Have you heard the saying that a miscarriage is, "Just like a heavy period?" Well, this may be true for some but this was not the case for me. Today we (Toni and Geoff) are starting our first blog in our new series, "Miscarriage Misconceptions." The first misconception is that "Miscarriage Is Like A Heavy Period." I (Toni) will be sharing my experience with my first of two early miscarriages, I will be going into detail about both the physical as well as the emotional aspects of losing our babies. I will also share the first of three important helpful things that were personally learned along the journey. It is my hope that talking about our experience will help you and others just like us that have experienced the heart-wrenching loss that comes from miscarriage.
Just to give you a heads up we will be sharing in-depth about our experience and I will be detailed in my physical descriptions of our first early-term miscarriage. It might make you feel uncomfortable to hear the details I am about to share with you. We hope you stick with us and that by sharing our experience you may be able to identify with our story. We hope that our sharing may help you to feel less alone and that it will invite you to engage in conversations where the goal is to gain understanding and empathy. We acknowledge that discussing and sharing my physical symptoms may bring up negative memories and flashbacks for those that have already experienced a miscarriage or another type of pregnancy loss. If that is the case for you then reading this article may create more harm than good and we completely understand if you choose not to read any further.
Miscarriage Misconception #1 "It's just like a heavy period." I've heard it many times. Another miscarriage myth I've heard is that it all happens in a gush of blood and then it's over.
What's wrong with these statements 1. First all these statements give the false expectation that the bleeding is only slightly heavier than that of a heavy period. 2. It gives the idea that you just need to wear a pad for a few days so you should be able to just go about your usual. 3. This ultimately associates it with the experience of a typical monthly period and in doing so gives the impression that this is something any female should be able to handle.
This is what it doesn't tell you 1.it doesn't tell you that the bleeding can be extremely heavy and if excessive you may need to call your doctor or head to an ER. 2. It doesn't tell you that you're not just shedding blood, it's tissue and clots that can be rather large like the size of a golf ball or more. if you've never had a miscarriage or postpartum bleeding this can seem frightening. 3. It also doesn't say much about pain or cramping. Some may experience mild cramping similar to that of a period but for many it can also be fairly significant. What you may not realize is that the process of miscarriage is the similar process of delivering your baby at full-term your body is preparing itself further your baby to exit your womb. The difference is you're experiencing it in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and unfortunately there's nothing you can do to stop a miscarriage once it starts.
Our First Miscarriage Story
Not A Typical Period Our first miscarriage happened at just under 7 weeks. A few days after we tested positive, I noticed that my urine when I went to the bathroom was actually turning more orange. I didn't think much of it but in hindsight now I realized it was due to blood starting to appear in my system then I started seeing streaks of light pink with some clear discharge after I went to the bathroom. A few days after that I started to bleed and it was bright red I felt it was much too heavy and too fast for it to not be a miscarriage. There were definitely a lot of clots and tissue that were being passed and I definitely felt it was not like a typical period, this felt a lot like postpartum bleeding after you deliver a baby at 40 weeks. Now we had scheduled our original OB appointment but of course, we didn't even make it to that appointment to confirm if we were pregnant but we kept that appointment.
Our Obgyn Visit We went and had an ultrasound where it was confirmed that a miscarriage took place and the baby had already exited my body. I continued to bleed steadily for a few days and then it was just continuous spotting for 12 weeks. Sometimes it was heavy and then it was back to light potting. I was wearing pads and liners during this time. That may sound like I am saying that it was just an inconvenience and that all I had to deal with was the spotting for 12 weeks but those weeks were some of the hardest for me. I was still dealing with bleeding with no end in sight, I felt stuck. We lost our daughter just over a year before and we just experienced the sudden loss of my mom and now this miscarriage, so I'm dealing with a lot of grief. It was also a constant reminder of what I wasn't. I wasn't pregnant.
It Was Not My Fault the first thing we learned or that I learned specifically was that it wasn't my fault. I would think back and reflect if there was something I had done to cause this like, accidentally eating medium-rare steak or maybe there was something wrong with my body. I remember one of my doctors telling me this didn't happen because of something I did or didn't do. Unfortunately, miscarriage happens more than we realize, and once the process starts there isn't anything we can do to stop it. We also realized that we are not alone, most likely you know someone who has had a personal experience with a miscarriage whether it be directly or indirectly. I felt like we lost, like winning and losing. It was really deflating.
We Built Up So Much Anticipation I couldn’t help but think that oh, we are pregnant, something good is happening. We had already lost Olivia and then we lost my mom a year later. So, being pregnant felt like a light unto the darkness right, and something to look forward to. We had really built up so much anticipation for wanting to be pregnant. To finally get pregnant and then to lose the baby so quickly, it almost felt like “is this really happening?”
A Father’s Point Of View Neither one of us had never experienced a miscarriage before. Toni came to me and said I'm spotting and I don't know what it means right now. She told me she was concerned and that she would just let her body do its thing and we'll see where it goes. It felt like a waiting game. It was completely new territory yet familiar. I know now that a loss is a loss, right? There is no measuring how one loss might be greater or lesser than another, at least we should not go there. Losing our firstborn Olivia was a completely different scenario a different loss story. There was a lot of newness to this, to having a miscarriage and it seemed a little surreal at first. I was telling myself that this isn't happening, that it's gonna be okay, and that it’s just a little bit redness in her urine. When it turned heavy and I saw Toni's hope draining out of her, turning into sorrow because she knows what's happening. It became really sad and emotional. It just sucked.
This Pregnancy Isn’t Going to Happen Everything came to a head the day before we were supposed to have our first ultrasound, to even see the little nugget, the baby, and see the heartbeat fluttering. Toni and I didn't even get to see the baby. The night before I was looking for Toni throughout the house. I called out to her and she did not answer. I found her in our Master Bedroom bathroom. I opened the door and she told me that it happened, that she was pretty sure she passed the baby. When that happened it was a sense of finality for me and going to the ultrasound the next day would just be a formality. We went into our appointment the following day and her OB said there was nothing in the womb, which means the baby definitely passed through her system. The ultrasound just seemed like a formality for me, that the day before was the emotional “We lost what we thought we had.” Going to the OB was just confirmation for me. I had already in my mind told myself that this pregnancy isn't gonna happen. It was in part because of how things built up and progressed leading up to that Sunday evening. I wasn't shocked. I think I'd already prepared myself, not to move on, but I had already prepared myself for the fact that we lost what we thought we had. I was really sad.
Join Us! If you are concerned about having a miscarriage or feel you are at high risk of having one, please be sure to speak with your OB or medical provider. The reason we wanted to open up and share in detail my physical symptoms of miscarriage is that we hope it helps others to feel less alone, that maybe you can identify with a little bit of what we experienced, or all of it. In this blog series, we will uncover 3 more misconceptions and discuss specific topics on miscarriage. There's definitely more to come, we hope you found this post helpful. You are not alone, you are loved, we are here to support you in any way that we can.