WARNING: This blog article deals with an account of miscarriage and may be a trigger for others who have experienced a miscarriage.
Life often doesn’t pan out the way you expect. This story is emotional, graphic in places and certainly is not mine to share alone. This story is mine and Ignasi’s. The end of this story is sad and heartbreaking but the tenderness and love between Ignasi and I is what is keeping us from crashing. It ends in the miscarriage of our beautiful baby boy at almost 13 weeks.
Pregnancy is supposed to be one of the happiest times in a couples life however for us it has been some of the most stressful months we have ever faced. What we do know is that on the 8 August we fell pregnant (strangely that makes you 2 weeks pregnant even though conception was the 8 August) and on the 22 October we lost the baby. The roller-coaster of our lives over those short few months was not what either of us expected.
We’d planned to make an announcement about the pregnancy after the first trimester and being just a few days to the end of that trimester the lose of the baby almost crushed me. As a writer the only way I know to really deal with my insecurities and losses is to write about them.
So let’s start at the beginning.
We took a pregnancy test a couple of days after my period was due and the result was negative. I, however knew that I was pregnant. After another week we brought another pregnancy test and this time it was positive. Our reactions were very mixed. The next day we went to the doctor and had a blood test to confirm the pregnancy.
Ironically we meet on the Camino de Santiago and confirmed our pregnancy at the hospital of Santiago Apostol.
Very quickly the hormones took over and morning sickness kicked in. Morning sickness, that is a cruel joke in reality because it can be all day sickness and especially for me in the evenings. All food started to taste like dirt. Purified water even tasted like dirt. Getting through the TEFL course was interesting. Teaching a lesson to my class meant that I had to open the window to get fresh air so that I wasn’t sick in the class.
One day towards the end of our time in Antigua we were walking when I sneezed and felt a sharp tear in my stomach on the right side. I brushed it off because all the things I had read said that the muscles around the womb were now softening so that the womb could expand and you will feel pain when sneezing.
We left Antigua, Guatemala for Tapachula, Mexico. Being tired and throwing up were just natural parts of my life. The bus ride was pleasant enough but assisting in lugging my bag through the border checks was probably not the best idea. Arriving at Tapachula late I was ready just to go to sleep. I went to the bathroom and the world spun.
There wasn’t much but there was dark brown fluid and too much of it for me not to be concerned. My only other pregnancy over 15 years early had ended with the loss of twins, so my terror was real. We walked to the emergency department (luckily just a few blocks down the same street we were staying) and was seen by a doctor. Her examination of my stomach was going good till she hit one spot that caused me to almost cry. It was the same place I hurt when I sneezed a few days earlier.
Off we went for an ultrasound and the agonising wait for the doctor to arrive was terrifying for both of us. Finally he arrived and the ultrasound showed a beautiful little baby with a strong heartbeat but then the scary bit. I had a small tear under the embryonic sac. That sneeze a few days ago had caused the tear and the bouncing bus ride and even the smallest amount of me carrying my bag was enough to cause the bleeding.
Also the fact I am 36 (closer to 37) also adds more risks to the pregnancy!
Back at the hospital the doctor informed me that I needed to rest for 15 days. This meant why we were in Tapachula was at risk. I was here to volunteer and now I had to rest! She said I could walk slowly and we could go to the shopping centre but mostly to rest. The waiting out of days and the small trips to the supermarket were driving me insane. I watched endless episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and was sad more often than not. I didn’t want to talk to anyone including Ignasi.
I buried myself in a shell and didn’t communicate much because my fear of losing a child was hitting me square in the face. I have had more troubles than I care to think about with my body. After losing the twins so long ago, having never fallen pregnant again, a couple of surgeries on my cervix (including one that wasn’t necessary), stress related PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) which meant my ovaries were completely covered in cysts, the GYN told me then my chances of ever falling pregnant were minimal. This prompted me to being the adoption process as a single woman only again to be crushed when I was almost through the adoption process only to have the Australian Government close the program in Ethiopia. I felt that the one part of my life I longed for the most was slipping away. The complications were just added to that feeling.
We grew apart and close at the same time during those 15 days. We went for an ultrasound to see if the tear had healed and if I could start work at the orphanage. Seeing our baby again so mobile within the sac was a magical moment. The doctor confirmed I could start work in a couple of days but not to lift anything heavy and still be very careful.
We didn’t get to that stage!
4 October, Friday night at 9 pm I went to the bathroom and when I wiped (sorry for the detail) it was blood. Bright red blood! Ever want to see two people more scared in all their lives it was that moment. Neither of us really knew what to do. We power-walked up to the ultrasound place and as luck would have it the doctor was there waiting for another patient.
Those moments waiting for the ultrasound machine to come online were dreadful. I was trying not to imagine seeing the baby and it not having a heartbeat. The moment the imagine came on the screen I was in tears. The baby was kicking about like it was dancing, the heartbeat was strong and the baby appeared to be waving.
The bit however that crashed me back down is that my cervix is now open therefore I was very much at risk of losing our precious baby. So instead of just rest I was now on bed rest having to spend most of my time laying on my back with my knees up. If there was ever a position I didn’t like before or now it is that position.
I felt even more depressed and sad that I was struggling to keep this beautiful baby inside me and that my dreams have not only rapidly changed but whiplashed me in so many directions I didn’t know where the sky and ground were.
We saw a OB/GYN on the 6 Oct (my big brothers birthday – Happy Birthday Bro!) who specialises in problem pregnancies and he seemed happy that the baby was doing well and I just needed more bed rest. He did prescribe some drugs that even the box says is not for pregnant women – I didn’t follow doctors orders! I did take the other drug Dactil OB which unfortunately for me had a side effect of increasing morning sickness.
For the 5 days that I took the Dactil OB I vomited nearly everything I drank or eat. I sometimes didn’t even finish the meal before I threw up. Being in a poor area of Tapachula, the cleanliness of the water in our toilet bowl didn’t help so as I was vomiting the stench of the water in the toilet would have me throw up just a little more. There were days I was debating if we should go to the hospital and have a drip inserted so I could get some fluids.
I haven’t had any more bleeding or unusual coloured discharge since the 6 October and though we still had no idea what we are going to do, other than just wait till our next appointment on the 24 October. This joyous time was very painful and stressful. It’s difficult to admit that I had been stuck inside my own head throughout this painful journey when I should be sharing it with Ignasi who was just as frightened and stressed.
Over the weekend of the 19/20 October I started to bleed more. We brought our appointment earlier to the 21 October and the doctor said everything was fine. The cervix was closed and the bleeding was just leftover blood. He gave us more Dactil OB and a few other drugs, including an injection to be done daily for 6 days. The bleeding was almost finished and on the afternoon of the 22 October we went to the hospital to have them inject the drug. There was no way that I was self injecting my butt nor was Ignasi.
A few hours later everything crashed down.
I spoke with my mother that night and said that we would announce the pregnancy soon and that we think the baby is a little boy from one of the last ultrasound showing there was a tiny little something between the legs. Even from before we took the pregnancy test I knew I was carrying a boy. Just before midnight I went to the bathroom before going to sleep. Instead of urine coming out, the baby came out.
Please be warned the rest gets rather graphic!
In my hands I was holding a tiny perfect looking baby. I don’t really know what happened next. We walked to the hospital holding our baby in a ziplock bag and blood threatening to pour from me. We got to the hospital and I went to the toilet and lost what felt like litres of blood.
Hospitals in poor areas of the world are not the most pleasant and my fear was huge. I wasn’t told I could go through the rest of the miscarriage naturally but that needed to have a D&C as it was obvious that I hadn’t lost the placenta and the baby was not in the sac. While I was alone in the emergency room, I had to get the baby out of the ziplock bag for a little while and hold it safe. I checked to confirm the sex and he was a beautiful little boy! My mothers intuition was right.
Overnight admission in a room with a cockroach and a toilet with no seat or working light. Just fantastic!! The worst thing was beside the bed was a baby crib. We were in the maternity ward with an in my face reminder that I was no longer pregnant. Sleeping cuddled up in a single hospital bed is not fun especially when you are wearing a version of a nappy and every time I needed to pee, Ignasi had to come with me to hold my fluids bag. I am forever grateful Igansi was there to hold me.
Poor Ignasi had to run around and get money to pay for each step of the process. Their process is completely unorganised and he had to go to a lab down the road to pay for my blood work and while he was gone the OB/GYN doctor come to speak to me with a translator but I needed Ignasi as I was petrified of what was happening.
The room to have the procedure was even more crazy than the ward. It wasn’t cold and sterile like a normal hospital room. It looked like a storage cupboard and everything in it was just confusing. I won’t give you the details of this but I felt like screaming just before I went under that they weren’t to touch me. I genuinely feared I wouldn’t wake up or I would get a huge infection from the less than sterile conditions.
I woke later crying and needed to be held by Ignasi for what felt like hours. Eventually we were allowed to leave. I got dressed and as we walked out I cried. We left our baby there because we had nowhere to bury him or conduct any real farewell ceremony. Knowing he was now medical waste was just another heartbreaking part. We collected the antibiotics and pain relief and as we walked the last bit home we ran into the woman who runs the orphanage I was meant to be volunteering at. I knew looking at her and the two little boys in the car that I couldn’t work there as my heart hurt too much. The children had all known I was pregnant.
No-one prepares you for the hell that is a miscarriage at this stage of a pregnancy! Early miscarriage is though heartbreaking much easier physically. For days I bleed until another horrifying event. Little did I know that I would actually go through labour. Contractions every few minutes followed by the passing of massive and multiple blood clots. For 5 hours I had to endure contractions and blood clots. I said if this even close to what child birth feels like I want nothing to do with it.
Ignasi was beside himself because there was nothing he could do aside from rub my back and hold me when I was leaning against the back of the chair rocking from side to side. It was perfect though. To add insult to injury the water pump stopped. Luckily it was raining and Ignasi collected water from the drain pipes so I could flush the toilet every few minutes. Finally when the clotted bleeding stopped, sleep was heavy and filled with nightmares.
The next day we went to Walmart to have lunch and do some shopping. This was the next terrifying event. Again I’d experienced no cramping and very little bleeding all morning but little did I know the D&C hadn’t cleaned my uterus out. What happened when I went to the bathroom prior to going shopping left me distraught and more than a little frightened.
I wanted to scream for Ignasi but I didn’t know if he was waiting just outside or had walked off to look at something. Blood was everywhere and the placenta had gotten stuck as it was coming out of me (I did warn you this was going to be graphic!). Eventually I pulled the placenta out of me and this was not the easiest of endeavours. In fact, I was shaking violently and frightened I would pull my uterus out of my own body.
That is what they don’t prepare you for, none of the books explain what happens when you pass the placenta. The contractions the night before were clearly the placenta detaching from my uterus wall and the clots were part of that. My placenta was 15 cm long and at least 6 cm round. Scary enough as it is losing this, imagine losing it in the Walmart toilets!! The look of terror on my face when I left the bathroom was enough for Ignasi to know something horrible just happened. He simply hugged me while I cried and shivered, and said we would be ok.
The reason I have written in such detail is because when I looked for answers there was none. Everything said the D&C cleans everything out but you will bleed for about two weeks. The books and websites weren’t helpful in explaining what really happens. They sugar coat everything!! In reality I had a natural miscarriage as well as an unsuccessful D&C. God forbid if we ever experience another miscarriage I have decided to have a natural miscarriage and no D&C unless necessary.
I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact our baby is gone. From the 31 October to 2 November, in Mexico they celebrate Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. We have lit a candle for Ignasi’s mother, my father and for our precious little baby boy. I still see our little baby whenever I go to the bathroom and when I dream he is there. I know these will slowly pass and that our plans again have totally shifted. I also know that without Ignasi I would be broken. He is the love of my life and without his support I know this process would be unbearable.
Please say a little pray today for all the families who have lost a baby and anyone else they love. May angels guide our baby home!