I don’t want to write this. I hate that I have to and I hate that you have to be reading it. But I know there are women out there who need these words, and if my experience can help you in yours, then I’ve gotta go for it. Here’s what we’re going to talk about in this post: what to expect when you’re miscarrying. I’ll branch off into the different routes you can take once you find out that you’ve lost your child and have specific posts pertaining to those, but this will be broadly thorough if you can follow me with that.
Sometimes you’ll just know.
This is what happened with my second miscarriage. I knew something wasn’t right. From the first ultrasound (which was an all clear, by the way) until the morning I started bleeding, something felt off. I noticed hormonal cues that I had experienced after giving birth a couple of weeks before I started actively miscarrying. Those cues showed up about a week after our baby stopped growing. The week before I started bleeding, I just didn’t feel pregnant anymore. My symptoms seemed to have dissipated.
I didn’t want to cause alarm. I didn’t want to vocalize what I thought may be the truth. And so I let it play out. Because, unfortunately, there’s just not much more you can do.
Sometimes the news will hit you like a Mac truck.
This is what happened with my first miscarriage. We went in for our eight-week dating ultrasound and there was no heartbeat. I was stunned. I had no inclination that anything was wrong. Everything felt like I was still in first-trimester pregnancy and continued to feel that way until I had my D&C two weeks later. I’ve always been pretty in tune with my body, and so I felt betrayed in a way; why hadn’t I known that my baby had died?
Your world will feel upside for a while either way.
That’s the kicker. Even though I half-expected to lose our fifth baby because of what my body was telling me, the loss wasn’t any easier. It was easier in the sense that I knew what to expect and what my life would look like for the next few weeks and months as we mourned a loss, but my emotions were no more prepared. The rawness that you feel is unlike anything I can describe. You are split open, emotionally. A baby that you planned for and dreamed about for weeks (months, maybe years if fertility is an issue) is now gone.
And like any tragedy, the rest of the world continues to turn and operate as usual. Your loved ones will check in, and they do care, they really do, but you will carry this. Your heart now has this mark on it, a mark of life that was snuffed out sooner than you’d hoped and no other soul carries that same mark.
Babies and pregnant women will be everywhere.
A rule of thumb after loss is to expect to see babies and pregnant women everywhere you turn. Social media, the grocery store, the dentist, cooing on your radio; you name it, and triggers will surface. Your psyche is hyper-aware of what you’ve lost and watching others enjoy that longed for life is paralyzing at times.
You probably won’t get the answers you want.
With each of our losses, we’ve been told that I’m at incredibly low risk, and there’s simply no reason other than chance, the roll of a dice if you will, for us to lose our babies. Our first loss was a second-trimester stillbirth that occurred due to unexplained premature labor. There’s less than 1/2 percent chance of that happening to anyone. And the risk factors were all things way outside of my lifestyle.
Miscarriage risk is 20-25%. That’s one in four or one in five depending on which statistics you’re looking at. A much higher risk, to be sure, but still very poorly understood. The oft explanation is that your body miscarries or aborts developing babies that have chromosomal abnormalities. An ingrained natural selection of sorts. This isn’t a perfect science since we have individuals born every day alive and well with chromosomal abnormalities (although there are some mutations that simply will not survive to term; those are without fail aborted by the female body in utero). And it also doesn’t explain why some women are more prone to miscarriage. Why have I had two? Why have some women had three, four, five?
Medicine doesn’t have the answers to many of these questions. Testing on pregnant women raises a cacophony of ethical and safety concerns, and so it’s difficult to acquire the knowledge necessary to find the answers.
It could be that a particular man and woman’s genetics simply don’t mix well and are at a higher risk for creating chromosomal anomalies. It could be environmental. It could be so many things and the variables are unlimited…
And so we fall restless without answers. The only answer is to keep trying, in most cases. Keep rolling that genetic dice.
You’ll get the option of a D&C, medication to induce labor, or to “pass the tissue naturally.”
A D&C is short for dilation and curettage and is a surgical procedure in which a surgeon (my experience was that my OB-GYN performed the surgery) will essentially clean out your uterus so that your body doesn’t have to. This is sometimes necessary if your body isn’t doing what it’s supposed to (a missed miscarriage often leads to a D&C). We chose this route with our first miscarriage since my body wasn’t getting the signal and the emotional toll of carrying around a baby I knew was no longer alive was excruciating.
Another option is a medication called Misoprostol: it’s given to encourage your cervix to soften and your uterus to contract and helps to speed the process along so that you don’t have to wait until your body gets the message, so to speak.
Your last option is the natural one, but oftentimes the most emotionally difficult if you haven’t already begun bleeding: waiting it out. In most cases, your body will do what it’s designed to do and expel the baby and any supporting tissue. This is the route we took with our second miscarriage since I had already begun bleeding on my own.
I’ll explore the ups and downs of each of these options in a complimentary post so that you can get a better handle on your options.
You will get through the fog of loss.
Will you always long for your lost child? Yes, you will. Will your heart forever be crushed under the weight of that loss? It doesn’t have to be. There’s a heart Renewer and Redeemer who can and will heal your broken heart. He will make those barren, scarred places works of art if you let Him. You will be changed by your loss, but with Christ, that change can propel you instead of chain you to grief.
Yes, do grieve. Grieve hard, grieve well, and grieve thoroughly. But don’t wallow, sweet friend. Don’t let the darkness overwhelm you when you’re given the gift of such great light. Stand back up stronger than before and let His love and courage course through you into tomorrow. We are more than conquerors through Him, and the fighting through the fog of loss is no exception. In this world, we will have tribulation, but He has overcome the world.
Cling to Him. Cling to truth. Cling to the cross.
What are the most important things you learned during your miscarriage that you’d like other women to be aware of as they walk a similar path? I’d love to hear your heart or any tips you may have below. <3