Monday, May 7, 2007

Miscarriage Story (Graphic)

As mentioned previously, my sister's two miscarriages were virtually painless. This one? Not so much. I've done a bit of reading on the net just to confirm that what I experienced has in fact happened to other women, and it has. I didn't know anything about "this kind" of miscarriage, and I really wish I had. At the same time, it's so taboo and unacceptable to talk about it, so I don't even feel comfortable passing this hard-won knowledge onto others, even in a filtered post, behind a cut, following this giant disclaimer.

Okay. Sometimes, when women miscarry, it's a blighted ovum. This means that the embryo never actually develops, and eventually the body will flush it out. I was very afraid of this, but this is not what happened to me. My baby developed normally from a blastocyst to an embryo and finally to a fetus. We heard it swimming around in the uterus at 10 weeks, and even caught the heartbeat for a fraction of a second. Chances of miscarriage after obtaining this "proof of life" are about 10%.

When miscarriage results from a blighted ovum, the amount of tissue or "results of conception" are fairly minimal. In my sister's words, "golfball-sized" at a maximum. In my case - and in many other women's cases, from what I've read - the miscarriage can be quite a different experience. What I experienced on Saturday evening was no less than a mini-labour. I had contractions, I had to push, I was grunting and moaning and obeying my body to get the baby out. And when it finally came out, it was immediately apparent what had happened - I could feel it ~slithering~ out of me. (Sorry, I warned you this was graphic.) It was without a doubt the strangest thing I've ever felt. But I was immediately filled with relief, because that was unmistakably *it*, and that meant the pain and the ordeal was over. It was done.

We had done it.

It was large, this fetus, this thing that had been living and breathing and swimming inside me only a week before. It was a little larger than my fist. No wonder it was so much effort to expel it.

I write all of this because I didn't know miscarriage could be like this. I wasn't prepared for this. I'm grateful that Chris and I had the four days prior to the actual miscarriage to get through the emotional stuff. By the time Saturday night came, with its intense pain and confusion, we were able to deal purely with the physical aspects. Which demanded our full resources anyway.

I was glad I had read so many birth stories online. Once I started listening to my body and admitting what was really happening - "Oh. The reason my body hurts, then feels okay again, then hurts again, is that I'm having fucking contractions" - it got easier. Once I stopped hiding my pain from Chris and instead asked him to come support me, first by rubbing my back, then by pulling my arms and talking me through the contractions, once I let myself feel free to make the noises and get in the positions I needed to - it was a lot better. I felt that I was in control of the situation, and my body was in control of what it was doing, and I just had to keep up with it. I described it all to my sister and she said I was like a pro, and that labour "for real" would be much easier. I've already got those pushing muscles totally nailed - I hope I don't forget them in the next year or so.

Anyway, there's a lesson for any of you who didn't know. Sometimes miscarriages are a lot harder than they make them out to be in Hollywood or on soap operas. I've even read accounts from women who've experienced both miscarriages and full-term births and say that the former is far more difficult physically (as well, obviously, as emotionally). So I've just had a crash course. Hopefully before too long I'll get to experience the real thing.

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