Category: Miscarriage

Care After a Miscarriage

Take care of your immune system. If there is something you normally do, like eating a clove of garlic everyday or taking Echinacea, do it. You can drink Miso soup daily or make chicken and veggie stock. Besides the eating nutritious foods and drinking lots of water, get sleep. Rest and nap daily and be sure to honor your healing time by sleeping. You’ve just been through a lot.

Try making Vitality Stock. Along with the below herbs, throw in some marrow bones and veggies and let simmer:
Dong Gui – 2-3 slices
Astragalus – 3 slices
Codonopsis – 1 root
Da Zao – 2-3 dates
Ginger – 2-3 slices

Make a medicinal strentgh quart of Nettle tea every night to drink the next day. Do this for a month. The Nettle will help rebuild chi, liver and blood. There is also lots of assimilated iron in Nettle.

And of course, be kind to yourself. You’ve just been through a death, lost a dream and now must heal. Grief isn’t something that is straight-forward and it doesn’t end in a set amount of time.

Continue reading »

My Miscarriage Story – Part 3 – It’s Over

Part 1 – is here. This covers the first part of my miscarriage, the actual bleeding and cramping that ended abruptly, without passage of baby, at my first ultrasound.

Part 2 is here. This section talks a bit about the 8 weeks between starting my miscarriage and actually passing my baby.

Part 3 happened on June 1. I decided that I wasn’t actually going to have an event – there would be no cramping and bleeding and my body would just absorb the baby. My bleeding, which had nearly stopped, started to increase and was bright red again. I went to the bathroom and sitting on my pad was my baby.

A perfectly formed 9 weeks baby, a little smaller in width than a grain of rice. I wasn’t able to see arms or leg buds, just the indentation of where the neck connected with the heard.

I had no cramping or bleeding after that. Not even yellow/brown discharge. A few days later I felt my uterus cramp and reduce back to it’s pre-pregnant size. A few weeks later I had a normal period.

And that is my miscarriage story.

Continue reading »

My Miscarriage Story – Part 2 – The Learning in Nepantla

I’ve broken my miscarriage story up into 3 parts because it’s a long journey and I want to provide all the details. When I was deep in search of miscarriage stories the details always seemed to be missing. A woman has a miscarriage, feels anger/rage/guilt/sorrow/etc. and the story closes with her unique ending.

As a midwifery student, I wanted to clinical details as well. How much blood did you loose? What herbs did you try to get things going? Exactly how long did you wait.

Part 1 focused on the actual start and then stop of my miscarriage. Part 2 is about the waiting; The learning that comes with the pain.

This part is hard to write. I don’t have a timeline to guide my story. This is a more nebulous area of my journey, the hard part.

I got a tattoo on my right upper arm to mark this journey with Baby Azu-zu, my uterus, womanhood and birth. I’ve been open to a tattoo now and then, thought about it a lot, but never followed through. The difference between those times and this time is that I did not even debate about it. It’s happening. It’s another something I need to do.

Dave and I met with a friend who is a graphic designer. It’s important to me that a woman designs this piece and that it’s someone I know. I feel my pregnancy began and ended in loss. Before I knew I was pregnant I found out a friend of ours, the woman who would have been my midwife, died of a stroke. She was young, beautiful and knew it was coming. The lady who is designing my tattoo is a friend and dance partner of her. A matching bookend to my story.

During our initial meeting she spoke about Nepantla. It’s part of a tribal cosmetology that understands that people go on living their life normally, then a tragic event happens. This could be death, job loss, miscarriage, etc. And now your normal has changed. Your new normal life now must include whatever event occurred. This new normal is called Nepantla.

Our culture doesn’t have a name for this. We grieve and in three days go back to work. We aren’t allowed a process. Nepantla makes for these tragic events as islands, this is your solid ground, and once life starts moving again it is the water that flows between islands. Life is fluid, tragedy is stationary. I finally had a name for where I was.

Back at the doctor’s office, after cramping for almost 24 hours now, Midwife Kelly met me there to drive me home. I felt weakened by the physical experience but emotionally okay. Information is important to me and I had the information I needed. My baby was dead and I stopped my cramps because I didn’t want to participate in that reality.

I made phone calls to friends that night and an acupuncturist friend came over and treated Dave and I while we laid in bed. The next day I went to the sacred magic shop where I worked on Sundays to pick up some candles. My intention was to keep them lit until my miscarriage was complete. I would have never guessed I was going to see the flame come to an end on its own a week later.

I made an altar in the living room and friends who understood what I was going through brought or sent items to add; flowers, statutes, a metal acorn.  I stared for hours at that altar, sometimes willing the candle that was marked Baby Azu-zu to burst. But nothing happened and I continued to have on and off cramps that lasted an hour or so.

The friend part is interesting. I felt certain people’s presence and energy very closely while other friends disappeared. I’m still confused by their lack of presence. Even the “thinking of you” email they sent just wasn’t as meaningful as the same email sentiment from other friends. Part of this process is understanding that perhaps their friendship doesn’t play that part in my life. It’s a hard thing to accept because you want everyone there with you, but maybe that’s just not how it is meant to work out.

Through the reading I’ve done on miscarriage I feel it’s important to point out a huge difference between myself and the other personal narratives I read. Usually, most of these women didn’t know a whole lot about miscarriage so they naturally turned to others for information. Because of my background in birth and as a midwifery apprentice, I knew a lot to begin with and was able to read even more clinical information. This meant that I wasn’t initially searching outside myself for clinical knowledge (usually). This also meant that all those hurtful and stupid things that people say to a woman who is having a miscarriage weren’t as shocking to me. I let the “ewwe, it’s creepy to think you have a dead thing inside you” comment slip away. I rolled my eyes when people spoke of statistics and probabilities and told me it was for the best. I politely ignored when someone compared their IUD cramping and bleeding to my miscarriage and I stopped talking to a woman who said, “Congratulations. Welcome to the club. You got that out of the way.” when I told her my baby died. But that doesn’t mean I was without a villain in those first weeks of grief.

Three days after my miscarriage began I turned on the computer for the first time. I awoke already in a foul and aggressive mood, so this wasn’t the best idea, but I felt like suffering. I got an email from a friend on facebook who decided to end my friendship over a facebook status I made that she assumed was about a shared friend. Feeling so off-kilter I told her that her timing was off and that I didn’t care about what she had to say. A few days later I got another email from her and by this time she had heard what was happening to me. That didn’t stop her from calling me names and telling me that I was a horrible person. Her emotional unintelligence and our shared friend’s ego (both of whom stopped being my facebook friends) fueled my anger fire over the next few days. And boy did it feel good to finally be able to vilify someone. I was more than happy to hate both of them.

For the next two days Dave had to teach a workshop, so our friend Kelly (not the midwife) came over to be with my during those times. She is sick with Lyme Disease, so we were really both able to get in touch with our general unhappiness. It felt good to have her around.

During the second night our Shaman friend Trisha came over to do some energy work with me. We ended up staying awake until four in the morning, holding a vigil. She told me the timing wasn’t right for our baby to come into this world, but that she would be back. That line right there, was the information I needed to carry on. It was about divine timing. Something was off, another person was missing she left, and she’s coming back. She would come back again Maybe as a boy, maybe a girl, it didn’t matter.

One of the most difficult things to do was to tell people who didn’t know that I was pregnant that I was miscarrying. People misheard me or they thought I was helping someone else who was loosing a baby. They were always a minute behind my conversation and I didn’t have the energy to wait for them to catch up.

I continued having dark brown to light brown heavy spotting for the next 8 weeks while I waited for my miscarriage to complete. After a few weeks the occasional cramps diminished and I was left only with my spotting to remind me that I was still carrying my baby.

My waiting sometimes made my friends, family and the midwives I talked to uncomfortable. Why isn’t this working, they’d ask. In retrospect I should have told them that maybe it was working. No one I knew had ever worked with someone who waited for the miscarriage to complete. Moms usually passed naturally very quickly, took Cytotec or had a D&C.

Though I knew it was in my best physical and spiritual interest to not force my uterus to contract and instead let it happen on it’s own time, I sometimes became so frustrated with the waiting and not getting back to my life, that I would decide to take Cytotec to encourage contractions. I’d sit with that decision and then change my mind. Though it would have been the easiest thing for me to do, it wasn’t the right thing for me to do.

And that’s really what pregnancy, birth, parenting, death – all the big things in our life – is all about. What is the right thing for each person to do? This is why I’m a midwife. This is why I believe low-risk birth should happen at home. Women know what feels right if they are allowed the space and time to get in touch with that intuition. And for me, my job was to wait and learn to surrender.

Over the course of the 8 weeks I tried a lot of natural ways to induce the miscarriage. It’s easiest for me to list what I tried in the relative order that I used them. If anyone reading this wants further details about my personal treatment plan, feel free to email me.

  • Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh and Shepard’s Purse tincture
  • Angelica tincture several times a day
  • Pennyroyal and Tansey tea several times a day, medicinal strength
  • Acupuncture to induce miscarriage
  • Reiki to help let go
  • Arnica homeopathy
  • Sepia and Silica homeopathy
  • Ovinum and Lutenium homeopathy
  • Pullsatilla
  • Miscarriage blend tincture
  • Cranial sacral
  • Pelvic floor work
  • Chiropractic care
  • Breath work
  • Vaginal steam bath

That’s not an extensive list, but it gives a good idea of the extent of things that I tried.

A few weeks after my initial miscarriage my husband and I felt the I ovulated. A little less than 2 weeks later my blood changed to bright red and mucousy and increased to a medium flow. I cramped all night one night during my cycle (yes, this was an actual period) but didn’t pass any clots. These were my normal cramps that I get every month.

Soon after my period my bleeding slowed to a brown/yellow discharge. Was this it? Was I done? This was the lowest point for me during my miscarriage. I just couldn’t believe that I had stopped bleeding and I still hadn’t passed anything. An ultrasound a few weeks earlier had shown that I still had a 9 week uterus and everything to pass).

Writing about these 8 weeks of waiting has been really hard to do. I feel really in a hurry to get it out and feel okay with skipping lots of details. For this I’m sorry. My intention was to write, clearly and with details, all that happened, but I can’t. It’s not that I want to forget it, and maybe it’s too close still, but I really just want to be done with that part of my life right now. So I’ve left out a bunch of things because this is as far as I’ve gotten in my miscarriage story and I don’t feel like going any further with this waiting time. Maybe this is why all those miscarriage stories leave out the details – the details are just too much.

If you’re reading this because you are in the process of a miscarriage or because you just had one, please feel free to email me (courtney@fullmoonsdaughter.com) and I would be happy to talk with you about your process and share my experience, if that feels like something you would want.

Continue reading »

Miscarriage Quote

Bless this pain
for it will bear its perfect gift
to you in its perfect time
-Rusty Berkus, To Heal Again

Continue reading »

My Miscarriage Story – Part 1

It’s time to share my story of miscarriage. As of this posting I am still deep in the process. I have yet to complete my miscarriage. This is a long story. It’s a full story. It has a lot of details. I’ve broken it up into parts.

My story begins a week before my baby died. My wonderful husband Dave and I both felt from the beginning that our first baby was a boy and so we gave him the fetal name Azu-zu. We were celebrating our 8th anniversary with our dogs, Satchel and Maji, at the Metolius River near Sisters, Oregon. Like we do every anniversary we rented a place to stay with a full kitchen in a quiet place so the only reason we would have to leave would be to go on a walk. The vacation was perfect. We walked, hung out by the camp fire, watched movies and I slept and ate cheese most of the time.

For the entirety of my pregnancy I was nauseous and unable to eat anything but crackers, bread, cream cheese and yellow cheese. I was tired and generally shocked at my inability to eat. But it all felt reassuring, all my hormones were in full gear, working to make a baby. This was very comforting to me.

The first Tuesday back home, April 6, I started spotting. The blood was dark brown and scant. Though it increased throughout the week, the midwife in me wasn’t concerned but the mother in me wanted it to stop. If I got worried that something was wrong I would just try to eat something from my pre-pregnancy diet and know that I was still very much in the throes of morning sickness. I worried about miscarriage probably as much as any mom and maybe a little more since I had been around it more often as an apprentice. In retrospect, I have marked this day as the day my baby died.

On Friday, April 9, three days into spotting, I had a near anxiety attack because I felt my baby was dead. This followed a morning is agitation where if Dave were home I would have picked a fight with him. I was not right. And this fear was different than my regular concerns about miscarriage. No matter which way I phrased the question, my pendulum told me I wasn’t pregnant with a live baby. I was ready to throw it into the garden I hated that pendulum so much.

This fear sent me to the store to buy a pregnancy test so I could reassure myself that my baby hadn’t died weeks earlier, which was a big fear of mine. The test came back really positive and I was reassured.

On Sunday morning I woke up with a list of foods I wanted to eat. Having not eaten anything substantial in six weeks, this felt like a miracle. I planned breakfast, dinner and a snack. This step back into my pre-pregnancy diet seemed like perfect timing. I was stepping out of the early time frame when miscarriages happen and heading into my second trimester. This felt good.

Dave and I had sex for the first time since the spotting. Pretty quickly I started red bleeding, but wasn’t concerned since that could be common for some women. I went to work and tried to ignore the cramping that was beginning in my uterus.  About six hours after we had sex I was definitely cramping and thought that I was just one of those women who can’t have sex in the first trimester. Again, I wasn’t too concerned. I told myself I wasn’t going to have sex for the next eight weeks and everything would be fine. Denial was setting in even before I was consciously aware that I was having a miscarriage.

Dave stopped by work. We ate cheese and crackers. I asked him what he thought and he agreed, I was worried for nothing. We were pregnant and nothing was supposed to go wrong.

The cramping had me doubled over, but since I experience Dysmenorrhea, it was nothing worse than my regular period cramps. The cramping sent me to poop every ten minutes and by this time I was having intense back pain and shooting pain down my hips. Yes, I was really in labor and pretending like everything was okay. After another hour of this I called my friend/midwife Kelly. Her voicemail picked up and since I was trying really hard to believe this wasn’t happening but was in pain and worried, I couldn’t leave a casual message, so I hung up.

I let another hour pass and called my other midwife Laurie. I described my symptoms and she was concerned. But I insisted that I felt my baby’s presence very strongly, felt very pregnant and still has pregnancy symptoms. I needed her to believe that everything was okay.

Dave had an Epsom salt bath waiting for me when I got home from work. The cramps stopped within thirty seconds of getting in the water. See, I told myself, you can’t stop a miscarriage from happening, I’m okay. On the couch I wasn’t able to eat dinner and curled around the hot water bottle asking Dave over and over if he thought our baby was going to be okay. He and I both agreed that everything was fine.

There is a part of my story that is difficult to share that has to do with my husband. Dave is a wonderful, supportive friend and lover. He would do anything for me, but the one thing he is sometimes unable to do is wake up from sleep.

Anyway, after he did his own online research about what could be happening and we both decided that what we worried about wasn’t the real thing and we went to bed together. Dave feel asleep quickly and I laid awake in pain, trying not to move around too much because of my cramping.

I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and passed one of my first clots. It had fetal tissue. It was gray and brown, tiny and sad. I knew that wasn’t a good sign to say the least. I wrapped the only part of our baby I would ever see into toilet paper and saved it in a jar. I stayed in the bathroom downstairs enough to gather myself before I told Dave the sad news.

He was sleeping soundly and I didn’t want to speak out loud the tragedy that was happening inside my body. I writhed in pain for a few more minutes then told him I was having a miscarriage. It was hard to wake him up.

Weeks earlier after I took a pregnancy test early in the morning I whispered in his ear to share the good news and I felt his entire being awaken. The evening of my miscarriage he didn’t move. He was processing through sleep and I was meant to be by myself. I told him I felt so alone and isolated. I told him I needed to leave the bed because I needed to be near a bathroom but also because his sleeping body was killing me with every breath. If that was my option then I needed to be alone. It was like when we would have a fight and go to bed angry; I could just feel every cell of him and it would irritate me. Except on this night it was worse.

He didn’t want me to leave and didn’t understand why I was making that choice. I asked him to please check on me during the night and his response that he held to was, “I’ll check on you when the alarm goes off in the morning.”

And that was it. I was left alone by a man who has never left me alone before. I was suffering through the longest night of my life, pleading for my baby’s survival, confused, more scared than I’ve ever been and in pain. And as much as I now understand what was going on for Dave during that night, I’m still sad as I remember those feelings of being the only woman in the world who was crying with her left cheek on the bathroom floor as her baby bled out of her vagina.

I contemplated calling my midwife friend Kelly. I thought about it for some time until the clocked said 11:40 and I knew it was too late. Though she is a midwife, I was still in denial that I was in serious need and I felt I was probably calling because of my hurt by Dave and not the miscarriage. I considered calling my friend Sarah who had an abortion over the summer and would understand the pain of the cramping and bleeding and the sorrow. I didn’t know anyone else to call.

I turned the white holiday lights on in my office and layed down on the futon. The same futon where I took my morning naps after breakfast because the nausea from pregnancy was too great to allow me to do anything else. I laid there feeling alone and scared and needing Maji, our Mystery Hound, who has a track record of providing wonderful physical comfort.

I called her in my head and by the fifth whisper she came downstairs. Jumping in bed, she licked my face then curled to fall asleep right where I wanted her to. At this point I was getting up to go to the bathroom every twenty minutes. As a cramp would diminish enough for me to walk, I would sit up and Maji would raise her head, without her normal bitter beagle face that she wears at night She watched me as I crawled over her and then fall back asleep. In the bathroom I would watch the toilet water become red and sob more.

Sobbing isn’t the right word to describe the way my fears poured out. Convulsive gasps and blubbering come close, but they aren’t powerful enough. It was the type of raw emotion that grips your body and squeezes tight, where every last breath is shaken out of you and the world demands that you provide one more gasp of air before it lets you go and crumbles you off the toilet to the floor. That is what I felt like that night.

I talked out loud the whole night asking this not be true. I prayed to my dead grandmother asking her to please make the cramps stop. Sometime after one in the morning I got up to puke and I knew I would catch a break. For the next ninety minutes I was able to doze, relax and not think about what was going on.

When I awoke from that sweet reprise I convinced myself that I was passing an unknown twin and that I still had a viable baby inside me that I could carry to full term. After all, I had yet to soak a pad in 12 hours and my clots were not matching a 10 week baby. I prayed that this was the truth of my situation.

After 4 am I heard Dave and Satchel, our Ridgeback, come downstairs. I yelled at Dave about how angry I was that he left me alone all night. He defended himself saying that he had a lot of work to get done today and that he’s trying to balance everything. I told him he doesn’t understand and that I wanted him out of the room. Nothing I could say would convince him of how horrible his decision was. The dogs left the room, scared.

He refused to leave. He got into bed. He watched me in my most private misery and he finally understood. He didn’t understand. He didn’t know it was such a physical process. He just didn’t know. He was sorry.

My uterus relaxed when he was with me and my cramps were less severe. I cried, this time to someone other than myself, about the unfairness and pain and wretchedness of this. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me. I had been so sick during pregnancy. That meant everything was working. I’m a lucky person, these things aren’t supposed to happen to me. THIS WASN’T MY STORY.

At 7 am I called my midwife friend Kelly and told her I was having a miscarriage. It was nice to talk to someone who understood truly what this meant. We decided that an ultrasound would be a good idea since I had a confusing symptom picture with my lack of bleeding and heavy cramps that weren’t producing clots.

I encouraged Dave to go to his meeting in the morning because my cramps basically stopped and nothing more was happening. He didn’t want to go and I felt bad for his grief at missing being with me through the night. I felt that a distraction would be good for him. While he was gone I laid in bed with Satchel and Maji and fell asleep for an hour.

We got into see Dr. Ed, a naturopathic midwife, at 1 pm. Because I wasn’t going in to a large imaging center, Dr. Ed would tell me what was going on rather than me have to wait until they send the report to my midwives. The stress of preparing to leave for the appointment caused my uterus to contract hard. I was bending over the kitchen table and carrying a plastic bag to vomit in. Dave was providing counter pressure on my lower back and nothing was helping. I was so scared and out of my body. Even Dave couldn’t reach me where I had gone.

The original plan was for us to drive separately to the office because Dave had a workshop to teach at 1:30. He arranged a substitute to be there to tend to class before he got there. Seeing the amount of pain I was in Dave said he was going to call some friends to see if they could meet me there. He suggested another friend named Kelly, but she was too sick to come and then he was going to call Robin, but the idea of a man being with me during this time made me tell him no. I called midwife Kelly and she agreed to meet me after the ultrasound and take me home.

I had to lay in the back seat of the car because of the pain and I was trying to not puke because of the nauseousness. Dave didn’t print the directions to the clinic and we got lost and were late. Dave apologized and was beating himself up and feeling bad. The cramps lessened as I filled out the paperwork.

Dr. Ed asked, “Is there anything significant about this pregnancy I should know about?” I was in shock that the front desk did not convey that I was there because I was having a miscarriage. I was so angry. “I’m having a miscarriage” was all I could say.

The ultrasound showed a baby that died at 9 weeks and a uterus that stopped growing then as well. Everything was in chunks and I still had a lot to pass. As soon as I heard the news that there was not a live baby inside me, my cramps stopped. This information was not for me and I refused to participate in this reality.

My cramps did not pick back up. My body still believed in this pregnancy. That was, as of this posting, five weeks ago. My baby has been dead for six weeks. I’m allowing my body to let this pregnancy go naturally and part 2 of the story continues with that painful and enlightening process.

Continue reading »

An Unassisted Miscarriage

With generous permission from Molly, a childbirth educator, the below birth (miscarriage) story walks the reader through not only the emotional, but also the physical process of a miscarriage. Yes, miscarriage can feel a lot like labor. The contractions are intense, the bleeding very real and the place inside a woman must go to in order for her body to do what it needs to do is laborland.

To read the story in it’s entirety (this is a section from the middle), click here: http://tinyfootprintsonmyheart.wordpress.com/.

…Contractions continued fairly intensely and I continue to talk myself through them while Mark rubbed my back. I coached myself to rise again and after I sat back on my heels, I felt a warm blob leave my body. I put my hand down and said, “something came out. I need to look, but I’m scared.” Then, “I can do it, I can do it,” I coached myself and went into the bathroom to check (it was extremely important to me not to have the baby on the toilet). I saw that it was a very large blood clot. I was a little confused and wondered if we were going to have to “dissect” the clot looking for the baby. Then I had another contraction and, standing with my knees slightly bent, our baby slipped out. It was 3:00. He landed face up on the clot with his arms raised over his head. I said, “Oh! It’s our baby!” and kind of shut my pants. Then, I opened them again and looked at him. He was clean and pink, about four inches in size, and well-formed with eyelids, nostrils, closed mouth, fingers, and toes.  I felt something else and saw his little cord—I showed Mark—it was spiraled like a big one, but thinner than a piece of yarn. It broke then and a whole bunch of clots came out and nearly covered the baby. His head and one arm were showing only.

No longer worried about having the baby on the toilet, I sat down on it then and took off my birth pants, feeling worried about getting blood on them (I didn’t get a drop on them though!). I tried to clean the baby off and wanted to check his gender and take some time to look at him, but he felt so soft and rubbery that I was extremely worried I was going to damage him. His mouth came open when I touched his face and I was stunned beyond words at the complexity of having a working jaw—this was a very developed little person and the magnitude of that complexity of development was unbelievable.

Then we had to set him aside to continue to deal with me. More clots came out then and I started to feel faint when I stood. I said I had to lie down and laid on the futon and smelled my lavender until I revived. I asked Mark for fizzy drink (Emergenc-C), which in hindsight I think I should have taken because I’ve read that too much Vitamin C can prolong bleeding—however, in my incredibly large collection of pregnancy and birth books, I could find NOTHING that would help me physically cope with a miscarriage in progress—no self-care suggestions, ideas of things to drink or eat. Nothing. I had Mark bring me various midwifery books and laid there bleeding and looking through them desperate to find some kind of ideas. I told him, “I’m going to write a book about this someday!” (and I am). I also had him bring me some Arnica and Rescue Remedy and later some Nux Vomica (which was in one of my books).

As I was lying there thinking about how to assess blood loss, I was also thinking about how in so many ways this had strangely been the birth I planned for, just not at the right time. And, that it was very much a birth, not “just a miscarriage.” The birth was unassisted—just my husband and me—the baby was born at a little after 3:00 in the morning, just as I had thought he would be, I had my futon “nest” on the floor as I had planned, and instead of trying to take a shower and clean up, I’d laid down when I felt I needed to. I was also thinking about how I felt good that I’d done it myself and that we’d given our baby a respectful and gentle and strong birth at home. I reflected on the similar endorphin-rush, “I did it! What an amazing person am I!” feelings I also had following my previous full-term births. In the midst of these thought processes, I was amused to notice the thought, “I obviously need to get into extreme sports!” There are probably lots easier ways to feel an endorphin rush and sense of physical prowess than in giving birth!

My contractions continued fiercely and I lost my “cool” then—after having the baby, I felt like it was “over” (the birth part anyway) and so my coping skills/altered state of consciousness diminished also—and just started saying, “ow, ow, OW!” over and over. I also said, “this is good! I’m doing good! My body is doing good work” (i.e. with my uterus clamping down and finishing up the process). This went on for some time and I kept feeling little gushes of blood with each contraction. I had Mark call my mom and dad to see if my dad could come check my blood pressure and pulse. They came and both stats were normal. Continued to have pain and to say OW and my mom suggested that perhaps getting up and using the bathroom would help. When I sat on the toilet, a giant grapefruit-sized clot came out. I immediately felt better and went to sit in a chair in the living room after that.  I had felt faint and woozy again with clot-viewing, but in the chair I felt like I was “coming back” and out of the woods after that clot was gone. Ate some cheese and crackers and drank some tea and more fizzy drink and later a pudding cup. Continued to feel contractions and little gushes of blood with each of them. Started to feel a little concerned about it and knew I had most definitely lost more than two cups of blood. Much more. More than both other kids combined.

I asked my parents if they wanted to see the baby and they went and looked at him and cried and cried. I got up to use the bathroom again and another grapefruit and some oranges came out. When I stood to pull up my pants, I held toilet paper to me to keep blood from dripping onto my clothes and when I did, blood came welling up and over the tissue and onto my fingers. My vision started to darken and I heard loud ringing in my ears and my family helped me back to sit in the chair. I felt thisclose to “going under” and sniffed my lavender desperately and put my head to my knees. Recovered a little bit, but still felt as if I was fading as well as losing more blood. I was completely white. No color. I could not differentiate any longer if I was “just fainting” or dying, so we decided I needed to go in. I said I was sad to go because I felt like I was proud of how I’d handled everything myself and that I had been strong, but that it is also strong to know when to ask for help and that I needed to go. It was around 8:00 a.m. at this point. The kids had woken up and we left them with my dad and my mom drove us to the emergency room. I laid in the back seat and hummed the song Woman Am I over and over again so that they would know I was still alive…

Continue reading »

Miscarriage Poetry – A Husband’s Point of View

The following two poems illustrate the sense of hopelessness and uncertainty around birth, miscarriage, endometriosis, etc., that a man experiences, especially when he is invested in the physical and emotional health and wellness of his wife/spouse/lover. The first poem, “After the Miscarriage,” illustrates the hopelessess through a metaphorical flight of fancy, while the second, “Men of Midwives,” is more concrete and ground in reality.

These poems were written by my husband, Dave Jarecki.

AFTER THE MISCARRIAGE

It’s the first three drinks you’ve had in months and you want to shop.
We go to Hanson’s end-of-business sale. All their log furniture
is marked half-off. We pick two Adirondack chairs, a plant stand,
end table wide enough for a stack of books.

We’ll set it in the living room, mix more drinks and watch bugs
bang around the lamps and die.

First you’d like to try the spruce bench carved in sunset motif.
The armrests are wings. It lifts us through the ceiling, clear over
Steens Mountain, deep in cactus country. I could drift forever.
So could you until you remember your lap is empty.

You’d like to jump. Let’s land instead. We’ll look at nursery sets,
climb in their best crib and sleep.

MEN OF MIDWIVES

There on the floor, a rumpled sheet of skin,
what can I do? Pick you up, make it go away?
Feed you words about pain?

You were not born of this disease of blood.
You did not inherit it, do not own it. It found you
one day behind the shed, behind
the bottling plant back of your house
where trains ducked in and turned around.

You were roller skating in pink shorts,
T-shirt, yellow hair twisted in a tail.
Your mother cried when you told her
because you were too young and the world
only grew harder.

She knew that pain but not your pain.
What is your pain like?

You tried to tell me once, said it was like sound
bending around light, but not quite, because sound
bent round light sounds almost good.

It’s like a scream twisted in fire, a steel rod
dipped in that scream and pierced through your side.
Your body hangs on a spit. You turn in the flame,
cook a faithless red.

What am I do to for you, midwife? I’m to sit
on the floor, bring you water, a damp cloth,
bitter root to chew.

I’m to hold the space of your gaze, the mirror
of your face. Crouch like a cat as you breathe.

Continue reading »

Frida Kahlo – Self-Portrait of a Miscarriage

6a00d8341c627153ef0115710b2ef6970c

Continue reading »

Miscarriage Quote

A reader posted this quote in a comment on this blog and I want everyone to be able to read it.

“Miscarriages are labor, miscarriages are birth. To consider them less dishonors the woman whose womb has held life, however briefly.” –Kathryn Miller Ridiman

Continue reading »

Miscarriage Story

First I want to say that I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a baby is, as I have found, one of the most devastating things to go through. I have found that our society is embarrassed to talk about this subject and often becomes quite hostile or disgusted with it. I lost my baby January 30th of this year. I was 15 weeks, but he only made it to 12. I know that agony of waiting to have your baby….the mixed emotions it brings. The fear of not wanting them to leave, but the desperation of getting it over with. I am also a doula and a student midwife, and I know my body and trust what it does. My job has always been the advocate for intuition and trust in one’s body, but I am finding that I am very confused with my own body and mind, at the moment.

I had been looking forward to my ultrasound all day. I told my oldest daughter that we were going to see the pictures of the baby and watch the heartbeat. When we got to the ultrasound place and the nurse put the probe to my belly my first reaction was shock. I knew that my baby looked way smaller than he should have. I also noticed something very important from my ultrasound, that little flitter of a heart beat. My husband didn’t quite understand what was going on, he thought that the ultrasound machine was just bad and that we needed to go to a better one. My daughter kept asking me if I could see the heartbeat and was so excited that she was looking at the baby. She would say “Mama, can you see his heartbeat? It goes boom boom, boom boom”. All I could say was “I know that your heart says boom boom.”

I was in shock, I felt numb and thought that all of life should just stop. How could anyone feel happy? My baby was dead! I went through the stages of grief like clock work…I was in denial, I was angry, I bargained, I was depressed, and then angry again. I waited 5 days to finally pass my baby.

That time of waiting was full of confusion and agony. I wanted this to be over. I just wanted to pass my baby because I felt like I could finally start working toward getting better. But I didn’t want him to leave, because I knew that I would never have him again. If he was still inside of me, then I knew that he was safe. Finally, I went into labor. I have had two labors before, and my last one was a completely intervention free physiological labor, so I know what labor feels like. It felt the exact same. This made it very confusing. Normally during a labor, you might be afraid but you are generally happy to see the baby. This labor I was terrified.

What was my baby going to look like? I don’t want him to leave!! I felt like I was getting ready for a funeral rather than a birth. When the pain and pressure finally became to much for me, I felt a pop. My water broke, and then I birthed my son. I couldn’t look at him yet. I was too afraid. But I forced myself to look at him. He was so tiny, had perfect little hands, cute little toes, arms, legs, a head, a face, his daddies nose!!!! Instantly, I fell in love with him. He wasn’t scary at all. He was my little boy!

It has been 3 months and 5 days, and there has not been one day that I have not thought of him. I feel like I am just starting to feel like myself. Luckily I was able to find a wonderful miscarriage support group. I also had the privilege of burying my baby and laying him to rest. As a matter of fact, he is buried, in a tiny coffin (that I bought from http://www.heavensgain.com/ ) in a big flower pot that sits in my dining room. I am not ashamed or embarrassed to tell people about him, or what happened to me. It is easier for people to write our babies off as ” precursors to life” if they don’t think of them as people. It is too painful to think about what is really happening. Too long, women have had to sit silently and suffer because society is too afraid of the thought of miscarriages.

I can say that I truly empathize with you. The pain doesn’t go away, you just learn how to deal with it.

Continue reading »

Correspondence on Miscarriage

The below is an unfortunate email correspondence with a man about the tragic nature of miscarriage. My mention of divine timing threw him into a tailspin and he immediately went the religious route. I hope someday Al can expand on the meaning of divine timing to understand that it can mean anything from past lives to a soul needing to be born under a specific astrological sign in order to achieve what he or she needs to achieve.

Hi Courtney.

As a man, I can only imagine what a woman feels when she suffers a miscarriage, but as a rational person, I must reject the notion that a miscarriage is a tragedy.

I do not doubt that some miscarriages are avoidable, but most are entirely natural, although unpleasant for the woman who has one.
On an anecdotal note, I know of a couple who have two very healthy children after enduring two miscarriages.

So why not celebrate a miscarriage instead of mourning the loss of an embryo or a fetus that was rejected by a woman’s body? After all, shouldn’t we trust our bodies in these matters?

–Al

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You are right Al, you can’t ever know what a woman feels during a miscarriage or labor or birth or pregnancy. And you are correct that we should trust our bodies. But no matter which way you look at it, love and grief and death are not rational events.

Though we may never know why a woman has a miscarriage, whether it is genetics, a poor implantation site or divine timing, death is always painful and tragic to those who have put so much joy and love into a hope.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Courtney,


In your reply to my e-mail, you have revealed your pathetic irrational and faith-based ideology, and have therefore disqualified yourself from intelligent discourse on the subject of miscarriage.


A miscarriage is not a “death,” since a fetus or embryo is not a “life,” merely the precursor to it, and there is no such thing as “divine timing,” as you so crudely and comically express it.


With utter contempt,


–Al

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You have harshly misjudged me and showed how quick to anger you are. I will write one more email on the subject of miscarriage and life and love in the womb.

Part of why I am seeking other stories of personal grieving because of miscarriage and pregnancy loss is because miscarriage is treated in our society as an event that is best kept secret. There is no reason for a woman and a family to grieve in private at the loss of their hope and love in an event and life that will never take place.

It seems to me Al that the politics of reproduction have caused you to lose sight of the importance of a woman’s psyche who has just lost her baby. Pro-choice women, and I am one of them, believe that life begins at viability. But a woman’s heart for a wanted pregnancy can never celebrate or shrug off the loss of a mass of developing cells. This is a future that she has lost. A baby. A hope. A birth.

Miscarriage is an awkward hush in our world. We should be talking openly about this more often, so that we can have more acceptance and compassion for the grief when it hits our own lives.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Courtney.

Now you disingenuously omit your “divine” crap but still allude to the “baby [sic]”! Your other points are fine, but you should excuse yourself from this discussion until you abandon your destructive faith-based biases.

I say again that a miscarriage is simply the natural result of a pregnancy that is not viable, and every rational woman should recognize this and rejoice.

I will leave you now to your Bible studies.

With renewed contempt for your dishonest arguments,

–Al

Continue reading »

Miscarriage and Labor

This passage is taken from the book About What Was Lost, a collection of personal narratives on miscarriage, healing, and hope. The author of this piece is Miranda Field.

“Every birth is also a death,” says poet Gillian Conoley. I’ve undergone the transformation she speaks of: the “split of the body” and psychic deepening that follows labor’s journey to the void and back.” Much of what you’ve known of yourself, and both known and imagined of your unborn child, is demolished in the process of birth. But if pregnancy leading to motherhood first breaks you open, then opens you to a larger life, pregnancy ending in a death just leaves you broken. The puzzle you’re left with is how to assimilate this turn of events: the death of someone who never lived but was all in your imagination; who was real, and who opened up an enormous space inside you, but will never fill it. The world you discover in the aftermath of miscarriage seems so impossibly empty.

Continue reading »

Personal Stories of Miscarriage

I am suffering, and I really mean that word when I type it, through a miscarriage. This was my first pregnancy. My baby died at 9 weeks and today, 3 weeks later, I am waiting for my miscarriage to complete.

Part of my fear is that I will forget. I rationally know this will never happen, but I hold onto my story as it unfolds and retell it from the beginning nearly everyday.

Because my process involves telling my story, I am seeking other stories to share my grief with. A part of my sadness involves a loss of identity. I became pregnant at 33 without even knowing if I could actual create life. That new knowledge elevated me from my former self and held me in a state of self-confidence that I never even knew existed. That confidence was stolen from me with the death of my pregnancy and now I’m left floating.

I invite people to share their stories of pregnancy loss and miscarriage with Full Moon’s Daughter. Share your stories, art or poetry. Email me at courtney@fullmoonsdaughter.com with questions or to submit your piece. You may remain anonymous or be identified. Don’t worry about grammar, just write. Share and help other women who are out there, alone, trying to figure out what is happening to them.

Continue reading »

Bleeding in the First Trimester

30% of women who miscarry are unaware that they are pregnant and may never know, even after the miscarriage. These women lose the pregnancy with a late and heavy period. One out of every five women will have some bleeding

The thing to remember is that many women have symptoms of miscarriage and go on to carry a healthy pregnancy to term. Having a few symptoms that suggest miscarriage does not mean that losing the baby is inevitable. With the advent of early ultrasounds, we’ve learned that twins are actually more common than once thought. For some women, heavy bleeding with cramping may mean they are miscarrying a second baby they didn’t even know they had.

If you are bleeding and cramping or are just worried that something isn’t right, call your midwife. She can help you sort through the physical issues and help organize your thoughts and help you understand what might be happening.

Some questions to ask yourself if you are worried about a miscarriage and have some bleeding and cramping:

  • When was the last time you had sex? Pressure on the cervix during sex can cause spotting or bright red bleeding. If cervical stimulation is the cause, the bleeding will usually stop the next day. In addition to bleeding, the pregnant uterus sometimes has stronger contractions than usual after an orgasm.
  • Are you experiencing cramps? It is quite common for women to have cramping by itself. This could be the growing uterus expanding or the round ligaments stretching.
  • How do you feel otherwise? Emotional reactions to the possibility of miscarriage are normal. If you feel dizzy, light headed or faint, call your midwife. Any of these feelings can indicate a large amount of blood loss for your body.
  • Do you still feel pregnant? If you have lost the pregnancy, over the course of days or weeks your hormone levels will drop and the symptoms of early pregnancy will gradually disappear. .
Continue reading »