There is not much that anyone can do or say that can prepare you for a miscarriage.
In any event, I think it is probably different for everyone.
From my experience, my two miscarriages were both different… different in terms of physical symptoms and different in terms of my emotional reaction.
I’m not sure whether there isn’t much info that is given out when you experience a miscarriage, or whether you’re not really thinking clearly at the time, so it’s difficult to take it all in.
Regardless, there are a few things I learnt along the way that I hope might help others who either have or are currently experiencing what we have experienced.
1. You might not experience any physical symptoms
When I found out about my first miscarriage I was shocked and did not expect it at all.
Looking back though, there were a few signs. I had experienced intense cramps on a couple of occasions (painful enough to leave a social outing and go home), I had some sporadic, but not very obvious spotting (some people get this the whole way through their pregnancy though and everything is fine) and I had very little morning sickness (although, not everyone experiences morning sickness anyway).
I had also already seen the heartbeat at around 6.5 weeks, so there was no reason for me to suspect that anything was wrong.
The second time around, I was more in tune with changes and physical symptoms, but I didn’t experience any symptoms at all, so I didn’t know I had miscarried.
I felt quite sick with “morning sickness” every day, even at random times throughout the day. I didn’t have any painful cramps (I did feel like there was “something happening” on the lower left side of my stomach, but nothing that was painful or made me worry).
I really wasn’t expecting not to see a heartbeat at our first scan, even though I was nervous as hell about going to the appointment, and to be honest I didn’t actually believe them anyway when they told us they couldn’t find it.
2. The emotional pain might be worse than the physical pain
When we had our first miscarriage I was a mess. I just couldn’t get control over my emotions for weeks afterwards. Some days I felt fine, and other days I was beside myself with grief.
I’m not sure whether other people think about the possibility of miscarriage when they find out they’re pregnant. It was something I thought about, even though I didn’t think it would happen to us. For some reason, I thought that if it did happen, I would be OK.
I feel like there is some sort of “push” in general society that gives us the expectation that miscarriage is not really a big deal, and nothing to get too worked up about. Unfortunately, that’s just not realistic when you’re the one experiencing it.
In terms of the physical pain, it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I have heard some horror stories from others who have miscarried naturally, however, I opted for a D&C on both occasions and found that it wasn’t really painful at all. The first time, I took some painkillers but the second time I didn’t take anything and I felt almost back to normal by the next day.
The most noticeable side effect for me was when I started going back to the gym. I experienced discomfort (I wouldn’t really say it was painful) in my lower left side. I’m not sure why this happened, but my OB didn’t think it was an issue, so I pressed on and it went away eventually.
Lastly, you might not know how you feel about being pregnant again. After the first miscarriage, I was happy just to try again straight away. I thought that if I could get pregnant again everything would be OK.
Except, once I found out I was pregnant again, I was irrationally upset about it. I sat through an entire appointment with my GP just bawling my eyes out. I think she was a little taken aback, but you know what? Pregnancy hormones… there’s just nothing you can do about them!
This time around, I feel OK. I’m not sure if it’s possible to “get used to” the grieving process, but I didn’t find that I was anywhere near as emotional with the second miscarriage as I was with the first.
My whole attitude seems to have swung from being terrified of this happening again, to just accepting that this is life, sometimes these things happen, and there’s no point worrying about something that is out of our control.
3. It takes AGES for your body to go back to normal
You can still experience pregnancy-like symptoms for weeks, or even months after you have a miscarriage.
The funny thing for me was that I got MORE pregnancy-like symptoms after my first miscarriage than I had when I was pregnant!
The super-annoying thing is that you may still have positive pregnancy tests for a while after you miscarry too… which means it’s difficult to know if the symptoms are due to left over hormones, tissue still needing to pass, or a new pregnancy (plus the hormones might make you feel a little crazy about all those possibilities too!).
I also found with both pregnancies that my belly expanded very quickly, and then took weeks and weeks to go back down again. By the time my stomach was finally back to normal, I found out I was pregnant again!
This time around, it’s been almost 4 weeks since the D&C and I’ve only just started to notice the swelling start to slightly subside.
4. It is difficult not to get frustrated with the thoughts, advice and general questioning you receive… if you haven’t asked for it
Don’t get my wrong, I am comfortable talking quite openly about pregnancy, planning, miscarriage, fertility issues and parenting in general.
Most often than not, I think it’s great, as it seems the more I blog about these sorts of topics on here, the more people are willing to approach me to ask questions and discuss their experiences. I certainly welcome that and I honestly think in some ways the grieving process has been easier on me as I get exposed to these sorts of topics a lot, and as such, I don’t get as emotional about it as I used to.
But I do want to mention a post that has been doing the rounds (check out the link to it here) which encourages us to be respectful towards couples and their choices of whether to have or not have kids.
So, I wanted to share with you a conversation I had recently, to try and highlight what this can sometimes look like in real life.
I was at a social gathering recently, and a person (who I don’t really know and hadn’t met before) said to me “How old are you?” to which I responded “30” they then preceded to ask “do you have kids?” and I said “no” and then they said “do you want to have kids” to which I responded “yes” and then they asked “do you think you will have them soon” and I replied “I hope so”. At that stage, I quickly excused myself from the conversation.
That was 1 week after my second miscarriage.
I’m not sharing this example to make anyone feel bad for having a conversation like this with someone, I really just want to raise some awareness so that people can hopefully be more conscious about the situation someone might be in before they ask persistent questions about when they are going to have kids (or insinuate that someone should be thinking about having or not having kids based on their age).
In saying this, I don’t think we (as in, people in general) should be worried about “saying the wrong thing” in social situations (like I mentioned earlier, I am fairly open to discussing issues such as this, and I wouldn’t want anyone to think they couldn’t approach me to talk about it), I just think we should just be more conscious about whether it is appropriate to question someone in this way if we don’t know them, or if we don’t have any idea about their personal situation.
5. You might not find out the reason you miscarried
You might get some sort of medical explanation as to why you had a miscarriage, but that doesn’t mean all your questions will be answered.
For example, Sam and I know that our first miscarriage was due to a chromosomal abnormality (our foetus was missing chromosome number 1) and our OB suspects that our second miscarriage was due to a chromosomal abnormality too (not sure which one, still waiting to get the test results back), but we don’t know what is causing these abnormalities to occur.
We have had a bunch of blood tests done (I had about 10 vials taken last week – fun times!) but all of our results have come back clear so far. Most importantly, we know that neither of us has a chromosomal issue that we’re passing on.
The best explanation we have been given so far is that “it’s just really, REALLY back luck”. Like, imagine if it was bad luck to roll two six’s in a row… apparently that’s about how likely it is that this will keep happening to us.
But, only time will tell I guess.
If it’s only luck we need to worry about, here’s hoping for some “good luck” (or should I say “better luck”?) in the future.
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