Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Managing" a miscarriage: The D & C

A warning: As the heading suggests, the following post is about miscarriage, which is never a comfortable topic. If you’re pregnant or trying to fall pregnant or if you simply don’t really want to know, please skip this post.
from here
After seeing the pictures from yesterdays album, it may surprise you to hear that this time around I immediately assumed I’d just make the same “expectant management” decision again. I’m someone who generally likes to let nature do its thing while I try not to get in the way. The word “natural” is so much nicer than the words “dilation and curettage” (yes, this is part of how I make decisions. Shut up). But that was before it was explained to me by a kind and sympathetic doctor that miscarrying twins involves more pain and more tissue (therefore MORE BLOOD) and that both embryos wouldn’t necessarily come out at the same time. Both of these facts shook me. On top of that, I still hadn’t even started spotting; I knew that the actual bleeding starting could be weeks away, and I could then have to wait until August or possibly later to declare this next miscarriage over. Considering I was still battling “morning” sickness, the thought of sipping ginger drinks and spending my afternoons and evenings feeling unnecessarily disgusting for even one more week was unbearable.

I realised after a little while that I’d already subconsciously made my decision, which wasn’t so much “I’m going to have a D & C!” as “I cannot survive waiting for and then going through a miscarriage at home this year,” so I booked an earlier appointment with the hospital (where they did another ultrasound to confirm the results of the previous one) and then trekked from one department to another, handing in forms and signing papers to book myself in for the operation the following day. Here are a few shots of me at the hospital on D & C day:

This one’s of me listening as a nurse explains that being on the emergency list means that I’ll be slotted in between patients who’ve had their surgeries booked for up to a year, so I could be waiting until 5pm (it’s 8:30am, and I’ve already been there for 2 hours), in which case I’ll have to stay overnight. I immediately burst into tears and miss my opportunity to suggest that PERHAPS THEY SHOULD CHANGE THE NAME OF THE LIST BECAUSE “EMERGENCY” GENERALLY MAKES PEOPLE THINK OF WORDS LIKE “URGENCY” AND “SPEEDINESS.” I hadn’t eaten since 10pm the previous night; I was hungry and nauseous and stressed.

This is me 5 hours later, being wheeled towards the operating theatre wearing nothing but a gown and a surgical cap and feeling vulnerable and utterly exhausted. I spend about 10 minutes in a hospital corridor staring up at a green exit sign that depicts a person running out of an open door, and feel very much like I’d do exactly that if only I wasn’t so weak and didn’t want so desperately to get the whole operation over and done with. If the anaesthetist hadn’t arrived when she did I’d have bawled, but she turned up, noticed my tears without mentioning them, and then proceeded to try to make me smile as much as possible. 

This picture is of the obstetrician, also female, who’s chirpy too. I decide to let her tell me about the healthy babies she’s just delivered by caesarean rather than noting that it’s maybe a little insensitive given I’m lying there thanks to a very recent miscarriage. I figure that seeing as she’s about to poke around inside of me with sharp surgical instruments I should do nothing to irritate her.

It’s 3pm by the time I wake up enough to ask for the time, and 5:40pm when I first leave the hospital (I discover, as I wait for my husband to grab the car, that the cotton ball that had been taped over the catheter hole in my hand is saturated with blood - which is now running down my fingers - and that I’ve left a trail of fresh drips down the ramp outside the surgery department entrance [apologies to anyone entering soon after who was already feeling queasy about the thought of being chopped open...]). This is a shot of me leaving the hospital for the second and last time. It’s about 5:47, and besides a light head from the anaesthetic and a bruised and painful hand from the catheter, I’m feeling surprisingly well and thankful to be heading home for tacos with the boys I love.

This is me the following day (Saturday), sleeping.

This is me on Sunday, feeling normal (though emotionally fragile) and wondering if I should be concerned at how little blood I’ve seen this time around. It's been under two weeks since we were told there were no heartbeats, and it’s almost over. Physically, at least. It may still be some time before I can notice my son gently cradling his doll without tearing up (he'd make such a good big brother!) or talk about a doctrine of Gods sovereignty with any kind of confidence (was He involved in the conception but not the miscarriage, or both? Or neither? I have absolutely no idea) or cope with the sympathetic looks I’m given as soon as I walk into church (if you look at me like you're afraid I'm going to cry, I’ll probably cry. Just act normal, and I’ll be fine). But winter’s a good season for grieving, and I’m liking that spring comes next.


It’s probably clear that the D & C was a far less traumatic miscarriage experience for me, although I did wrestle with the decision for a week or so (after having initially told the doctor at the hospital Id chosen to wait) before booking it in because of the potential risks and the whole not-the-natural-way thing. I also felt a little wimpy telling nature she was far too violent and slow-moving for my sensitive spirit, but realised I was never trying to win awards for bravery. I’ve given birth, dammit; I know I’m not a complete wuss. Plus, nature sometimes kills people.

So, that’s the end of my series on miscarriage. I’m praying this is also the end of my series of miscarriages. I’ll end with some lyrics from Michael Franti’s Sometimes, because that dude can make me dance even when the rest of life makes me want to stay in bed.
Peace to the people who be losin’ their head
Peace to the people who be needin’ a bed
Love to the people who be feelin’ alone
Spreadin’ love upon the microphone
Hope to the people who be feelin’ down
Smiles to the people who be wearin’ a frown
Faith to the people who be seekin’ the truth y’all.


  1. Poignantly written as always. Thanks for taking us through it.

  2. Those are some good lyrics. Thank you for your openness and vulnerability; you are beautiful. I am praying/hoping you never, ever have to experience another miscarriage. Love you lots xoxo

    1. You're not supposed to be reading, pregnant lady! I love YOU lots. xoxo

  3. I just finished reading these posts. I'm so glad you decided to write them. I am so proud of you, my friend, and your ability to write truthfully. Thank you for sharing this.