Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Miscarriage Exprience

Have you ever heard that getting negative thoughts out of your head and onto paper {or in this case a computer screen} removes their power over you?  Well, this post is my way of investigating that theory.  I realized I've never written out my actual miscarriage experience.  As it was both physically and emotionally traumatic, I thought perhaps by writing everything down it might become less scary to recall or carry around with me as a part of my past.  So here goes...

Warning:  This post is a bit graphic and contains what some might consider TMI.  Proceed at your own risk!

There are multiple types of miscarriage... natural/spontaneous, induced through drugs, surgical.  In my case, I started miscarrying naturally, though was prescribed drugs to help the process along and ended up getting a MVA {a.k.a. Manual Vacuum Aspiration - similar to a D&C but uses vacuum aspiration instead of scraping to remove the tissue, and does not utilize general anesthesia so you're awake in the dr's office}.

When I started miscarrying, I was nearly 11 weeks along into my first pregnancy and didn't know any of this info.  Looking back, I don't feel that my OB gave me all the info I needed to prepare myself as much as possible for the experience, so I'm hoping by sharing my experience that I can help inform others' and maybe draw your attention to some different options.  Read how my scenario played out below.  {I've tried to keep the descriptions as "objective" as possible without a lot of emotional narration.}

Sunday mid-afternoon:  After getting out of the shower, I felt the urge to pee. I didn’t have any pains, but there was a certain discomfort in my pelvic area that made me want to pee before even getting my robe on. Looking down, I saw bright red blood come out in my urine stream and immediately my heart sank. I threw my robe on, screamed for my husband, hopped into bed and propped my feet up on pillows. The time was 2:30pm. I called my OBGYN’s emergency service line and anxiously awaited a return call. The on-call doctor happened to be the one I saw at my recent visits, and she returned the call within a few minutes. She asked whether I had fallen or had any cramps or pain {which I didn’t} and advised that unless I was soaking a pad an hour {which I wasn't -- the blood was really only coming out when I urinated} to wait until Monday morning to come in.  For several hours after that call I laid in bed, scared to death. I knew bright red blood could be bad, but I didn’t have any pains and the blood only seemed to be coming out when I urinated. Of course I spent the rest of the day searching for and reading info about miscarriage, and was generally terrified at the mere possibility.  I don't know if I was too gullible or desperate, or both, but I came across some posts online from women who experienced scary-sounding bleeding during pregnancies that ended up being totally fine.  And, we'd already seen a very healthy heartbeat at 8 weeks, so I tried to convince myself we'd also be fine.  After doing my online research, I slept with my legs up on a pillow and hardly bled on my pad at all at night.

Monday AM:  Woke up, checked for blood. There was a little bit on my pad but no clotting and no pains.... yet.  By the time I got to my doctor's office at 10am though I felt the cramping pretty badly {similar to period but more severe}, and felt the bleeding worsen. Upon arrival at the office, my OB confirmed the embryo was not detectable in the uterus and I was miscarrying. She advised me to try to let the process complete naturally, and sent me home with 4 pills of Methotrexate to take every 6 hours over the next 24 hours to help the process along. The pills caused my bleeding to worsen and the cramping to be VERY severe at times {especially for about 1 hour after each dose}. I've never given birth so I can't say for sure that the pain was like contractions, but it seemed like it to me. Thanks to the pain, I barely slept at all that night which honestly made everything a lot harder to handle.  My OB underplayed the pain I would feel from these pills; had I known I would've tried to time the pills differently so I could've tried to get at least some sleep during the night.  {Side note: I ended up passing a large clot-like tissue in the middle of the night which was about the size of a flattened prune, which for some reason I decided to put in a jar during my hysteria after seeing it because I think I had read something about doing that on a message board. This was VERY traumatic to go through at home, but the tissue sample ended up being used for lab analysis and it was determined that chromosomal abnormalities were the cause of my miscarriage.  So, although this was a very painful thing to have gone through and have seared into my memory, it helped provide me with information that confirmed the miscarriage was not a result of anything I did wrong.  Therefore, if possible I'd advise other women who have the opportunity to do this as well.  My doctor never mentioned the possibility that this could happen, which I feel was a very important omission.  Seeing something like that come out of me is something I'll never ever forget.  It was something I feel I should've been more prepared for by my doctor, not some random online message board I'd once skimmed after finding out I was pregnant.}

Tuesday: After all that physical and emotional trauma, my OB didn't think the progress was significant enough because my uterine lining was still "too thick" for her liking, so she scheduled me for a MVA for Wednesday AM and sent me home with more RXs to take "in order to prepare for the procedure".

Wednesday:  Had to take Misoprostol pill {plus some antibiotics} 2 hours prior to my MVA.  The instructions were to insert vaginally but luckily I had the guts to ask my doctor on Tuesday if there were any other possibilities, and she told me I could put it under my tongue.   {Another thing I would've appreciated her being more forthcoming about!}  At the time I didn't know the side effects/reasons for taking the Misoprostol; I thought it was required for the MVA because she didn't really explain any other reasons for taking it.  However, it had an effect on me similar to the Methotrexate, though without as much cramping pain {but definitely some!}. Since my own experience, I've read up on these drugs and I now know that both the Methotrexate and the Misoprostol are not necessary to take prior to a MVA or D&C -- they're usually used instead of the surgical options.  After taking them, it is also typically recommended to wait anywhere from 1-3 months before trying to conceive again, which was not disclosed to me by my doctor.  I don't know that I would've refused the scripts, but it would've been nice to have the information prior to picking up the pills from my pharmacy and being blindsided, while experiencing severe physical pain and sleep-deprivation.
{Read about my MVA experience here.}


So, what started out for me as a "spontaneous" natural miscarriage ended requiring pills, more pills, and a surgical intervention to complete.  Those 3.5 days were exhausting.  The good news is that about an hour or so after the MVA procedure was complete, the cramping and pain stopped, which was a huge relief.  I was able to take an additional 2 days off from work, which allowed me to sleep, mope and cry at will, and watch TV to try to take my mind off of what I'd been through.  Asking for that additional time off was a good decision.

In sum, the miscarriage process can be hard on your body and emotions, and all treatment options have their pros and cons. It is a personal preference whether you prefer to be at home in private, whether there is someone who can stay with you at home in case of emergency, whether you just want to go the surgical route and get it over with quickly but with the caveat that there will be lots of doctors and poking and prodding involved, etc.

My experience was a combination, so I can now see the pros/cons of the different options. But, all of the steps I experienced occurred at the direction of my doctor -- I was in too much shock to really ask any questions or ask about other options, I just followed orders blindly and cried. The only thing I'm thankful for is that I somehow thought in a moment of panic to capture the tissue sample I passed at home in the middle of the night, because that was the only tissue able to be tested for genetic abnormalities. {There was no useful tissue collected from the MVA.}  That one event ended up being really helpful in my process because it provided some type of information and some form of an answer to explain what had happened.

My advice to anyone out there going through this is to take care of yourself, lean on friends and family for support, and follow your instincts.  Do what feels right for YOU and ask lots of questions until you get the information you need.  Once it's over, take time off from work if possible to rest and try to heal emotionally and physically after the medical process is over.  Nobody should have to go through this -- sadly, too many of us do.

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