**Content Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of miscarriage**
I do not often speak about the details of my miscarriage. I will just describe it as violent if I have to describe it at all. The trauma of the birth/loss process is what has stuck with me just as much as the loss of my baby. I think that by not talking about these details I am closing a door which should be opened about what miscarriage can look like. I know that every woman’s experience is different. Some women may not say or feel that their loss was giving birth, and that is completely okay. What follows is just my experience and feelings about it.
I was in my eleventh week when I started spotting. It was never very much and I was told it could be normal and not to worry. After three days I finally went in to my doctor’s office. She had trouble finding the heartbeat but told me since it was still early that this was also normal. We had only heard the heartbeat once, at our seven week ultrasound, but we knew the baby’s heart was beating. So she sent us in to have an ultrasound just to “put our minds at ease”. There was no heartbeat. After being told that the baby only measured seven weeks and a few days, meaning I had a missed miscarriage, I was sent home with instructions to return the following day.
I saw a different practitioner than I had seen the previous day. This woman was incredibly cold and clinical. She said that I had the option of a D and C but that she would not recommend it since I was only twenty-two. She said that since I had already carried my dead baby for a month and my body was still not actively bleeding that I should not wait any longer for the process to begin. Thus I was told to go home and take a medicine called Cytotec. She used the generic name though and so I did not know this is what I was taking and would have otherwise chosen a D and C, but that is a story for another time.
This woman told me that I would have slight cramping and would bleed about as much as a heavy period. I was prescribed Vicodin for pain, just in case. She told me that I would bleed for only twenty-four hours and then probably spot for an indefinite amount of time. When I asked if I would know when I passed the baby and if I needed to collect the remains she was extremely rude and told me that I would not know, reiterating that it would “just be like a bad period”. I should also mention here that I have extremely bad periods, bleeding and pain wise, so I figured I would be able to handle what was about to come.
I went home and took the medicine, which had to be inserted vaginally. Within two hours I began to cramp but not bleed. Eventually I did spot a bit, meaning I did not need a second dose, but it was minimal. Out of nowhere my pain skyrocketed. It was the worst pain I had ever felt. I felt like I was being torn apart from the inside. I could not walk or stand on my own. This pain lasted for three days. At one point on the first night my husband called the advice nurse, who was the person that told me I had been given Cytotec and was also the only person to refer to my miscarriage as “labor”.
I bled unimaginable amounts. Even now the memory of the blood makes me want to throw up. We had to get rid of our futon and many articles of my clothing because pads could not contain what was pouring from me. I thought I was going to either bleed to death or die from the pain. My husband, who is a registered nurse, was even concerned at what he was seeing. This was nothing like a period. I was taking one Vicodin and four ibuprofen every four hours and my pain never went below a seven.
On the third day I felt a large amount of blood about to exit from me and went to sit on the toilet. I passed it into the bowl but immediately was concerned because it did not look like just blood. My husband helped me look at what had left my body and in that moment we knew we were looking at the sac that contained our precious baby. Something we were explicitly told would not happen. After I passed the sac the pain immediately began to lessen. I did spot for another three weeks or so but was not bleeding heavily anymore.
There are many that think miscarriage does not look like this, I was one of those people. But miscarriage can be violent. It can be messy and traumatic. My miscarriage was labor, twisted and perverted, but labor nonetheless. I endured pain. My body emptied itself. I birthed my lost child and knew the moment that it happened. And these specifics aside, a child came from my body. I did not just “miscarry”, I gave birth. To acknowledge it as something else would be to lessen the experience, at least for me.
Heidi Beltran is the mother of Talia Luna, who was lost to a missed miscarriage at 11 weeks in April of 2016, and her Rainbow Baby, Atlas Delilah Rose, born December 2017. You can follow her on Instagram to see her journey.