It’s been quite a while since I’ve made a post on this blog – it hasn’t been for a lack of topics, just a distraction in my mind that I haven’t been able to get around.

Earlier this year, my wife and I found out that she was pregnant. This was wonderful news as we were looking to expand our family and bring another child into our hearts and home. As each day passed, I got more excited about the pregnancy, but thought it would be best to wait the traditional 3 months before posting about it here. In a way, I’m glad that I waited, as we got some bad news at the 11 week point.

It all started with some spotting. Nothing too serious, just something to keep an eye on. The next day we called in the Grandparents to look after Nick while we went to the hospital. After being in for more than 14 hours, we were sent home with an order for some follow-up blood tests to be performed in three days.

The next evening, things went from bad to worse. My wife started to hemorrhage very seriously, and we rushed to the ER. By rushed, I mean I drove FAST. Due to the severity of the bleeding, we were given priority and saw a doctor and nurses very quickly.

After entering the hospital in the evening, my wife was discharged two days later after having a D&C procedure performed. We found out a few weeks later at a follow-up doctor’s appointment that my wife was pregnant with twins, and that was the reason for the miscarriage.

I learned a lot about pregnancies, the hospital system (at least here) and the available medical treatments. This topic is not something that I hear a lot about – it is a very personal topic – but I think it’s something that there should be more discussion of.

What is a miscarriage?

Technically, a miscarriage is a loss of pregnancy in the first 20 weeks. A loss of pregnancy after 20 weeks is termed a stillbirth. In a terrible choice of words, the medical term for a miscarriage is a Missed Abortion.

Technically speaking, there are no medical treatments available to stop a miscarriage once it has started. In fact, the baby probably passed away in the days before you noticed any symptoms. The symptoms (cramping, bleeding, pain) are the body’s methods of expelling the remains. In another terrible choice of words, the remains of your child will be referred to as “The Product” as in “The Products of Conception”.

These last pieces of information are valuable to know, as we entered the hospital believing that there must be something that can be done to save our child’s life, and felt helpless and frustrated as we repeatedly asked for doctors and nurses to help. Someone could have explained this to us a little better.

What happens at home or the hospital?

Well, it’s not pleasant. Basically, the remains of your baby are passed from the woman’s uterus. In some cases, this will be accomplished without medical aid (please go see a doctor though). In other cases medicine may be prescribed to speed or ease this process.

The worst case scenario is a Dilation & Curettage (D&C). This is a surgical operation where the woman is placed under anesthesia and “The Product” is surgically removed from the uterus via vacuum and physical methods. This is used when there is risk of infection or high levels of blood loss.

What happens after a miscarriage?

Well, I guess that really depends on you and your spouse. In general, because the woman is not yet showing and the pregnancy is not far along, men handle the event better than women. Usually, men have not yet formed a bond between themselves and the baby, and the event comes across as feeling somehow not real. In the beginning, this is how it was for me – I knew something bad was happening, but it just never seemed real. It was only later that I really understood what had happened and how that was going to change our lives. In women, even at a very early stage, it feels like they are losing their baby. There are likely to be pretty strong emotions to deal with, and a lot of thinking to do after the event. Because of the strong emotional complications, most women are advised to avoid becoming pregnant for at least 90 days even though they may be physically ready for pregnancy again very quickly following a miscarriage.

Things to remember.

This is very common. In the US, about 20% of pregnancies result in miscarriage. Because the severity of the miscarriage can vary some estimate the number to be closer to 40% or 50%. You are not alone.

This sucks. You don’t need to be reminded that going through this is not something that you want to do. However, it’s nice to know that everybody else out there also thinks this sucks, and you have every right to be sad, angry, and grumpy for a while.

This isn’t your fault. Most of the time, miscarriage is a result of chromosomal abnormalities in the child. This did not happen to you or your spouse because you ate something bad, exercised too much or not enough, or had too much stress at work. Miscarriages related to trauma are relatively rare as the baby is very well protected in the uterus.

It could be worse. I know you don’t want to hear this, but in the past many women died from the hemorrhaging of miscarriage. At the very least, be thankful that you or your partner will live to try again.

Final thoughts.

I’m not a doctor, so make sure that you see a medical professional if you are pregnant or having any problems with your pregnancy. Just go. The stats presented here are the best numbers that I could find in my research and I believe them to be accurate, but again, check with your health care provider if you have any concerns.

The blog post that I originally envisioned for the 12th week of the pregnancy (a photograph of a fresh, steaming bun in the oven) was replaced by something much more morose several weeks later. Still, I hope that this post helps you if you are going through this terrible pain, and I hope that you know that you are not alone and that there are others out there who understand the way you feel.