March 17, 2011

Recovering from Miscarriage & Hemorrhage - Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually

This list is for those women who are recovering from miscarriage (or serious hemorrhage as a result) - and possibly more importantly, it's for their partners and loved ones. This month has felt like a roller coaster in some ways and I can honestly say that I would not have emerged as healthily as I have without the encouragement of my friends and family. I don't want to waste space recounting the original story so you can read it here.

I have simply listed what I felt - and I have decided to categorize it all as normal. I do want to say regarding the "Guilt - was it my fault?" entry, don't worry about reassuring me. Technically, I know it probably wasn't my fault but those feelings are a natural and probably necessary part of the grieving process.

These are just some of the things I'm moving through or have already passed. If you want to read the one month update, you can find it here.

I hope this is a help for those of you who are going through this. I will not minimize your pain by trying to make it ok. It isn't ok. But, know you are not alone and even if I don't know your name, I am saying a prayer for your healing even as I write these words.

Blessings...Monna

Physical
  • Really weak at first but vitamins, chinese herbs and good nutrition, including lots of veggies and some red meat seemed to help me recover quickly
  • Mild headache from the anesthesia for about 3 days
  • Feeling like my head was going to fall off my body if I got up too fast in the first few days. I learned to sit up slowly and stand even more slowly. The sensation went away after 4 or 5 days. I think this is a normal result of severe blood loss. As my strength returned, my blood pressure normalized.
  • I had no cramping despite the major doses of pitocin they gave me to fully contract my uterus and stop the hemorrhaging. This surprised me because I remember pitocin contractions being unbearable with my first delivery but of course, my uterus was a lot smaller for this miscarriage since I was only finishing the first trimester. 
  • Swollen, full breasts. In a crazy twist of fate, my breasts swelled up just after I returned home from the hospital and started aching like they would in pregnancy. My hormones weren't back to normal yet, I suppose. 
  • Brief bleeding. Differently from a natural miscarriage, because I had a D&C, I only bled for about a week. I didn't see anything for another few days, then I had mild spotting. I freaked out (still a little nervous about bleeding, understandably) so I called a friend and she said she had the same experience. It went away after 2 days. I understand that bleeding in a natural miscarriage takes significantly longer.
  • Other physical symptoms of pregnancy - like still having some odd taste aversions that went away as the hormones faded. 
  • Desire for comfort food like chocolate and ice cream. This is only physical because I definitely ate the chocolate and ice cream. I do realize the desire was emotional. A friend suggested writing a future post about chocolate therapy. It might just happen. Heehee. I refuse to judge myself. It's been a pretty successful therapy so far.
  • Exhaustion. Yeah. Still feeling this way a lot of the time. I don't have my normal stamina yet. Guess recovery from losing a lot of blood can take a while. I'm heading in the right direction. 
  • First period after miscarriage - I had my first mooncycle (menstruation) about 35 days after my miscarriage. It was a little heavy and a normal length - about 6 days counting heavy and light days. Then, I stopped. But two days later I had a little spotting for a few hours, bright red but not heavy. I talked to several friends who said they had similar strange spotting between periods as hormone levels returned to normal.

Emotional
  • Numb - at first. Too exhausted to even think of what had happened. 
  • Fear - about the actual miscarriage. For about a week, I had bad dreams and had a hard time not thinking about it. Remembering stuff I'd forgotten -
    • like being on oxygen from the time I was in the ambulance until after my D&C
    • discovering I'd been categorized in "Critical" condition & figuring out - it's not good.
  • Fear that I will get pregnant again and that I'll lose the baby or go through a scary miscarriage again (highly unlikely).
  • Fear that I won't be able to get pregnant again (because I do want more children - Whoa. Did I just say, child-ren?)
  • Guilt that maybe I did something to cause this. My reasonable side knows it may be impossible to prove exactly what happened - which is why doctors and midwives always say, "There's nothing you could have done to cause or prevent this." But, my mom's guilt kicked in anyway and I went down the laundry list of everything I'd eaten, done, how much sleep I'd gotten and possible incidents of bad karma. I know I will probably never know if it was just genetic or something else. I'm convinced this is a natural part of grieving a baby lost in utero. 
  • A return to reason - We mothers are programmed to protect our young and being unable to do that with an unseen child is an excruciating experience. Thankfully, I remembered that babies are born to moms with poor nutrition and even moms on crack. Women not even close to the nutrition and healthy lifestyle I'm fortunate enough to have. In the end I trust that, for some reason, this baby was not meant to be here now. I don't like it but I have faith that it is true.
  • Guilt that I'd always hoped I would never be a part of the group of women who have lost a baby. I always grieved with friends and even acquaintances who went through a miscarriage and then secretly prayed, "Please, not one of mine."
  • Bursts of grief at odd times, like when I -
    • realize there are certain foods I can now eat that I couldn't eat just a few weeks ago because I was pregnant
    • see pics of newborn babies on friends' facebook pages or meeting pregnant women in the grocery store
    • recalculate what I'll be able to do this summer and fall because I won't be completing a pregnancy and taking care of a newborn
    • read the children's books to my girls that we read before bedtime the night of the miscarriage
  • Anger about random, unimportant stuff - such as a nasty coffee drink and wi-fi not working at a coffee shop I visited. So not my normal tendency.
  • Anger - This is kind of embarrassing but I felt this way toward people who didn't realize how serious my miscarriage was (this is completely unfair but who says the grieving process is rational?) or who minimized the experience with comments like, "Well, it's over. Now you can move on with your life." Jerk. Or people who asked "How are you?" but didn't want to hear the truth. Part of me wanted to shock them with a blatantly honest answer. I didn't.
  • Control freak-ishness. I don't think this is in the list of typical stages of grief but I believe this is my way of compensating for not having control over what happened to me and my baby. So, I tried to control everything my little world. For instance, I hyper-cleaned or got frustrated with the kids if they didn't do exactly what I asked within say, oh - 2 seconds of my thinking it. Yeah, that's reasonable.
  • Gratitude - for my sweet husband, daughters, family and friends I was surrounded with during the weeks following my miscarriage.
  • Feeling abandoned. Life goes back to normal for everyone else - even a loving, supportive husband who has to return to work - but seemed to stand still for me for a while. People stop calling or asking about the baby (very normal) and it feels like they have forgotten.
  • Depression. As I was recovering mentally from how scary my miscarriage was and as I began to feel the loss of the hopes and expectations of greeting a new baby, I felt dark, listless and grief stricken. Like my life was over. This stage did not last long for me because I woke up one morning and decided that despite the circumstances and the loss we endured - I am lucky to be alive! While I still have moments (and probably will for a while) when I feel sad or cry unexpectedly, I choose not to dwell in the darkness.
Spiritual

I've always believed that women have an incredible intuition and connection to the spiritual world - especially in times of menstruation, pregnancy and the death. As I get older, I find this is true of many of the wise women in my life as well.

Insight can come in the form of dreams that help us to realize something about ourselves, our lives or the person we lost. It can come in the words of a friend, stranger or something we read. It can even arrive through a quiet voice. In all of the above listed experiences, I have personally received strong insights into areas of personal growth and spiritual understanding. I must add miscarriage to that list.

I received strong intuition the night I miscarried. After I felt the first labor-like pains and passed some blood and tissue, I thought I would try to lie down and rest. But, as I went to bed, I had a strong feeling that I would bleed too much and asked my husband to watch over me because of that concern. I believe it was a message, and one that may have saved my life.

Besides the message during my miscarriage, the last few weeks have been very spiritually eye-opening for me. Those lessons are for my spirit alone to process but I'd encourage you to listen if you're in any of the above stages. If we desire wisdom, we only need to listen. She speaks loudly.

My suggestions for healing after a miscarriage

  • Be in the moment you're in already. If you try to escape it, it will only chase you till you pay attention.
  • If you are feeling physical pain, acknowledge and deal with it. Meaning, if you need Tylenol (or something stronger), take it. Just be careful not to get dependent on it.
  • Eat strong, nourishing food and drink lots of water so your body can recover and take a multivitamin at least till you're done bleeding.
  • Pamper yourself for a while - new books, pedicure, massage, chocolate. :)
  • REST as much as possible the first few days following a miscarriage - even if you didn't go through hemorrhage. Miscarriage is a huge loss - for your body and your spirit. You will need rest to recover from the bleeding and to have the strength to deal with the emotions to follow.
  • Get some sunshine for at least 10 minutes every day. Walking in the sun every day soothed my sore spirit. It gave me hope that life would go on and I would feel normal again.
  • Allow yourself the chance to be sad or angry. These are normal stages of grief. Cry or yell if you feel it will help. I would suggest not yelling in front of kids (*smile*) but crying is perfectly normal and ok.
  • For those of you who have children, don't hide your grief from your kids. Death and loss are part of life. Keep it simple if they catch you in a moment of grief. When my kids ask why I am crying, I answer simply, "I am feeling sad about the baby but I'll be ok." Kids are pretty pragmatic. They usually hugged me and return to whatever they were doing.
  • If you find you're crying all the time or feeling hopeless or listless, call a friend or, if necessary, a counselor. Sometimes, we just need to hear words of hope or be reassured that what we're feeling is normal. But don't wait till you feel desperate.
  • Let your friends and family help. If they offer meals or babysitter, let them. If you're feeling worn down and the laundry is unfolded, ask for help or let it wait till morning. You'll catch up soon.
  • Find some time alone with your partner and make a real effort to include topics other than the miscarriage. You can still bring it up but you might find it is a relief to your healing heart. Plus, your partner lost a baby too and might need encouragement or a change of topic himself.
  • Pray, sing, exercise, go out with people who really love you and will allow you to be real with them about where you are.

12 comments:

  1. oh mama. i just finished reading all of these. i am such lazy bloggee. hardly ever take time to read others anymore. you are so beautiful and strong. amazing and brave for sharing your story. *besos upon besos.

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  2. This really caught my eye. After going through my own miscarriage I was shocked how little information was out there - like, real honest information. I think you're doing a great thing talking about the reality of miscarriage. I have a book in the works, allowing women to tell their stories and share knowledge about what it is like to go through miscarriage. If you would be interested in contributing, this project is in very early stages but please email michelle@findyourbalancehealth.com

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  3. This post was done the day after my D&E. I too am shocked how little information (and support) is out there. It's been an awful experience, one that has changed me forever. I am so glad to have sound such honest information on the web, in places like your blog. Thank you for the post, especially the section on healing afterwards.

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  4. Thank you so much for writing this!!

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  5. Thank you for writing this. I haven't read your story yet because I just had miscarriage that led to me hemmoraging and er let me bleed out till lost half my blood then was rushed OR and emergency d&c and I stopped breathing during surgery n after. It happened few days ago I'm still trying piece together what happened. Icu was scary especially whn realized had catheter in and it hurt bad to move my leg. I was petrified to see blood. I'm so scares have little bleeding now and it's reddish so I'm freaked. But knw not bright red and Drs assured me it's normal. I'm starting get comfortable being unassisted to restroom. It's scary process. And still in shock phase. Praying tht the woozy feeling whn get up goes away soon. Lack sleep today n frequent urination making hard sleep. Sorry for rambling post. But thank you so much for writing this. First useful page I've come across.

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  6. I'm so sorry for your loss. Having a life threatening miscarriage certainly adds a different dimension to an already traumatic experience. The woozy feeling took about a week to go away for me but I've heard it taking a little longer. Take it easy for a while and be sure to eat iron rich foods, along with those containing vit c to assist absorption and drink water! If you're taking care of yourself, recovery is faster. Blessings. OM

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  7. Thank you for writing this. Being only 3 days into my natural miscarriage, I have been scouring the internet for some real information without some trite remark or platitude. A lot of articles gloss over so much and I really appreciate the detail you've included. I believe this will help. Thank you again.

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  8. Thank you for your post. I just got home yesterday after a 7 week miscarriage with hemorrhage too. I went in for an emergency D&C within a half an hour of arriving in the ER. I did get two units of blood, did they give you any? I sure felt better after getting it, although still very weak and easily fatigued. Headaches too and rapid heart rate. I had to stay longer in the hospital because I developed a blood clot in my lung, possibly as a result of the body trying to stem the bleeding by sending out massive amounts of clotting factor.
    The grief hits me every now and then, but I am already on Zoloft for depression and I think it's helping dull some of the pain. I guess I feel a little bad for not being more sad about it. But I know everyone grieves in their own way.
    I know this post was quite awhile ago but you are still bringing comfort to others through it. I hope you are recovering well emotionally from the trauma, by this time I imagine you're all recovered physically. Take care~

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  9. Thank you so much for posting this. I am recovering from a 10 week miscarriage, hemorrhaging and emergency D&C. Everything you wrote of how you were feeling physically, emotionally and spiritually is spot on. Thank you for writing, for the validation in this time. I am still somewhat numb, but go through moments of overwhelming grief and fear thinking back at all that blood, my poor little baby lost, the realization of how close I could have been to losing my own life and whether I will ever go through something like this again... I thankfully have a handsome, healthy, wonderful 16 month old son, a supportive husband and caring family members. I don't know how I would make it through this without them. Thank you again for sharing this -- I hope you are doing much better and on the path to the future children you mentioned.

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  10. Thank you for this. I miscarried yesterday. I was six weeks pregnant with my first child. My heart is broken into so many pieces and I'm not sure if I'll ever recover. Reading your blog gave me some inspiration. Thanks again.

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  11. Thank you for writting this, I was six weeks pregnant and two days ago I started my miscarriage. i went to the E.R. they were very helpful but in the end had to send me home to make room for more patients, I felt totally abandoned even though my Fiance was there and stayed with me. I was refered to two clinics the first refused my case because I was not yet a patient of theirs even though in one week I would have been. The second made it very clear that they would only see me this one time. I feel like there are so many mothers who do drugs and very harmful things while they are pregnant and it really is not fair. I am very healthy and my fiance and I strive to do everything we can to do the right thing. I too feel like time has stopeed but everyone else is moving on. I felt this same way when my father died last year from cancer. I just wanted the world to stop for one day and let me catch up. The doctors say this could last for a couple weeks i feel completely helpless as my body goes through this.

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