I was spotting Wednesday, bleeding Thursday afternoon, cramping Thursday night. But then it all faded away. Friday morning the cramps returned in earnest and I was truly in labor – there's no other word for it – until the early afternoon. Luckily J~ was able to get away from work to be with me throughout. B~ (my stepson) was at a friend's house. The timing was good.
It was exactly three weeks after I'd gotten the bad news that pregnancy hormones were not increasing rapidly enough for this to be a viable pregnancy. Three weeks sounds about right to me. I mention this because so many women are convinced by well-meaning professionals that their interventions, either surgical or medical, are needed to help things along. I know it's hard to wait on a miscarriage, but in my opinion, the time is precious. It allows the body to gently switch hormonal gears. It provides space to think and to grieve, assuming you can let yourself be in that space, in that physical window of time before the menstrual cycle and all of life's busy routines crowd a very real loss into obscurity.
And then there is the reassuring miracle that our bodies know what to do. Even if all the tissue isn't expelled at this time, the next cycle will wash the stray bits out. That has been my experience anyway, and I trust it. After all, women have been having miscarriages for thousands of years without ultrasound and drugs, let alone surgery!
I don't mean to make light of the pain, because there is pain. My sister-in-law, whom I supported through a late first-trimester miscarriage, said her pain was no less than the pain she felt as she labored birthing her children, except that it ended at the point that she would normally begin to feel the urge to push.
For me, there is also comfort in seeing what comes out with my own eyes in the privacy of my own home. As I have always done, I collected the mass in a plastic container and took it to an area with good light. I invited J~ to join me if he wanted to see, which he did. (This next part is graphic, so skip the next paragraph if you're squeamish.)
This time there was a mass of deep red, what I took to be placenta, about four inches long and an inch or so thick. Attached to it was a wrinkly white tube which I eventually understood to be the mostly-deflated gestational sac. At one end there was a chickpea-sized bubble where fluid remained. After consulting with J~, I broke this open to find a half-inch long translucent little tadpole. A splotch of blue-black blood lodged in its center — the heart? And a second, much smaller dark area seemed to be in the head. Perhaps the beginning of eyes?
It was reassuring to see this, to understand that my body had built and tried to preserve a little cocoon for this creature though the sac had mostly given way. I don't know what went wrong, and I suppose I never will. But I'm glad to see that for some time anyway, things progressed in at least a semblance of the manner that they should.
I'm still bleeding, still cramping, though with less intensity and frequency as the days pass. And I'm beginning to feel better, more and more like my old self. Deep breath. Phew.