Thursday, July 16, 2015

Guest post: Miscarriage

I thought I was over my miscarriage, but I’m not. It started when I wishfully wasted a home pregnancy test a few days ago (negative.) This past weekend I’ve been taking the Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics course, delivering rubber babies with shoulder dystocia and fighting back tears the whole way.

Let me start from the beginning. I’m 35 and just starting a family medicine residency. I’m newly married to a wonderful man; he will be joining me when he finds a job in the far away city where I moved for residency. I found out I was pregnant in May. It was my first pregnancy and we were overjoyed.

One month ago, I had my first prenatal visit at an OB/GYN practice in my new city. I went alone. I wore my favorite blue dress. I was happy and confident and looking forward to taking home images of my 8-week future baby.

The appointment started with an ultrasound. I wasn’t alarmed when Monica, the sonographer, asked to switch from a transabdominal to transvaginal view. No problem, I thought. When the imaging resumed, I asked Monica if she could calculate my due date. She paused for a second, and then said, “Well, I’m seeing some concerning things here.” The floodgates opened and I started crying. In the nicest way possible, Monica described the enlarged yolk sac and absent heartbeat. The embryo had died ten days earlier.

Through my tears I met the nurse practitioner who explained my options: since I was starting residency in just over a week, I chose surgery. I spoke with the physician, who booked my D&E the following day. Everyone asked me: where is your husband? (Florida.) Do you know anyone here? (No.) Who will be with you for the surgery? (I don’t know.)

OB/GYN offices are filled with pregnant women and their spouses, best friends, mothers and sisters. It hit me hard when I waited alone for my pre-op bloodwork, then for my Rhogam shot, surrounded by women who still had their babies. I felt their eyes on me, felt their pity. An hour earlier, I too had been smugly pregnant, thinking how elated my parents would be when I told them about their first grandchild.

My husband flew in the same day (I have never asked him how much his flight cost.) The D&E was uneventful; I had no pain after the surgery. We went out for steak that night; I had red wine and blue cheese, because I could. Because I was not pregnant anymore.

The past month has been a whirlwind of excitement, of new long white coats and responsibilities and stresses. Amongst the distractions, I haven’t grieved. But I remember something my physician said before the surgery. She said: “Miscarriages are very common. They’re the norm. But in our society, we don’t talk about them. I wish women talked about their experiences with miscarriage instead of grieving in secret.” And so that’s what I’m doing here. I want to tell you that I’m sad, that I’m angry, and that I’m not okay with what happened. I hope it helps me move on.


  1. My dear colleague, I am sorry for your loss. I am sorry for what you are going through. I applaud you for writing here and for reaching out to our community, especially since you are currently in a new city without much support.
    I too have experienced the pain of a miscarriage. I'm sure many readers and writers here have as well. Despite how lonely you feel, you are far from alone. I am reaching out and hugging you right now. Feel free to cry on my shoulder. And when you have grieved, I truly hope that you will feel lighter, and that you will someday experience motherhood, however that might occur.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for talking about it. Yes, miscarriages are very common. And we all grieve differently. Best wishes for your recovery.

    Unfortunately counselors may or may not help in this situation, it is very personal and the one I saw was not supportive :(

  3. I am so so sorry for your loss. It is an awful and traumatic experience, and unfortunately, as you said, a very normal part of life and of being a woman. I had a miscarriage a few months ago (in April) and it has taken me awhile to get to the point where I'm not thinking about it every day... although there are several people in my program right now who are pregnant and I'm ashamed to say that being around them is still difficult for me and makes my heart ache a little. I also felt angry and shocked to the point that it felt like an out-of-body experience. Even now I think about it and wonder if it really actually happened to me. I would encourage you to lean on everyone you can. For me, talking about it with a select few really helped. In particular, there was a fellow on my rotation who I knew had a miscarriage the year prior, and after opening up to her, it was an enormous comfort to me those first few painful weeks just knowing someone was in my presence who knew and understood. You are going through a physical and hormonal rollercoaster... but I would also remember to check in with your partner and take care of him because he has suffered a loss too. Talk to people, immerse yourself in your work and learning, and have faith that some day your child will help heal the pain you are feeling now. And I'm sorry that this experience has coincided with all the excitement of starting residency. I am sending you a big virtual hug, you are not alone, friend!!

  4. I know first-hand your morphing emotions, a I too had a miscarriage last year. I remember feeling so smug until the ultrasound with no more heartbeat.

    You are absolutely doing an awesome and courageous thing by writing about it here. There is too much shame in miscarriage in our culture, and the only way to change that is to be open about it.

  5. Sending you a big old hug. This post brought me to tears. We have dear friends who had a still birth 3 years ago and it still gets me choked up.

  6. i'm terribly sorry. my (last) miscarriage was about 12 years ago...of the 4 i have had. i thankfully have two living children, but this much later, i still think about those never-borns.

  7. I'm sorry for your loss. This is why I double back to patients who are miscarrying in the ED and let them know that they are not alone, quoting some easy to understand statistics to them - 1 in 3 pregnancies end in miscarriage, many don't know they are pregnant until they are miscarrying - and that most women don't talk about it but they'll find that someone they know has had one (or more).

    1. That is so incredibly kind of you... what a wonderful doctor you are!


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