So this is what it’s like to have a miscarriage

[Warning: Graphic Content]

Recap: Two years ago, my unborn baby died at 9 weeks. For three more weeks I unknowingly carried it, bonding with it hardcore.

I want to describe my miscarriage in detail because I couldn’t find a single real account to help me through mine.

If you’re reading this because you’re about to have a miscarriage: Don’t be afraid. The physical pain is finite and the emotional pain will lessen over time.


Overall timeline: Tuesday night I started spotting. Thursday I had the fateful ultrasound check. Friday night I miscarried, which took 3-4 hours.

On Friday around dinnertime, I had just paid the pizza deliveryman and closed the front door when I suddenly felt liquid gushing down the inside of my yoga pants. (I think “miscarriage pants” every time I wear them now.) The liquid was watery with blood in it, and it made small pools at my feet. I guess that was my water breaking.

Why didn’t anyone tell me I had water to break?

My friend Claire was supposed to come over in a few minutes for chick flicks, so I unlocked the door, sent her a text warning her of the blood pools by the door, and went upstairs to sit on the toilet.

I don’t know if it was a physical thing or just my anxiety, but sitting upright made me feel like I was going to pass out and/or vomit. The bleeding was heavy now, and the volume of blood was very alarming to me. I wanted to keep sitting on the toilet to minimize the mess, but I just couldn’t handle it. Claire arrived at this point and put down a bunch of towels to lay on. I hated that she saw me like this, with my pants down, bleeding and miserable, but the miraculous thing is…. she’s a doctor. She’s seen everything, and at the risk of sounding melodramatic, I knew I wouldn’t die with her there. Occasionally she’d check my pulse, but I’m pretty sure that was just to ease my panic.

The OB told me the cramps would feel like a bad period. Nope. My menstrual cramps are on either side of my belly; they’re low grade with sharp pains once or twice a month that double me over for maybe 5 seconds.

These cramps, on the other hand, feel more widespread and a little sickening. They’re less sharp but more intense and longer. They come in waves, most noticeably recruiting the lower front part of my uterus. (I was told second-hand by a woman who’s both miscarried and given birth that these cramps are just like mild birthing contractions.)

[I wish I’d made the connection that I should push with the cramps. I didn’t do anything except lie there. As I discovered with my miscarriage last week, pushing lessens the pain and speeds things up.]

Kyle got home from work and joined the party. He stayed on the periphery because he could see that Claire, as both my girlfriend and my doctor, had things under control. I had worried about him because he was generally squeamish with blood, but he was a total champ.

[On a side note, while I was definitely light-headed and nauseous, I wasn’t entirely helpless. Physically, I could’ve done it alone. Emotionally, though, I needed the support. I knew that the cramps weren’t all that terrible, but each one was a reminder that the pregnancy hadn’t turned out like I’d wanted.]

Claire and Kyle parked on the bathroom floor with me, keeping me company, chatting with each other a little. Then, to my surprise, my cat came in and purposefully laid down by my head, practically sitting on my face. We all knew he wanted to comfort me. Cats are amazing.

3-ish hours after my water broke, my body sort of heaved and expelled a mass. (It didn’t hurt.) A couple seconds later I retched. The mass slipped out easily with a little gush. Claire said, “It’s done,” and before I knew it, she had rolled it up in a towel and taken it away. I was kind of glad that I didn’t have to look at it, because I was too afraid of what I might see.

After that, the cramps stopped and the bleeding let up a lot. We all thought it was done, so Claire and Kyle cleaned up around me and left me alone so I could shower in privacy. When I stood up, the bleeding picked up again and I felt like there might be more coming, so I sat back down on the toilet. Just a few seconds later I passed a second mass.

This time I wasn’t afraid to inspect it, but I don’t remember exactly how I kept it from going into the toilet. I might have actually caught it with my hand. It was a very dark opaque red and about the size and shape of a lime. I certainly couldn’t see any detail within the mass. I looked at it for a while, and then I didn’t know what to do with it, so I flushed it down the toilet. I think the first mass was probably the fetus and sac, and the second was the placenta/endometrium tissue; or maybe the fetus and sac got separated, I don’t know.

Now I kind of regret letting Claire take and throw away the first part that passed, and me flushing the other, but I still can’t imagine what I would’ve done instead. Maybe I could’ve rolled it all up in a towel and buried it, but we didn’t know where to do that.

What I do know is that I cried heartily when the trash truck came the next week. My baby deserves more than going out with the trash, I thought. I imagined it ending up in a landfill somewhere with horrible smelly things. My baby was robbed of a wonderful life.

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One thought on “So this is what it’s like to have a miscarriage

  1. How brave of you to recap all the details in an interest of having the information there for the next woman.
    Your story reminds me of my own; water breaking but never having been told I had water to break, contractions, not cramps, NOT a heavy period as I was told, passing a ‘mass’, though I was told I’d just pass clots, and I could tell it was a baby. There was hardly any blood, and I could distinguish head, arms, legs. Heartbreakingly, I flushed, because I was unprepared and didn’t know what else to do.
    I’m so sorry for your loss and your pain. I’m glad you had support at that time. Sending you hugs and hope.

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