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The story of a miscarriage, part 2

A week after the ultrasound with no heartbeat, I'm back in the doctor's office. For a week, I have been working, teaching children, teaching yoga, going to the grocery store, making dinner, going for walks, as if I am not waiting for my pregnancy to terminate itself. Every time I go to the bathroom, I look for spotting. I have had no cramps, no spotting, no signs at all that my pregnancy is ending. I feel alert, nervous. The obgyn tells me I could wait for several more weeks. That there is no way to predict how long my body will hold on to this. That I can continue to wait, which she says may feel like “holding a hand grenade,” (it does), or that I can be prescribed this pill that may work, but may also lead to hemmorage or infection, that the pill that it needs to be taken with in order to make it most successful she cannot prescribe, because of the political climate in 2023. Mefipristol is only offered at Planned Parenthood, and she explains that legislators arent grasping that doctors need to use it in order to help women complete miscarriages, to help save lives.

My other option is to schedule a D and C - a procedure where the uterus is gently scraped and then vacuumed, so that there is no longer tissue or any remnant of your nonviable pregnancy hanging around, making you suceptible to infection. I think about this for a few hours, and decide to go with the D and C. This is labeled an “abortion” on my medical record.

The next morning I’ve called out of work and am back in the doctor’s office getting ready for pre-op. I start to feel cramping while I’m there. I get through the pre op, more blood work, nurse talk, when the cramping becomes intense. My husband is taking our baby to the in-laws and I drop off my RX at the pharmacy and walk across the street to distract myself at a farm stand, lingering in front of mixed lettuces and expensive ready-made quiches. I buy Mexican shortbread and coffee and salad greens and get to the car, roll the windows down, notice the beeeze and the sunshine, much like the day my son was born last April. I drive down Broad Street as the cramps seize me, what feels like full-on labor contractions. I start to talk to myself out loud. It feels just like the beginnings of when I started labor last spring.

I make it home, turn on the bath, allow myself to sink into the water, breathing, talking to myself: it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. I begin to feel nauseous and light headed so I get out of the tub, pull on a t-shirt and lay on the ground as waves of intense contractions take over.

My husband gets home and brings me Hydrocodone he picked up from the pharmacy, which I take on top of two Iburpofens. I try to lay in bed. The pain is so great I cannot sit still. I crouch on the floor next to the bed, knees to chest, rocking back and forth. I breathe deep and slow. The waves keep coming. I wait to feel blood between my legs and it seems like an eternity although it’s only minutes. I stagger to the bathroom and pull down my underwear when it starts, crimson dripping down both legs, a country-sized puddle pooling onto the floor.

I sit on the toilet and can hear a stream coming out - the contents I’m expelling. I try to look; I gasp, I breathe, I look some more. There is so much blood. It is not stopping. I reach my hand underneath to pull out the tissue I see hanging from my body. It is much bigger than I imagined. Like part of a living thing, thick and shining. I keep sitting there, my body forcefully expelling the remnants of my pregnancy. There is nothing for me to do but breathe, but continue allowing myself to sit and feel this, this sensation of my body contracting, then emptying itself, tissue and blood continuing to pour out of me, an erratic gruesome faucet.

My husband lays towels around me, folds towels for me to press in between my legs - he’s used super absorbent towels wrapped in other towels for me to place inside my underwear as he calls the doctor, who tells me to go to the hospital. I wear these period underwear with enforcements for a matter of seconds before my miscarriage has rendered them ruined, not just soaked through with blood but heavy with the tissue and materials that accompany the blood.

I look down when I hear a wet loud splat sound at my feet. You cannot prepare for it. To see and feel the remnants of your pregnancy leaving you.

My baby, my baby, our baby, I moan, wanting to cry or sob but in that moment all I produce is a raw, low animal sound. My husband wraps the towels and puts them in a plastic bag so two days later we can take the towels and bury them next to a bay magnolia bush we planted in the fall.

He ushers me into the car, pulls up to the hospital and jumps out to deliver a wheelchair to my passenger door. I slide into it, the blood hot and thick all around me. I vomit into a plastic bag in the waiting area as the blood continues to pour out of me. There is another couple there; she is visibly pregnant, and her husband is speaking broken English to a nurse. “Something is wrong,” he is saying as his wife sits in a chair rubbing her belly. I want to reach for her hand.

By the time I’m wheeled up into the area to be monitored before the D and C procedure, I have low blood pressure and extreme nausea. I’ve felt and expelled so much blood I’m in a thick haze of shock. I’m put to sleep before the D and C and next thing I know, I’m awake, groggy, and headed home, with an appointment to see my doctor the next week .I get home and crawl into bed, hollow.

The follow up appointment is short. The doctor asks if I want to make sure “this won’t happen again,” and then, “you don’t want to get pregnant again, do you?” Followed quickly by a “sorry, that was an insensitive thing to say.”

I’m asked if I have any questions. I ask about the healing process, and about the insomnia I’ve had for weeks. I’m given a prescription for Ambien and told it may take a while to heal emotionally. That’s just how these things go, ya know? Try to get some rest.

No counseling session, no handbook, no guide for dealing with trauma or recovery. I get in the car, adjust the mirror, apply lipstick, and drive to work. With the new weight of this grief tied to my ankles, I muster the strength to move. I walk in the door wearing bright pink lips and a tepid smile. Slowly, but surely, I move forward.


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