a miscarriage story
The miscarriage of Brittney's 4th baby.
I am sharing this story in hopes that it will shed light on what miscarriage may look like and to remind you, whoever is reading this, that you are not alone.
I was 13 weeks pregnant and had just announced to the world that I was expecting another babe. Looking back I think I knew this babe was not meant to stay for long.
The day I found out I was pregnant I woke up incredibly nauseous and took the test as a way to rule out pregnancy and assumed I had a bit of a stomach bug- to my surprise, it was positive! I usually am too excited to wait and tell my husband in some cute way and either run up to him and show him or send a photo via text of the positive test (lol those 3rd babies). This time I was nervous to tell him as this was very unplanned and honestly not the best time so I decided to wait a few days and bought some cute little thing off of Etsy to tell him. He was a surprised as I was but so excited! I remember calling one of my friends a few days later and expressing my fear of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, which has never been a fear of mine. I think subconsciously I already knew the path that was ahead of me.
The next few weeks were emotionally and physically very tough. I was honestly still coming to terms with this pregnancy and scared to have another child, I was barely managing the 3 children I already had. There were many days I cried to other women that I didn’t want this baby to join our family right now- that maybe down the road would be a better time. One day specifically I cried most of the day and the next morning I woke up and my nausea had subsided- this was around 10 weeks so I thought nothing of it and was elated to feel somewhat normal again. This timeline was not normal for me though- I am usually sick for 14+ weeks but I didn’t want to read into it. When I used my doppler to find a heartbeat and didn’t find anything, I chalked it up to inexperience and a cheap piece of equipment. I have walked through so much guilt for having those feelings and blamed myself for "causing" a miscarriage because I didn't feel ready. But I have also forgiven myself and hold so much space for that version of myself who was struggling in so many areas of her life.
Fast forward 3 weeks and I woke up to some brown spotting. As a doula, I know that this can be totally normal but it can also be a sign of miscarriage. I texted my midwife who reassured my thoughts and also told me what to look for if it was a miscarriage. Intuitively, I already knew but was absolutely in denial. The day continued
with some off and on brown and dark red bleeding, then the next day was the same thing. This left me incredibly confused. So, I decided to get an ultrasound in hopes for some answers.
This was another mental hurdle I had to move through because I had no interest in getting any ultrasounds in pregnancy. But, I did. It’s so strange the way ultrasound techs treat pregnant people- honestly just sitting there quietly only talking to tell you the gender or what not. It was obvious there was no heartbeat and I knew from her measurements that this baby had passed a few weeks prior. Yet, she said nothing other than my midwife would be in touch. HA! Such bullshit.
I called my midwife and told her how it went, that even know the tech didn’t say anything I knew I was moving through a miscarriage. She told me that based on the measured gestation I would pass a small baby. That was something that I didn’t realize and was so thankful she prepared me. For that reason she mentioned that it could be helpful to have a strainer when I used the restroom to catch them. She walked me through what to expect, how to prepare and assured me she was available for her support. (I’m telling you guys- out of hospital midwifery care is next level and I want that for everyone.)
It is so strange- I spent the first day of bleeding obsessed with looking at the toilet paper for any signs of what was happening. After the ultrasound I was afraid to go the bathroom, afraid of what I would see.
It wasn’t until the next day that bleeding picked up a little. I dropped my children off at school and spent the day distracting myself, preparing my home to be comfortable and peaceful- a birth space of sorts. Around 1:45pm I got a call from my daughters teacher that she had a fever and needed to be picked up. I got into my car around 2pm and that was the exact moment my body started contracting. It was very much like early labor, painful but easy to work through. I decided to pick up all of my children as I knew I wouldn’t be able to later. Walking through their school and talking with their teachers while actively miscarrying was an out of body experience.
Once we were back home, my brother came and got my children and I laid down just breathing through each contraction. They came about every 5 minutes or so. I called my husband and told him he needed to come home to be with me. He arrived home around 4:30 and the contractions were getting pretty intense and a little more frequent and I was bleeding heavily. I had some adult diapers from my last baby so I put one on and I told him there would probably be some more time and that he could shower. While he was in there, I went to the bathroom and a large clot came out. In that was what looked like a tiny placenta, I was so surprised so I placed it into the toilet and flushed- looking back I wish I would have kept it. I went a laid back down and as my husband walked over to me I felt a huge gush of fluid, so I made my way back to the bathroom. As I pulled down my diaper, laying there was a tiny little baby. I picked them up and they fit so perfectly in the palm of my hand. They had little fingers and toes and an alien like head- I didn’t quite know what to expect but I just couldn’t believe how developed they were.
I just sat on the toilet and held them for some time-just a tornado of emotions. My husband was incredible at supporting me. He was so afraid to leave me but I asked me to get a wooden box. We placed them in it together and said our thank you's and goodbyes.
Birth and death in the same moment.
I was still bleeding very heavily so I got into the shower to rinse off. Standing there, blood was just pouring out of me and I was starting to get concerned. So, I put on another diaper and laid down. I continued to bleed heavily and pass very large clots for another 3 hours. I reached a point where I wasn’t able to stand up so I called my midwife who advised me to head into the hospital. Looking back, I knew I needed to go but felt like I needed “permission” to go. That was the last place I wanted to be, but I agreed.
As my husband gathered some things, my heart began to race, I became really sweaty and started getting lightheaded. I started getting really scared, and so did he. It was a 15 minute ride to the hospital and my extremities started to tingle…he even asked me as he knew this was another sign of losing too much blood and I lied and told him no. I didn’t need both of us really scared.
We arrived to the ER and my body immediately shut down.
My bleeding started tapering off…which makes sense. I didn’t feel safe. But, my bodies intelligence made it so the nurses and doctors didn’t believe me that I was losing too much blood. They ran some blood work which showed it but they thought I was done
at this point and I kept telling them I needed an ultrasound because I KNEW I had retained tissue and that my body needed help- that was WHY I was there. They gave me fluids and I started to feel better, the color came back to my hands…my fingernails had even turned white! It was surreal. I was in such a vulnerable state that I didn’t advocate for myself and press them for what I knew I needed.
We went back home and just slept. The next few days were spent in bed, just resting and trying really hard to be present with my children. It was a loss for them too.
Once Sunday came, I got really emotional. I knew I had to take my children to school and seeing their teachers was something I was dreading. It made the miscarriage real- I had to face other people and tell them. I remember feeling ashamed, embarrassed..like a dog with its tail between its legs.
I ended up being called to a birth for a doula client the next day. In the moment, I felt fine physically and wanted to be there for her. She knew that I had just miscarried and was understanding that I would show up as fully as I could. While I was supporting her, I began to bleed heavily. I was soaking through the pads I had brought with me and was feeling pretty crummy. Her mother was also there supporting her and noticed a change in the way I was acting and kept checking in with me. I ran out of pads and I knew I needed to find the postpartum pads they have in the hospital. Her husband helped me look for them and it was in that moment, that I was reassured that “doula work” is so much more than anything people think it is. We get so close with these families and for that mother and husband to support me in that way will stay with me forever. It wasn’t long after that her baby arrived and once everyone was settled into bed I headed home. As I walked to the car I released a few large clots and started feeling light headed. I considered walking myself over to the ER but just wanted to be home in my bed. Looking back, I wish I would have!
As I drove home, I felt this huge weight in my womb, a physical and emotional release of sorts. I didn’t think anything of it…until I was about to take a shower, went to pee and felt something at the opening of my vagina. I thought maybe it was just a blood clot that was stuck but as I felt and tried to grab it, I quickly realized it was my cervix. I called for my husband to try and take a picture so I could get a better look, he does not do body parts or blood, so I found myself laying on my bathroom floor trying to get a picture LOL. I gave up and intuitively pushed it back in! AH! I called my midwife and told her what happened and she agreed that I most likely had a uterine prolapse and suggested I go on bed rest for a week. PHEW, in a strange way I am thankful that happened. I am not one to take rest when it’s truly needed and that “prescription” from her gave me permission to let me body heal.
Bedrest with young children is not easy, but with the help of my friends and family everything got done and everyone got where they needed to go. Meals were delivered and hearts were held. Once I was able to be upright for an extended period of time, we buried our sweet babe in one of our flower beds with tulip bulbs. Our children participated and it was a healing experience for us all. For a few weeks, our older two will randomly sit out there and acknowledge their siblings short existence. That was something I never expect but feel it’s important to allow and support as they processed their own grief.
Towards the end of that week I started to develop a really horrible odor and was convinced I had a uterine infection- why is it that our minds go to the worst possible place? I began yoni steaming every day and began to release lots of dead tissue. I still worried about infection and retained tissue so I scheduled an appointment with my obgyn office for an overall internal assessment. That appointment was non-eventful, I felt reassurance that everything was looking normal. My bloodwork was showing that my HCG levels were declining and that I was severely anemic- both things I intuitively knew. They offered an ultrasound but at the time I felt that it was unnecessary and trusted my bodies ability to release any remaining tissue.
For the next 5 weeks I bled off and on. There would be days of nothing and then a random few hours of extreme heavy bleeding and clots. My bodies way of continuing the process. But each time I bled, I became more and more anemic. Even with iron supplementation and a strict supporting diet of red meat and leafy greens, I was dwindling. I continued to do yoni steams, incorporated herbal tinctures and homeopathy to support my body in completing the process.
I reached a point where I felt incredibly defeated and was losing trust in my bodies abilities to manage this on its own. This entire time I was trying to avoid a D&C because I was just so afraid.
I was beginning to feel uncomfortable with the course of action I was taking. I scheduled an appointment again with the Obgyn office and got an ultrasound that confirmed I still had retained tissues. When they called and recommended a D&C I was still hesitant and asked for cytotec but knew my body would not be able to handle more blood loss of physical release. We were all a little uncomfortable with the length of time that had passed and my iron levels -so we scheduled the procedure for that evening.
My anxiety was through the roof- I have lost so much trust in our medical system working as a doula that I was truly afraid I would die on the operating table or that I would lose my uterus and ability to have any future babies. My husband was my rock through it and I had incredible nurses who eased my fears. Everyone walked me through the steps they are taking and what would happen once I was under anesthesia. The procedure itself was quick and I was comforted to wake up with my husband right beside me in the recovery room.
I was also so relieved. I felt a sense of peace and a closing of the physical aspects of the miscarriage.
The next few weeks were filled with intentional rest, nourishment and the reminder that this was still postpartum. Through this process I tried to let my rational brain take over, continued to tell myself that my body was smart, that this baby was smart and that there was a reason the pregnancy didn’t continue. I know the mechanics of it all, but through that, I forgot to let my heart feel. I forgot that I was allowed to hold two emotions at the same time- relief and sadness, acceptance and regret, and everything in between. I forgot that our bodies hold experiences deep into our every cell and I needed to allow my whole self to feel the experience.
Now, six months later, past our “due date”, I feel closure. I have grown so much mentally, physically and spiritually through this process. In so many ways I am thankful and trust that this little soul was brought here for reasons beyond their physical existence. We will forever remember them and trust that someday we will see them again.
I know that this experience is not the "normal" miscarriage experience and I don't wish this for anyone. But I know that as women, miscarriage is common. I hope that sharing this story and my feelings through it makes even just one person feel less alone.