The day I miscarried is vividly stamped in my memory. I’m not sure I’ll ever forget that day. The year was 2012 and I’d gotten pregnant within a year of having, my now oldest son, Roman. Life was busy as I was in graduate school and working full-time. That child had not been planned but would be welcomed nonetheless. I was going to be the mom of 2.
Here is the story. I had worked a third shift and felt fine the following morning. I’d gone through my normal morning routine and finally allowed myself to lay down for a nap. I’d had some mild cramping but it was the first trimester and I’d assumed it was fine. At some point during my nap, I began to bleed. It was heavy enough to wake me. I decided to call the doctor’s office and was asked to come in. I’d called my husband and informed him of what was happening.
The doctor’s office wasn’t very far and because he was working, I had to drive myself. By the time I’d arrived I could tell my bleeding had increased and as soon as I stepped out of the car I passed what felt like a clot. After check-in, I went to the bathroom immediately and discovered what looked like a small, fluid-filled sac with something floating in the center. My stomach dropped and my heart stopped. The profession in me guided my thoughts to what was happening. I was having a miscarriage. The ultrasound tech confirmed via a vaginal ultrasound. She actually never said anything but I asked, “There’s nothing there is it?”. I’m not sure she actually ever replied. Later I spoke with the doctor who informed me that yes I had miscarried and that it’s a common occurrence.
I was confused. How was it possibly a common occurrence and I’d yet to hear of anyone who had one? I didn’t know how to feel and had mixed emotions. It honestly wasn’t a good time. Graduate school and travel nursing was keeping me busy enough and honestly without them I’m not sure how I would’ve coped. Although the doctor said I could get pregnant the next month I knew that wasn’t happening. My husband and I decided that we wanted to wait until my stress levels were low. We wanted me to have graduated and relocated to where we would be post-graduation. And that’s what we ultimately did.
But why don’t women speak of their miscarriages? Is it a mixture of embarrassment and pain? 10 to 15 percent of pregnancies result in a miscarriage during the first trimester. It’s not likely for a second pregnancy to result in a miscarriage with it happening in 1-5 percent of pregnancies.
What Causes a Miscarriage
After a miscarriage one of the first thoughts you might have is “why?”. Miscarriages can occur for many different reasons. Some include abnormal development of the embryo, incompetency of the cervix and/or uterus, and infection. Read more in depth on causes here. Risk factors of miscarriage include, but are not limited too, advanced maternal age (over 35), history of miscarriages, and unhealthy lifestyle choices (think drinking, smoking, drug use, etc.). Other maternal complications include PCOS, diabetes, obesity, and thyroid disorders. I remember my physician checking my thyroid levels and taking blood work after my miscarriage. All results were normal.
In my case, I didn’t meet any of the risk factors per se but was under a lot of stress and overweight. Stress is known as a silent killer with it playing a significant role in our daily lives. It’s important to find ways to deal with stress especially in pregnancy.
What to do After a Miscarriage
In some cases, remnants of tissue have to be removed when a miscarriage takes place. I was fortunate that my embryo expelled itself in the sac and did not require any additional procedure. At least that’s what the doctor said. I know this is not always the case as I’ve had discussions with other women to date.
Once my appointment was over I left. I remember thinking, “What now?”. I was given no information on how to deal with the “after” of miscarriage. Grief is something that most mothers will experience. It’s okay to acknowledge that you’re grieving and seek help. Grief counseling should be part of the conversation during these times. Information should be readily available through the doctor’s office with a lead to resources.
Please know that having a miscarriage does not mean that you’ve failed. I hear so many mothers beat themselves up over their miscarriage. Know that you aren’t helping your healing process by doing that.
Find a grief counselor if needed to express your emotions and get on the journey to healing. It can also be beneficial to seek groups of other women with the same experience. Use your voice and talk about it. It’s not taboo and what I find is that you know at least one person who has had a miscarriage. Had I not been vocal about it I would not have had a clue.
I want to leave you with this. After every storm is a rainbow. Okay I don’t know that to be true but for the sake of this article it shall be so. We’ve all heard of rainbow babies. When it was time, I managed to successful become pregnant and carried my daughter to term without significant difficulties. For transparency, I did experience light bleeding during my first trimester. I called the physician to be told it was likely implantation bleeding. I received an ultrasound and found myself at ease in viewing her heart beating.
I advise you to stay in tune with your body during your pregnancy after miscarriage. If it tells you to rest, please take the time to do so. It’s okay to be selfish during that time. In the event of a miscarriage, it’s okay to grieve the loss. Every year during the month that child would’ve been born, I honor them. I think of them more than I can admit and that’s ok too. My heart has healed. I hope, for anyone else who has experienced the loss, that they find peace.
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