Having a D&C After a Loss at 10 Weeks

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It has been a roller coaster ride here in our home.  We were very surprised, but so happy, to learn, back on January 16th, that I was pregnant with our fourth baby.  We told pretty much no one and it was such a fun, giddy little secret to share.  We whispered and emailed and giggled and imagined together, my husband and I.  And, it seems in the blink of an eye, we were then devastated when, at a 9 week check-up, I learned that our sweet baby had not grown at all since the previous week.  Even more alarming, her heartrate had slowed from a healthy 120 down to a frightening 80.  A week later, at 10 weeks 1 day pregnant, we learned that there was no more heartbeat.  Our sweet little one was gone.

 

Our precious fourth child had gone to heaven, but my body hadn’t quite caught up with that fact yet.  I admit I felt foolish when the ultrasound tech kept asking me, “Have you noticed any of your pregnancy symptoms going away or diminishing?” and I honestly had to answer, “No– I still have them.”  I figured it was mental.  That I was just in denial or something.  In fact, blood tests would show that my hormone levels were still incredibly high.  There was a legitimate reason I was still plagued with sore breasts, fatigue, and nausea.  They climbed UP for a bit before finally, slowly, starting to dip.

 

Still, my hCG numbers were high enough that, while there is certainly no way of knowing for sure, my doctor warned me it could be at least two, possibly even three, weeks before my body would begin to miscarry naturally.  While I know other women have endured this sort of wait, the thought was emotional torture to me.  I also couldn’t stomach the idea of taking medication to kick-start uterine contractions; I can’t explain why that was so distasteful to me, but it just wasn’t something I could imagine.  Added to this, my family was worried.  My parents, my husband… no one really liked the idea of my being at home by myself, caring for a toddler, with no idea when this all might start.

 

And so, while it had not been my original desire, I opted to have a D&C.  I didn’t like the “clinical” feel of that and I worried that it would really mess with me mentally.  But, when I weighed it all out, I still knew it was the best choice for me.  And so, on Leap Day, I headed in to one day surgery at our local hospital and underwent the procedure.

 

This is how it went.

 

I had to fast– including no water– from midnight on.  Since my surgery was scheduled for 2pm the next day, that meant a LONG time with no water.  That was actually pretty hard for me, but not unbearable.  My parents came to watch my three children and my husband drove me to the hospital in the slick, slushy snow that was falling.

 

I hated telling the lady in registration why I was there.  I had so many fears that the hospital staff wouldn’t know what had happened and would misunderstand.  In all honesty, she didn’t say much to me.  I basically just signed the necessary paperwork and got my bracelet.  She walked me down to my room to get hooked up to my IV.  My husband had to wait until that was all done before he could join me.

 

I was by myself in my little room for awhile there.  I changed into my gown and skid-proof slipper things.  I pondered whether I really needed to take off my bra and fretted about removing my undies for fear that I might start spotting or something.  I am prone to worrying about weird little things when left by myself.  I didn’t much like being alone.

 

Two nurses walked in.  One immediately put her arm around me and rubbed my shoulder, “I am so, so sorry that you need to be here,” she said gently.  The other helped me sit and covered me in a warm, heated blanket.  I could see she had IV materials and quietly muttered an apology for my lousy veins.  She rubbed my hand and said she’d be right back– she wanted to get a smaller needle; there was no need to cause needless pain, she insisted.

 

Together these two nurses prepped me for the D&C.  With kind voices, soft hands, and careful words, they calmed me and made me feel genuinely cared for.  There was nothing “clinical” or cold about them.  I cried a little and one passed me tissues while the other dabbed at her own eyes.  There was hand-holding, whispered reassurances, and gentle fingers pushing a lock of hair out of my eyes.

 

My IV was set, my blood-work done, and my husband back beside me.  The anesthesiologist came in to see me.  He sat by my side, looked me in the eye, and asked me quietly about my medical history.  He listened carefully when I shared my track record of always, ALWAYS vomiting after anesthesia.  And he asked more questions.  He told me they generally wait until after the surgery to administer anti-nausea medicine but, in my case, he was going to put it in my IV first, and a pretty hefty dose of it.  He also wanted to wait until I had more IV fluid in me since being dehydrated can exacerbate nausea.

 

Then my OB arrived.  She stopped in to see me and to ask if I had any questions.  I really only had one and I felt a little odd asking it just then– was there any chance I could get copies of the ultrasound pictures?  She told me there was nothing silly or crazy about that question and promised she’d have them ready for me at my follow-up appointment.

 

I opted to walk to the OR, rather than ride in a wheelchair, and then everything started.  They took off my glasses, the anesthesiologist administered the anti-nausea medicine and put an oxygen mask on my face.  He told me I should feel sleepy, but I didn’t.  Then he told me I should feel very sleepy, but I didn’t.  I kept my eyes open because I didn’t want them to think I was asleep when I wasn’t.  And that’s all I remember about that.  I was out for about an hour and a half.

 

When I woke up, a nurse held my hand.  She gave me my glasses.  The doctor assigned with discharging me from recovery came over.  He gently removed the cap from my hair and put his hand on my shoulder, “Everything went well.  I am so sorry that this is why you had to be here with us today, though.  I pray that the next time we meet, it will be for only the happiest of reasons.”

 

And they took me back to my room.

 

Nurses swept in with me, ginger ale and pretzels in hand.  One laid a folded, heated blanket on my abdomen to soothe the crampiness.  The other wrapped two layered warmed blankets around my shoulders.  And they brought me my husband.

 

I’m home, now, and still recovering.  I never did get sick after this round of anesthesia– and that is a first for me.  I’m a little sore, crampy if I go too long without medication, and, of course, still lost and sad.  There is no “quick fix” for a miscarriage.  Healing is going to take time.  But, for me, I am a little less scared and a little more at peace knowing that I don’t have an endless wait before me.  I no longer live in total fear of the next time I’ll have to use the bathroom and what I’ll see.

 

I know some women do not have the best experiences when it comes to D&Cs… I’ve heard tales of insensitive remarks and cold, clinical behavior.  I was very fortunate to have an incredibly compassionate medical team who truly ministered to me as a whole person.  For me, in my individual situation, there was great healing in the way I was treated and the experience I went through.  Never did I feel like I was just “something to get done”.  I was surrounded with support and what seemed like genuine remorse for what I had been through.

 

I write all this, not to try to convince anyone that a D&C is the “right choice” following a miscarriage, but to share a little of my reasons and my experience.  I just think it’s important that we women share stories and experiences with one another.  To be honest?  A lot of what I read and heard when I found out our baby had died was either super scary or incredibly vague. I don’t discount the validity of those rather frightening tales… but it’s important to paint a full picture and to acknowledge that, sometimes, things go as smoothly as you can hope for in a terrible situation.  Such was my story.  And I appreciate your taking the time to read it.

 

(*So many people have shown such concern and compassion for me.  I know many of you have wondered, or even already asked– (thank you)– how I am doing.  I’m healing well.  And I have help and support.  My family has stepped up a lot, and my husband’s employer has been amazing about making sure he can be here when he needs to be.  I have a hard time sleeping– it is at night that my mind starts racing and I cling to my husband’s hand while I sob myself to sleep.  And I’m having a hard time forgiving.  Very few cruel things have been said to us in the wake of this devastating loss, but those that were came from very, very close to us and I’m struggling to get over that.  I don’t like feeling like a grudge-holder; it’s not my right or place.)
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21 comments to Having a D&C After a Loss at 10 Weeks

  • Laraba

    Thank you for letting us know how you are doing, and I will continue to pray for you all as you recover physically and grieve emotionally. As you know, my first miscarriage was quite similar in that my body just wouldn’t let go of the baby and I WAS feeling sick…so very difficult to live with that when the baby was gone. So I had the D&C. I have a couple of friends who are very anti D&C but I had D&C’s with 2 of our 4 losses and both times I was treated compassionately and well. I think getting the physical part over with was helpful though of course there was lots of crying and mourning over our baby. Again, I am so sorry. May God continue to meet you and help you process your grief. No child will ever take the place of the one you lost. I can hardly wait for heaven sometimes when we’ll finally getto meet the little ones who have gone on before us face to face.

  • I cried again for you today sweet friend. I’ve stood in those shoes and felt that pain. Know that I’m praying for you all and that your precious child is safe in the arms of Jesus.

  • mlearley

    Thanks for letting us know how you are doing, I’ve been thinking about you. Your story hit so close to home with me, almost identical to what you went through. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t given a choice b/c my baby stopped growing 2 weeks before we found out so I was scheduled for a D&C the following morning. I don’t know what I would’ve done if given choices, so I’m glad the decision was made for me. Like you, I was afraid of why the clinic I went to would think I was there but my nurses were so compassionate and caring. It was like God put those women there that day to give me the extra hugs, hand pats and words of encouragement. Ironically the service in church that Sunday was about Job and how he lamented to God, I was reasured that day that it’s ok to ask God why and to tell Him exactly how you feel. He won’t judge but instead wrap you in His arms and hold you close. My dear friend, lean on God, let Him know how you feel. In time you will start to feel “normal” but until then continue to talk, grieve. We’re all here for you too!

  • I am glad your nurses were amazing! Hugs and continued prayers for you!

  • heather

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  • I am so sorry for your loss! Miscarriage is one of the most difficult things that I too had to journey through. It is truly devastating and only the hand of God and support and love of friends and family can help heal the brokenness your heart is feeling. You and your family are in my prayers as you heal, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

  • I haven’t stopped praying for you, JessieLeigh. Thank you for being brave and telling your experience. I’m so sad that it had to happen this way and that you didn’t get to have the ending you wanted. I pray for continued strength and forgiveness and joy.

  • It is wonderful that you had such caring and gentle spirits with you while you had your D&C. That must have felt like a small ray of sunshine in the middle of the worst storm ever. God bless them and you!

  • Ellen

    I am glad that the treatment you recieved was as it was. Comforting. Thank you for letting us know how you are doing.

  • Marci

    Still praying for you. It breaks my heart that you’ve had people say cruel things to you. Know that I will not cease to pray for you every year (my husband’s brother died on Feb 29, so you will always be on my mind this time of year as we share a loss).

  • Crying with you, my friend. So thankful that your medical team was so amazing! (Mine held a good mix of indifference, and I can imagine what a blessing that was!)

    Love you. :)

  • I am so sorry to learn of your loss. It is so easy for people to think of pregnancy as routine, predictable, and easy. It is not always so. I’ve never experienced a miscarriage but it has to be a horribly sad and difficult time. I am holding you in my thoughts.

    What a wonderful care team you encountered! So compassionate and caring! They are a credit to their profession!

  • Sharon

    I’m so sorry for your loss and I truly appreciate how you’ve opened up and shared your experience. Ever since I read your initial post about the baby, I’ve been praying for you and your family. What a blessing to know you’ve been surrounded by not only a loving family, but loving medical staff as well. I’ll continue praying for you (and crying with you), especially during those night hours.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. You are very brave to share it for the benefit of other women. I’m so glad the medical staff treated you so well. I’m so sorry you’ve had to endure insensitive comments from people who are close to you. When we lost our first baby to miscarriage, some of my elderly relatives didn’t understand at all and were very insensitive in the way the talked to me or didn’t talk at all. I’m continuing to pray for you through this time, for space to grieve and grace to forgive even when it’s hard.

  • I am so sorry you had to go through this. I bet it helped to write it all out. It sounds like you had some compassionate people around you to help. I bet those people that have said hurtful things didn’t think they would be hurtful. Many times those closest to us say things without really thinking through how it will affect the other person. Again, I am so sorry.

  • Oh, sweet Jessie! Praying for you during this difficult time. Praying that God comforts you and that you’re able to forgive. Ah, so hard.
    ((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))
    ~Alicia

  • Theresa

    praying for you

  • Kim

    I’m praying for you in this difficult time of grief and loss. I’ve been following your blog for about 6 months now and love reading the stories of your children. I know sharing about this child is particularly difficult, but so many women have been there and find some comfort in the fact that they are not the only ones, so I’m glad you have the courage to share.

    I had almost the exact same experience 3 years ago when I was 8 weeks along in my pregnancy. We named her Grace, because of the way the Lord was gracious to us even in the most difficult circumstances. Two years later, I learned I was pregnant and the baby was due on the exact same day that Grace was due (Feb. 11). It was God’s special way of giving us a child and finishing most of the healing from our loss. I know this is unlikely to happen to most, but I do know that God will take care of you in a way that you need it.

    Lots of love, Kim

  • [...]  But I just don’t have any other explanation for my bitter feelings.  I mean, I have “a good excuse“, I guess, but that doesn’t really make it okay to be a [...]

  • Katherine

    I am so sorry for your loss. I learned that I lost my baby last thursday and had a D&E on friday. I was at 14.5 weeks and my husband and I had just told a lot of family and friends our wonderful news. It was a routine dr’s appointment that I learned there was no heartbeat. I had been on bed rest for 3.5 weeks of the pregnancy and had some scares, but always there was a strong baby’s heartbeat. The D&E doctor said the baby had passed about a week earlier. It is still hard for me to get my head around the fact that I did not know, that I did not feel a difference. I was less nauseous the two days before the doctor visit, but I thought I was finally over three weeks of hideous nausea. I feel so guilty because one of my very first thoughts was that I had my life back. Being pregnant was incredibly difficult. But the second thought and pretty much all I have thought since is how incredibly sad it is that I have lost my first baby. My husband has been so supportive. So have some family members and friends. Some family members have said nothing about it to me and this hurts very deeply. I know that it is normal for people to not know what to say and yet I can’t get past it. I feel very raw and emotional and am having a hard time getting it together to go to work. Thank you for sharing your story and for reading mine.

  • Katherine

    Also, the nurses and doctor at the clinic were incredibly kind to me. One nurse told me she too had gone through this and that I now have an angel who will always be with me. It still brings me to tears to think of her kindness and I do believe she is right. I want to get a ring to add to my wedding bands to honor our baby. It seems especially cruel that part of this experience includes the hormonal shift from pregnancy to not being pregnant and it seems to add to the number of tears and for me a feeling that I am completely out of control emotionally. I just cry and cry and then all of a sudden I am washing dishes. I know people get through this and resume their lives (never forgetting of course) but I can’t see that being part of my future in this place where I am just devastated.

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