Miscarriages: Common to Have, Uncommon to Talk About

Miscarriages: Common to Have, Uncommon to Talk About

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Miscarriages: Common to Have, Uncommon to Talk About

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Miscarriages: Common to Have, Uncommon to Talk About

Since experiencing our miscarriage I have become extremely aware that this is something so common, that so many people experience, but no-one ever talks about. One of the most difficult things is, all you really want is some reassurance that what you’re going through is normal – but there’s no way to normalise it because everybody acts like it should be some sort of “secret” that you should never have shared in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong – our friends and family – the people close to us, have been extremely supportive and understanding – I’m referring here more to the attitudes I’ve noticed from the public in general (somebody actually said to me “you know this is why people don’t share their news until after 12 weeks”). I honestly think that if this was a topic that was spoken about more openly, it would normalise the process, take away the stigma, and help couples feel less isolated.

Because no-one talks about it, half the battle is not really knowing what to expect. I naively thought that in the months following our miscarriage everything would go back to normal. The thing is, everything did go back to normal… for a little while.

Of course, I was quite emotional in the first couple of days after finding out about the miscarriage, and then again for about a day after the curette. I was still able to function fairly normally though. I went back to work both in-between having the curette and two days after the operation (just as a side note - my work was very supportive, saying I didn’t have to if I didn’t want to and that they completely understood if I didn’t want to be there). It was difficult to go and face people, but I definitely felt like I could handle it, and I was grateful for the distraction in any case.

After that first day at work, I started feeling a little more like myself again. I was mentally exhausted, but physically, I felt completely fine. After that, I started going about my usual activities and getting back into my gym classes. I felt pretty much “back to normal”.

At least, I thought I was back to normal… until now. It has been over 3 and a half weeks since the curette and suddenly I’m not feeling like myself again.

It started late last Tuesday night when I was woken with a sharp stabbing pain in the lower left side of my stomach. I sat up in bed and the pain went away quite quickly. I thought it was probably nothing, and went back to sleep. The next day I felt, not so much pain, but a feeling of discomfort in the lower left side of my stomach. That feeling hasn’t gone away since.

It’s not really sore, but it definitely feels uncomfortable when I work out at the gym or sit in certain positions.

I’ve noticed that my body has also started to mimic pregnancy-like symptoms, for example:

  • I am very sensitive to smells:
    • I can frequently smell blood (sorry for the over-share, but there is no blood anywhere that I’m aware of)
    • The other night we were out for dinner and I could smell the urine from the men’s bathroom (which was at least a couple of rooms away)
  • I have been very emotional. I’m not upset about the miscarriage as such, but I sometimes get spontaneously upset about unrelated things. For example:
    • the other day, someone told me that one of their relatives (who I don’t know and have never met) is sick, and I got upset about that.
    • I heard Mathew Pavlich on the radio talking about how his wife is doing after having their baby and teared up (for crying out loud, I’m not even a Dockers fan ;))
    • On Sunday morning I wasn’t sad about anything, in particular, I just couldn’t stop crying on and off for a couple of hours (as in, I would feel completely normal one second and then suddenly very upset for no reason the next)
  • My breasts have become quite “heavy” and a little sore
  • My stomach is swollen a lot of the time

I’m aware that it is possible to feel pregnancy-like symptoms for at least a couple of months after a miscarriage, but I’m actually beginning to worry that something isn’t quite right. I’m pretty much just anxiously counting down the days until I get to see my OB again because I’d really like some reassurance around all of this weirdness.

But until then, I’m curious to know (if you feel comfortable sharing – remember you can write your name as “anonymous” if you wish) – did you have any strange symptoms after a miscarriage?

Alternatively, do you think we could normalise this whole process by being more open and less secretive about it?

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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Moving On After a Miscarriage

Moving on After a Miscarriage

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Moving on After a Miscarriage

Finding out you are no longer having a baby is devastating.

It’s not just the emotions you experience, but it’s the physical symptoms that are difficult to deal with as well.

At first, there were no physical signs for me that anything was wrong.

It’s difficult to accept that you've had a miscarriage when you know in your mind there is a problem, but there’s no physical evidence to indicate that it’s true.

I knew the fetus had stopped developing, the Doctor had been clear about that. But it seemed my body hadn’t gotten the message.

I still had a small belly, my boobs still hurt a lot, and a couple of mornings after finding out about the miscarriage, I was craving coco pops (I don’t even like coco pops).

I remember saying to Sam that I felt like my body was mocking me - like some kind of cruel joke.

I also didn’t want to see or talk to anyone.

It’s difficult to not get upset when people ask you how you’re doing, or ask questions about what happened. At the same time, it is nice to be comforted and know that people care.

I wanted to be distracted for a while, just to be able to think about anything other than the baby I wasn't going to have.

I ended up sitting at home on the couch, just cleaning out my email inbox. A nice, boring task that I had been needing to do for about 6 months (I had about 1500 unread emails, definitely a job that was going to keep me busy for a while!).

The day after that I was a lot less emotional.

I woke up early and decided to hit the gym. While I was eating breakfast I remembered that people at the gym didn’t know about the miscarriage yet. I wasn’t sure I could deal with someone asking how the pregnancy was going.

Sam was still in bed so I went back in there, explained the problem, and suggested we go for a walk together instead. Sam agreed, so we both got ready, only to realise it was pouring with rain outside.

Sam asked me if I was sure I wanted to go for a walk.

I said that I really needed to get out of the house and this was all I wanted to do. I was certain the rain would die down eventually. So we stood under the carport in our rain jackets just waiting it out… eventually, the rain slowed to a drizzle and I convinced Sam we could just head towards “that little patch of blue sky” that you could barely make out between all the dark, angry looking clouds.

I’m pretty sure he was willing to do just about anything to make sure I didn’t get upset again, so he went along with my suggestion. A few minutes into the walk it started raining a little harder. Sam turned to me, slightly bemused and said “what do we do if someone stops to ask us if we need a lift?” luckily, no-one did.

I’m not sure how one would explain how their crazy wife actually wanted to go walking in the rain – lol!

Then came the day I had to go into the hospital for the curette.

It was unfortunate that Sam had a work trip planned so he couldn’t be there (he wanted to cancel but I told him not to. I had both my mum and his mum with me so I had plenty of support).

I personally didn’t find the experience all that bad.

The hardest bit for me was when the nurses started asking questions like:

“Was this a natural conception?”

“Have you had any previous successful pregnancies?”

and

“Would this have been your first baby?”.

Having to repeat to every staff member I saw what procedure I was having (standard protocol for safety reasons: state your name, date of birth and what you are there for) was difficult for me, and the bit that was really hard to take… the question on the admission form asking “are you pregnant?” (seriously!?).

I was pretty emotional for that part of the admission, but after that I was ok.

The nurses and doctors were so kind and caring and went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable.

The procedure was over very quickly (probably about 30 mins - I was under general anesthetic so it was just like going to sleep) and then I felt fine in recovery. I was able to go home about an hour after the operation. I felt fine when I got home but decided to chill out on the couch with a heat pack for the rest of the day anyway.

Every day since then has gotten a little bit easier to bear.

Sam has tried to think of ways to describe what the feeling of losing your baby is like. His suggestion was that it was like planning the trip of a lifetime and then finding out you can’t go on it.

I suggested that it was nothing like that – unless perhaps the entire place didn’t exist anymore and there was never any chance you could ever go there.

I relate the experience more to being similar to losing someone you were really close to. Except it’s also nothing like that either because you never met them. You just planned the rest of your life around them, so you’re sad about all the things you imagined happening, not happening anymore.

But there is no point dwelling on what could have been.

In the meantime, I'm capitalising on the opportunity to enjoy good wine, soft cheese and a little bit of traveling while we've got the chance.

We are looking forward to going on a few holidays (I had opted not to go on a trip to India due to the impending baby but will definitely be squeezing that in now!) and we have a few other trips planned for the rest of the year too.

Lastly, on a positive note, the sun did come out during that walk I was talking about - take a look at the beautiful view we saw over the river.

The Sun Came Out

Lastly, on a positive note, the sun did come out during that walk I was talking about - take a look at the beautiful view we saw over the river. The sun always comes out after the rain, and seeing this image keeps me feeling positive for the future.

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Miscarriages Suck

Miscarriages Suck

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Miscarriages Suck

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Miscarriages Suck

I’m sure you already knew that, but it can’t hurt to say it out loud anyway. I know they suck because I just had one. I’ve actually sat down to write this post the day after finding out our little baby didn’t make it.

Not because I want to freak others out into thinking that this might happen to them (it probably won’t). But because I’ve been comforted by hearing from and reading the stories of others who have experienced something similar and I hope to do the same for someone else.

It’s unfortunate that something that affects so many of us is something that we don’t talk too openly about.

I get it, it’s tough.

The last thing you feel like doing is talking about it. We knew that by telling people we were expecting early on, there was a chance we would also have to tell people if it didn’t work out.

Sure, it was tough to tell people about the miscarriage (we had been telling family and friends individually, but the torture of repeating the news over and over got so painful I ended up writing a Facebook post. It hurt to write, but was easier than having to repeat ourselves and go through the emotions all over again with every new person we spoke to).

In saying that, I don’t think I would do anything differently a second time around.

I feel that by knowing about the expectant baby, our friends, family, and colleagues had shared in the excitement, and were very quickly able to empathise with what we were experiencing when they found out the same news.

That’s not to say I think there’s anything wrong with others who choose to keep the news to themselves. It’s definitely a personal choice, and for us, this approach has helped us in some ways (don’t get me wrong, it sucks no matter how you go about it).

For us, the news our baby hadn’t made it was totally unexpected, a complete surprise.

I had been (what I thought) was lucky through my first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Found out I was pregnant at around 4 weeks, went for a scan at 6, all good. Hadn’t really felt sick, but had been starving and craving a few weird foods (like tinned spaghetti on toast – gross!). I’d had a few cramps here and there, but nothing that I was really worried about.

It wasn’t until we were in the OB’s office for our first meeting at 10 and a half weeks when we realised something was wrong. He went through all the routine questions with us, said the cramps were probably nothing to worry about but suggested we take a quick look at the baby anyway.

I was pretty excited to see the baby for the second time so scooted over into the room with the scanning equipment and jumped onto the table for a squiz.

I think we both knew straight away that something wasn’t quite right. We could clearly see a small baby on the screen, but there didn’t appear to be any movement or sign of a heartbeat.

Plus, the OB wasn’t really saying anything.

Eventually, he sighed, said “This isn’t good. Unfortunately, there is no heartbeat.” So we got up slowly and headed back to his consult room to work out what to do next.

He was very kind and reassured us that there was nothing we had done to cause the miscarriage, sometimes it just happens (about 1 in every 6 times apparently) and its just bad luck (more than likely a chromosomal abnormality – nothing you can do about that).

He talked us through the options - have a procedure in the hospital next week, or just wait it out. He recommended the procedure, saying that by the looks of the fetus, it had stopped growing at around 8 and a half weeks, so since my body hadn’t worked that out yet, we couldn’t really be certain how long it would take for the miscarriage to actually happen.

We were told that there would be the same level of risk regardless of what we chose (any risk of something going wrong is small by the way), so we decided just to book into the hospital for the following week, have the procedure, and get it all over and done with.

We were pretty calm and sensible through this whole ordeal. I sat there quite calmly asking the Doctor sensible questions and discussing with Sam what we thought we should do. I even joked with Sam that he would have to find a new designated driver for our family trip down south to the wine region the following week.

Then we went out into the waiting room where we had to wait for the receptionist to book us in for the curette. That’s when the state of shock seemed to pass and I realised there were a whole bunch of emotions that were going to come rushing out and there was nothing I could do to hold them in.

I quickly said to Sam that I needed to leave the waiting room and could he tell the receptionist I had gone for a walk and I’d be back in a while.

I think there’s something about seeing a bunch of visibly pregnant women in a waiting room when you’ve just found out yours hasn’t made it that really tips you over the edge.

I’d made it just into the hallway when Sam caught up with me and grabbed me into a tight hug while I sobbed uncontrollably for a few minutes.

I decided I could hold it together for a few minutes, so we went back into the Doctor’s rooms and finished booking the appointment.

Since then it’s safe to say I’ve been pretty emotional.

I go through phases where I’m perfectly fine one minute and a total wreck the next. I know it’s normal to question whether you did something wrong.

Was it that glass of wine I had? That box I picked up that was maybe a bit too heavy? The tiny bit of soft cheese I ate by accident? The difflam lozenges I had without knowing you weren’t supposed to have them? (Which, by the way, doesn’t include a warning on the packaging. They were also very ignorant when I contacted them a couple of times – prior to all this happening - to suggest they update the info on their packages – FYI in case other unsuspecting pregnant ladies didn’t know).

I know it wasn’t any of those things.

I think the best advice I heard was from my OB. He said, “It’s ok to feel sad, but it’s not ok to feel guilty”. So I’m just going to stick with that until I feel better again.

For anyone else reading this who is going through or who has had a miscarriage before.

I’m sorry. I know it sucks.

I’m not sure anything really helps, but for me, talking to family, friends and taking some time off just to work through the emotions seems to be getting me through.

We have been amazed by the number of people who have contacted us personally (both ladies contacting me and guys contacting Sam privately) saying that the same thing has happened to them. Their understanding of what we’re going through has been of great comfort and given us hope and encouragement for moving on.

I’ve also had a look at a couple of online resources that have made me feel better and given me some hope for trying again in the future:

  • Net Mum’s have a forum where ladies talk about miscarriage and their experience of conceiving again soon after. I’ve found this quite comforting – the link if you’re interested is here.
  • The Miscarriage Association in the UK is also a great source of info and advice. If you’re keen to check it out, the link is here.
  • A resource closer home here in Australia is Sands which has a lot of info and support too. The link is here.

Until next time...

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