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The good news is much of the online information about what you can and cannot do during miscarriage is apparently outdated.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.