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.


We Lost Our Baby at 16 Weeks – Silent Miscarriage

I seriously never thought this would happen to me.

I know a lot of women who have had miscarriages and my heart broke for each and every one of them.  When I was younger, I thought my body was a bit of a tank and could handle pretty much anything.  I was never part of the statistic for something crazy bad to happen. Something happened though, something bad. Something that made our baby’s heart stop beating without me knowing.

We went for an ultrasound at 12 weeks and the baby was great. It was really active and swam around while we watched on the monitor, it even made a waving motion.  It looked like a little fairy dancing away in my belly.  Thankfully the doctor captured those amazing moments on a photo, because that is all we have to keep from that little soul.

Around 15 weeks I started feeling really depressed and emotional, but of course I attributed that to being pregnant and also being stuck indoors in this cold and snowy Chicago winter.  A week later we went in for the 16 week appointment.  Thank god my husband came with.  I assured him it would be a boring appointment so he waited in the waiting room while I went back to see the doctor.  Once in the room, the physician’s assistant tried to find my baby’s heart beat, but all we could hear was mine.  I wasn’t worried.  She told me sometimes the placenta is in the way and went to get another physician’s assistant to try.  The second could not find the heart beat either.  She told me the doctor would come in and try.  The doctor came and could not find it either.  For some reason I still was not worried.  I thought I could feel the baby moving.

They moved me to the room with the ultrasound equipment and the technician had me wait for a few minutes while she wrapped up whatever she was working on.  I was still not worried.  Finally she scanned me and I immediately saw my baby on the screen, but it was not moving.  F’n move, I thought to myself for a second.  Then I remembered scans I had with my previous pregnancies where the babies were not moving much.  I assured myself everything was okay.  Until the tech looked at me and said, “I’m not getting a heartbeat.”  It was then that I realized my baby was dead.  I lost it.  Oscar-worthy-ugly-cry lost it.   Unfortunately I wasn’t acting.  Thank god my husband was in the waiting room.

They told me the baby was measuring at only 15 weeks, which means it was gone about a week before I found out.  My doctor went over our options to take care of the situation.  We received info on forced labor or a surgical procedure called a D&E where they remove everything with a kind of vacuum.  Our baby had bones so a less risky D&C was not an option.  Having gone through a miserable forced labor with my first son, I immediately decided on the D&E.  I will do another post in the near future about that that was like.  I know there are a lot of women out there who unfortunately are faced with the same situation and hopefully it will help some people get through it easier.

What happened in the hours and days after finding out was hard.  I knew miscarriages were sad for women, but I never realized how devastating they actually are.  At moments I would be positive and look forward to getting my body back and not feeling sick anymore.   Then I would remember everything I was expecting and so excited for was just ripped away and I would feel lost.  I had spent the last three months planning and revolving my life around that growing baby.  I felt like I didn’t know who I was, what my life was supposed to be, or where I was supposed to go next.

I was able to keep coming back to gratitude for the healthy and amazing boys that I have.  I feel so thankful that they are still here, that it is not one of them that I lost.  I have always been terrified to lose a child.  I have noticed in my life that whenever I am afraid of something, eventually I have to face it.  I absolutely pray that this is the only taste of losing a child I will ever experience.

My husband has been amazing.  I know we are meant to be together because he has some magical kind of way to make me stronger.  When I wallow in my sorrow he can (painfully) snap me out of it. That kind of love is not for everyone, but for me, it saves me.  This kind of experience can really bring people together if you do it right. We shared our feelings and any attempt we could think of to rationalize what happened.  When I started to feel hard and cold and began to shut down, he got me to open up.  Through him I realized there was nothing left to be miserable about, what was done was done.  We have two boys that need me to keep a grip on things.  I processed our loss, found beauty in the pain (our healthy kids, amazing family and friends and hope for the future) and have made it through the last few weeks with very little tears.

It has taken me a few weeks to be able to even sit down to share this. When I was going through it I was too angry and mopey to want to acknowledge what I was feeling and thinking.  The stages of grief are so strange.  When I first found out I cried a lot, but I would yo-yo between despair and positivity.  I would think about how I can work out again and that now we can take on that major house project we have been thinking about.  Then I would realize what I lost and I would be back to crying.  My mom was amazing at listening to me.  So were my sisters and friends.  They kept checking in on me no matter how negative I was and it meant a lot to me.

I kept searching for reasons why this could have happened.  I was analyzing everything I ate and did the prior three months.  I know that this is not the cause, that drug addicts deliver healthy babies full term.  This was something beyond me.  I tried so hard to be healthy, I didn’t even wear nail polish the whole time.  Unfortunately it doesn’t matter.  It’s good to try hard and be careful, but it can’t prevent God’s plan.

I was trying to imagine which exact day and moment the baby passed.  I know I was feeling really emotional around the days they told me it stopped growing.  There was one day I was playing with my youngest on the floor in our living room.  He had two toys in the corner that went off on their own, a roaring dinosaur and then a cat shaped keyboard that meowed.  It was one right after the other.  Neither of those toys have ever made a sound on their own except for that moment.  The dinosaur toy was put away.  The keyboard was out and the power was on, but I pressed a key and it was on a piano setting, not on the meowing sound.  It was super strange and at the moment I knew it was something, but I didn’t know what it meant.  Now that I know my baby died sometime around then, I tell myself that was the baby saying goodbye to me.  When you are faced with grief, I think it is more than okay to try to find crazy things to comfort yourself and make it seem a little more beautiful than just rotten pain and bad luck.

Eventually I transitioned to anger that things did not work out the way I wanted to.  Now I am just a little scarred and working on getting back to normal.  We are going to try again, probably after summer.  I am kind of mad about this because I was excited to have our last baby and be on the road to getting a life back.  The kind where I have a job and do things outside of the house.  My kids are getting older and need to be out of the house too.  I wanted things to go my way.  But I know from experience that the ride I didn’t plan and instead am forced to follow always leads to far better things than I could have imagined.  So here I go down the road laid out before me.  I’m really hoping it’s going somewhere amazing.