This post may be a trigger for those who have had an abortion, miscarriage, or fetal loss. I wanted to share my experiences because in the weeks following our fetal demise, I read several blogs by mothers but couldn’t find a single post written by a physician mother. This post is also part of my healing process. In it, I will share some of my challenges and also will explain my D&C*. I have found over the past months that many of my friends and colleagues have experienced pregnancy loss. Almost every single friend I shared it with have experienced their own loss. We are not alone. I hope that this post helps someone in need.
It’s been 2 weeks since my D&C, over a month since we learned that our little kidney bean sized fetus-baby had died, and 3 months after finding out we were pregnant with our second child.
Thankfully, the nausea has resolved, the fatigue has ended, and the waves of grief are less intense and less severe. But sometimes the grief washes over me and I can’t breathe. And I fall into my husband’s arms or I call him or my mother or my best friend A and I weep. And then I wipe my face and I go on.
Zo asked enough questions for us to know that we needed to tell him something. So, I recalled my time during residency with the Palliative Care Team and did my best at providing a 5-year-old appropriate explanation of miscarriage. “Mama, there is no baby anymore.” “No, there was a baby growing but it stopped growing and then it died and the doctors helped my belly feel better and now I’m feeling a lot better.” He pauses, looks around. Says “okay” with a smile and a hug and then “I’m going to go find my Wolverine so we can play.” And then we move on. Now that my belly has started to rapidly deflate, I’m not exhausted or nauseous anymore, his questions have become less frequent. He is satisfied with our answers.
One of the hardest parts of this process has been all of the changes my body underwent that feel downright wasted. Big old breasts that won’t nourish a baby and that sadly have deflated just like my belly. A big old belly that poked out immediately and still makes some strangers pause. I pray incessantly that no well meaning elder asks “are you pregnant?” because I have stopped telling friends about our miscarriage (I am allowing the message to be passed by osmosis because at this point, I’m tired of retelling it and everyone who needed to know now knows) and I’m not sure I won’t either curse them out or start crying. New stretch marks that show my body underwent a change and unlike my breasts and belly, they are permanent. They will always be with me.
The hardest places to go for me have been the gym and the Ob-Gyn office. The gym because all of the mirrors show me exactly what I look like. I tend to sit in the car for 30 minutes before going in. I usually have my worst cries there building up the courage to go inside to work out. Losing weight after having Zo was so easy. He nursed like a champ and I weighed less than my pre-pregnancy weight within 4 weeks. This time. No such luck. At the gym there is no cute baby to tell other people about. I see the eyes on my belly (folks probably thinking “this pregnant lady knows she needs to be at home). I see the bulge in my shirt. The popped out belly button. The widened hips. I know I have to work extra hard to fight the flub without the help from breastfeeding. It hurts. All of this good chunk and no cute baby to show for it.
The Ob-Gyn office because there are cute waddling pregnant women. After finding about about the demise, I transferred my care from a midwife community practice to an Ob-Gyn practice recommended by one of my friends. I literally could not go back to the old practice; when the office called to follow up, I quickly thanked them and hustled them off of the phone. I had to let them go, they are the practice where I was hoping for a happy, uncomplicated pregnancy. I just can’t go back there.
And now with the new Ob, I don’t want to go for my follow up visit (but I do, on time!) because I know I’ll have to tell the Tech who gets my vitals that we had a miscarriage. And then the sad response, the averted eyes. I want to yell “I’m not a leper” but all I say with a smile to make her feel better is “we are okay! I’m feeling much better and the procedure went great!”. And I don’t want to hear the Ob tell me “you can start trying again next month.” And when I say “we are taking a break, this was a lot to handle” he says “yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ll be back soon pregnant with the next one. You two are healthy, you can have 3 or 5 more kids if you’d like” I have such complex emotions that I can’t mount a response. I just sit and nod. I literally am too scared right now to think about getting pregnant again. So I read books and I read blogs and I talk to friends who have lost babies and they tell me I am feeling exactly how I should feel right now. Confused. Scared. Hopeful. Encouraged. Sensitive. Fearful. Apprehensive. Angry. Loved.
It is 1pm and I have been putting off going to the gym since 9am. It’s time to get up and go. Hopefully writing this post means that I won’t spend any time sitting in the parking lot. Time to work on this belly bump.
G2 P1011. Gravid 2 (meaning I have been pregnant twice), Parity: 1 term infant delivered, 0 preterm infants delivered, 1 abortion/miscarriage, 1 living child.
*D&C - dilation and curettage. This is a procedure where the cervix is dilated and a curette, almost like a spoon or a scraper, is used to remove contents from the uterus.
- In my D&C a small vacuum was also used.
- I received conscious sedation during my procedure, meaning I did not require respiratory support. I was in the pre-operative area for several hours until a c-section was completed and then I was taken to the Operating Room and it was over within 15 minutes. The Anesthesiologist provided midazolam and propofol and I was awake within minutes after with no cramping. I was very hungry and ate lots of yummy snacks and a big lunch and then came home and was promptly sent to bed by my family.
- The Obstetrician performed an ultrasound before to confirm the demise and an ultrasound after to show that the products of conception had been removed. I asked for them and have them in my files.
- I had light spotting for 3 days after. Then only spotting with exertion (embarrassing but this means after pooping) for 2 weeks, then it stopped.
- I have had intermittent cramping and just like my Ob promised, I dind’t need any medication stronger than ibuprofen 600mg as needed.
- I had a follow up appointment 10 days later and was cleared for all activities.
I am so sorry Mommabee. I never had a miscarriage, but if it makes you feel any better I had a weight gain this summer and have been asked twice if I was pregnant by the way I was holding my belly and am working as hard as I can on it at the gym. So I'm with you, but only in a physical sense.ReplyDelete
You are not a leper, you are a mother. Thank you for sharing your experiences not for me, but for the countless women including many friends I have listened to who have been through the same experience, and felt like their feelings were marginalized. I had a friend who heard the same sentiments you share: "You are young, you can start over, no big deal." Well it seemed to me like it was a pretty big deal to her, and her anger and sadness confirmed my suspicions.
Much love and hope and prayers for healing.
How have your workouts been? Mine have improved so much. I'm back to my regular stamina in the gym and thankfully the belly has deflated (it was quite striking, I think it was all of the gas, yuck!)Delete
I had a similar experience with my first pregnancy. All the symptoms, fetal demise on ultrasound, D+C. Also had trouble with weight that didn't come off either. It was hard but over time it has gotten better. For me personally, getting pregnant quickly again was healing, although I know for others it may not be. In my case, it allows me to look back at that time and realize without it, I wouldn't have my son (I would have been 6 months pregnant when he was conceived). I can't imagine not having him, so my memories of that time are very much colored by that knowledge in hindsight. I can't say if that would be right for you or not, but it has worked for me.ReplyDelete
Such a beautiful blessing!Delete
Thank you for sharing this deeply personal, and deeply painful, experience. Sometimes I think we in the provider role just don't feel comfortable sitting and letting the pain "be".ReplyDelete
Emotional pain, that is.Delete
Thanks for reading.Delete
Thank you for posting this. It is so brave to write and share those feelings. We had a missed miscarriage with our second. I remember feeling so naive, and embarrassed to some extent that I had all those expectations for who the baby was going to be. I had the same reaction when they said "try again in 3 months." It took me a year to heal emotionally: kept my first daughter in the crib until after she was 3 so there would not be an empty crib in our house; wanted to honor the missed due date as it came and passed. I had a resurgence of anxiety and depression around the time of the due date. Felt ready to "try again" in a year but the following pregnancy was much more anxiety-laden than the first. Wishing you strength.ReplyDelete
Sending you big old mama hugs! The pain is real. I can't even imagine how scared I'm going to be if we have another one.Delete
Ohhhhhhh Mommabee, as Zo is satisfied with your honesty and love, and we readers are moved by your deeply personal and informative story. You are feeling exactly how you should feel, indeed, and I hope the "encouraged" and "loved" feelings loom large.ReplyDelete
Mommabee, thank you for sharing your story. Many of us have indeed dealt with loss. My first son (16 week loss) would be 20 in July. Perhaps your strength and courage will inspire me to share my story sometime. For now, sending love, light and support. T is right, you are feeling exactly what you should feel.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your comment :-) I promised myself not to suffer in silence. It has been so helpful, yet so painful.Delete