Content warning: This piece details a writer’s personal experience with miscarriage and pregnancy loss. If you’re not in a place to read this piece right now, skip it – we get it.
Miscarriage is such a taboo topic, yet loss occurs in 10-15 percent of pregnancies. When I had a miscarriage last year, I didn’t just lose my unborn child; it was the first time in my life I felt utterly rudderless. While it ended up being an incredible learning experience, the difficult time made me realize just how difficult it is for women who have miscarriages to find communities of support, or to be able to talk about their experiences openly.
Now that I’ve gained some perspective on my miscarriage, I’m grateful to be able to share my story and offer the advice that was never given to me.
The worst news ever
I learned I had a miscarriage when my perinatologist (a specialist I had to see becasue I took allergy medication while pregnant) told me in the following words: “Let me cut to the chase. You had a miscarriage,” as if a package was delivered to the wrong house. A wave of shock and sadness came over me.
I was literally alone in the room since the doctor forbade my husband to be there because of Covid, although there were no legal restrictions or mandates requiring this at the time. Before we went in, my husband pleaded to be allowed in the room since I had an active attack of Bell’s Palsy at the time and had trouble speaking. Sadly, this wouldn’t be the last time I’d experience misogyny and ableism from the medical system.
My regular OBGYN was somewhat kinder but bizarrely unprepared for this situation. He didn’t offer to do a D&C, give me Cytotec to begin the process of releasing the baby, or refer me to another physician. He told me I could go to Planned Parenthood, which made no sense for someone with private insurance. Although he’s been practicing medicine for over 30years, he treated this situation like it was the first time it came up in his career.
I remember going home that day and opening up wine when all I wanted was a Valium, but that was something else my doctor didn’t believe in. We were told simply to wait and that eventually, the bleeding would begin. Even a dusty pamphlet would have been helpful.
Then there’s the internet…
In a world of fake news and misinformation, I’m a seasoned enough writer to vet good information from bad. But when it comes to miscarriages, I quickly discovered the medical advice can vary on even the most legitimate websites.
So I abandoned the science route and spent my days crying and consuming totally unhelpful content, such as watching trauma porn like Soft White Underbelly on YouTube. Months later, when I came out of my fog, I realized there were many brave women openly talking about their miscarriages online, like Delilah Loeppky. In retrospect, I would have benefitted from more of that in the beginning. All of it truly affected my mood, and I wished I would have watched Hallmark movies or Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen for the 57th time instead.
There’s also a great community of women on Reddit, although I realized that a bit too late in the game.
What nobody tells you
While my doctor told me I would bleed, he didn’t convey the vast quantity of blood and how long it would last. No one told me that every time I used the bathroom, I would feel emotionally triggered and even on the best of days, reminded of the child that I lost.
So, if you are reading this because you’re currently having a miscarriage, let me give the advice no one else will. Buy the cheapest black granny panties you can find because your cute thongs and lacy boy shorts will get ruined. You can also buy “period underwear,” but I would invest as little as possible into it.
When your doctor clears you to start trying again, throw it all out immediately and treat yourself to new underwear. This is far from eco-friendly, but it would have been helpful for my mental health. I kept my underwear for more than six months. Although the bleeding stopped, it was a constant reminder of what happened, keeping me in a very bad state of mind for far longer than necessary.
Miscarriages aren’t always quick
While this isn’t the case for everyone, I walked around with a dead baby inside of me for two months. Looking back, we should have immediately found a new OBGYN, but the shock of loss and the logistics of Covid in Los Angeles made doing that extra challenging. While I am victim-blaming myself here, I shouldn’t have let my emotions get the best of me.
After speaking with several medical professionals who were not my doctor, we were told it was best to go to the emergency room and lie and say I had a fever so they would give me a D&C.
I finally thought I would be treated properly in the hospital, but that didn’t happen. The physician’s assistant, (no, I didn’t see an MD in the emergency room) told me the laborist didn’t want to call my insurance company and ask for a D&C because he didn’t think they would cover it. It was yet another medical professional acting as if my loss was an inconvenience for him. I wanted to speak with him directly, but he refused even a phone call with me.
While a prescription for Cytotec got the job done, it was traumatic for me to pass the baby at home.
For such an apparently woke, feminist world, the medical system, even for women’s health is, at least in my experience, grossly misogynist. The emergency room didn’t even have stirrups in the ultrasound and I was forced to keep my body in a triangle yoga pose for fifteen minutes straight with a probe inside of me. Obstetrics and gynecology aren’t Twitter, and we can’t cancel even the worst medical professionals.
I hated my body and still kind of do
This might actually be one of the hardest things to write, but I want to share it because I can’t be the only person who feels this way. For weeks after the miscarriage, I was angry with my body. Although, after a lot of testing, we learned the loss was most likely due to a genetic defect.
My body also changed a lot. I’m a full cup size larger and honestly, I’ve been rotating between three bras for a year because I thought I would be pregnant by now. A portion of my wardrobe doesn’t fit properly, and I’ve thrown out or given away garbage bags of clothing in frustration. There are times when I can’t look at my body when I shower because I hate it so much. Logically, I know this doesn’t make sense.
No, there isn’t a reason for everything
I’m a spiritual person who talks to God multiple times a day. While many of us have our own spirituality, there are some general tropes that come up when you miscarry. It’s so hard to talk about pregnancy loss and then an ignorant person comes along and says, “things happen for a reason.” That’s complete bullshit.
As I came to realize multiple times during this ordeal, but particularly while watching an interview with Jordan Turpin— God (or fill in your spiritual deity here), gives babies to terrible people. It doesn’t make any sense but even the dregs of humanity have perfectly healthy pregnancies.
However, when spiritual thought leader Gabby Bernstein talked about her miscarriage, things changed for me. If God did this to someone who helps numerous people every day, it proves to me that some things in this world can’t be explained or justified. I am forced to accept this.
Remember your partner
It’s important to remember your partner also suffered a loss. Although their body may not be physically connected, that child was still a part of them. Cry together and go out on date nights. Order the good wine. Lay in bed and cuddle. Miscarriages can be a lot on a relationship, but you two need each other more than ever right now. Give your partner as much grace as you give yourself. After all, nothing in life can ever prepare you for the loss of an unborn child.
While I’d like to say something good came out of this, or I’m expecting my rainbow baby soon, neither one of those things has happened as of this moment. However painful this was to write, I hope that it helps even just one person dealing with miscarriage feel a little bit less alone.