My miscarriage story
TRIGGER WARNING – this blog contains details about miscarrying, D&C, haemorrhaging.
If you've been around for a while now, you'd know that last year, I miscarried. Looking back at what I know now, there were big gaps in my knowledge of what to expect and limited info out there. I’m writing this to share information on what medical procedures were like for me, and so that you know, wherever you are, you are not alone.
I’ll start this blog off my stating honestly that I was not ready or trying for another baby. At the time of the miscarriage, the twins were 22 months old and I was barely keeping my head above water with them and Willow. So, this process was honestly not as emotionally devastating as it would have been if I was actively trying for a baby. It absolutely was physically devastating.
Cup weekend 2020, we just had come out of lockdown and it was my birthday. I had my period, but on looking back, it was much lighter than normal (this wasn’t a real period, and was in fact my body trying to miscarry unsuccessfully). I was feeling quite tired but thought nothing of it because the twins weren’t sleeping great at this point. In the middle of November, I got laser eye surgery and was asked repeatedly if I was possibly pregnant because the anaesthetic, steroid and antibiotic eye drops aren’t safe if I was. I repeatedly said, absolutely not! Like I said above, we were not trying and use condoms and cycle tracking.
After the laser eye surgery, I started getting horrific ocular migraines. My vision would go completely crazy, with bright flashing lights everywhere, and zig-zag patterns. They are just horrible, and the only other time I’ve had them was when I was pregnant with the twins because hormones can trigger them. I put them down to the laser eye surgery and possibly trauma to my eyes, or just stress in general. Because after you get these migraines, you are ‘postdrome’ for a day or two, and I had 5 of these ocular migraines, I felt like shit for about three weeks. Exhausted, foggy, weak, and nauseas. All pregnancy symptoms too, which I just hadn’t even considered because I’d had my period on time just like normal only two weeks ago. Anyway, as all mums do, I just pushed through and found everything especially hard as I was so moody and tired.
My next period was due at the beginning of December and I really felt like it was coming. I felt so bloated, exhausted, my breasts were painful, I was headachey, and so grumpy. My period is never late so when it didn’t come on day 28 I knew something was up, but I didn’t want to admit it. But by day 31, I went an bought a pregnancy test. It was positive, and a very strong positive.
There was a lot of confusion for me because I knew that I couldn’t have possibly only been 4 weeks pregnant when I felt this unwell. And because of my laser eye surgery happening in the middle of my cycle (ovulation time and we didn’t have sex), I knew we hadn’t conceived in November. So that would mean the period I had had at the start of November, wasn’t a period at all, and in fact I was likely already 8-9 weeks pregnant. There was a lot of emotions and shock.
My GP ordered a dating scan because of how confused I was with all of it. It was so hard to get an appointment for a dating scan last minute. Everywhere said they were booked out for 1-2 weeks! I needed to know what was happening, and I needed to know now. I was so stressed and unsure of how far along I was. I found an appointment at an ultrasound clinic 50 minutes away the following day thankfully. At the scan, the sonographer advised me that there was a gestational sac measuring 8 weeks, but no embryo, no fetal pole, nothing. She said the measurements could be off and I need to get another scan in one week to confirm whether it was viable or a blighted ovum.
After another scan, and three blood tests that showed the HCG was 25,000 but not rising properly, it was confirmed it was most probably a miscarriage. Honestly, I found it hard that none of the GP’s I spoke to could really confirm to me what was happening, was it a miscarriage? Was it an ectopic pregnancy as they kept mentioning? One even suggested was it another twin pregnancy with one embryo not visible (as my HCG was high)?
The GP referred me to the EPAC clinic at The Mercy Hospital for reviewal. By the time the appointment was booked, it had been 2.5 weeks of no idea what was happening, and still feeling so sick and stressed. I was struggling to be able to parent the girls because I just felt so unwell.
The doctor at the EPAC clinic, after doing ANOTHER scan, confirmed it was a blighted ovum. This is when a pregnancy occurs, but the embryo never develops, and the gestational sac continues to grow without anything growing inside of it. My body still thought I was pregnant, and the gestational sac was measuring 10 weeks at this point. The doctor let me know that I could either have medical (misoprostol to induce miscarrying) or surgical treatment. The point of allowing my body to do it naturally had passed. The thought of a D&C scared me so I chose to go with misoprostol to induce the miscarriage and pass it at home. They did advise that misoprostol carries a risk of a retained tissue, but that it was really rare and I’ll likely be fine. The doctor did mention that if there wasn’t clear signs that I passed the pregnancy tissue, that I shouldn’t be travelling to Blue Mountains in 5 days to visit Scott’s sister. Scott, myself and Willow were flying up to the Blue Mountains and we were so excited to get away after a really long year in Covid, and I had never had a break from the twins which I really desperately felt I needed to reset after the year at home.
I took the misoprostol that afternoon (it was yuck!) and the bleeding and cramping began 5 hours later. The pain really ramped up around 11pm, and I was sitting on the toilet when I thought I had passed the pregnancy tissue. It was pretty painful, and I was having hot and cold sweats, and once it passed I felt so much better. The pain went away, and the bleeding really slowed right down. For the next 2 days, I had next to no bleeding. It was so minimal and light. My sister had said she thought my bleeding was way too light for a miscarriage, but the midwives had called and agreed that it sounded like I had passed the tissue on the toilet and all was fine.
So we flew to Sydney! All felt well and I was relieved for the ordeal to be over. But on the train from Sydney Airport to Blue Mountains, I felt a hot gush of blood. I quickly texted my sister and said “is this normal?” and she said that she thought the bleeding could stop/start for about a week. I started to get a bit anxious as they had said that haemorrhaging can be a risk of misoprostol, and if it happens I needed to go straight to hospital. Blood loss is very triggering for me as I haemorrhaged at Willow’s birth and the twins. Not to mention, we were in the middle of regional NSW on a train. The longer we were on the train, the more the bleeding ramped up. I felt myself passing large clots and I was completely beside myself. I knew I needed to go to the bathroom as I had completely leaked through my pants (thank god for black leggings!) and as I stood up, I felt a huge gush of blood.
I grabbed myself to hold it together as I truly felt I was bleeding out, and looked down and saw blood dripping down my ankles onto the floor. I frantically whispered to Scott because I didn’t want to scare Willow, that I needed to get off because I was bleeding everywhere. I started to feel faint because I was so anxious, and kept thinking, I cannot bleed to death on a train in front of my daughter. I told Scott to call an ambulance as the blood just kept coming and we both had no idea where we were, or where the closest hospital was. Thank god we were only 5 minutes away from the next station (each station was 40 minutes or so apart) and we told the ambulance to meet us at the entry to the train station. I had to make the longest waddle off the train, and across the platforms with blood continuously dripping down my legs. I was so self-conscious, terrified and mortified all at the same time.
It was bucketing down with rain, I was trying to remain calm for Willow, and Scott was on the phone to 000 trying to navigate the ambulance to where we were. It was horrific. In the ambulance, they took my pulse and blood pressure and calmed me right down by saying they weren’t overly worried because my stats were good. We arrived at the regional hospital and were straight into emergency. The emergency doctor explained I may have had retained tissue and it needed to pass, so he wanted to let my bleeding continue with a ‘wait and see’ approach. I agreed with him as I trusted his judgement. There were no gynaecologists at the hospital, and no surgical team unless they were called in. So a gynaecologist was requested and he took over an hour to arrive. Both the emergency doctor and gynaecologist did a vaginal exam and said I was bleeding heavily. They were pressing on my uterus very hard, just like they do after birth. Each time I would start to sob because I could feel huge gushes of blood. At one point, I passed a clot that was the size of a small football. No word of a lie, I looked down and said ‘I’m surely about to die’. They thought that was the retained tissue and clots surrounding it, so everyone reassured me that it was great that it had passed and likely everything was over now.
Whether it was because they were a small hospital with no surgical team, they just kept doing a ‘wait and see approach’, even though every time I moved there was gushes of blood. The bleeding had slowed down for about an hour after passing the huge clot, but then I moved in the bed and felt another huge gush. I called the nurse and she began to look visibly distressed and ran to call the gynaecologist who had gone back home. I was given oral transemic acid, and IV fluids. I asked for IV transemic acid because that’s the only thing that stopped my blood loss after Willow, but because the gynaecologist had gone home, the nurses couldn’t approve it until he was back. I knew the transemic acid tablets would take too long to kick in and I was desperate for the blood loss to slow down. I started to be unable to sit up without feeling like I was going to pass out, so I had to have my bed lying vertically down. It began to be harder to breathe, and see clearly. I felt so tired. I let the nurses know and they said my blood pressure was getting really low and my heart rate quite high, so I needed to be moved into a different part of the emergency department. As I was wheeled into a different section, I saw the name above my bed and it said ‘resuscitation’. This is when I really started to lose it. I couldn’t stop crying, I was hysterical. They kept saying if I didn’t calm down, my heart rate would continue to climb and put more strain on my heart, but I honestly kept having visions of dying, of not saying goodbye to the twins, of Willow.
I have honestly never been through anything as scary or traumatic as that day before. Eventually by 9pm, after I had been bleeding out for 7 hours straight, the gynaecologist said he would do another exam and if I hadn’t stopped actively bleeding, I would need a D&C. I was so petrified to go into surgery in this physical state, knowing I couldn’t possibly lose much more blood if the surgery went badly, but also wanted this to be over that I just wished someone would have made the call for a D&C hours ago.
The bleeding hadn’t slowed, so the surgical team was called in. Because of it being a regional hospital, it took over an hour for theatre to be prepared. Meanwhile I was still bleeding heavily. That hour took a lifetime. I was sobbing in Scott’s arms, scared, tired and unwell. They did blood tests and told me by haemoglobin had dropped from 135 to 92 in a few hours, and that concerned everyone. Talks of blood transfusions began and they prepared what they could. I was told if I needed a hysterectomy I would need to be flown to Sydney, I signed the papers, and was wheeled into theatre. The anaesthesiologist was a shining light, he was bright, cheery, bubbly and quirky. He tried to make me laugh as best he could. He held my hand and reassured me that a D&C is a minor surgery, and he would see me very soon. He said that this is such a small everyday procedure and that the gynacologist had been doing them for 20 years. That made me feel a lot better. Going to sleep I had tears rolling down my cheeks, I kept picturing Willow and the twins, and that if I made it through, I’d just be so grateful to be alive with them. The D&C went so smoothly, and I woke up feeling SO much better. The drugs had taken all my anxiety away, I felt on top of the world. I blurted to the midwives that “I really can’t wait to recover from this so I can have a real live baby in my arms one day. That will make all of this better”. They were all laughing at me. I made it, and I was alive, and the bleeding was over. Fuck, I’ve never been more grateful.
I got released from hospital the next day and I was really feeling the effects of the blood loss. I was so weak, I could barely move. Back at Scott’s sisters house, I couldn’t do anything but lie down. When I had to shower, I had to sit at the bottom of the shower and virtually crawl out to the towels. I was so faint. I couldn’t breathe properly, from my haemoglobin being so low, it was hard for oxygen to be carried around my body. So, I was breathing fast, but felt like I wasn’t breathing at all. I went back to hospital the following day because we were all so concerned about how unwell I felt. I may have needed a blood transfusion. The hospital kept saying I may have had a lung clot. I was hysterical, literally what else could go wrong? They said I needed more needles (I have needle phobias so this was an ordeal in itself), more IVs (I’d had 8 IV’s over two days), more tests, and a pulmonary lung CT scan with iodine injected in. There were explanations of anaphylactic reactions, vomiting, having to repeat the scan if I couldn’t get my heart rate down. It was a horror show. After being in that hospital for another 6 hours, I was cleared and just told, you feel like shit because you lost a lot of blood. I guess I just needed to hear that it wasn’t anything more serious than that.
Three days after the D&C, the Victoria Government announced everyone in NSW had to fly back to Melbourne by midnight otherwise we would have to go into hotel quarantine for 2 weeks. I couldn’t be away from the twins for that long, it would have killed me and them. So, we had to get the train back and fly home, and this took a physical strength I didn’t know that I had. I had to hold back panic attacks the whole day, my stomach was in knots. What if I started bleeding again, what about if it was on the plane mid-flight? I don’t have much haemoglobin left, what will happen if I bleed much more? What if the D&C wasn’t successful and there is more retained tissue? I don’t feel well, do I have an infection?