Delivering Death: Second Trimester Miscarriage

Delivering Death: Second Trimester Miscarriage

On September 17, 2015, at 10:40am, my world came crashing down with four simple words, “your baby is dead.”

It was a routine prenatal visit. I had already heard the heartbeat at 12 weeks. And yet, here I was, at 16 and a half weeks feeling numb and confused.

When you’re pregnant, you focus on two main goals: making it safely through your first trimester and making it safely through delivery. Everything in between is just details.

In the first trimester, we are repeatedly told what to look for and when to call your doctor. We’re monitored closely. We read articles online and know statics are high for early pregnancy loss. We know that 10-25 percent of pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. And if you’re between the ages of 35 and 45, that increases to 20-35 percent.

Once you’re into your second term, though, you don’t hear about miscarriages anymore. All we read about is how magical the second term is. This is when you get to start enjoying your baby bump. This is when your nausea is likely to disappear and replaced with energy. We’re even assured our unexpected sex drive is normal and to enjoy it.

In short, we are told we’re in the clear.

I thought I was too, but my story is different. I had a late miscarriage. 

Late miscarriage

Late miscarriages happen between weeks 13-19. Only 2–3 percent of miscarriages happen in the second trimester. So it’s easy to understand why we don’t often hear about them.

After learning that our baby died, the next 20 hours were a blur. I called my husband to tell him the news over the phone. I sat in the patient room numb. I felt empty, sick.

Since I was 16 and a half weeks and possibly wanted to become pregnant again, I was told it would be better to deliver versus having a D&C. Delivery would take between 12 and 24 hours.

Leaving the building, I felt like a walking coffin. That night, I kept looking at my pregnant belly in our bedroom mirror. Crying so hard I was hyperventilating. Ashamed I never took more belly pictures before this moment and horrified that I somehow caused this. Did I push myself too hard? Was it the bouncy house at my son’s 4th birthday party that killed my baby? Did the sex we had earlier this week do it?

One thing I quickly learned about late miscarriage is that nobody has answers and even fewer know what to say. You hear stupid comments. From everyone. Everywhere. Even from professionals.

A second term loss that requires delivery happens on the Labor and Delivery floor. The same floor housing all the happy new parents, excited grandparents, and adorable, crying, alive babies. Life is vibrant there.

When I walked in, I felt like the angel of death.

Not a “normal” birth

I was greeted with a cordial smile and condolences by a nurse. Immediately, I was assured, “Don’t worry, it’s not like a normal birth.” She was right. It was much worse.

With a late miscarriage delivery, being induced is not as simple as getting an IV of Pitocin because your body can’t register Pitocin that early in the pregnancy. So while yes, I was induced, the way it happened was excruciatingly different.

Every four hours, a pill was inserted into my cervix. If you’ve ever delivered before, think of the moment you finally start pushing. Now, imagine someone inserting their hand all the way up inside of you. That’s what it felt like every four hours.

I didn’t have any pain medication. I figured if I wasn’t going to have a “vaginal birth,” then I’d like to feel as much as possible. My first induction started that Friday at 8am. The 12–24 hour delivery time frame turned into three full days. My doctors had never experienced a situation like mine. They might deliver a late miscarriage once a year.

By Saturday night, I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I had already had 10 inductions and sometimes, if I was “lucky” the doctor would be extra “rough” with insertion to try and move delivery along. It got to the point where anytime the door would open I’d start crying in pain before anyone even touched me. Around midnight I finally got an epidural.

Tough conversations

Being in delivery for three days gave us a lot of time in between to talk. Process. Fall apart. Be. How do you pass the time?

My husband and I first began talking about names. It was something happy to discuss that made us feel like regular parents. But that quickly spiraled into a dark hole of sadness. How do you name someone you only met after they died? How do you capture their true essence and spirit? What even was their essence and spirit? We never found out the sex ahead of time which only complicated things for us now. (Once we learned baby was a boy we named him Daley.)

So we moved onto the next subject: what should we do with our baby’s remains? We thought tackling this subject head on was smart parenting. If emotions get the best of you, it’s good to be logical. Right? I vividly remember rationalizing the idea of having our baby’s body added to the hospital’s mass grave with other babies because it was nice to think about the babies all being together, playing, giggling.

We ultimately decided to have his body cremated and bought a beautiful urn that’s in our home. (Funeral homes will do this service for free. What a blessing!)

After being in the hospital for three days—with no end in sight and the same nurses on call—we developed a routine. We became used to the schedule. Shift changes. Meeting the doctor of the day. We even started to love hearing the cries of newborn babies. It was as if we were there for the same happy reason.

I started to feel safe. Secure. Sheltered.

Delivering death

Exactly when those feelings sank into my core is when death knocked and was delivered: Monday, September 21, 2015, at 8:12am.

My doctor came to check on me and after her exam, she said: “it’s over.” She asked if I wanted to see the baby. I said no. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I’d be able to handle what I’d see. Would the baby look like an alien? Would parts be missing? It terrified me.

So the nurse took our baby away. She took some pictures and came back to tell us baby really looked good but it would be better to see him sooner rather than later because his coloring would continue to change.

Meeting our baby was the best decision we ever made. Turns out our tiny little angel, while purple, was beautiful. I can still see his gaze as I looked at him. It was as if he looked straight into my soul to tell me he was OK. For a moment, to me, he was alive. And he gave me that adorable first look that all mothers know.

We were so immersed in the moment. Hanging onto the seconds as if they were years. Since I had the honor of holding our baby for 17 weeks, my husband held him the whole time while we were together. We said a prayer with him. We told him how loved he was. We told him about his big brother. We cried with him. We hugged him. And that was it.

Our nurse put together a lovely Memory Box and six hours later we were leaving the hospital. It felt surreal after living there for the better part of a week. I went there pregnant and I left empty. Our baby was being shipped to a funeral home to be cremated. In the meantime, we had tests run to see if we could determine what caused the miscarriage. We also wanted to confirm the sex.

Beginning to heal

Healing through this experience has been a curvy road. I wish we could have just told our family, let others find out by word of mouth and move on. But that’s just not how grief or late miscarriages work.

Physically, I was healing from a delivery which meant I was wearing maxi pads. Changing the blood soaked pads every day was a constant reminder of losing our son. Plus, I had to wear tight sports bras for a month to stop my milk supply from coming in. To top it off, my stomach was becoming flatter instead of fatter. This messed with me so much that I remember eating constantly just to make myself fat so I could still look pregnant.

Food may have played a negative role as a coping strategy but it was also where I started to really heal. I didn’t have the strength to cook, and yet, we had a healthy 4-year-old to feed. Thankfully, a friend set up a meal train. For weeks, we were brought meals by some women I didn’t even know. And it was in their meals, their cards, their miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death stories that I started to feel loved enough to heal. Maybe I would eventually be OK.

Wise women and a new tribe

This was never a community of women I thought I’d be a part of after my first magical pregnancy. But it’s one of the most beautiful tribes I’ve ever known.

Emotionally, I had no idea how I was going to grieve. I withdrew. I avoided certain gatherings (especially baby showers) and we even told people not to send us cards. I didn’t want constant reminders popping up in the mail.

But there’s always a rebel amongst us, a wise female soul who knows what is needed. One day, a little blue box showed up in the mail with a beautiful angel necklace. It was this necklace that got me through the entire first year. When I wore it, it felt like Daley was physically still with me. I needed it more than I knew.

There are other things I experienced on my healing journey that got me to where I am today. But it’s the women in my life that were strong enough to simply be present with me and share their stories that brought me back to life.

Featured image by Cheril Sanchez
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15 Responses to “Delivering Death: Second Trimester Miscarriage”

Amanda

September 11, 2018 9:09 am

Touching story. I, too have had second trimester miscarriage. Both very unexpected and happened quickly at 14 weeks. I can resonate with so much of what you wrote here. Thanks for sharing your journey, it helps me feel like I’m not alone, even though the doctors even say they’d never seen what happened to me happen before, let alone twice.

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Natalie

November 09, 2018 6:49 am

Thank you for sharing your experience as tough as it may have been to share. Last night I arrived in the hospital from bleeding, to be told that what should be a 16 week baby was without a heart beat and was possible decomposing. I am torn. I hope to find healing and peace like you have.

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Wanjiru Kamau

January 03, 2019 9:30 pm

I had a miscarriage at 20 weeks on the 3rd June 2018. We went for a out of town visit, to San Antonio, I miscarried at the motel. Went to the ER, was induced over 8 hours to deliver the placenta, and finally the doctor had to do D&C. It was our first baby, a baby boy. I feel like its my fault for moving to Texas and working too much. I can’t stop crying. I live one day at a time. I pray everyday for women like us. Its

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Margaret williams

January 03, 2019 9:31 pm

Thank You for Sharing. I had a miscarriage at 20 weeks on the 3rd June 2018. We went for a out of town visit, to San Antonio, I miscarried at the motel. Went to the ER, was induced over 8 hours to deliver the placenta, and finally the doctor had to do D&C. It was our first baby, a baby boy. I feel like its my fault for moving to Texas and working too much. I can’t stop crying. I live one day at a time. I pray everyday for women like us. Its

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Sara

May 01, 2019 3:18 pm

Like so many women, I’m here because I too just had a second trimester miscarriage. I chose to have a D&E under general anesthesia and came home from the hospital today. Right now I’m feeling at peace that D&E was the best decision for me to heal, but after reading this, I hope I don’t regret never seeing my baby. He went to the hospital’s baby cemetery. (I have to say I’m glad I didn’t need to ensure days of laminaria, ouch!)
I’m finding support in such unlikely places, like customer service giving refunds for everything I bought without needing to ship things back. The security guard of my building opening up that she too lost a second trimester baby when she saw me crying. It’s a club I never thought I’d be in, but I’m so glad for the outpouring of love.

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Shawna

May 04, 2019 3:33 am

I went to the dr yesterday and found out my 17 week old baby girl didn’t have a heart beat . I had a feeling a few days ago she was gone I haven’t had cramps or blood but part of me felt empty … I have arranged to be induced Sunday May 5th so I can hold my baby girl . I wanted to just get this process started yesterday but I am also a high risk momma with a heart condition so they had to make special accommodations at a hospital to monitor me during the process . The prolonged waiting just makes it feel like your still waiting for death even though I already know she is gone . This was our first child we tried for 9 months to get pregnant and in the process found out I only have one functional folopian tube . At 12 weeks pregnant they told me there was an issue that I didn’t have much amniotic fluid the dr told me I was miscarring but each week I went back and she was fighting with her heart beat and growing bigger and stronger . All the doctors I had on my team were surprised and had a talk last week thinking this might actually work this baby is fighting. My normal ob called me yesterday when she found out not as a doctor but as a friend that’s been on this journey with me and she cried with me she told me she thinks I’m the strongest woman she has met because knowing everything they kept telling me I kept pushing for hope and positivity to continue. A total of 5 drs called me yesterday to set things up and see how I was doing and comfort me even giving me their personal cell numbers to call or text if I need anything. The grief comes in waves of tears randomly and I see my self trying to be stronger for my partner who I think is taking it harder than I am. I am terrified what the next couple days have in store
For me but we plan to have our baby girl cremated and have her ashes turned into rings
For us to always remember our first baby girl

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Melissa

May 22, 2019 8:59 pm

When I stumbled across this blog post, little did I know it would help me in more ways than I ever could have imagined. In January, we lost a baby boy at 17 weeks. I have felt alone every single day since then. When I found your story, I finally felt like someone understood. Every single piece of this story hits home. I’m so sorry you had to experience this because I know exactly how tough this was, but I am also so greatful you shared your story. Thank you!

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bloodmilk

May 23, 2019 11:02 am

We’re so sorry for your loss, Melissa, and glad this article helped you feel less alone. ❤️

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Courtney McCauley

May 31, 2019 11:46 pm

I sit here at the hospital, trying to find a way to process this pregnancy loss. We are 15.4 but as the night carries on 15.5. Our boy had no heartbeat yesterday during his sono. We saw him just 11 days before to diagnose a placenta Previa. And there he was just waving in the ultrasound pictures. I found so much comfort in reading this because for my friend support, their losses were so much earlier in the pregnancy. They did not have to physically deliver. The medication has started the cramping and we will meet him soon to say our goodbyes. Thank you for sharing your experience, because it has helped this momma in raw need.

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bloodmilk

June 03, 2019 11:49 am

So sorry for your loss, Courtney. Sending you hugs.

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Mercedes Castillo

June 11, 2019 3:03 pm

I really needed this. Today we delivered our sweet boy at 18 weeks. Yesterday he was perfectly healthy, strong heart beat and moving around. I woke up to contractions in the night and my water broke. It was terrifying. I delivered him on my own 30 minutes after getting to the hospital. We held him for a long time and every emotion possible has been going through my head. I keep reminding myself that it’s not my fault but I can’t help to question every choice I made during my pregnancy. Your article helps me. I know this is so fresh for me but I do believe I will be okay.

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bloodmilk

June 13, 2019 11:57 am

We’re so sorry for your loss, Mercedes <3. Sending you hugs.

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Motun

August 06, 2019 5:22 pm

I just lost my baby two weeks ago.at 23weeks.due to incompetent cervix.still in shock and pain.i just hope to recover soon nd have another baby.????????

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Kimi

August 25, 2019 6:54 am

This post provided a lot of comfort. I am sorry that any of us has experienced this Only a select few can understand this pain as second trimester losses occur in 2-3% of all pregnancies. I delivered my baby girl at 19 weeks on August 1st. It was the hardest day of my life. My waterbroke and I was rushed to the hospital, it was noted that I was dilated and had little to no amniotic fluid, which meant my pregnancy wasn’t viable. I cried and cried. My family cried. I could not process what happened to me. I still cry. I cry for the memories I will never be able to make or have with my daughter. I named her Kennedy.

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Kaycee Miller

August 30, 2019 3:08 pm

Thank you for your courage. I found out August 2 that my 18 week old baby boy didn’t have a heartbeat and grow stopped around 14.5/15 weeks. We won’t get an answer as to when he passed. My follow up appointment isn’t until Sept 20th. We are devastated, but it does bring comfort to know we aren’t alone. Praying for you ladies.

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