Miscarriage Survival Guide

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If you’re going through a miscarriage or have found out that your baby is no longer alive, take heart.  You will be okay.  It will get better and you will come out stronger on the other side.  Having a miscarriage was one of the strangest experiences of my life.  It’s an assault on all your senses and it hurts in every way possible.  It attacks your emotions, your hormones, causes physical pain and pushes you to your limits in every way.

Once I realized what was happening to me, I went into Google-mode and began furiously searching for what to do, how to cope and what to expect.  Most of what I found was the typical conventional malarkey written by dry, medical robots.  I kept grasping for some shred of a human to give me advice and help me in a way that made sense to me.  Interestingly enough, I didn’t want to interact with any real humans during this time, so my friend, Google was the next best option.

I realize that every woman is unique and each person will perceive and handle miscarriage in a different way.  It can be different based on how far along you were in your pregnancy, your pain threshold, if you’ve had a baby before, etc. This guide is based on my experience at eight weeks gestation and is what I wish someone would have told me before this all began.

Day One

Cramping – I felt light cramping all day.  I didn’t pay much attention because I always cramp in the beginning.  My back always hurts and I cramp for two or three months in the beginning.  This wasn’t too out of the ordinary for 8 weeks.

Spotting – late in the afternoon I started lightly spotting.  It was a very light, mucousy pink with some small clots occasionally.  This went on all day and stopped over-night. 

This was the worst time for me. My doctor was out of town so my only option was going to the ER.  Since I knew there was nothing they could do for me, I stayed home and tried to stay positive.  The worst part was not knowing.  I was in limbo and it was scary.

Suggestions for day one: rest, dink lots of fluids.  Pray, meditate or whatever you do to ground yourself spiritually and emotionally.

List of items to gather or prepare:

*Lots of heavy-flow maxi-pads (tampons are not a good idea – you don’t want to encourage any type of bacteria collection during a miscarriage) I’m talking like two extra-large packs.  If you’ve had a baby before – get the kind you used after birth. Trust me.

*Trashcan with a lid and clean liner (next to the toilet)

*Sensitive skin baby wipes

*Peri bottle or other squirt bottle – you get these at the hospital when you have a baby. They’re very good for filling with warm water to wash your nether-regions.

*Lots of toilet paper

*heating pad

*A good book, Kindle, laptop, phone, etc. by your bed

*Journal for keeping track of symptoms and documenting your experience

*Arrange for a babysitter for a few days if you already have children

*Ibuprofen, Aspirin or other pain reliever

*If you’re crunchy or holistic – colloidal silver, oregano and garlic capsules (to help avoid infection)

*Temporal thermometer or other way of monitoring for a fever

*Arrange for someone (spouse, parent, friend) to be available to help you if needed, take care of things around your house and bring you food – preferably ice cream and cake. I would suggest a person who is willing to help, but will leave you alone if needed.  (I was like a sick dog holed up in my room and didn’t want to be touched or messed with)

Day Two

For me, day two was D-day.  I woke up with no cramps and no spotting which I later realized was the calm before the storm.  I had a moment of cautious hope that it was all a fluke and everything was okay.  In the early afternoon, I began heavy, dark bleeding. A little while later, I began having cramps.

I’ve heard people describe miscarriage cramps like labor pains or the most horrendous pain of their life.  I didn’t think this was the case.  When I was a teenager, I got menstrual cramps that would make me barf and miss days of school.  For me, the cramps weren’t that bad.  I would describe it as heavy period-like cramping.  It was enough to annoy the heck out of me and make me want to lay on a heating pad all day, but not emergency room pain.

Not to knock on women who have never had babies, but honestly, if I had never had a baby before, this experience would have been more traumatic for me.  I think the pain would have seemed amplified and the whole part of passing the blood and tissue would have been scarier. 

The bleeding progressed and became heavier, as did the cramps.  There was an almost constant contracting feeling in my uterus.  In late afternoon, the cramps became noticeably stronger and I began passing large clots and tissue.  This didn’t hurt as one might think, but it was very strange feeling.  I would feel the stuff moving down my cervix and when it dropped out of me, it felt super weird. I think I might have even yelped in surprise a couple times.

The bleeding was super-heavy at this point and for a while, I just stayed on the toilet.  It was an almost constant trickle of blood with occasional clots.  I would say this stretch went on for about an hour.  I was very emotional during this time.  It was obvious that I was miscarrying, I was in pain and I felt like I was being attacked from all angles.

Now, don’t freak out and judge me, but I wanted to see what all these clots and tissue were all about, so I collected them and examined them.  It’s just the way I am. I have to know everything and see it all.  I never found anything that looked like a baby or fetus.  It just looked like clots of dried blood.  The largest of the pieces reminded me of a placenta.  I could see veins and other textures within the clot.  I’m assuming this was the main bulk of the pregnancy.

As a side note, I Googled “what does an 8 week miscarriage look like?” and mistakenly clicked on “image search”.  I do not recommend this for the faint of heart.

At this point I began taking ibuprofen. I was tired, the cramps were almost constant (though not horrible) and I just wanted a break. Each cramp was a reminder of what was going on and wanted an escape.  Advil was the best thing I had and it really made a difference.  I was able to lay down and somewhat relax. 

I experienced heavy bleeding and cramping throughout the rest of the day and night and continued taking ibuprofen every six hours or so. I would pass a clot every now and then, but it was mostly dark red, heavy flow. I was told that if you soak through more than one pad per hour, you should go to the ER.  I soaked pads regularly, but nothing ever felt like it was emergency worthy, so I just kept calm and kept changing the pads.

Suggestions for day two:  Take it easy and rest.  Please don’t go to work or leave the house if you can swing it.  I can’t imagine having to go anywhere during this time.  Drink plenty of water and continue to take your prenatals.  You can exhaust your stores of iron from blood-loss during a miscarriage.

Day Three

This was a particularly bad day for me.  I was tired, I had a headache and I was sore.  If you’ve had a baby before, you remember well the first day after birth.  You feel like a train hit you and left you for dead.  The difference with this day for a miscarriage is that you have no beautiful, sweet-smelling baby to curb the pain and take your mind off your suffering. I felt pretty much exactly like my first day post-partum, minus the mutilated vagina.

My mid-section felt tender and moving, walking, bending was uncomfortable.  I was still having heavy bleeding (like a faucet someone forgot to turn off) and moderate to severe cramping.  The cramping and uterine contractions came and went on this day and I continued to take ibuprofen regularly.  I figured with all I was going through, needless pain was not something I needed to contend with. The heating pad also makes a huge difference.

Side note – I had a 14 month old baby at the time of my miscarriage whom I was still nursing.  Each time I nursed, it caused contractions which were annoying and didn’t feel too great.  This was another thing that reminded me of how I felt after giving birth.

I think my hormones may have been running rampant on day three, because I cried like an angry infant all day.  It was off and on and my emotions were all over the place.  One over-arching emotion I felt on this day was relief.  I was glad the worst was over and was grasping for the light at the end of the road, signaling that my nightmare was almost over.

Suggestions for day three:  Continue to rest.  Use your heating pad and drink your water! If you’re a carnivore, use this as an excuse to make someone bring you a nice steak in bed.  For the iron, right?

Day Four

Heavy bleeding and light cramping continued all day on day four.  I would go hours with no cramping and then it would suddenly hit me out of nowhere. The bleeding was still pretty much constant.  I was beginning to think that I was surely going to bleed to death.

The blood became a brighter red and began to smell different. I got worried that something was wrong because of these developments.  There had been little no smell before (yeah, I smelled it) and it now smelled stringently metallic with a hint of something not so fresh. I feared an infection, but decided to keep calm and monitor my temperature just in case. I’m into holistic and natural medicine so I also began taking colloidal silver, oil of oregano and garlic capsules to avert any type of infection if there was going to be one. I also continued taking my prenatals and other supplements for mineral and iron loss. (since I was apparently going to bleed out)

I began using a peri bottle on day four.  I was showering each day, but still felt like I got funky throughout the day from so much blood.  I would fill the peri bottle with warm water, squat over the toilet and squirt my junk until the water ran clear. Then I would pat dry with toilet paper and be on my way, fresh and clean.  I also used baby wipes for quick clean up as well. I suggested on the preparation list above to have a trashcan with lid and clean liner above.  You will fill it up.  Have one nearby.

Suggestions for day four:  If you’re into natural and holistic healthcare and haven’t already, begin taking your oil of garlic and oregano and some colloidal silver.  It made me feel better and more confident that I wouldn’t have any problem with infection. Make sure to monitor your temperature.

Day Five

After I woke up on day five and changed my pad, I began to feel really aggravated and my morale plummeted.  I was still cramping on and off (sometimes pretty fiercely) and bleeding heavily.  I was ready for this thing to be done and was tired of dealing with it.  I felt a little like I had the flu.  Tired, cranky and sore.  I continued to monitor my temperature and the smell of the discharge – everything was as it should be.

When I was undressing to take a shower, I noticed that my boobs had deflated over-night.  They had of course, plumped up while I was pregnant and had remained firm until this day. They were softer, flabbier and the prominent blue veins had faded considerably. My “morning sickness” was gone and my shortness of breath disappeared.  This was the day that I noticed my uterus felt empty.  I was aware of it growing before and could feel it, but now I couldn’t anymore. I continued to be weepy and depressed.

Day Six

I felt much better on day six.  I remember feeling like I had awoken from a bad dream or a heavy fog had lifted.  I still felt sad and worn out, emotionally beaten, but like I was slowly pulling free out of a pit of tar.

The bleeding had slowed considerably and was at times a lighter brownish red mucous. I would consider it to be like a normal period at this point. The cramps were light and not very bothersome. I made the executive decision to begin using my Diva Cup on day six.  It’s a small silicone cup that you insert into your vagina during your period and use in place of a tampon or pad.  I love my Diva Cup.  You can read my post on it here.  Want to buy one? Click this little picture below.

 

I was basically sick of changing pads and they cause me to get a yeast infection if I wear them for too many days in a row – and seriously, who needs a yeast infection at the tail end of a miscarriage…or ever?  The decision to use the Diva Cup was a good one for me.  Not seeing a pad full of blood every time I went to the bathroom proved to be a spirit-lifter and made me feel much better.

Emotionally, I felt better, but it was still a roller coaster.  I was painfully aware of pregnant people, movies with story lines involving pregnant people and babies.  A close family member also had a baby on this day.  I really wanted to see the baby and was very excited, but also felt a surge of trepidation when I thought about visiting them.  It turned out to be a good visit and I was glad I went.  Holding the new, precious baby, I actually felt more anticipation than anything else.  I had assumed I would feel sad and jealous, but what I felt was an urgency to start again at conceiving a baby – and genuine joy for the family’s new arrival.

Not usually being a very emotional or tearful person, I could cry at the drop of a hat during this time and it was a little unnerving.  I would gravitate between feeling c ompletely sorry for myself to extremely guilty for being so weak and pitiful. On day six, I finally felt social enough to write an email and let our immediate family know what was going on and why I had dropped off the planet.  I knew I would have to take calls of consolation and it would be difficult and draining, so I purposely waited to notify anyone.

Days seven through ten

True to form, my body performed exactly as the Almighty Google had described.  It told me that most miscarriages last 7-10 days – a little longer than a normal period.  Days 7-10 were much better and easier.  I had little to no cramping and very light, mucousy discharge running anywhere from light pink to dark brown with brownish chunks that tapered off to normal vaginal discharge.  

I left the house for the first time on day seven and went to church.  I was still a little down in the dumps, but also had a nice spiritual experience that da and was glad I went.  You can read about that here. Even though I had been dreading it, it turned out to be nice to return to some semblance of normalcy.  Being around other people and interacting and doing something besides having a pity party proved to be cathartic.

The next few days were much of the same – I felt relatively good.  There was the occasional mine-field explosion of frustration in dealing with everyday life or taking care of my kids.  There were the occasional breakdowns in the bathroom with no apparent cause or reason.  I navigated this sensitive time with lots of prayer and writing to counteract the feelings of hopelessness.

Each day I felt better and made more progress – physically and emotionally.  I felt more normal and more recovered each morning.  By day eight, I noticed a huge boost in mood and spirit.  My joy in doing my normal things returned and I started to look hopefully into the future for another pregnancy; another chance for the baby I wanted. I began to look at the experience as an opportunity for growth and learning and a chance to cultivate my empathy for others.

It’s more common than you think

The more I’ve talked to others about my experience with miscarriage, the more I’ve realized how common it is.  Most women I told had their own story to tell.  It helped me to understand that it’s really a pretty common part of life and while it was devastating and sad, I would make it through and be able to cope.  Our bodies are designed to know if something isn’t right and take care of it.

I began to look at it as a fail-safe program installed by the Creator. I gained more confidence in my body’s ability to take care of itself and adjust for error and ill. Our bodies are incredible, sensitive machines that know what to do in most instances and will naturally right any wrongs. 

Have faith, trust in your body’s wisdom and be strong. Know that you will be okay and will make it through this. Your hardships and disappointments do not define you and you will rise above your sorrow and gain a foothold on sanity again. I promise you.    

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Photo credit goes to freedigitalphotos.net and Maya Picture, Keerati and Ohmega 1982.

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3 thoughts on “Miscarriage Survival Guide

  1. All I can say is thank you for this post. You gave me that human touch I was so desperately searching for in all my Google searches for coping with recurrent miscarriages. This guide is wonderful and I love that you break it down by day, it makes me feel so much less alone in my experience, thank you again.

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