My personal experience with miscarriage

My personal experience with miscarriage

I was 20.5 weeks along when we went for my anatomy ultrasound. We were told we were having a baby boy! He was looking totally healthy and growing according to schedule. We were so excited. Of course, I went straight to the mall and started shopping!

I had booked a vacation for the following week with a girlfriend of mine… my last vacation before becoming a mom. We decided on a Caribbean cruise. My husband at the time didn’t like to travel, so she and I went alone.

Everything started out perfectly. We ate, we hung out by the bar drinking virgin cocktails – it was a lot of fun. I remember the exact moment things started to turn. I was sitting at a bar and felt like I had to go to the washroom. I tried and I couldn’t. I went to see the doctor on board. He tested my urine and found a high red blood cell count. He listened to the baby’s heartbeat and gave me a prescription for a bladder infection. I was way too nervous to take meds from a random doctor so I avoided it until I could chat with my own in the morning.

The next morning we were in port in Puerto Rico. We decided to get off and go shopping. My gf and I separated for a bit at a mall and I was stocking up on the cutest baby clothes. I remember feeling like I had to sit down. I wanted to curl up because my stomach was bothering me. I again thought I had to go to the washroom but again no luck. We decided to go back to the ship. I decided to call my doctor.

My doctor told me the chances of it being anything serious this far along were maybe 3%. He told me I could ride it out and see him 3 days later after the cruise, or I could miss the rest of the cruise and go to a hospital. Obviously, I thought the odds were in my favor, so I carried on with the cruise. After numerous attempts to use the washroom and just not feeling right, I went to lie down in the room. My GF went to the gym.

One final attempt to use the washroom was the worst moment I can ever remember. Blood. So much blood. Clots of it. I started screaming. I remember crawling to the phone. Dialing the doctor. Screaming I was in so much pain. I was alone. They sent a wheelchair and rushed me down. The doctor asked for another urine sample and I couldn’t even stand up. I crawled to the toilet and my water broke. I just remember screaming and everyone rushing around. They checked my baby boy’s heartbeat which was still there. They gave me a shot for the baby’s lungs and called my husband. I knew what was happening. I was losing this baby.

The doctors decided I need to be in a hospital. There was no longer a heartbeat. My baby boy was gone. I made it to the hospital in Puerto Rico on Halloween night – one of the busiest nights of the year. I eventually saw a doctor and we decided the best thing to do was for me to give birth.

I was induced that night and delivered my beautiful baby boy the next day. I remember how small his perfect little body was. I said my goodbyes through many, many tears. His body was cremated and his tiny ashes are with me.

I have never felt so empty, sad, or heartbroken in my life. I still remember every detail from that experience. I remember how I felt and how long it took me to move on.

Talking about it helped a lot. Surprisingly many people contacted me that they too had experienced a similar loss. I was shocked actually. I didn’t feel so alone and it helped me move forward and keep trying.

I remember when we did try again to get pregnant, how every month that went by with a negative test, it sunk me. I was so disappointed, frustrated, hopeless. I didn’t think I was ever going to have a baby. In the big picture, it was only about 8 months but that felt like an eternity. But I DID get pregnant again. Three beautifully, healthy girls as a matter of fact… within the next 4 years.

I know my story is mine, and there are so many different ones out there. I have had other friends who have suffered pregnancy loss multiple times. My heart breaks for them. Any loss is still a loss no matter how far along someone is. Let them mourn. Let them feel what they need to feel and just be supportive. You may not know what someone is going through behind closed doors. Here’s to being kind to each other.

What really happens during a miscarriage

About 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, but what actually happens isn’t often discussed. If you are having a miscarriage, you are probably feeling very emotional and apprehensive. This article aims to give you an idea of what you can expect to happen.

Warning

This article contains some graphic descriptions of what you might see during a miscarriage.


If you think you are having a miscarriage, call your doctor or midwife for advice and support. Go to the Emergency Department if:

  • you are bleeding very heavily (soaking more than 2 pads per hour or passing clots larger than golf balls)
  • you have severe pain in your tummy or shoulder
  • you have a fever
  • you are dizzy or fainting
  • you have a bad-smelling vaginal discharge
  • you have diarrhea or pain when you have a bowel motion (do a poo)

Please call Pregnancy, Birth, and Baby on 1800 882 436 if you have any concerns or wish to discuss the topic further.

What might I feel during a miscarriage?

Many women have a miscarriage early in their pregnancy without even realizing it. They may just think they are having a heavy period. If this happens to you, you might have cramping, heavier bleeding than normal, pain in the tummy, pelvis, or back, and feel weak. If you have started spotting, remember that this is normal in many pregnancies – but talk to your doctor or midwife to be safe.

Later in your pregnancy, you might notice signs like cramping pain, bleeding, or passing fluid and blood clots from your vagina. Depending on how many weeks pregnant you are, you may pass tissue that looks more like a fetus, or a fully formed baby.

In some types of miscarriage, you might not have any symptoms at all - the miscarriage might not be discovered until your next ultrasound. Or you might just notice your morning sickness and breast tenderness have gone.

It is normal to feel very emotional and upset when you realize you’re having a miscarriage. It can take a while to process what is happening. Make sure you have someone with you and try to be kind to yourself.

What happens during a miscarriage?

Unfortunately, nothing can be done to stop a miscarriage once it has started. The treatment is to prevent heavy bleeding or an infection.

Your doctor might advise you that no treatment is necessary. This is called 'expectant management, and you just wait to see what will happen. Eventually, the pregnancy tissue (the fetus/baby, pregnancy sac, and placenta) will pass naturally. This can take a few days or as long as 3 to 4 weeks.

It can be very hard emotionally to wait for the miscarriage because you don’t know when it will happen. When it starts, you will notice spotting and cramping and then, fairly quickly, you will start bleeding heavily. The cramps will get worse until they feel like contractions, and you will pass out the pregnancy tissue.

Some women opt to have medicine to speed up the process. In this case, the pregnancy tissue is likely to pass within a few hours.

If not all the tissue passes naturally or you have signs of infection, you may need to have a small operation called a ‘dilatation and curettage (D&C).' You may need to wait some time for your hospital appointment. The operation only takes 5 to 10 minutes under general anesthetic, and you will go home the same day.

While you are waiting for a miscarriage to finish, it’s best to rest at home – but you can go to work if you feel up to it. You can use paracetamol for any pain. If you are bleeding, use sanitary pads rather than tampons.

What might I see during a miscarriage?

In the first month of pregnancy, your baby is the size of a grain of rice so it is very hard to see. You may pass a blood clot or several clots from your vagina, and there may be some white or grey tissue in the clots. The bleeding will settle down in a few days, though it can take up to 2 weeks.

At 6 weeks

Most women can’t see anything that they can recognize when they have a miscarriage at this time. With the bleeding, you may see clots with a small sac filled with fluid. The baby, which is about the size of the fingernail on your little finger, and a placenta might be seen inside the sac. You might also notice something that looks like an umbilical cord.

At 8 weeks

The tissue you pass may look dark red and shiny - some women describe it as looking like liver. You might find a sac with a baby inside, about the size of a small bean. If you look closely, you might be able to see where the eyes, arms, and legs were forming.

At 10 weeks

The clots that are passed are dark red and look like jelly. They might have what looks like a membrane inside, which is part of the placenta. The sac will be inside one of the clots. At this age, a baby is usually fully formed. with fingers, arms, legs, and toes, and might be seen inside the sac.

At 12 to 16 weeks

If you miscarry now you might notice water coming out of your vagina first, followed by some bleeding and clots. The baby will be tiny and fully formed. If you see the baby it might be outside the sac by now. It might also be attached to the umbilical cord and the placenta.

From 16 to 20 weeks

This is often called a 'late miscarriage'. You might pass large shiny red clots that look like liver as well as other pieces of tissue that look and feel like membrane. It might be painful and feel just like labor, and you might need pain relief in the hospital. Your baby will be fully formed and can fit in the palm of your hand.

After the miscarriage

You will have some cramping pain and bleeding after the miscarriage, similar to a period. It will gradually get lighter and will usually stop within 2 weeks.

The signs of your pregnancy, such as nausea and tender breasts, will fade in the days after the miscarriage. If you had a late miscarriage, your breasts might produce some milk. You will probably have your next period in 4 to 6 weeks.


Here are 15 lessons learned from miscarriage, and positive character traits that my baby has helped me develop.


1) Life is a miracle. 

Trust

It is so amazing how little babies come into the world.  Having had two straightforward pregnancies before miscarrying, the process seemed wonderful but somewhat simple.  Now I realize a small degree more about how intricate and complicated it really is to create and sustain life – and how trusting we must be since so much is out of our control.

 

2) We should value the time we have because more time is not guaranteed. 

Gratitude

Losing my baby has been a true lesson for me to remember how fast life can be altered – or lost – without any warning, at any time.  Life is so easily taken for granted, and my baby has reminded me how important it is to be thankful for the time we do have.

 

3) People can have a great impact on you, even if you do not know them.

Unity

I experienced an early miscarriage, but that did not change the fact that this little baby has had a huge influence on my life over the last 9 months – and will continue to do so forever.  It has made me consider how many other people are influencing me without me even knowing, and how respectful I should be of every single person near and far.  As a human family, we are all so interconnected.

 

4) Mixed-up emotions are normal. 

Acceptance

The feelings that come after seeing other pregnancies and birth news sometimes catches me off guard.  It is not that I am jealous or comparing my situation, but sometimes other babies simply remind me of what I have lost and remind me of that whole painful area in my heart.  I have learned now that you can feel many things at once, and that accepting the validity of each emotion (even if they seem to contradict each other) can help you work through them and move forward.

 

5) Time does heal… but the sadness may never go away. 

Vulnerability

I feel much “better” than I did 8 months ago.  But that does not mean the sadness has gone away.  A friend recently sent me this article from the NY Times which, although is not about miscarriage specifically, made me realize that grief in itself is an emotion that can last for years, for decades, and there is nothing *wrong* with that.  These feelings may make us feel vulnerable, but that is just part of the life and growth cycle.

 

6) Being a friend should go beyond words.

Thoughtfulness

The messages I received from many people helped heal my heart to a great degree, but the three friends who brought me food created a remembrance for my baby and kept me company saved me from isolation within myself.  These gestures meant the world to me at a time I was incredibly lonely.  From experiencing the benefits of action, I have resolved myself to do my best to be a better hands-on friend in the future.

 

7) The aftermath of certain life experiences can be more than expected.

Wisdom

The miscarriage itself was more consuming than I could have ever predicted.  But I never knew that the aftermath – the milestone dates, the process of choosing when to get pregnant again, all the fear associated with pregnancy, and even my relationships – could be so interwoven with my miscarriage experience.  Through this understanding, I have learned not to assume anyone is “finished” dealing with an issue and to try to be more tactful.

 

8) We can never know everything that is going on in the life of someone else. 

Empathy

Someone may be holding things together pretty much everywhere but inside – and you may only see signs of their hardship through things like forgetfulness/ backing out of plans/ apparent grumpiness etc. It is a reminder to me to try to be a little more compassionate with everyone… you never know what they have experienced and are dealing with.

 

9) Planning cannot guard you against unpredictable events.

Flexibility

I am a huge planner.  But I could have never taken my miscarriage into account.  And then the planning for a future pregnancy has been so up and down (due to personal and situational reasons) that I have really had to let go of control.  I have now learned that I can plan as much as I want but, to save myself disappointment, I need to open my heart to whatever may come.

 

10) No matter how hard you search for reasons, there is uncertainty and mystery in life.

Submission

I cannot convince myself to be “satisfied” with the good reasons for what happened. I know that the baby was probably physically unable to sustain life.  But those reasons only address the logical part of my being and do not give me comfort.  Instead, I have to try to find a way to move forward, submitting to the mystery of the world, instead of searching for reasons.

 

11) We can always grow from experiences. 

Willingness

Each moment we have is an opportunity to make a better life, to see reality more fully, to renew ourselves, and to give more selflessly.  It may take a while to put it all in perspective after experiencing loss, but challenges can help us grow if we allow them to.

 

12) I want to focus on sharing only LOVE with others. 

Forgiveness

Any negativity is just not worth having in this short life.  That includes negativity towards the people around us, situations we face, our environment, and even ourselves.  I don’t want to turn a blind eye to difficulties.  But I want to face them head on with love.

 

13) Healing may be different from what you envision it to be. 

Openness

During my healing process, I cried, wrote, emailed with a lot of friends, and tried to immerse myself in meaningful work.  I have heard others painted, wrote poetry, planted trees, created scrapbooks, bought art or ornaments, and created special family traditions in memory of their lost ones.  Whatever way you would like to go through the healing process is right for you.

 

14) Taking time for reflection can be time well spent.

Peacefulness

I find driving in the car listening to music is the time that I feel most comfortable thinking of my baby.  I give myself permission not to think about the to-do lists or the jobs I could be doing, but just relax and think about my little one.  Have you heard Small Bump?  I tear up every time.  Just acknowledging my baby’s reality helps me feel closer to him/her.

 

15) I will love my baby forever. 

Love

It does not matter that I did not get to meet my baby face-to-face or raise it through childhood, I will always consider my baby part of our family and honor their place in the world.

All these “life lessons” I learned from a little baby that was growing inside me for such a short time. They are gifts that will last a lifetime as I hold the memory of my baby close to my heart.

Here are some words I wrote soon after the miscarriage: “You have taught me, my angel, a great deal about life even though you never lived one beyond my womb or beyond the couple weeks during which you were growing there. You have made me a stronger, more compassionate, more present, and more thankful human being. All from just being you, just being created, just existing even if only a short time in this physical world.”

I know everyone’s experience of miscarriage is unique. I have decided to open up about this subject because I believe it is very important to address; so many women experience a miscarriage in their lifetime and suffer in silence and isolation. You may or may not relate to the points mentioned above. I welcome you to share your own experiences and lessons in the comments below.

To those of you who have lost babies: my heart goes out to you and I hope we can all grow from the experience of suffering to become more loving and compassionate sisters to each other.

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