediately.)
I was probably 8 weeks pregnant last December when my pregnancy ended, but I didn’t know about it until about a week later.
That’s called a sceptic miscarriage, or when your pregnancy stops but your body does not expel the fetus. You eventually develop an infection in the uterus, the symptoms of which can be fever (yup, had that), body aches (yup), chills (yup) and other unpleasantness.
After a trip to the emergency room and a night in hospital, the doctor performed a D&C (a suction dilation and curettage) and within 24 hours I was ready to go home. Heartbroken.
What is a Miscarriage?
A miscarriage is when a pregnancy ends before the 20th week. According to the Mayo Clinic online resources, this happens in about 15 to 20 per cent of pregnancies.
Basically, that’s why you hear you’re not supposed to announce a pregnancy until you’ve made it through the first trimester (or 14 weeks). The risk of miscarriage drops dramatically after that point.
In addition to a sceptic miscarriage mentioned above, there are several kinds of miscarriages:
- Threatened miscarriage: Where you’re bleeding but your cervix hasn’t dilated. With rest, these often don’t actually result in a full miscarriage.
- Inevitable miscarriage: You’re bleeding, contracting, the cervix is dilated and there’s no way it’s not happening. Bummer.
- Incomplete miscarriage: You’ve lost some of the tissue, but some is left behind in the uterus.
- Missed miscarriage: Placental and embryonic tissue is still in the uterus but the embryo has died (or never actually existed).
- Complete miscarriage: You’ve passed all the pregnancy tissues and everything is cleared out of the uterus.
Source: Harms, Roger, M.D. & Wick, Myra, M.D., Ph.D (eds) 2011, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, Good Books, Intercourse, PA.
Your Choices of Treatment
In my case, I was offered two choices: I could do the D&C (as mentioned above) in the hospital, or I could take a pill at home that would cause my body to expel the fetus at home.
For the D&C, you are put under general anesthetic and uses a machine to gently suction the pregnancy tissue out of the uterus.
The medical treatment may involve an oral pill that will cause you to expel the pregnancy tissue later (probably at home). I had heard of people choosing this option and it sounded absolutely horrifying to me. That’s why I opted for the surgical procedure.
Normally, your care provider will outline the risks of each procedure to help you make your decision.
Miscarriage is NOT. YOUR. FAULT.
Yes, there are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of miscarriage. These are:
- Age: If you’re older than 35, you have a higher risk of miscarriage. Apparently, the age of the father can also influence the likelihood of miscarriage.
- More than two previous miscarriages. If you’ve had two or more miscarriages, your chances of having another increase.
- Smoking, drinking and doing drugs. This one is pretty obvious, I should think.
What is important to remember, though, is that unless you are abusing your body horribly with drugs and alcohol, having a miscarriage is absolutely not your fault.
Usually, pregnancies end in miscarriage because the fetus is simply not viable. It’s not caused by having sex, exercising, or lifting heavy items. And, unless it’s a case of toxoplasmosis, it’s probably not caused by anything you eat (even those “forbidden foods”).
Remember, too, that unless there are other physical issues, most women who have a miscarriage go on to have healthy pregnancies and babies.
BabyCenter.com and .ca offers resources for expectant mothers who have suffered a miscarriage. You will find any number of online forums where women (and their partners) share their experiences and offer words of support and comfort.
Chances are, too, that you know someone who has had a miscarriage. Talking about it with family and friends helped me to grieve, but also to understand that what I had experienced is (sadly) quite normal. Surrounding me were women of all ages who had had the same experience (for some, it was more than once).
They shared their stories of heartbreak, but also encouraged me with their stories of joy about how a healthy baby almost always followed a miscarriage.
Your healthcare provider can also recommend resources for you. If you find you are deeply grieving, you may want to speak with a mental health professional. There is no shame in this, and it is, in fact, a smart and proactive move to seek out assistance.
You’re Not Alone
The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Your partner is likely suffering and grieving along with you. Grieve together, and give each other all the time and support you can.
- Don’t be afraid to cry, even in front of or with your partner
- Plan something you can look forward to: for my Chico and me it was our honeymoon
- Seek counseling together
However you cope, try to give yourselves something to look forward to together as a couple. Eventually, as the grief and disappointment fade, hope and optimism will return and you may feel ready to try again.
Feel free to contact me on the About TheBrainInJane page if you have questions, or to write in the comments below.