Before I get to the topic at hand, I just want to say that this is not becoming a blog that’s only about miscarriage/loss. The point of this is for me to chronicle my journey in becoming a crunchy mom (covering both becoming a mom and becoming more of a crunchy hippie person). Right now, this is where I am in that journey. But if things go according to plan, I will be a mom for the rest of my life, which will hopefully be another nice 50+ years. The difficulties of these few months won’t be forgotten, but they won’t be so all-encompassing either. There may be times in the future, when I’m talking about a pregnancy or parenting experience, that I refer back to all this. It will always be a part of me and will in some ways color my experiences going forward. But it’s not all that I have to talk about. So, now that that’s clear, moving on.
A more accurate title for this one might be “things no one talks about.” Before having a miscarriage, I really had no idea what happened when you have one. I think I had a vague idea that it’d be bleeding like a period, and that’s about it. Oh, and I knew that you could wind up having a d&c, particularly if you were farther along. That’s not a lot of knowledge to take with you when you’re suddenly faced with going through it. I even knew people and family members who had had miscarriages, but no one talks about it. I certainly never asked. It seemed too personal, and really, who wants to talk about dead babies? It’s just not a topic anyone wants to discuss.
So here are a few of the things I learned in going through it. These are reflective of MY experience, and may not be at all representative of what another woman would think/feel. Particularly since I did not have a d&c with either of mine. And some of these are things doctors will tell you when the time comes. But for those who are curious or worried or facing the prospect themselves, it can’t hurt to have more information out there.
Warning! This will be totally tmi in some places. And possibly a little upsetting to some? I assume that people can expect it not to be a cheery post, given the subject.
-It’s really not as much like a normal period as you’d like it to be. With a normal period, for me at least, I don’t really feel much coming out. An occasional trickle-y feeling if I suddenly stand up after laying/sitting down for too long, but that’s about it. With a miscarriage, especially one that’s later like mine at 9.5 weeks, you can feel a lot. You pass more clots, some of which aren’t small, and at some point one of those clots has to contain the baby. And you can feel it. To me, I kept thinking it felt like bubbles. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s what I thought both times. I had the sense to never look in the toilet after I used the bathroom, since a lot of that clot passing tends to happen when you’re on the toilet (that seems SO wrong), but I have read a blog post from a woman who did look and found it very traumatic. So I recommend never, ever looking. (I guess some people do attempt to recover the baby and bury it, but unless you’re pretty far along that’s not likely to be possible.) It also tends to be heavier bleeding than a normal period.
-On a related note, the bleeding also tends to last longer than a normal period. My first was a week and a half to two weeks (I honestly don’t remember exactly), and the second was a little over a week. A normal period for me is around 5-6 days. Up to two weeks is normal, and I don’t think it’s cause for alarm if it goes a little past that. This is one a doctor should cover, but sometimes it’s helpful to hear from other women who’ve been there that what you’re experiencing is normal.
-It also takes a while to get your normal period back afterwards. I have a very regular cycle, right at 28 days, and it was a little over 5 weeks before I got my period after my first miscarriage. This time I’m going on 30+ days, and no sign of it yet. One poll I saw on Hellobee (my most favoritest parenting site) had around an average of 5-6 weeks, but some women took 10+ to get a period again. My understanding is that the farther along you are when you miscarry, the more likely it is to take a while. But it pretty much just varies from one person/experience to another.
-The feeling pregnant thing doesn’t just disappear instantly. To some degree it does, and in fact for some women, looking back after a loss, they realize the first sign that something was wrong was a loss of pregnancy symptoms, which I did experience a bit. (If you’re pregnant and reading this, symptoms vary drastically from day to day and even hour to hour. Don’t panic if you suddenly feel less pregnant. It’s normal, and not a bad sign in and of itself!) But for me at least, that didn’t mean that I completely lost all symptoms immediately. My hunger issues have never really gone back to normal, and I frequently find myself starving late at night, which was a major thing when I was pregnant that I’d never experienced before. My boobs hurt off and on at odd times that didn’t match up with where I was in my cycle, and other similar things. I’m guessing this is a normal part of hormones regulating themselves after a major shake up, but it was a little depressing. I just wanted to go back to feeling normal, not have constant little discomforts reminding me of everything.
-Here’s one that’s a little more positive (and more tmi, so if you’re a friend or family member, you may want to skip it). After both miscarriages, especially the first one, once the bleeding stopped, my libido shot through the roof. I felt like a hormone-crazed teenager. Which, minus the teenager part, I guess I was. I don’t know if my body just really wanted to get pregnant again, or if it didn’t know how to handle the flood of hormones, but it was definitely crazy. My husband kept asking what the heck was wrong with me. But it gives you a nice way to get to feeling better during a sad time, since the endorphins and such that come along with all that can lift your mood.
-This one isn’t miscarriage specific, but it came about because of my first loss. I was put on progesterone immediately when I got pregnant the second time. I knew progesterone can make you sleepy (if you get tired a lot when pms-y, high progesterone levels post-ovulation is the culprit), but I didn’t realize how sleepy. Hopefully better doctors than mine would warn patients when prescribing it, but mine did not. And it would have been very dangerous if I’d taken it unknowingly before driving somewhere. It made me what I called “drunk tired.” You know that feeling when you’ve been drinking and you just get SO tired that you’re about to fall asleep sitting up and may just pass out mid-sentence? Yeah, that’s how I felt on progesterone pills. I may be more sensitive and it’s not that bad for everyone, but it definitely makes you tired, so don’t take it until you’re ready to sleep. Though on the positive side, I slept amazingly well and always felt super refreshed after waking up. I kinda miss taking them.
And one last thing. Most women don’t announce to the world when they’ve had a miscarriage. So if you find yourself going through one, and don’t keep it to yourself, you may be surprised how many women in your life have been there and know what you’re dealing with. Having their support can really help, so if you’re up for it, don’t try to keep it a secret. Miscarriages are far more common than most people realize, and being more open about that fact can help women to not feel alone during a very difficult time.