The business of miscarriage

I had a dream last night that I miscarried. First there was a ball of leaves that I pealed, revealing a small, knobby green center. I was afraid that this was my baby and that something I ate surrounded and strangled her. But soon, I realized I wasn’t finished and birthed a perfectly lovely miniature girl, packaged in a box, complete with blanket and other miscellaneous accessories. Despite the weirdness of the events, I remember only being surprised by how painless the process was — and how relieved I felt when I realized that eating a salad had not been the cause of Avelyn’s death. I was also amazed that Avelyn measured 2 inches and weighed 1.2 ounces. “Perhaps she had not stopped growing after all,” I thought. Of  course, then I feared that the ultrasound had been wrong, and I killed her with the medication meant to bring on miscarriage.

I woke up to the reality that Avelyn is still inside me — and likely not sealed in a box with accessories or sharing space with a bundle of leaves. There have been a few signs that she is on the way out: some light spotting for the last two days, more cramping. This made me realize that I only have a vague idea of what is to come. (Warning: if you have no interest in knowing what happens during a miscarriage, you may want to stop reading now.) From what I can gather, at some point my cramping is going to turn into contractions. I will begin bleeding which will increase during a time of intensity where I will then (hopefully) birth Avelyn, the placenta, and the other tissue lining my uterus. I will then continue bleeding (less intensely) for about a week. While the baby I am birthing is considerably smaller than a full-term baby, many women still describe these late first trimester miscarriages as incredibly painful. My midwife is suggesting treating myself kindly now, as I’m about to go through a difficult physical and emotional experience that I will not want to enter exhausted. Sounds encouraging, no?

The good news is much of the online information about what you can and cannot do during miscarriage is apparently outdated. Many of the sites I found that actually offered information about what to expect suggested that a woman in the midst of miscarriage should not take baths or otherwise be in water other than quick showers. My midwife explained that such information came from a time when it was believed that water could enter the body and cause infection. But taking baths or showers causes no such breach of body and is perfectly safe. I’m apparently welcome to do normal activities as long as I don’t wear myself out. And praise God for baths. Taking one of the only comforts for a woman birthing a dead child is simply cruel.

In case any of you are also searching to figure out when your miscarriage might be underway, there is apparently no normal. My midwife suggested that most often women reach the intense part within 24 hours of spotting, but it may take several days. I am apparently in that “several days” category. There is also no way to really predict when the intense time will happen until it is underway. It seems the general consensus is simply “well, good luck!”

I suppose the one good aspect is that there is no standard to make my experience wrong or defective. Perhaps in a season of miscarriage, having one way my body isn’t failing me is a positive.

Author’s note: This is the seventh post in a series on pregnancy loss/miscarriage. Read the first post, “First ultrasound,” here.



Filed under miscarriage

4 responses to “The business of miscarriage

  1. Hey Friend,

    Miscarriage information: Oh bother! After my second miscarriage, both of mine happened without help and as a horrible surprise. Yes, it is true that first there is spotting. I was told to go home and put my feet up – both times. I did so, and it made no difference at all. It came with vengeance. I hemorrhaged the second go round on the way to the hospital and spent a couple of days there as a result. My sweet Dad didn’t know what to say or do and showed up with a stuffed pink fat cat. I stood at the end of the bed looking at me with that pink cat not saying anything. I finally asked him if he brought the cat for me.

    After the second time my doctor told me to not get pregnant again until they determined what was going on. He asked me what I thought about the advice they had given me to put my feet up. I told him it obviously did not help. He then replied, ‘we really don’t know what to tell women, so at least you are resting.’ Turns out I had a Corpus Luteum insufficiency, more simply, not enough Progesterone to sustain a pregnancy.

    I had the dreams as well prior to the miscarriage, prior to knowing it would happen.

    Oh Jennifer, I’m sorry this is happening. I had to consider your “secret club” article. It is kind of like a secret club for many different reasons and it really shouldn’t be unless it is simply too painful for the mother to tell her story. Thank you for sharing yours and inviting us to journey with you, to grieve with you, to better understand the emotional anguish accompanying miscarriage.

    With much love – KP

  2. Oops – I didn’t stand at the end of the bed – my Dad did!

  3. Eww…TMI! Just kidding. I was moving and I got behind on your posts. I think the advice the midwife gave you was very sound. This is a time when you need to treat yourself well and get lots of rest. That is true for pregnancy in general, but in this case it is especially important. The postpartum time can also be very emotionally and physically taxing. I know I have said it before, but I just want to reiterate that you have friends who are thinking of you and are here for you.

  4. Pingback: Taboo Topics: Losing a baby – meet Jennifer and Allyn Harris Dault | Irresistibly Fish

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