Joanna-Marie’s story

Joanna-Marie shares her experience of miscarriage with a detailed, practical account of what physically happened to her.

Take time to recover afterwards... Don’t feel you have to rush back to normal life.

For the first 2 weeks from finding out I was pregnant, I had copious symptoms, but at 6 weeks it was as though someone had flicked a switch on my symptoms and I suddenly felt more like my pre-pregnancy self.

We had a 7-week private scan booked, so we knew we would have answers soon. By the time we arrived at the scan, I already felt I knew the result and warned the sonographer that they’d likely be relaying bad news. Sure enough, the baby was measuring a week behind, at 6.2mm, and there was no detectable heartbeat. We were advised to wait 2 weeks, then have another scan.

Whilst waiting, I read accounts on the Miscarriage Association website, which were eye-opening. I realised how little I truly knew about the reality of miscarriage and every women I spoke to over those two weeks said the same; none of them had known what to expect when they had miscarried.

The day before our scan I woke up in the morning to light period levels of bleeding, but no cramps. I felt ok throughout the day and even arranged to go into work the following day. I was woken out of my sleep at 2am by much stronger cramps, but they still felt like very familiar period style cramps. I managed to stay in bed, sometimes dozing in and out, but mostly breathing through the cramps. At around 4:30am, I felt it was time to take some pain relief and heading downstairs to get something in my stomach to do that. I felt a ‘whoosh’ and everything that had been releasing whilst I had been lying down came out into my sanitary pad.

At that point the cramps ramped up, although still feeling similar to my worst period cramps, and I settled on the toilet whilst calling my husband to gather bits for me (hairband, hoodie, bowl in case I was sick, hot water bottle). I breathed through the cramps until the ibuprofen kicked in. At this point I headed back to bed for a couple of hours sleep. Over the next 4 hours, I managed some sleep with a hot water bottle, waking up to change my maxi pad twice.

Feeling as though I was on a calmer stretch, I got up to make sure I ate some breakfast. I took some more ibuprofen and sat downstairs with my husband for an hour. In that time I had some strong cramps, but nothing I couldn’t breathe through. At around 10:30am I felt the sensation of something large passing from me. The odd thing is that this part wasn’t painful, but I knew exactly what it was and went to remove my pad. Inside was a larger section of flesh, linked by a very small cord to a smaller bit of flesh. I had just birthed my baby. That night I had strong cramps and had to get up in the night to take more pain medication. I struggled to get back to sleep.

The next day, I had period levels of bleeding with cramps, but not as strong. It was easily controllable with ibuprofen and a hot water bottle. I managed to sleep through the night without waking up in pain.

On Wednesday I had 4 hours when I was unable to do anything other than sit down with a hot water bottle and have as much ibuprofen as I was allowed. I appeared to be passing more little clots than the day before and when I went to the toilet a couple of hours later I found that I had passed a larger piece of mushy tissue. I felt in far less pain for the rest of the day and by the time I went to bed the amount of blood in my pad had reduced drastically. However, there was an increase again overnight, with accompanying cramps and I again had to wake to change pads and take pain medication. It felt like the miscarriage was occurring in waves, with peaks and troughs of pain.

I slept in until 12:45pm the following day and it felt as though my body really needed the rest. For the whole of that day the blood was reducing and now appearing brown, until around 10pm when I felt blood begin to pour into the pad again and felt movement in my womb. By the time I got upstairs, clots began to fall into the toilet bowl. I got into the shower, and whilst there I bore down gently, which released a larger piece of tissue/clot. I continued to bleed heavily and my attempt to get into bed just resulted in more pain, so I went back to sitting on the toilet with my hot water bottle. I managed to get into bed, just gone midnight and fell asleep roughly an hour and a half later, as the cramps died down.

That was the last set of cramps I had. The blood quickly began turning brown and within 3 days had petered out to levels that only required only a thin pantyliner.

On Monday, one week after I’d delivered the baby, I had a scan at the Early Pregnancy Unit to see if my miscarriage was complete. Fortunately there was no tissue remaining in my womb.

The most useful thing I found in preparation for my miscarriage was reading true accounts. I hope sharing my story can help someone else feel more prepared for what is to come.

My key pieces of advice are:

• Buy the big maxi pads (the massive thick ones that look like they’re from the 80’s)
• Stay hydrated!
• Stay ahead of your pain management
• Get a hot water bottle and fill it as hot as possible
• Take time to recover afterwards; you might experience fatigue from the hormone drop and from how much work your body has done. Don’t feel you have to rush back to normal life.

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