2017 - I have lost 3 babies to miscarriage. The first pregnancy was twins. There were no heartbeats at my three-month ultrasound. I waited 5 days for a d&c procedure to remove them. I remember at the time thinking that was horrible, but now I know that I was lucky to have it taken care of that quickly. When I woke up from the procedure, the nurse said “I bet you are looking forward to getting back home to your twins”. I told her “no, my twins died, that is why I am here.” She said “I am sorry, I must have misread your chart, I thought it said you have twins”.
My second pregnancy loss was the most traumatic. The doctor persuaded me to take the abortion pill to get the baby out. I asked for a d&c, but he assured me the pill was the better option. It was not. I had full-on labour pains then bled for 12 hours straight until I passed out in my bathroom. When I came-to all I remember is seeing paramedic boots beside my face on the floor and feeling a sharp pain from where I hit my head when I fell. The entire bathroom floor was covered in a sea of blood. When I got to the hospital a nurse asked me if I had taken the abortion pill “on purpose”. I don’t know that anyone ever takes a pregnancy ending drug by accident. It is always on purpose. I suppose she was attempting to ask if it was an abortion vs. a miscarriage but at the end of the day why does it matter? I was bleeding out and needed urgent help. That question bothered me because it felt accusatory. I wanted to say “no, I love this baby and wanted it more than you could ever know." But even if I didn’t, and I had ended it "on purpose", how is that relevant to stopping my bleeding and saving my life?
The ER doctor had no idea what he was doing. He used the vacuum to try and suck the baby out but had no luck. He kept saying “it’s right there, but I just can’t get it”. The vacuum hose went right by my face into a canister on the wall. I could see everything being sucked through the clear tube. When the gynaecologist arrived she yelled at the ER doctor, “What are you doing?! You didn’t even give her any pain meds!?!” Then she told him he was doing it wrong, and she would have to re-do it. I screamed the entire time while a nurse held my hand and said “this is so barbaric”. Finally, they were successful and sent me home once the bleeding stopped.
I went back a couple of days later for a follow-up ultrasound to ensure everything was fine. At the ultrasound they discovered the baby was still there (woops!). The doctor asked me if I would take the abortion pill again. I said no way, it almost killed me. He told me it is an extremely volatile drug, that he does not like prescribing it to patients, but that the hospital encourages it because it is less expensive than a d&c. He told me that even if 20% of the women who take the pill end up in urgent care with severe complications, it is still cheaper than giving everyone a d&c. He continued with a lecture about the liberal government and how they were gutting healthcare. I felt like my care and my mental health were being reduced to a dollar figure. Politicized by a man who would never have to be in my shoes.
I opted to wait it out until the pregnancy aborted naturally. I went back for an ultrasound each week. By the fourth week I was experiencing a lot of pain. They told me it was due to infection from the dead tissue inside me. They gave me antibiotics. Each time I went to the clinic it was a new doctor, who didn’t read my chart, and would look at me solemnly during the ultrasound and tell me there was no heartbeat. As if it was the first time I was being told my baby had died. I wanted to scream. There was no continuity of care, they did not acknowledge what I had been through or how long it had been going on. It took over a month for the baby to come out on its own.
The loss of three children is difficult, surely. Not knowing if I will ever be able to have a child is a constant worry. But the biggest effect of this has been recounting the trauma of that day in the ER, the ineptitude of the medical professionals, the flippant way I was treated, and the unnecessarily drawn out process I was subjected to in order to save the hospital money. The single most pressing factor in my deciding not to try for another baby at this time is how I was treated at the hospital. I simply cannot go through that undignified, humiliating, painful experience again. I feel so helpless.
I feel that miscarriages are not commonly discussed in this context because there is so much stigma and misunderstanding around them. There is a lot of talk about trauma during the birthing experience (and rightfully so), but not as much attention paid to those of us who didn't make it that far. Many of our experiences are similar to traumatic births, but with grief and loss added on top of it. We suffer in silence and are not entitled to any paid work leave to recover. I was back to work two days after the ER visit. Working long days with my dead pregnancy still inside me. This is not okay.
I am a master's educated 30-something and I could not navigate this experience, nor advocate for myself. This really opened my eyes to what marginalized women must go through.
I told the specialist who prescribed me the abortion pill that I will never trust him again because he lied to my face. He agreed with me.
These stories need to be told. For all of us. Hospital staff need to understand that the way we are treated in these vulnerable and volatile moments will have a lasting effect on us. I still have nightmares. For a long time I could not even drive down the road the hospital is located on. I can handle the fact I lost my pregnancies. I can handle the memory of the blood, and the pain. But I can't get over the feelings of being mistreated, and the knowledge that I was put through many aspects of these experiences unnecessarily.
Pain affecting women's reproductive parts is not taken seriously. I have received pain shots for stitches on my finger, yet when a vacuum abortion was violently performed on me, pain was an afterthought. How is this even possible?
Submitted by Jen L