My miscarriage story and the dangers of Misoprostol (Cytotec)

March was going to be the month that we announced our baby due in the fall. The more and more I’ve thought about it, why do we only announce the good things? Things like, the cute baby announcements, the belly bumps and the gender reveal parties. We hide behind what society says should be kept private, but that is really only for the benefit of the reader, maybe they will feel uncomfortable. Bleeding and death aren’t exactly dinner table topics. As a mom of two healthy babies with no complications, I feel like we were almost naive to think nothing bad would happen. But for some reason, I couldn’t make any plans until I heard my baby’s heartbeat. I didn’t want to talk about minivans or baby names until I heard that heartbeat. Not sure what was different this time around. We went for the first ultrasound, with our biggest hopes and dreams for this baby. The tech didn’t say much, other than your baby is measuring a little smaller than the due date. Maybe I calculated wrong. But nope, I was spot on and knew when my last period was. My husband remembers seeing the low heartbeat but all I remember is hearing some heartbeat. It wasn’t until I met with the doctor after that when she said the word. I was alone because of Covid restrictions. This could be a miscarriage, she said. I lost it. Whatever she said after that I don’t remember. Fear set in. I met Dan at the car and told him as my tears rolled down. We were told to wait a week and come back for a followup ultrasound. Never did we imagine after the first ultrasound around 8 weeks the word, “miscarriage” would frame the following week. I would google the internet for any glimpse of hope, reading other similar stories. The baby was measuring a week or so small and the heartbeat was very low at 68 bpm. It would create anxiety, crushing any dreams we had of our little baby. We waited until the following week and that is when we found out the baby’s heart stopped.

This was the last picture taken before our second ultrasound when the heartbeat stopped.

I share my story not for sympathy. I share because 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime. I didn’t think it could happen to us, especially in our case, when we had two healthy babies with no complications. But truth is, it is very common. But, that doesn’t make it any easier. It might make it worse because it gets brushed over. We have been told, it’s ok, you can try again.

As our friends and family have found out about our baby, they began sharing their stories with me. The nurses I have interacted with along the way tell me about their babies in heaven. By sharing my story, it has been healing to talk about and others find comfort in knowing they are not alone.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING DETAILS ARE VERY GRAPHIC.

So after the diagnosis, I was given a couple choices by my OB. Let the baby pass naturally, take a medication that will induce cramping to expel the tissue, or have a D and C procedure to surgically remove the tissue. After giving it much thought, I decided to take the medication and attempt to do this in the comfort of my home. Letting things happen naturally would take a while and I wasn’t sure I could handle it emotionally to wait that long. Having a dead fetus inside your body is the opposite of any natural feeling a woman should have to go through. And wondering, just how long has your heart not been beating? Are you ok? Are you with angels in heaven? And the pregnancy hormones were still going strong. I had all the nasty pregnancy symptoms, but no baby.

The medication is called Misoprostol (generic for Cytotec) and it is inserted vaginally to ripen the cervix. My first dose of the medicine kick started the bleeding after about 6 hours. I immediately had chills after taking it. I laid in bed for the rest of the day. By the next morning, the bleeding had slowed down tremendously and after talking to the nurse and describing what had happened, she thought all the tissue had passed. I literally coughed in the shower and a huge clot came out. It didn’t resemble any sort of baby, but at that point you just don’t know what to think. I thought, this is it. I can heal emotionally and physically. I was wrong and this wouldn’t be the first time I thought it was over. I had to go to a lab the following week and have my HCG levels checked to make sure all the tissue had passed. My levels were still pretty high. Higher than they want to see after taking the medicine. I went back again after another week and my levels were checked and they had lowered some, but still not enough. I was given the same options, medicine again or the D and C procedure. I went ahead and did another dose of the medicine around 7am. This was about a week or two after the first dose. I wanted to again, feel some sort of control in all of this and stay in the comfort of my own home with my family by my side. This is the point it got scary even more as the day went on. This is also part of the reason I wanted to share my story. If I had read more stories like the one I am about to tell you, I would have heavily considered NOT taking the medicine. Disclaimer: You may have had a pleasant experience with the medicine, but I am sharing the details of my experience.

Around 9pm the same night, the cramping got really intense. More so than when I took the medicine the first time. The cramping and bleeding was starting to be so bad, I asked my husband to just stay with me. After several hours of gushing blood and clots, I called the after hours nurse line and she told me to get to the ER if it didn’t stop. Blood was easily going through layers of clothes and pads. I couldn’t walk to the bathroom without feeling like my insides were coming out, quickly. Clots were falling on the floor because the amount was too much for any amount of clothes to handle. I vomited into the trash can and could barely walk without feeling light headed. My husband never left my side. He sat with me that night, suggested to call the nurse, he drove me to the ER, and stayed with me every step of the way. We both went through this together and I am so grateful for his support.

When we got to the ER, my husband had to wait in the car because of the pandemic restrictions until I got a room. I checked into triage where they took more blood to check my levels and vitals. I passed out. When I came to and got a room, my husband was able to join. One of the first things they did was take me back for a transvaginal ultrasound. In the last month, I had several of these with minimal pain to check on the baby. This was much different. I was in writhing pain. It seemed like thirty minutes of the tech digging around in my uterus taking pictures. I was clenching the edges of the table while blood was dripping down my legs and onto the floor, just wondering when this would be over. They wanted to find the source of the bleeding, even though I was pretty sure it was my baby and the tissue expelling, after the effects of the medicine. I left that room after changing into the thinnest pad that left me absolutely no protection against the amount of blood and tissue that was leaving my body. Nothing would ever prepare me for this. I got back to my room with cramping ten times worse after that ultrasound. The nurse gave me some pain medication which did take off the edge. That nurse was a tiny blessing that night, just offering me pain medication and helping me change pads.

Around 7am, they sent me up to the operating room to have the D and C done. At that point, the bleeding wasn’t slowing down. In hindsight, I wish I would have just gone that route from the beginning. But I don’t have any regrets because my choices were based on what I thought was the best decision at the time. The nurse did tell me that there was a chance that even after taking the medicine, I may still have to get the D and C done. Another reason I am writing this is that maybe someone will read my experience and have more information to make the best decision for their situation. My experience with the Misoprostol was so different the second dose than the first. I spoke with my nurse and she said that my uterus lining had possibly built up more after the first dose (my body thinking I had a period) and that is what was creating that much more tissue. I will never know for sure, but all I know is I will never willingly choose that medicine again. As i sit here writing this just several days out of the surgery, my entire body aches. I don’t want to be touched my muscles ache so bad. Maybe it was the tension my body went through, the cramping, the emotional toll. I feel like now that the tissue has been removed, I can begin to piece my life back together and focus again on what matters and really begin to heal both emotionally and physically.

The last few weeks have been hard to say the least. But the part I will remember most is the love and support of the people closest to us. Even things as simple as a phone call or text asking how we are feeling. I know our baby in heaven has so many angels watching over her or him. But I still feel like it is always better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Baby #3 will always be a part of our hearts. Someday we will meet again.

Thanks for reading my story and I hope if you are going through anything similar, this story gave you a little bit of clarity and compassion in that you are not alone. We just need to do a better job of making women aware of what our bodies really go through. Not just the beautiful baby pictures, but all of it. Motherhood is truly a beautiful mess in every sense of the word. It is amazing what our bodies can do, and it is amazing how much love we have for our babies both on earth and in heaven. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or discussion. You are not alone.

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