This shouldn't be so weird and scary: thoughts on miscarriage

May 20 | Guest post by Megan Spence
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By: martinak15CC BY 2.0

I barely slept the night I found out I was pregnant, having read that my baby was somewhere between the size of a lentil and the size of a blueberry and already forming a face. I was blown away by the insane miracle that human life happens, that microscopic cells divide and grow and become a person, that chromosomes meet up and have the coding to know what to do. Turns out the chromosomes of my lil' babe didn't totally know what to do, or maybe its coding didn't quite line up. Either way, the baby didn't make it. Only three out of four really do.

I had a miscarriage at just shy of seven weeks. I was elated about the pregnancy. The loss was sad, but what hit the hardest during the miscarriage itself was the extent to which I did not know what was going on with my body. In that sad and confusing time, the wisdom of friends and family proved far more helpful to me than my doctor's advice.

At least a QUARTER of pregnancies end in miscarriage. It happens all the time. I don't say that to scare newly pregnant mamas-to-be. On the contrary, I think there's a way in which silence provides cover under which fears can hide and grow, and talking about this stuff feels to me like dragging those deep fears out into daylight, letting them air out and fade in the sun.

Sometimes the hush is understandable and necessary. Not every woman wants to talk about her miscarriage. It can feel quiet and private, too painful to broadcast. But I am doing OK, and as such, it seems worthwhile to raise my hand, to say that this is something that I experienced, that I am fine, and that it doesn't have to be quite so scary and weird to talk about.

I'm writing because the silence about miscarriage felt so heavy to me when I was having one, and I want to lighten it up a little. This is absolutely not intended to replace or override medical advice — it is simply a collection of things I learned. I'm sharing in hopes that it will reach a woman out there who's as confused as I was, new to pregnancy and bleeding, not sure which end is up.

Imaginary woman, you are part of a long line of women who have been through this. You are not alone. I hope you have friends who will talk to you about even the ickiest parts. But even if you don't, or even if they're all asleep right now, you're not alone.

Are you actually having a miscarriage? What I learned about bleeding

I've yet to hear of a woman experiencing miscarriage the way it frequently happens in the movies and on TV — a sharp pain that triggers the woman to reach into her pants with her bare hand and bring it out covered in blood, immediate confirmation that things have gone awry. In real life, there is a lot of gray area, symptoms that could be OK or could not.

It turns out lots of women have spotting during pregnancy. My sources on the interwebs concur that spotting that is pink or brown is less likely to indicate a problem with pregnancy. Bleeding that is bright red or heavy, or bleeding with clots is more likely bad. Pain is also a bad sign. If you are experiencing any kind of spotting or bleeding during pregnancy and are reading this online, odds are the internet has already told you all of this.

But what is spotting? And what is heavy bleeding? What constitutes a clot? This is where I felt most in the dark and where the internet really let me down. There seems to be an expectation that we are all on the same page and inherently know the difference between spotting and bleeding and can easily fit our symptoms into neat little boxes. But here's the thing: If you have any blood coming out of your vagina during pregnancy, it's probably going to be alarming. There's a good chance that any blood at all will seem like a lot of blood. Mine was bright red, a red flag if you will. Because I was looking at one bad sign, it seemed like I was seriously bleeding.

When I called the nurse line provided by my insurance, she asked me a slew of rather clinical questions that I found myself unable to answer until I pushed her for definitions. This struck me as completely backwards. We should get the definitions before the questions, or the questions should be open-ended with room for descriptors.

I had some pretty comprehensive sex education growing up, but I found myself wishing it had been even more graphic. I found this handy video about different sized clots in menstrual blood (spoiler alert – if you regularly have golf-ball-sized clots with your period, you should get checked out), but nothing about lumps in pregnancy spotting. A friend told me she always thought she'd had clots in her period, but that her miscarriage was different — she had a slight fever, and the clots were way bigger, even though she was very early on. In the end, I never had anything major — no huge chunks, no heavy bleeding. It was almost exactly like a light period. It's different for everyone.

Hospital or no hospital?

I started spotting at 6am, too early to talk to my mom or my friends, also too early to call the midwife's office I'd identified via Yelp as a potential good fit. And so I turned to the internet. One of the first things I'd read, when I'd moved on from Googling "spotting in first trimester" to straight up reading about miscarriage, was a story about how it's possible to be OK after miscarriage. The things that the author found comforting were the very things I'd included in early morning text messages to my mom, the reasons I'd given myself to be OK if I was indeed miscarrying. Buried within one of many comments on the post was this:

I wish at the time when I'd been scouring the internet in a late night haze that I'd come across something that had said, MISCARRIAGES ARE VERY COMMON AND UNLESS YOU'RE GOING THROUGH MORE THAN 2 PADS IN AN HOUR, YOU CAN WAIT IT OUT AT HOME.

There are some really good reasons to go to the hospital during miscarriage. If you're in major pain or hemorrhaging, it could signal a serious problem and could indicate that your health is at risk, not just your pregnancy. If your symptoms are more tame, but the anxiety of not knowing what's going on makes you feel like you're going to jump out of your skin, go and get yourself some answers!

My morning was a whirl of trying unsuccessfully to find medical care that was not the ER. My gynecologist had moved, leaving me between doctors. I called a potential new OB/GYN office and explained my symptoms and asked if I could come in. I was told to go to the ER. I called the nurse line offered by my insurance. She did not specify ER, but said that I needed to see a doctor "within the hour."

Here's the thing: I had mild cramping, sometimes waves of pain, but it felt like period pain, nothing worse. The insurance nurse had helped me understand that I was spotting — nowhere near hemorrhaging. The reason I was told repeatedly that I needed immediate care was that I had some tissue in the blood.

Wouldn't it be better to take my sadness there, to get some sun and stare at flowers, than to sit alone in a hospital, most likely for hours, waiting for an ultrasound to tell me whether or not there was a fetal heartbeat?

My gut sense was that I was OK — that I would be in more pain or have a fever or even more alarming symptoms if I was in any danger. It was the first hot day of the year and happened to be the day that my local botanical gardens offer free admission. Wouldn't it be better to take my sadness there, to get some sun and stare at flowers, than to sit alone in a hospital, most likely for hours, waiting for an ultrasound to tell me whether or not there was a fetal heartbeat?

Finally, I spoke to a doula friend who gave me the number of a midwife. The midwife said, "I'm so sorry" when I said I thought I was having a miscarriage. She listened to all of my symptoms and said she could see me on Friday. I mumbled my speculations regarding the advice to go to the ER: "All they'll do there is give me an ultrasound to confirm whether or not it's miscarriage, but I'll most likely know in a few days on my own, right?" She said most likely. I was hoping for a solid "yes," but there are liability issues when giving medical advice, and this was the closest confirmation I was going to get that I was probably OK.

My husband and my mom both supported my decision not to go to the ER. Friends who'd had miscarriages said I might not even be having one (a short-lived comfort, but a lasting bit of perspective on how not terrifying my symptoms sounded to others). I took my doctor's note in case anything changed for the worse and went to the botanical gardens. I cried behind my sunglasses. I stood in the sun. I laid out in the park and talked on the phone when my friend had to leave. It felt better than being inside.

Some things that helped

I tend toward anxiety, and I was surprised during my brief pregnancy by how fearless I felt.

Hands down, the thing that surprised me most was how calm I was during my miscarriage. I tend toward anxiety, and I was surprised during my brief pregnancy by how fearless I felt. Granted, I didn't have a ton of time for my mind to go to dark places, but I really didn't consider the possibility of things going wrong. When things did go wrong, I was confused and upset, but I was surprised to find, somewhere at my core, this belief that things were unfolding as they were meant to, that I was going to be OK.

I'm not a particularly religious person. I love me some yoga. I believe in spirit. I don't think much about fate or what's "meant to be," but I had this feeling in my gut that if I was indeed having a miscarriage, it was because the pregnancy wasn't meant to be. This little dose of spiritual wisdom came from a most unlikely source: WebMD. It was there that I first read that "most miscarriages that occur in the first trimester are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the baby." I'd been astonished by my ability to love something so small, sight unseen. It turns out it was something different than I thought it was, something too flawed to make it. Odds are, it was never going to be a baby. I was grieving a dream. Even though my pregnancy was short, learning I could get pregnant was a positive thing.

Somehow, the fact that miscarriage is so common and that most women who have a miscarriage go on to have a perfectly fine baby made it all seem like a step on a path, a page in some future book about being a parent. Miscarriage is incredibly common and does not in any way indicate that something is wrong with you. The lesson learned, that I'm releasing eggs, that my husband's sperm know where to go and that they can meet up, is a really great lesson that still holds true. So does the conviction that came in a new and solid way with pregnancy that being parents is something my husband and I both want.

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  1. I am so glad you shared this, and that you felt able to do so. and i am glad that you are ok. Before i was born my mum had around 6 miscarrages, and it is something that really scares me, i often wonder if maybe it is something genetic, what if it is passed on to me? what if when my partner and I decide to have a child i cant… im sure these are fears many women face, but reading this has clamed those fears, so thank you for sharing you story, and i wish you all the best in the future x

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    • Dunno if it helps, but my mom had five pregnancies, all came to term, no miscarrages at all, and all were girls. Out of four pregnancies, we´ve currently lost two, that gives us a 50%-50% chance. I really pressed Mom after my miscarrage, but she SWEARS she never miscarried, so I don´t think genetics are a factor…

  2. Wonderful and well said post. My husband and I have been there twice and now are expecting a little girl in August. My OBGYN told us we know you have eggs and we know your husband has sperm and these things happen. The best thing for me to heal was to talk about it too.

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  3. I too felt the same way about my first miscarriage. When I started bleeding, I knew that it was a miscarriage. And I knew that I was going to be ok. I have to say that it was harder dealing with other people's sadness around, than my own.
    I did go to the hospital as I was bleeding quite heavily… but the reality is – if you are so early in your pregnancy, you are not going to see the OB on call, you are going to the the reg ER doc and they really don't know a lot about how to handle miscarriages. I was able to deal with his brusqueness but my husband was hurting and did not deal well with it. Had I known what I know now, I would not have gone. It did not change how I felt, what I knew to be true nor the outcome.

    Thank you for sharing your story – there is more of us out there. 🙂

    BTW – this does not mean that grieving doesn't happen. It means that this is sometimes how life is. And acceptance is part of the path.

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  4. I'm sorry for your loss, but also glad you are OK. I've known so many women who have miscarried and it's just sad how common it is and how hard it is for so many women/couples.
    I've never miscarried, but it's something I worried about constantly when I was pregnant because I have PCOS and knew that my risk of miscarriage was higher than most women's. I did end up spotting and cramping at 6 weeks and went to the doctor (not the ER) right away because I knew I had the higher risk. Turns out my progesterone levels were dropping when they should have been going up. I was immediately put on progesterone and within a few weeks and after upping the dosage of the supplement, I was back on track. I have no doubt that I would have miscarried had I not had the supplement.
    Of course, as you said, most miscarriages can't be stopped, so I don't want to give anyone any sort of false hope, but I would urge any woman who has a history of any sort of hormone imbalance to get checked out if they are spotting in the first trimester since there might be treatment available.

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  5. Thank you so much for writing this post. I think it is really important to "de-mystify" miscarriages. I am a very outspoken person, but when I had my "miss" I turned inward and felt so ashamed, like I was a failure. Three years later, I realize that this is simply not the case, of course. I think that there is such a societal notion that if you have a baby you've done something awesome, which you have. . . but that if you miscarry you have somehow done something that makes people feel so uncomfortable around you. When I had my miscarriage, I hoped that it would pass like yours- a light period-like experience. But I ended up having a hemorrhage in the grocery store, and then the jig was up and I had to go to the ER. What caused my problem was that a very tiny piece of tissue had lodged in my cervix and my body was working overtime to expel it, so even with very, very early miscarriages (I was maybe 8-10 weeks) there can be tons of blood and grapefruit-sized clots. After my miscarriage, I felt so betrayed by my body and wanted nothing to do with child bearing again. I am happy to say that I got over that and went on to have a beautiful baby girl. So, I think that you hit it right on when you said, "You will be okay." That is the FIRST thing that everyone should say to a woman who is having a miscarriage. Momaste to you, and thanks again for sharing.

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    • YES!!! That feeling of failure is one of the biggest things I want to eradicate. Since sharing this story, I have heard so many others — miscarriage stories, fertility drama stories, conception struggles, etc., all of which remind me that we're all struggling, and we've all got our hurdles, and it takes failure off the table. Thanks so much for sharing your story — good to hear other perspectives and other symptoms — and congratulations on your girl! Momaste back at you!

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  6. Thank you, thank you. I wish I had this last year when I miscarried. We found out at our 7-week sonogram after finally becoming pregnant via IUI, and we wanted that baby more than anything in the world. I opted to wait it out instead of getting a D&C, and I'm glad I did. I still grieve the fact that I'll probably never be pregnant and my husband and I will likely never have a bio-kid, but we're pursuing adoption now. Much luck and love to you as you grow your family.

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    • I was very thankful that I did not need a D&C, if the body can, I think it's so much better to just bounce back naturally. It certainly helped me heal.

  7. Thank you for sharing such a straightforward guide to something so emotional. I refused to Google anything while I was having my miscarriage, but if I had, I wish something like this had been available in the internets to be found.

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  8. Thank you for sharing! I have noticed now that my social circle is starting to have babies that NOBODY brings up this topic. It is almost as if people think they will jinx themselves just by acknowledging the existence of miscarriages. After one brave friend brought it up, it was like the flood gates opened. They are way more common than you think. For the women in the group who hadn't had one themselves, they know at least one or more people who have. It wasn't a gossip session, but it was so cathartic to recognize that miscarriage is common and that you will be okay if it happens. Most of these women went on to have successful pregnancies.

    I am in the "thinking about thinking about getting pregnant" stage, so this is not a reality to me yet. I have no idea how I will feel later, but for now I have the same view as the original poster that there are probably genetic reasons for the miscarriage. (More severe than trisomy 21, for example, but other types of chromosomal abnormalities that are lethal.)

    And question: Can there be a link to the video about different sized clots in menstrual blood? Or more information about that? (That's another topic nobody talks about!)

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    • I never thought I'd have a miscarriage. I admit that in the days after I had mine, I was so worried to talk about it to my friends (who had young babies and were pregnant). I didn't want to feel like I was jinxing them… I still haven't talked in depth with them, but I feel like the awareness is now actually there.

      • The jinxing thing is so weird. I'm a massage therapist, and I do a lot of prenatal massage and had one booked during my miscarriage. I told my husband I felt weird about it, like I was somehow doing this nice pregnant lady a disservice by caring for her when I was losing my own pregnancy. I was worried about the jinx potential. Hubs quite rightly pointed out that I love babies and working with pregnant people and that, if anything, I was more acutely aware of how interested in pregnancy I am. It's obviously important to notice if it's hard for *you* to be around happy pregnancies and to take some space if and when you need it, but the jinxing thing? Lots of us feel it, but it's really not a risk.

  9. One thing that helped us with our miscarriage was to give it a name. We called him "Blinky". It's much easier to talk about Blinky than to talk about that-pregnancy-and-miscarriage-we-had. We chose "Blinky" because that's the name of the three-eyed fish on the opening of "The Simpsons" and most miscarriages happen because of chromosomal abnormalities. Dark yes, but healing.

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    • I have this ridiculous statement for people who are not "in the know," about what happened to me.

      I just go, "I was pregnant, and now I'm not."

      I know it's probably ridiculous, but it's a quick summation and helps avoid me having a breakdown. Also, people seem to get it quickly, then I can break out the miscarriage word, I just don't like to use it at first.

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      • I have absolutely said this very same thing. I don't think it's ridiculous at all — as important as I think it is to have the conversation about miscarriage, the fact that I was pregnant and now am not feels more like the whole story.

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      • Dani I don't feel like that is ridiculous at all.

        I have used a very similar statement with my vanishing twin pregnancy.
        "I was pregnant with twins, and now I'm pregnant with one baby."
        Very few people know about our miscarriage before that because it happened so early, but we're okay and I can talk about it some days.

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  10. Thank-you SO much for posting this! Your story is so close to mine that I wondered briefly if I had written this in my sleep and forgot that I posted it.

    I too miscarried just shy of 7 weeks. By my own calculations I was closer to 8 weeks but from the wacky dating estimations they put me at 6 weeks 6 days on my ultrasound. As it was my first pregnancy and my first ultrasound I was completely lost with the process to begin with (despite all the internet reading and book reading I had done).

    I too pretty much chose an OB by the internet (midwives actually) and I can honestly say, one of the more painful parts of the miscarriage was not the physical pain, but the lack of ability to answer questions like;
    – Who's your doctor?
    – Where were you looking to give birth?
    – What's your blood type?
    – What's the name of the midwife who filled out your lab form?

    Having never met the people I talked to on the phone, who scheduled my ultrasound, left me with such a detached (out of control) feeling.

    My miscarriage was so hauntingly fast, I started the week with light spotting similar to my period, and I stressed. A lot. The following day I still had very light bleeding, not so much clots. The next day there was nothing and I felt amazingly good, like my pregnancy was fine. The next day is when it officially happened, heavier bleeding all day.

    I choose to think that my miscarriage was a chromosomal abnormality. That's the most likely cause. It truly is amazing how much you can care for something you haven't even seen on a sonogram yet.

    Also, a side note… the internal ultrasound was not nearly as bad as I had psyched myself up for it to be. Because trust me when I say, the last thing you want when you're going through a miscarriage is the terror of the dreaded internal ultrasound.

    My midwives were smart enough to just say to me (over the phone); "You can come in if you want, but please know that we are so sorry, but there's truly nothing we can do if you are miscarrying." And at first I was mad. Furious. But now, just about 1.5 months after my miscarriage, I'm thankful. Why get poked and prodded when my body was able to do what it needed to and bounce back so quickly. Quickly enough that now I'm in my two week wait with my fingers crossed for a pregnancy that sticks.

    Good-luck would-be mommas, it's tough, but you'll get by.

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    • Lots of similarities for sure. I'm glad you were able to get good care, and also really glad to hear that the internal ultrasound wasn't so bad. Good fear smashing there!

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  11. When I had my first miscarriage, I kept imagining everyone around me whispering… oh there's the woman who had a miscarriage and her second failed pregnancy. My motto became, "I'm not going to whisper about miscarriage!" Thank you for sharing your story.

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  12. I'm glad to know I'm not alone. I had a miscarriage last summer at around 6-8 weeks (they said 8, I didn't think it was that far). I had the same issues, at what point is 'spotting' something more? Should I go to the hospital? I did in the end, but once I had started bleeding red, I knew what was going to happen. I didn't expect the 'period from hell' that followed, though.

    While I was off from work after (on the doctor's say-so), I looked online at some forums and other places to see and maybe share my experience. And I couldn't relate. Because I too was 'okay' with it. We had a difficult drive home afterward it initially happened, but I already somehow knew it wasn't meant to be. But everywhere I looked, other women were (rightly) devastated and depressed, they were looking for ways to cope, or just to get through the day. I almost felt not normal, like I wasn't upset enough about having miscarried. It was a weird thing, but I'm glad those other women have such places to go to talk.

    It's definitely something people don't talk about outside of a special forum, that's for sure. Everyone at work put two and two together, which was good because we ourselves didn't feel comfortable broadcasting it (we're pretty private people). Even now a lot of people don't know, but I don't go out of my way to make it a secret. What I worried about was this being a reoccurring thing, which lead us to keeping #3 a secret for a lot longer that we would have ordinarily. Thankfully we're at 37 weeks now, and actually recently talked to a friend who was around 11 weeks at the time, and found out she'd gone through the same thing! As hard as it is, I wish it was easier for people (ALL people, I know our experience was probably harder on hubby than it was me) to talk about it, even if they're 'okay' with it.

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  13. I miscarried this past fall. I have a son already, and in that pregnancy I did spot in the beginning and everything was fine. When it happened the second time around I thought this was just how my body does being pregnant. As it increased and I too felt the twinges of pain, I knew it wasn't meant to be. At first I was very depressed and angry. A few months later I came to terms with it, and shared my own experience on my blog I had been keeping at the time. I closed comments, but was overwhelmed by the private emails I had gotten from friends whom I had no idea had miscarried as well. This is a wonderful post. I wish it was around when I was spending my hours on google as well. Or during my dark days…I probably would have gotten the courage to go outside and enjoy the fall foliage.

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  14. I'm sorry for your loss. I wish this was here 4 or 5 days ago. I had a miscarriage at 6 weeks, and spent 7 hours in the ER because I phoned the healthline who told me I had to go immediately, and I couldn't drive myself because I might pass out due to possibly hemmoraging. This was after I told her I had some heavier bleeding earlier on, and it was now light. I work in healthcare and basically knew she was just covering her ass, but it scared me enough to go. I wish I had taken the route you had, and been more peaceful and calm. I'm glad you put this out there, thank you.

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  15. I am so sorry for your loss, but thank you for sharing and for raising awareness. When I went in for my sonogram at the 13-week check-up, they couldn't find a heartbeat. They also said the baby never really developed past 7-weeks. But my body was slow on the uptake. They wanted to do a D&C, which I refused, but they made me take Misoprostol at home to start the process. It was horrible and hard, and we were just a day from announcing it to everyone. The worst was that no one knew we were pregnant yet, so then no one was there to be supportive when we were not. I started telling friends, because I needed the support. I went for a hike with my husband and some friends, and ran ahead. I cried and cried and cried, as it had taken us a year to get pregnant with that baby. And I called up an old high school friend and an acquaintance of my sister's, as they were the only two people I had ever heard talk about their miscarriage, so I figured they were the only ones. To this day, I haven't heard of many more and so I share my story, in the hopes that I can be like that high school friend or distantly related acquaintance that can provide support and understanding through a difficult time.

    Now, with distance, I do believe that "Tea" (that was our nickname for him) had genetic challenges that couldn't be overcome. Only a few months after the miscarriage we were able to get pregnant again and our son just turned two. We are TTC again and I must admit I fear another loss. But, it will all be as it is meant to be. (And I am not a person of faith, I just believe that.)

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  16. I think one of the reasons people don't talk about it every time is BECAUSE it is so common. It happened to me, but I was only two weeks late and I hadn't even gotten around to taking a test. I suppose I didn't really want to know for sure until I had given it some time. Maybe I wasn't even pregnant, and I just had a "funny period". I feel like because we know so early on these days, it could make it more difficult to deal with emotionally if the pregnancy doesn't work out in those early weeks.

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  17. I never told anyone about the miscarriage I had earlier this year. I don't think I was even 7 weeks pregnant. I took a morning after pill and I think that's what caused the miscarriage. I just want to say thank you for speaking about it. It was such an embarrassing thing for me, even though only my future-husband knows, because we had been irresponsible at some point along the line (had unsafe sex) and didn't realize it. To tell anyone about the miscarriage would be to admit that we were being unsafe. Not that it's any of their business to judge, but people will.

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  18. Thank you, Megan. I miscarried at 12 weeks (the supposed "safe" time when the risk of miscarriage went down) and had while I knew intellectually what was happening, exactly what would happen and what was happening and what I could expect was so foreign that I spent a lot of time over the 3 days with unhelpful ER nurses and doctors. I agree with Anon who said that it's like people don't share information about miscarriages because they don't want to jinx anything, but in retrospect I wish I had known. People are so quick to tell you the intimate and gross details of pregnancy and labour but get so squeamish and secretive about miscarriage. If I had known what I could expect from people like Megan talking opening about their experiences, I think I would have handled it a lot differently, and a lot better. Here's to many more open discussion about this topic in the future.

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  19. Thanks so much for this post.

    I've spent 13 years willfully resisting all-consuming 'baby crack' urges. Then 5 years moderately obsessing about how I secretly want to jeopardise all my carefully laid career plans, and JUST GIVE IN to making a beautiful mixed race sea monkey with my amazing husband.

    So when I became unexpectedly pregnant for the first time I should have been over the friggin moon. Instead it never felt quite real. I don't know what a 'normal' pregnancy feels like, but this one felt pretty weird. I had pain and spotting for two weeks and kept my chin up, every step of the way refusing to let doubt creep into my over active brain. But then the serious stuff started coming out of me a week ago and I knew that was it.

    What I got out of the experience of pregnancy and miscarriage is an overwhelming respect and admiration for any woman who has ever gone through this. The meek ones, the subservient ones, the crazy ones, the funny ones – we are all so much stronger than patriarchal society gives us credit for.

    Because miscarriage sucks, yet everyday there are women out there going through it and trying to get on with their lives without causing too much embarrassment or inconvenience to those around us.

    Ladies: you rule.

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  20. I think this is a beautifully written post, which I think will help/resonate with many people.

    I had 2 miscarriages before having my son (now pregnant with #2), and each pregnancy had taken a long time to happen so I was definitely disheartened and starting to wonder if there was something wrong with me, too.
    I have to say that all the doctors I saw, even the ER doctor, were extremely sympathetic to me. For the second miscarriage, after he gave me the sad news, the doctor even ran after me into the waiting room to reaffirm that 2 miscarriages in a row did not mean that there was anything wrong with me and that it did not say anything about my ability to carry a baby in the future. It was touching because he was really trying to awkwardly convey how sorry he was that things had started off a bit rough for me.

    One thing I wanted to add, even if it's just an anecdote and a rare occurrence: my first miscarriage started off very straightforward around 6-7 weeks and the bleeding was light and subsided very quickly. It was almost like a very light period. However, when I went back to get my hcg levels checked to make sure that the miscarriage was complete, it turns out that the hcg numbers were still holding on. In fact, they were increasing very slowly over time. An ultrasound confirmed that I was having an ectopic pregnancy. I am very glad they caught it as early as they did, before I had any pain or damage to my tubes. They gave me a methotrexate injection, which helped "finish" the miscarriage. All this to say, even when the miscarriage seems to be over, sometimes it's not, so I'd definitely recommend getting checked out soon afterward.

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  21. This was absolutely the most helpful thing I've read since my miscarriage a couple weeks ago. I spent days laying in bed, crying my eyes out, wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn't keep my little baby, but after reading this, and the comments, I feel less alone. Thank you for sharing, and I'm glad all of you ladies are okay.

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  22. A friend of mine just sent me a link to this post, and I'm so glad she did. I'm actually in the midst of miscarrying right now, and since my husband and I found out a week and a half ago that this was happening, we've really been okay. Even though the pregnancy was planned, neither of us had quite settled into the idea that it was happening, so rather that mourning the loss of an actual baby, we've been feeling more destabilized than anything else – and I've been feeling a fair amount of guilt for not feeling as sad and traumatized as it seems like I should. It's affirming to read that other folks felt reasonably calm and "okay" during the whole thing. Thank you for posting.

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  23. I go to the doctors in an hour and a half to find out if I am miscarrying right now or not… I didn't even know that I was pregnant for sure, but my period was over a month late and I had my suspicions. I started spotting a bit, and then a few days later I started bleeding heavily with giant clots, cramping, back pain… I don't have a regular OBGYN so I (finally) got to make an appointment at planned parenthood to get checked out. I just want to know what's happening… Reading this article helped me a lot. I wasn't trying to get pregnant, I am not interested in kids right now… but, I don't know how to feel. Sad? Relieved? I am confused and conflicted…

  24. Thank you for this – my miscarriage happened very similarly to this – bleeding and pain around week 7, and it was hard since I'd yet to see the OB about the pregnancy (at least I did have an OB, so could call her nurse-aide for advice). I decided that I would go to the ER, since I had spent so much of that pregnancy (wanted) being freaked out by every. tiny. thing. (My current pregnancy has been so much calmer, which has been a huge relief.)

    It turned out to be a "missed miscarriage" meaning that the little one had died about a week before, and my body was only starting to figure that out. Later my OB gave me the option of a medical abortion or a D&C to take care of it, or to let things take their natural course. I was so freaked out by the thought of dealing with it alone – we were new to our city, my husband worked about an hour's drive away, and I had no support – that I chose the surgery. Like you, I comforted myself with the idea that something had gone wrong with the embryo, so I was sad and disappointed, but not as upset as all the miscarriage support sites seemed to assume I would be.

    One reason to seek medical help, though – either at the ER or with an OB or midwife – is if you've got RH negative blood. While I was in the ER they had to give me Rhogam so that the bleeding didn't endanger future babies; if they hadn't, I probably wouldn't be pregnant this time.

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    • Thank you so much for this comment, which really highlights A) That my blog post is not intended to replace medical advice (which I stated in the post, but deserves to be re-stated here), and B) How very, very useful it to hear other people's stories. Thanks for noting another important reason to seek care that I completely overlooked, having only my experience to go on.

      Your comment sent me into a bit of a tizzy, because neither the midwife I saw after my miscarriage nor the in-network OB/GYN I eventually linked up with afterwards mentioned rhogam to me even though I am, in fact, rh negative. Yet another thing I did not know to ask about, having never been pregnant before and not being far enough along to have received any prenatal care. Yikes!

      So I had a little freak out after reading your comment as is my wont. I have since talked to the midwife who I saw that week and to the nurse on call at my OB office, both of whom were incredibly reassuring and told me that the risk of developing antibodies with a miscarriage as early as mine is very, very low and not to freak out. They both told me that the risk increases after 12 weeks, and the midwife said that the risk is also bumped up if you have a D&C. All of that said, I would totally have requested screening and asked about rhogam at the time if I'd known to do so. I'm glad you got the shot, and I really appreciate you putting the info out there.

      I'm glad to hear that you are well, that the ER was the right choice for you, and that you are pregnant again and feeling more calm — all great to hear!

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      • Ack – I'm sorry that I made you freak out. I'm glad that your midwife and nurse were able to be reassuring!

        Part of it for me is that I'm coming at this as an older mother (43 now, 41 when the miscarriage happened) so everyone *else* around me has tended to react with more caution than is perhaps necessary. And, as I said, I was in a somewhat anxious state before, so it was hard for me to filter out the necessary advice from the over-protective stuff.

        That's a large part of why I really appreciated your post – we just don't talk about this stuff, either emotionally or as a medical experience, so it's really hard to determine what "normal" looks like or could look like, you know? 🙂

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  25. I'm glad this was posted on facebook again today. I recently had a miscarriage, also just shy of seven weeks, and the most infuriating thing was not having any idea what was going on–and my husband is a family doctor who has done OB care in the past, so I can't imagine how it is for people who don't have someone who has at least SOME idea. I was rushed in for an urgent ultrasound right away when I called about the bleeding, and after that it became impossible to reach my OB's office. I was told to call the next morning at 8:30 for ultrasound results and it took until my husband called at around 11 and pulled the "I'm a doctor and I know the next tests you'll have to do are time sensitive" card for them to return my multiple calls. When they did, I got no real answer. I asked about the ultrasound results and the nurse just said they "didn't really see anything." Like, no baby? No cause for alarm? Nothing to explain the bleeding? Nothing at all because the tech screwed up? I got no more answers. And when I talked to the same nurse a couple of days later, at which point I knew for sure that I was miscarrying, I asked: "Is there a point at which I should worry if I'm still bleeding?" Her answer? "No, not really." Like…that's just not true. I know if I bleed for five years, I should worry, so at what point between now and five years do I call again? Of course, I was going through stuff and didn't think to press these issues. Even after the doctor told me that I'd definitely had a miscarriage (which she could have told me that first day if she'd been the one to call about the ultrasound and I could have been spared the not knowing) that nurse kept saying "probably" and "might be." So…even when you're doing everything right, it can be really fucking hard to know what's going on.

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