My dear friend entrusted me with her story of miscarriage. After two hours of tears and talking, she admitted never having shared such detail before, but the process was healing (for both of us). Here’s what she told me.
My son was 10 months old when I became pregnant for the second time. Polycystic ovaries (PCOS) made it hard for me to conceive, so I didn’t want to wait too long after childbirth to try again. Metformin helped with my first pregnancy, and even though my cycle was too irregular to predict ovulation, I knew something had changed. My breasts were sore, my body swollen; I felt physically and emotionally tender. The second time was different. I didn’t feel much at all.
What Are the Signs of Early Miscarriage?
Miscarriage is considered early if it occurs in the first trimester (the first 12 weeks of pregnancy). Common symptoms include bleeding, cramps and fever. I started spotting after eight weeks. A scan revealed a gestational sac, measuring 15mm, but it appeared empty. The spotting continued. After nine weeks the sac had grown to 18mm, yet the presence of an embryo was still inconclusive.
I didn’t need the doctors to tell me this. I felt the absence of activity in my womb. I was physically and emotionally numb compared to my first pregnancy. A few days later, the bleeding began in earnest.
How Do You Know If You’re Having a Miscarriage?
It was 4:30am when I awoke to excruciating pain. Blood soaked through one sanitary pad after another. I couldn’t look at my husband, or show him my pain, as I curled into myself. Eventually we made it to the emergency room where another scan confirmed my pregnancy had ceased after nine weeks and four days. My miscarriage, however, wasn’t over.
What Happens after a Miscarriage?
The menstrual cycle can only resume once the womb is empty, so I was given three options to help expel the remainder of the pregnancy: surgery, medication or let nature take its course (known as expectant management). I chose the latter, believing it to be the most healing, and yet I didn’t give my body (or myself) the time we needed.
I cleaned the apartment, took my son swimming, and organized his christening. Keeping busy was my coping strategy. The bleeding may have subsided, but the weight pushing down on my cervix was unbearable. I held on for five days until I had to let go.
The contents of my womb sat in the toilet bowl as I took a closer look. I hadn’t wanted to flush, knowing the physical part was over, but the emotional aftermath was just beginning. Five days later I hosted a family Christmas, keeping busy once again. I told myself my body was healed, even if I wasn’t.
What Causes a Miscarriage?
For me, it was PCOS and stress. My miscarriage coincided with one of the most challenging years of my marriage. Immediately after my son was born, my husband lost his job. I was trying to hold the family together, but no one was holding me together until the miscarriage changed everything.
I saw my body and myself in a new light. I thought about how much I’d lost and gained in 10 months. I knew that I was fertile, that I could conceive, but there was so much more to consider, and I wasn’t going to leave it to chance.
Can You Get Pregnant after Miscarriage?
Four months later, I was taking metformin again. Six months later, I was pregnant again, only this time I felt the flutter in my womb. At first I insisted on scan after scan. Then I stopped fighting and let my body take over. I put my trust in the pregnancy, and let it become the real healing process I needed.
I’d spent most of my life hating my periods and neglecting my greatest power, but now I have two beautiful children and a regular 28-day cycle. I’m proud of my body, my scars and stretch marks; of the stories they tell. I’m sad that it took such trauma to get here, yet my miscarriage served as a process of realignment.
For years I focused on my family, on what was in front of me, and turned away from what was going on inside of me. When we compartmentalize the experience of loss in order to simply get on with life, we don’t allow ourselves to grieve, and we need to grieve so we can get to the place where we start again.
Take the time to heal your heart as well as your womb. Don’t carry the pain alone, and don’t ever lose hope.