My D&C / D&E Experience After a Missed Miscarriage

I lost my baby at 15 weeks and found out at 16 weeks.  You can read that story here.

Just to forewarn any readers, this is a personal experience.  I am purposely sharing this to help any women who are facing the same experience.  Before I went through it, I wanted to know what I was up against.  If a D&C or D&E is not in your future, this story will probably not interest you at all.

My doctor gave me two choices to remedy my situation: forced labor or a surgical procedure to clean everything out.  Having been through a 24-hour induced labor with my first son in which I only progressed to 4 centimeters and had a C-Section, I immediately chose the surgical procedure.  There are two different types to accomplish this task, a D&C or a D&E.  A D&C scrapes out the uterus, and a D&E uses a vacuum to clean everything out.  It is my understanding that the D&E is used in the second and third trimesters.  Our baby had bones already.

I won’t get into the details of what the doctor does because that isn’t something I wanted to know.  I just wanted it over with so I could move on.  The thought of what would actually happen is not something I could stomach.

Three days after we found out the baby had no heartbeat, my procedure was scheduled.  The morning of, my husband and I checked into the hospital and waited a while.  Finally, a lady came out to get me.  I am not sure if she was a nurse or not.  I assume not.  She had me sit down in a chair next to her computer which was tucked into a little corner.  It was in the area where they prep people for surgery, but I was not in a room yet.  She yelled across me to the man sitting at the nurse’s station, laughing about how her computer was not frozen, that she was in the wrong screen.  Ha, ha, ha… “Does this lady know why I am here?” I thought.  Then she yelled across to the nurse and asked if she should have me do a pregnancy test.  I told her, “I’m pretty pregnant.”  And then I started crying.  I don’t think she saw how big my stomach was.   She asked how many weeks, I told her and then she was very apologetic and patted my shoulder.  It was terrible and awkward.

I finally got in a room, the kind with a curtain instead of a wall or door.  They brought my husband in, thank god.  When I was around him I didn’t cry.  I wasn’t up for putting on a happy face and pretending none of this was about to happen, but when he was around I didn’t feel so sad or alone about it.  He kept me distracted by telling me stories from his childhood that he had never shared with me before.  It really helped the minutes pass.

I put on their surgery attire and waited for the nurse to come in.  She wanted to get my IV going.  She poked one vein.  No luck.  She poked another vein.  No luck again.  She tried a vein on another arm.  No luck.  Finally she got a vein on her fourth try.  I messed up by not drinking a lot of water the days before.  I had been crying frequently and was dehydrated, making it really hard for her to get an IV in.

The doctor who would be performing the procedure came in to tell us the risks associated with vacuuming out a uterus, gave us choices on what we wanted to do with the fetal remains and answered any questions we had.  I really, really wanted to know why my baby died so I asked him if he would see if anything was wrong with the cord, placenta, etc.  He kind of half shook his head and said no.  I guess the doctor does not see what comes out?  I stopped asking him questions because it seemed like he did not want to explain.  I’m assuming means I probably did not want to know.

Next came in the anesthesiologist who told me all the drugs he would be giving me.  A patch on my neck for nausea, some drugs to knock me out, etc.  He said something about the scar tissue in my uterus.  I asked him to explain what scar tissue he was talking about.  He explained that the baby, being no longer alive, was degrading in my uterus and sometimes tissues bond together as they decay.  As horrible as that sounds, it made me feel better.  I was sort of glad to know it wasn’t a cute little dead baby being removed from my body.  The baby was gone.  It was now just a gooey blob that needs to be taken out.  True or not, it made me feel better.

Shortly after, they said it was time and I said goodbye to my husband.  I was pretty scared about the bad things that may happen.  Thankfully they started my IV drugs and I felt really relaxed in like two minutes.  I asked them to send me home with that stuff, but alas, they could not.  They got me into the operating room and all I remember is that it was freezing and the nurse was telling the ultrasound lady to move out of his way until I was ready to go.  I guess the doctor watches what he is doing via ultrasound.  They had me move from the bed I was in onto a table that was really similar to the ones they do C-Sections on.  The last thing I remember was them asking me to put my arms out so they could strap them down.

Everything went well during the procedure.  They woke me up while they were rolling me to recovery.  The first thing I said was, “I thought this was all a dream.  I thought I was dreaming.”  I don’t know how much I heard but I thought it wasn’t real.  Sadly, it was.  I asked the 4th year OB/Gyn student if she saw my baby.  She said yes.  I asked her what the sex was and she told me it was too degraded.  That was sad news for me to hear.  I am not sure if I believe that she saw it, based on how the doctor answered my question before the procedure.  Regardless, I will never know what the sex was.

I had no pain except for all the rolled veins and in my throat because they must have put a tube down it.  The anesthesia made me super nauseous and I almost threw up in recovery.  They brought me some apple juice and for some reason that helped.  It was coming near to the time we needed to pick our son up from school so I left the hospital as soon as they would let me.

And that was it.  Baby gone, back to normal life.  It was a surreal end to a sad story.  That night and the next few days I took it easy.  I needed to emotionally and physically.

If you are reading this because you will be going through a similar experience, here is my advice:

  1. Don’t be sad if not everyone at the hospital is compassionate about your situation.  Most of them probably don’t know or understand.  Sure, it’s one of the worst days of your life, but some people just don’t get it.  Just be prepared for that.
  2. Keep your other half with you as much and as long as possible.  You are treated like you are going in for surgery, but you’re not really.  You’re having your baby.  Your spouse, boyfriend, whatever should be with you as much as possible, just like in labor and delivery.
  3. Drink a LOT of water the days before, even if you don’t feel like it.  It will make your recovery easier and avoid the nurse rolling 17 of your veins.
  4. Ask whatever questions you need to in order to get past your loss.  You will probably not get another chance.

A miscarriage has been one of the worst experiences in my life.  I am, however, thankful that we were able to take care of the aftermath so easily and in only one day.  Physical recovery is pretty easy, barring any complications.  I never took any of the pain medication that was prescribed to me, I did not need it.

If you are going or have gone though a similar experience, my heart goes out to you.  It may not seem like it now, but with time and love from family and friends, it will get easier.  I went thought my D&E four weeks ago and I am already approaching my “normal” life before I was pregnant.  Hang in there, and good luck.

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3 thoughts on “My D&C / D&E Experience After a Missed Miscarriage

  1. Thank you for sharing. I wish healthcare professionals could see it from the patient perspective. You’re right that they tend to lose perspective and they are human.

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  2. Pingback: Inner Defense – A Natural Antibiotic Alternative | Mommy Lives Clean

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