Photo Credit: https://jennachristinaphoto.com/
A note from Alicia: Three years ago, I had the great fortune to meet Angela at a doula interview, where she shared the story of her first miscarriage. Her words touched my heart and opened my eyes; before that moment I had never considered that miscarriage can be natural, without a D&C, without a doctor. Just like birth, it can truly be undisturbed and physiologic, and parents’ wishes can be honored. Some parents may have reasons to seek medical care during a miscarriage, in which case they can still find ways to make it a peaceful, physiological experience. As for Angela, she took charge and created an experience (at home) that nourished herself and her husband and, ultimately, helped them heal. I’m so grateful that she is willing to share!
I have had two miscarriages. One was in 2012, the year before our daughter was conceived, and one was in 2016, when she was two years old. My husband and I have a rather holistic approach to health and life in general. With each of our pregnancies we were both elated and cautious, aware of the “statistics” on full-term babies. We focused our energy on being elated. We told all of our friends and family. Our line of thought was that we wanted to celebrate with those who were close to us and in the chance “something” happened, we wanted the support around us to be there. Miscarriage brings with it so many emotions—shame, guilt, fear, anger, pain, sadness, emptiness.
We planned home births, and also elected not to have any ultrasounds for all of my pregnancies. From our perspective, sonography isn’t a proven science and medicine doesn’t really know the long-term effects of exposing the fetus to sound waves at such an early development. Had we had an ultrasound sooner, they would’ve identified that the baby was not developing. I have no regrets. I approached each of my pregnancies with the biggest, open heart, full of trust that all was well with each of those babies.
Both of our miscarriages occurred at 11.5 weeks. I started bleeding and called the midwife immediately. With the first one, I went to visit a prominent OB in the Bay Area and she performed the ultrasound after two days of bleeding. She treated me and my husband very coldly, as if we were ignorant for not having been checked sooner, even though I had seen my midwife twice up to that point. Her message was, “You need to go home and be ready to miscarry.” I suspect she didn’t bother suggesting a D&C because we had such an unconventional approach to birth. I felt my stomach sink with her words, the wave of emotions that coursed through my whole body, the endless tears. We wept driving away from her office.
My husband asked what I needed. I told him I needed to feel the earth. He took me to the Rose Garden in San Jose and I laid my body onto the lush green grass and cried for I don’t know how long, as if the Mother was absorbing the pain I was enduring. I needed to feel grounded and She helped me. We went home, and around midnight I started having severe cramps and bleeding a lot heavier. Because the delightful doctor we saw earlier didn’t explain to me what “be ready to miscarry” meant exactly, I called the midwife. She took a deep breath and paused and said “Angela, your uterus has to expel what’s inside it.” Boom—it hit me at a deeper level! This is giving birth just on a much smaller scale.
I woke my husband and asked for his help and finally about three hours later, I was sitting on the toilet because I felt the urge to “push” and I felt this slippery mass slide from my vagina. I felt such a sense of strength in that moment, we pulled the little sac out of the toilet and cleaned it off; sobbing as we held our undeveloped baby. I had sewn a little cotton bag and placed the undeveloped remains inside the next day and we had a little burial ceremony in our back yard with a couple of family members. I absolutely needed this for the emotional processing of what happened. 1.5 days later, the placenta expelled. I had been monitoring my temperature and watching for signs of infection. A couple of weeks later I returned for another ultrasound to confirm nothing remained inside me. We immediately started telling people. I was astonished at how many women came out and told me their stories of miscarriage, and that they never talked about their stories for whatever reason.
More on natural miscarriage at home: http://www.birthtakesavillage.com/natural-miscarriage-at-home/