Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Most Terrifying Issue in Pregnancy: Miscarriage and Loss

Bear with me, this will be a long one. And not a pleasent one, but an important one none the less. I knew that miscarriages were a real phenomenon but I always had assumed that they were fairly rare. I had heard the word, but never fully understood what it meant as a child and shrugged it off very early in life.
Last year when my husband and I decided to start a family it didn't take long before we got pregnant. It took about a month of trying to concieve. The day I found out I was just taking a pg test for fun because we had friends in town. It was a surprise to find out we were pg so soon. The pregnancy was very much wanted and having my grandmother pass away just a couple of months before we concieved made me feel like a piece of her was with me and the child that I was carrying. At week four I had an ultrasound to determine the baby's gestational age. I was given the due date of 12/27/08. At week seven my husband, Jon, and I heard the heart beat. They say after the heartbeat is detected the risk of miscarriage goes down to 5%. We were feeling pretty good. Two weeks later I began to feel different. I told Jon that I didn't feel pregnant anymore and started to get upset. He reassured me saying that it was still very early in the pg. One week eleven I went back to the doctor for my normal check up. He couldn't find the heartbeat with the hand held monitor but told me not to worry just yet that the pg may be too early to be able to find it without an u/s. I was taken back for a u/s and the technician tried several times before saying a simple "I'm so sorry." She left the room to get the doctor. I was left by myself feeling rather exposed both literally and figuratively, bawling my eyes out. When the doctor came in I asked him to try to find it again. He did and couldn't. Jon wasn't with me that day so we had to call him to come get me. He came in very upset and very worried about me. They said the baby only measured nine weeks and so it had stopped growing two weeks prior. I asked why this had happened and they said that usually it is unexplainable and that sometimes it is natures way of taking care of something that isn't thriving. Sometimes chromosomes do not add up right. They scheduled my D&C for two days later.
The night before my D&C I was a wreck. My stomach was in knots and right before I went to bed I started crying uncontrollably refusing to have the procedure done. It was my baby and I didn't want it "removed" from womb. I had my husband and two close friends there to help me through it. The next morning, very early, we went to the hospital. I shook involuntarily the entire time. My nerves were shot. The nurses just stared at me with a pitiful look on their faces. I think I was told 8 times that morning by different women in the hospital that they too had had to do what I was doing. I couldn't believe it afterwards that so many women in the same vacinity had gone through at least one miscarriage. As soon as I woke up from the procedure I started crying that the baby was gone. I think they gave me something to ease my nerves because for the next few hours I was numb.
I layed in bed for about a day and a half afterward. Friends and family stopped by ocassionally and people sent a few bouquets of flowers. In memorial we had some calla lillies and roses dried and put in a shadow box. That helped the grieving process.
I wondered days later why no one had told me that miscarriage was such a common occurence. I found out later that on my mother's side of the family there had been at least four miscarriages and one still birth. I began to assume that no one talks about it because it is such a hard thing to go through and the people who love you are afraid to scare you. But Im here to talk about it. Our daughters and sons should know that miscarriage and pregnancy loss is a real thing and it can happen to any of us. They should know the facts and feel comfortable talking about it. I think if I would have known more about it I wouldn't have struggled the way I did with it.

Here are the facts:
One in five pregnancies are lost to unexplained miscarriage. 670,000 pregnancies are miscarried every year. The majority of miscarriage occur before week 13 of pregnancy.
The cause of many miscarriages cannot be identified, but there are a few known reasons for miscarriage. Most miscarriages, especially those that occur in the first trimester, are due to random chromosomal abnormalities with the baby and cannot be prevented. Other reasons for miscarriage may be: problems with the implantation of the fertilized egg, maternal problems with health, hormones, or infection, unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, drugs, excessive caffeine, malnutrition, exposure to radiation), maternal age
It is important to note that one miscarriage does not increase the likelihood of another! Just because you have one doesn't mean you cannot or will not have a healthy pregnancy in the future. However, there are many women who simply cannot carry a pregnancy on their own without medical intervention. So it is important to talk with your doctor about tests that can be run to ensure your ability to carry a pregnancy full term.
Signs of Miscarriage
These include vaginal bleeding, cramping, diarrhea, excessive vomiting not due to morning sickness, and lack of fetal growth proven by your doctor.
Treatments after Miscarriage
Many times women can pass their miscarried pregnancies on their own without surgical need. But if done so, these women need to see their doctors as soon as possible to make sure all fetal tissue has been removed from the uterus.
If the body does not expel all the tissue, the most common procedure performed to stop bleeding and prevent infection is a dilation and curettage.
Taking Care of Yourself Emotionally
Its easy to put on a brave face in front of family and friends. It is very important to talk about how you are feeling. If you can't talk to your family and friends there are many resources out there for you. Talk it out and grieve however long you need to.

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