Guest Blogger: Mandy O'Connor

The author, with her husband, at my wedding. October 29, 2011.

A True Story

It was a Sunday evening, and I was close to nine weeks pregnant. My husband and I had dinner plans with some friends that we were really looking forward to. About an hour before we were supposed to meet them I went to the bathroom and noticed a little blood after I wiped. I told my husband immediately, and convinced myself that it was normal while he did some research online. We decided to cancel our dinner plans so that I could rest. The bleeding seemed to taper off that night and didn't return until the next afternoon. It was a bit heavier and had changed from a light pink to a brown shade with little bits of tissue. I called my husband at work and then called our midwives. The midwife I spoke to seemed irritated and scolded me for not knowing my blood type or my husband's. She asked me how soon I could get to the hospital, and gave me various instructions on where to pick up paper work, where to drop it off, to fill up a large container of water to drink and not to go to the bathroom. My husband biked home from work and we waited for a cab to take us to the hospital. It felt like it took far too long to catch a cab, and my bladder was feeling fuller and fuller.

Our hospital experience was a nightmare. The various people we came across were cold and authoritative, rather than warm and compassionate towards us. No one bothered to explain anything or even talk to us on a human level. I was told by the radiologist that my husband was not able to come with me for the ultrasound. When I asked why, she said that no one was allowed in the room for an emergency ultrasound. That was first time I heard anyone say the word emergency and began to cry. I told her that I would rather not have the ultrasound at all, and that we would just come back for our regularly scheduled appointment next week. She told me to wait while she spoke to someone about it, then came back and told my husband to come with. When we got to the room she told him to stand in the corner. She also informed us that she could not tell us what she saw, show us anything or answer any questions. This was not how I had imagined our ultrasound experience. I just lied there the entire time in silence, tears were rolling down my face and filling up my ears. Next we were told to go get a blood test in order to find out my blood type, and then we were given a pager number to contact our midwife. We were to get the results from her over the phone.

The midwife called and said that the baby measured small about six weeks and two days, and that there was no heartbeat detected. She said my hormone levels were low and that I needed to come back in a few days for another blood test. I was becoming slightly irrational at this point and refused to come back to the hospital. I was mad because of the whole experience. I wasn't able to sit down face to face with a midwife, and I was told that the blood test was to check my blood type not my hormone levels. The midwife told me they wouldn't know my blood type until the morning, and that I could call them if I wanted to know the results. I was now even more freaked out. I was still bleeding and now wondering if my baby had stopped growing inside of me. I went online and did a million different search combinations on bleeding during pregnancy and low hormone levels. I also rested, cried and talked with my husband.

The next day I had a full on period and severe cramps. I knew then that I was having a miscarriage. I just kept thinking that something was dead inside of me and slowly coming out in tiny little pieces. I knew from the research I had done that I was not to use tampons for risk of infection. I called a friend of mine who we were going to have dinner with the other night. She is a nurse and studying to be a midwife. I figured that she would be more helpful than anyone I spoke to from the hospital. She was a wealth of knowledge and also just a comforting friend. She told me that it sounded like a miscarriage and also urged me to go back to the hospital for the follow up. She told me stories of her sisters having miscarriages and then going on to have healthy children. She made me feel like everything was normal and answered my questions. This was something I had not experienced at the hospital and something that I really needed. My husband and I fought that evening. I can not even remember exactly what it was about, stress and hormones I'm sure. I screamed at him and left the apartment to go get more pads. I made it about a block and a half and felt like I was going to pass out. My legs felt weak and my head felt dizzy. I texted my boss to let her know what was going on and that I needed to stay home and rest the next day. My husband began getting things for me: pads, glasses of water, blankets, heating pads, tylenol and making my meals.

We went back to the hospital the following day to have another blood test. This one confirmed that I was having a miscarriage. Once again we did not meet with a midwife, just spoke to one on the phone. She said that there was a drug she could call in that would expedite the miscarriage, and that I may experience severe cramps. She also told us that one of the midwives would call us the next day to check in. That was really about all she told us. I decided not to take the drugs. I felt like I needed to experience the whole process naturally. I thought that maybe the natural experience would better help me deal with the miscarriage on an emotional level. What happened a few hours later was so far from severe cramps it's almost unbelievable and definitely irresponsible of the midwife for leaving this information out. I went into labor not even realizing what was actually happening. This was my first pregnancy after all. My body began to cramp so severely that I no longer felt comfortable laying down, sitting or standing. I was nauseous and began throwing up, then I had severe diarrhea. My body began to overheat, and suddenly I felt the need to be completely naked. I basically camped out naked on the toilet for a few hours while my uterus expanded and expelled large pieces of tissue. When it was all over I barely had the energy to stand at the sink to wash my hands or even to walk across the hall to the bedroom. It was now evening and I passed out in bed. At about four in the morning it happened all over again. This time was worse than before, because there was nothing left for my body to release. I sat on the toilet and watched my belly expand to a size that was frightening. It felt like it was on fire and that it could possibly explode. My husband brought me ice water and a bowl to throw up into. I kept wishing that there was a punching bag in front of me. There was an energy that needed to be released from my body and nothing was happening. My entire body was aching and hot, and it lasted a few hours. It was the most intense pain I have experienced in my entire life. I threw up a few more times and then went back to bed.

The next morning I contacted my boss again and basically just took the rest of the week off. I didn't care about the money at this point. I could barely move. That entire day I mostly only got up to change my pads and go to the bathroom. My husband completely took care of me, and I was more in
love with him than I have ever been. No one has ever taken such good care of me, and I needed it now more than ever. At this point we began telling our close family and friends the news, and the worst was over. The midwives took about three days to check in and see how I was doing, and in between that time I received a voice automated reminder of my previously scheduled first prenatel visit. I am still physically recovering. My body lets me know when I need to slow down. I can't help but wonder why women never talk about the pain that is involved in a miscarriage, not even the midwife warned me about what was to come. For me the pain was the hardest part, I do not feel defeated. For now I am resting and relaxing with a purpose, and when my body is ready we will start trying to conceive again.


I wish to thank Mandy for generously and courageously allowing me to post this personal story. If you would like to contact her, please email me or leave a comment and I will put you in contact.
Thank you,


Kelley said...

I had no idea mandy. I am so so sorry that that happened to the both of you. I appreciate you sharing such a personal story. --Kelley

Laura Nielsen said...

I have gone thru this twice. So many women experience this, but so few say a word. Thank you for your bravery. You are not alone!

I wish you all the best.

dion said...

i love you mandy! you are so amazing in so many ways. i am deeply sorry that you had this experience, but i thank you so much for sharing. i don't want to seem presumptuous, but i really feel that you have included me in your life/your thoughts/your trials...and i think we, as women, shouldn't "hide" the "tough stuff" ... how the "f" are we supposed to get through things on our own? love LOVE ryan LOVE LOVE YOU