Category Archives: homebirth

Stillbirthday–new miscarriage resource

I have accepted that the timeline for writing my Empowered Miscarriage book is going to be quite a bit longer than I originally hoped, partially because I didn’t get as many stories as I had hoped for and so the “feel” I had envisioned for the book is evolving. If you submitted a story, rest assured that I have not forgotten it and continue to hold it with the honor and respect it deserves. I have also decided to turn this blog into a book and I’m working on that project first, since it is more readily completable in the context of the rest of my life.

In the meantime, I just discovered this helpful resource: Stillbirthday. It is EXACTLY what I wished I had available to me during my own miscarriage experiences and in part, it contains exactly the type of information and support that I envisioned my own book providing. It has a section about birth methods, including a good one about natural miscarriage. The most helpful part is the “early pregnancy home birth plan” printable and customizable document. It is exactly what I wished I had when I faced my own miscarriage-birth of Noah. His birth was such uncharted terrain for me and I felt the lack of a “guide” for it very keenly.The website does say that you should not have your baby at home alone and that natural miscarriage is safest for pregnancies 10 weeks or younger—my baby was over 10 weeks and I did have him at home alone (with my husband). These are not decisions that I regret, but I do think it is important to be aware that what I chose to do is not necessarily the safest route. I did not realize that at the time and looking back I feel somewhat horrified that the doctor’s office just sent me home to go it alone! Since my outcome was “positive,” I wouldn’t change how I handled it, but knowing everything I know now, I would probably make some different decisions if I ever had the experience again.

As an example of the kinds of things I wish I had known or had available to me before my own miscarriage-birth, the birth plan section of the Stillbirthday site makes the suggestion to have saline solution and a clear jar available to put the baby in. This is to “restore the baby’s fullness” and give you a chance to spend time looking at the baby without worrying about damaging its skin. While I’m happy that I knew enough to take pictures and to look at the baby at the time, I think I will always regret that I didn’t spend more time with his body. By the time my dad brought him back to us in the afternoon to bury, his form was very different (less full) than it had been originally and I feel like we missed out on important time and observations.

The Stillbirthday website does seem to assume that most women will be coming from a Christian/traditional spiritual belief system, which is not the same as my own, so do be aware of that.

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We did it!

Today is my new baby’s one month birthday and felt like I should post here to share something about the “end” of my pregnancy-after-loss journey. While I still have other posts to eventually make about miscarriage, I’m not sure when I’ll actually get around to it and so I feel like sort of closing this blog with my happy ending. Alaina was born on January 19 at 11:15 a.m., whole and healthy, pink and precious. I have a short version of her birth story here. As I emailed to a friend who is currently in the middle of her own PAL journey, after the baby was born, I acknowledged to myself that I never fully stopped worrying that she was going to die until I was actually holding her—I think I honestly expected to be “over it” as far as that fear at some point. It did get lots easier and less frequent, but the fear was still there right until the end. Instead of looking forward to giving birth in and of itself as I have with previous babies, I told my husband that I was looking forward to getting it “over with”—in the sense of really wanting to make it past that one last milestone on my way to a living baby.

In fact, the contraction before she was born, I was trying to listen to her heartbeat because I suddenly got worried about her (she moved throughout the entire labor, which made it very intense, but then when I got close to pushing, I realized I hadn’t felt her move recently and got the Doppler to listen—we couldn’t find a heartbeat and the next contraction, she was born [duh. No wonder we couldn’t hear the heartbeat, she was practically all the way through my pelvis at that point!]) While on my knees, I pushed her out in one push into my own hands. She was warm and wet and pink and crying a LOT—thus neatly eliminating any fear of whether she was breathing or not. I gathered her to me and said, “you’re alive! You’re alive! I did it! There’s nothing wrong with me!” I still can’t think about this or write about this moment without getting tears in my eyes.

Shortly after birth

Rather than feel exhilarated after her birth, my dominant feeling was of relief. Of survival. That we’d made it after all. I still had moments of feeling like I had been awesome and magical and powerful, but my primary emotions centered around the baby and my joy that she was alive and perfect and here with me. I continue to feel this way—her birth (except for that potent moment of catching her in my hands) faded really quickly to the background, rather than occupying as central place as my previous births have done.

Our whole family was impacted permanently by our experience with Noah. One month after Alaina’s birth, my older son still says to her occasionally, “we’re sure glad you survived!” and my younger one will snuggle up to her saying, “we were really worried you were going to die.” On our first car trip (this past Thursday), they kept freaking me out slightly by asking, “is Alaina still breathing? Is she still alive?” or, “I just saw her hand move, Mom, she’s still alive!” Perhaps they would say  these kinds of things regardless, but I really don’t think so. I don’t think they would even be entertaining the possibility that she could die, except for they know all too well that some babies do.

Remember when I said early in this pregnancy that I felt brave for doing this again? For risking the possibility of loss again. I do feel like I was brave and that pregnancy after loss is a journey of courage and soul. I took a chance and we made it.

When she was two weeks old, one of my photographer friends came to take some portraits of her. The one below is my favorite 🙂

Two weeks old

It can be difficult to take good pictures of newborns, because they end up looking all squinchy in the flash (or out of focus with it shut off). I always look at snapshots of my newborns and think that they are WAY more beautiful when I’m looking at them, but I can’t seem to translate the beauty I see into a picture. I think my friend did it successfully though!

“The Empowered Miscarriage” Book: Call for Contributions

I am currently compiling contributions for a book about miscarriage. I am especially interested in stories about natural miscarriages (i.e. miscarriages that begin and complete on their own timeline rather than a medical timeline) and on miscarriage at home, but I am happy to receive any miscarriage story contribution. I am seeking full stories about miscarriage—the nitty gritty physical reality as well as the emotional components. I have a big vision for this book—I want it to be a “what to expect when you’re having a miscarriage” guidebook that doesn’t only address the feelings involved with miscarriage, but answers practical questions like, “what should I eat?” and “how do I take care of myself?” and “how much blood is too much blood?” and “how to decide whether to have a D & C or whether to wait it out at home?” I feel like the best way to answer many of these questions is through the heartfelt stories of other women who have “been there.”

I welcome contributions from women who chose to go to the hospital at some point during the process even if they originally started out to have a natural miscarriage (I am particularly interested in the decision-making process about going). My primary interest is in the nitty gritty, physical coping stories rather than specific location of miscarriage-birth, though I do still have the special interest in home experiences—-at the root, I want real, complete stories from any setting.

I have a full survey of questions that I am developing to post online, but for now I am pleased to accept any contribution related to my primary theme of natural miscarriage (and/or the physical miscarriage experience regardless of setting). Stories can be emailed to me and I will respectfully and gratefully accept each one with my heart wide open.

I was previously seeking suggestions for the title of this book, originally thinking of calling it simply, “Miscarriage at Home,” when a reader emailed me to suggest the title “The Empowered Miscarriage” (see comments on my other blog for her full explanation). I really like the connotations of the title—-particularly, that it suggests something about miscarriage that is very different than the normal coverage of miscarriage in books. So, I edited my original post to reflect this new title and focus.

Also, I still find myself signficantly displeased with the woefully inadequate word, “miscarriage.” I don’t like it. I don’t like, “miscarrying.” It isn’t enough. I also don’t like the euphemism “loss.” “Pregnancy loss” as a phrase is all right—side note: I feel like there is a range of experiences contained within the miscarriage experience and I think the three are almost separate experiences (emotionally, mentally, and physically)—the babyloss experience, the actual birth-miscarriage experience, and the experience of the loss of being pregnant. I have coped with my own strong, strong feelings about miscarriage as a birth event by referring to my own first miscarriage experience in writing as a miscarriage-birth or a birth-miscarriage. For me, this modifier makes an important point. However, it is cumbersome, not in popular use, and I want something else! Any ideas?

Pregnancy Loss Blog Carnival + Noah’s Trees

As I noted previously, Fertility Flower is having a Pregnancy Loss Week Blog Carnival . Please join in at Fertility Flower for the week of August 23-27, 2010 where we will be featuring articles, posts and artwork about pregnancy loss.

For the blog carnival I submitted this post about Noah’s box/ceremony for the topic of “memorializing lost children.

I also submitted my post about pregnancy trauma for the subject of subsequent pregnancies.

Additionally, I wanted to add a couple of pictures to this new post, also on the subject of memorials. This one is of Noah’s plaque actually on the tree next to where he is buried:

I guess it is all smudgy looking because of how I put my hand on it? I don’t see those marks usually in real life, but the camera caught them. This one is further away so that is shows both the plaque and the rock under which he is buried:

This is a picture of the tulip tree we planted during the mizuko kuyo ceremony we had on the six month anniversary of Noah’s birth/burial. This one is in our back yard (the cedar tree with the plaque is in our front yard):

The tree is actually quite a bit bigger now than in the picture. I hadn’t really realized how much it has grown until I was writing this post!

And, finally, here is a picture of the two little “jizo” (Buddhist guardian of “water babies”—babies lost before birth) rocks that my mom painted for me and gave me during the ceremony:

Miscarriage Doulas…

On a pregnancy loss message board that I read, a mother posted asking if she was the only one who experience her miscarriage as painful (because no one mentioned it being painful in the stories she had read and she was very shocked by the pain involved). I had a couple of thoughts in response to this question. I also shared my “favorite” miscarriage-birth quote: “Miscarriages are labor, miscarriages are birth. To consider them less dishonors the woman whose womb has held life, however briefly.” (Kathryn Miller Ridiman).

I do think the amount of pain probably depends in part on where you are in the pregnancy. Since a lot of women experience very early miscarriages (less than 7 weeks), I think that is perhaps why you don’t hear them talk about pain. OR, because a lot of women end up having D & C’s and thus do not go through the “natural miscarriage” experience, perhaps that is why pain doesn’t figure heavily into narrative. Or, maybe because there is so much emotional pain involved as well, the physical pain gets overshadowed? That said, my 6-week miscarriage was not physically painful at all (not that it couldn’t be for some women, of course). However, my miscarriage at nearly 15 weeks was indistinguishable from a full-term labor. It was just the same, except with the addition of MASSIVE blood clots following the baby. I value his birth as another birth experience in my life, but at the same time I am SHOCKED that miscarriage is so often overlooked as a birth event that requires tenderness and support (where are the miscarriage doulas and midwives?! While in a way, I feel proud of myself for have an “unassisted” birth-miscarriage, I could have used the care of a knowlegable, caring woman rather than to just be left on my own trying to gauge how much blood loss is normal, etc.)

So, what about “miscarriage doulas” as an idea? I have seriously thought about becoming one. I am trained as a birth doula, but have no interest in actually working as one, but being a m/c doula does interest me a lot. I feel like adding a section to my business website (I’m a childbirth educator) that says, “having a miscarriage? Call me and I’ll come over and rub your back and bring you things to drink…”

I decided two things shortly after my first miscarriage: one, that I was going to write a book specifically about how to deal (i.e. “what to expect when you’re having a miscarriage”), because I felt very betrayed by having this huge wealth of pregnancy, birth, and midwifery books all around me and NONE of them had the information I was looking; And, two, that if anyone was ever to tell me she was in the process of miscarrying I would go to her right away (unfortunately, it seems like people feel like they have to tough it out alone or don’t want to “bother” anyone and so only tell after the fact). Well, if she wanted me to go, obviously, not against her will. And, that would include going to the hospital with her if she needed a m/c doula there, not just for “home miscarriage.”

Thankfully, I had already read a long message board thread about, “what exactly do you see with a miscarriage” long before I ever had a m/c experience of my own, so I knew to expect mine to be like labor and not to be a “heavy period” (OMG, I want to scream when I see miscarriages described like that in books over, and over, and over again! Though, then when I had my second m/c it WAS, in fact, like the mythical heavy period, so then I understood a little better why that was a prevalent descriptor.)

Noah’s Birth Story (Miscarriage Story)

Since today is my due date (and also my own birthday), I wanted to take a minute to share Noah’s full birth story. I wrote it in my journal on November 10 (he was born Nov. 7) and have had it next to my computer to be typed up ever since that date. Finally, this weekend I typed it up. I have mentioned that I feel the need to “close out” my pregnancy with him—almost like I’ve continued to be a “little bit pregnant” and it is time to close that “pregnancy” and to move on. Not to forget or to stop talking about it, but to acknowledge that NOW I “shouldn’t” be pregnant anymore. I felt almost driven this weekend to finally finish typing the story so that I could publish it on this day. Of course, I expected to have a different sort of birth story to share on this day (or somewhere around now), but this is what our story actually is (very long—I broke it into three chunks to make it a little easier to skim through if necessary):

Beginning—Finding Out

On Wednesday evening, November 4, at 14 weeks 2 days pregnant with my third baby, I had an appointment with a prospective midwife. I have not written much about this experience, because I did not want her to come across it online and feel badly. The short version is that the visit was like a “fear bath”—it was pretty intense the level of fear and “what ifs” she kept throwing out there, as well as personal insecurities. Also, she used the phrase, “you’re going to have a dead baby” at least five times during the conversation (said in reference to comments people make TO her regarding attending homebirths, however, the words made me want to curl protectively around MY baby and reassure him. And, given the way the rest of our story unfolded, in hindsight her words felt prophetic—or, like she cursed me!). When I left the fear bath, I had a headache. I woke the next morning feeling like my uterus hurt. I also became aware of contraction-like sensations coming every three minutes but only lasting about five seconds each. I lay down and rested until time for playgroup. By playgroup I was down to just uterus aching/hurting feelings, plus a low back ache. I talked to my friends Summer and Trisha about it and Summer reassured me and rubbed my belly, “your baby is strong and healthy.”

Thursday evening (November 5), I started to feel concerned. The contraction-like feeling was back. At 3:00 a.m. (my nightly wake-up time throughout the pregnancy to date) I got up to sit on the couch. I tried to be positive and think about a “bubble of peace” surrounding us and I also repeated to myself, “you are strong and healthy, your baby is strong and healthy.” I felt like I felt the baby move a little then and felt a little reassured. I had decided earlier that perhaps I had a UTI and that was what was causing the crampy feelings to come and go (urinary frequency also). I ended up throwing up later in the morning and was reassured by presence of morning sickness still. Between 3-5:00 a.m., I started to spot a little, but only when wiping. After seeing this, I began to feel extremely worried and scared. Spotting continued lightly in morning and I called a semi-local midwife to see if I could come and try to listen for a heartbeat. She was on her way to Montana however, so I made an appointment with t he nurse-practitioner at my doctor’s office for 2:45 that afternoon. I called my mom and my friend and rested in bed, waiting and worrying and repeating my healthy baby mantras.

I went ahead and packed for my class, then took the kids to Summer’s house and went to the doctor’s office, crossing my fingers that the diagnosis would be a UTI—I strongly felt it was going to be either-or, but it turned out to be both 😦 The NP said my urine looked infected and I felt my hope restored a bit. I truly thought the baby was going to be okay. She sent us downstairs for an ultrasound at 3:30. Though I tried to be hopeful, it was clear from the ultrasound tech’s non-communication that it was bad news. She didn’t show us the screen and I wish now that I would have asked to see it. I stared at the light in the ceiling and held onto my goddess of Willendorf necklace and to Mark’s hand. She clicked around with kind of a frown on her face and then finished and stood up. I said, “not good news?” and she said, “no, not good news,” put a box of tissues down said, “take as long as you need” and left. I told Mark that I couldn’t “do this” here and so we went back up to the NP and she confirmed (obliquely) that baby was dead. She said the tech said it was probably a fairly recent loss and that it was low in my uterus and my cervix was starting to dilate, so I would probably “pass it” this weekend. I felt like she expected me to be crying and I told her that I needed to “process” at home, not here. I called the college to cancel my class and that is when I started crying—I had to say the words, “I just found out I’m having a miscarriage.”

We went to Wal-Mart to pick up antibiotics for the UTI and I cried in the car while Mark went in. Then, to the post office to mail an ebay package. Again, I stayed in the car crying and wailing almost in my anguish, “MY BABY!” We got the kids from Summer’s and I cried in her arms briefly.

Mom brought over dinner in sympathy/empathy. I was still feeling some crampiness/uterus ache and that eased after dinner. I sat and read my miscarriage books—I had four on my shelf already, one from my time at RMHC and the others from my childbirth educator training. I talked with Mark for a while. I kept saying that I didn’t feel ready to let go and also that I didn’t know HOW to do this—should I walk around and try to get “labor” going or what? Decided to go to bed…

Birth

I woke at 1:00 a.m. (November 7) with contractions. I got up to use the bathroom and then walked around in the kitchen briefly, talking to the baby and telling him it was time for us to let go of each other—“I need to let go of you and you need to let go of me.” I looked at the clock and said to go ahead and come out at 3:00—“let’s get this done by 3:00.” I had woken every night at 3:00 a.m. throughout my pregnancy for no discernible reason and had said several times previously, “I’ll bet this means the baby is going to be born at 3:00!” (but in MAY, not November). I knelt on the futon by the bathroom door in child’s pose. I said again that I didn’t know HOW I was going to do this, but my body does. I realized that I needed to treat this like any other labor. I changed into soft, stretchy gray pants, leaving behind my pajama pants that felt too tight across the middle while crouching forward. These pants were Summer’s water-breaking pants—when she lent me her maternity clothes she said the only thing she was attached to getting back were these gray pants because her water had broken in them. I felt like they would be good energy birth pants. I was more comfortable right away upon changing into them. My contractions picked up to about 3 minutes apart and were just like with a full-term baby—starting in the back and spreading to a peak in the front. Mark rubbed my back and I talked to myself as I leaned forward in child’s pose with my head on my arms. I was going to “laborland”—that altered state of consciousness place of a birthing woman. I realized the only was to do it was to go through it. I asked Mark for my goddess pendant to wear (the one he gave me as a “happy new baby!” present in August when we found out I was pregnant). I held her and stared at my Trust Birth bracelet (and felt the irony). I had already put on my birth bracelet from Zander’s blessingway to help me feel strong.

When I was still having the “HOW?” questions, other women that I knew who had experienced miscarriage started to come to mind and I knew I could do it too. I told myself that I had to do what I had to do. I said out loud, “let go, let go, let go.” I said I was okay and “my body knows what to do.” The afternoon I found out the baby died, I’d received a package that included a little lavender sachet as a free gift with my order. When my labor began, for some reason I wanted the sachet and held and smelled it throughout the experience. As I chanted to myself, “let go, let go, let go,” I smelled my sachet (later, I read in one of my miscarriage books that in aromatherapy lavender is for letting go). I also told myself, “I can do it, I can do it” and “I’m okay, I’m okay.” I felt like I should get more upright and though it was very difficult to move out of the safety of child’s pose, I got up onto my knees and felt a small pop/gush. I checked and it was my water breaking. The water was clear and a small amount. I was touched that now these gray pants were my water-breaking pants too, but I was also worried about messing them up. I asked Mark to get me my leftover disposable undies from Zander’s birth and put them on (SO glad I still had them!) I went back into child’s pose and reminded myself to open and let go.

Contractions continued fairly intensely and I continue to talk myself through them while Mark rubbed my back. I coached myself to rise again and after I sat back on my heels, I felt a warm blob leave my body. I put my hand down and said, “something came out. I need to look, but I’m scared.” Then, “I can do it, I can do it,” I coached myself and went into the bathroom to check (it was extremely important to me not to have the baby on the toilet). I saw that it was a very large blood clot. I was a little confused and wondered if we were going to have to “dissect” the clot looking for the baby. Then I had another contraction and, standing with my knees slightly bent, our baby slipped out. It was 3:00. He landed face up on the clot with his arms raised over his head. I said, “Oh! It’s our baby!” and kind of shut my pants. Then, I opened them again and looked at him. He was clean and pink, about four inches in size, and well-formed with eyelids, nostrils, closed mouth, fingers, and toes.  I felt something else and saw his little cord—I showed Mark—it was spiraled like a big one, but thinner than a piece of yarn. It broke then and a whole bunch of clots came out and nearly covered the baby. His head and one arm were showing only.

No longer worried about having the baby on the toilet, I sat down on it then and took off my birth pants, feeling worried about getting blood on them (I didn’t get a drop on them though!). I tried to clean the baby off and wanted to check his gender and take some time to look at him, but he felt so soft and rubbery that I was extremely worried I was going to damage him. His mouth came open when I touched his face and I was stunned beyond words at the complexity of having a working jaw—this was a very developed little person and the magnitude of that complexity of development was unbelievable.

Then we had to set him aside to continue to deal with me. More clots came out then and I started to feel faint when I stood. I said I had to lie down and laid on the futon and smelled my lavender until I revived. I asked Mark for fizzy drink (Emergenc-C), which in hindsight I think I should have taken because I’ve read that too much Vitamin C can prolong bleeding—however, in my incredibly large collection of pregnancy and birth books, I could find NOTHING that would help me physically cope with a miscarriage in progress—no self-care suggestions, ideas of things to drink or eat. Nothing. I had Mark bring me various midwifery books and laid there bleeding and looking through them desperate to find some kind of ideas. I told him, “I’m going to write a book about this someday!” (and I am). I also had him bring me some Arnica and Rescue Remedy and later some Nux Vomica (which was in one of my books).

As I was lying there thinking about how to assess blood loss, I was also thinking about how in so many ways this had strangely been the birth I planned for, just not at the right time. And, that it was very much a birth, not “just a miscarriage.” The birth was unassisted—just my husband and me—the baby was born at a little after 3:00 in the morning, just as I had thought he would be, I had my futon “nest” on the floor as I had planned, and instead of trying to take a shower and clean up, I’d laid down when I felt I needed to. I was also thinking about how I felt good that I’d done it myself and that we’d given our baby a respectful and gentle and strong birth at home. I reflected on the similar endorphin-rush, “I did it! What an amazing person am I!” feelings I also had following my previous full-term births. In the midst of these thought processes, I was amused to notice the thought, “I obviously need to get into extreme sports!” There are probably lots easier ways to feel an endorphin rush and sense of physical prowess than in giving birth!

My contractions continued fiercely and I lost my “cool” then—after having the baby, I felt like it was “over” (the birth part anyway) and so my coping skills/altered state of consciousness diminished also—and just started saying, “ow, ow, OW!” over and over. I also said, “this is good! I’m doing good! My body is doing good work” (i.e. with my uterus clamping down and finishing up the process). This went on for some time and I kept feeling little gushes of blood with each contraction. I had Mark call my mom and dad to see if my dad could come check my blood pressure and pulse. They came and both stats were normal. Continued to have pain and to say OW and my mom suggested that perhaps getting up and using the bathroom would help. When I sat on the toilet, a giant grapefruit-sized clot came out. I immediately felt better and went to sit in a chair in the living room after that.  I had felt faint and woozy again with clot-viewing, but in the chair I felt like I was “coming back” and out of the woods after that clot was gone. Ate some cheese and crackers and drank some tea and more fizzy drink and later a pudding cup. Continued to feel contractions and little gushes of blood with each of them. Started to feel a little concerned about it and knew I had most definitely lost more than two cups of blood. Much more. More than both other kids combined.

I asked my parents if they wanted to see the baby and they went and looked at him and cried and cried. I got up to use the bathroom again and another grapefruit and some oranges came out. When I stood to pull up my pants, I held toilet paper to me to keep blood from dripping onto my clothes and when I did, blood came welling up and over the tissue and onto my fingers. My vision started to darken and I heard loud ringing in my ears and my family helped me back to sit in the chair. I felt thisclose to “going under” and sniffed my lavender desperately and put my head to my knees. Recovered a little bit, but still felt as if I was fading as well as losing more blood. I was completely white. No color. I could not differentiate any longer if I was “just fainting” or dying, so we decided I needed to go in. I said I was sad to go because I felt like I was proud of how I’d handled everything myself and that I had been strong, but that it is also strong to know when to ask for help and that I needed to go. It was around 8:00 a.m. at this point. The kids had woken up and we left them with my dad and my mom drove us to the emergency room. I laid in the back seat and hummed the song Woman Am I over and over again so that they would know I was still alive. I briefly thought about how I had so much more to do before I died and hoped it wasn’t time yet. I also thought how ironic it was that it was going to be birth that killed me. I expected at least a blood transfusion, but the hospital was fairly nonchalant about the whole thing and acted like everything was normal. I smelled my lavender and felt better almost as soon as we were there.

Aftermath—ER/Placenta

The ER staff was very casual and asked all the usual intake questions and a doctor came in to check me. She said, “this is very common. It is just natural selection,” which ranks as perhaps the very LEAST helpful thing to say to someone experiencing such an intense physical and emotional event (and, I beg to differ about “common,” since only about 1% of pregnancies end after 12 weeks). She tried to do a bimanual exam but couldn’t feel my cervix because of all the blood clots in the way and so had to do a more painful and traumatic exam using a speculum that I do not feel like writing more about because I do not want to give any space to her non-caring treatment and lack of compassion. She said the placenta was about 75% through the cervix and that was why the continued bleeding. She said I was not hemorrhaging (in sort of a, “you’re so silly and overreacting” tone) and that she expected the placenta would come out soon on its own. I was given a bag of fluids via IV, which again caused me to nearly “go under” and become completely white—vision darkening, ears ringing—the nurse seemed more understanding then of why we had come in, asking Mom and Mark, “is this how she looked when you decided to bring her in?” After the hour or so with the IV, I got up to use the bathroom. I asked first to use a commode in the room so we could see the placenta and was told to just use the regular bathroom, where the “placenta” came out, only to be whisked away by the automatic flushing action before I could see it (it was NOT the placenta however. The placenta came out six days later). Bleeding did immediately lessen then. The doctor checked me again and said my cervix was closed and there were no more clots. She gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and for pain medication. We went to Wal-Mart for the scripts and then home. Getting home was HARD. Everything reminded me of what had just happened and Mark and I both cried and cried. Then slept.

My dad took the baby home to clean him up for us as well as provided a walnut Shaker box to bury him in. My mom crocheted a liner for the box and a matching blanket for the baby. I woke up at around 3:00 in the afternoon and started to collect things to add to the box. Mark and I talked about names for the baby. We thought perhaps the gender-neutral, Noa, based on a stillbirth dream I had had many years before in which we named the baby Noah. While Mark dug a hole by one of our cedar trees, I got a 2009 penny to put in the box, a purple goddess of Willendorf bead from Zander’s blessingway, one of my scrabble tile catch-your-own-baby birth power pendants, a rock and a shell from Pismo Beach, a picture of the boys, one of my womb labyrinth postcards, a hat I had crocheted, and my last “women healing the earth” postcard. Mark cut a sprig of our lavender to add. My parents came back at sunset with the boys. My dad asked if we wanted to know the baby’s gender and of course we did. He told us it was male. My mom added and elephant bead to the box and my dad had made a bead out of a log from their house. He split the bead in half so the two halves fit together—half to stay with me and half to go in the baby’s box.

I had chosen three readings from Singing the Living Tradition. I read the naming reading and since we now knew he was a boy, we announced the baby’s name was Noah after my previous dream. I read the other readings and the kids wanted to see the baby, so we all looked at him—he was much smaller than when he was first born (my dad measured him at 3.5 inches). Then, we put his box into the hole and each added a handful of dirt and said, “bye bye, baby” and cried and cried some more. (I have written more about the ceremony in these posts.)

I did not feel as if I had “lost” my baby, I felt like he died and I let him go.

“There is no footprint so small that it does not leave an imprint on the world,” or on his mother’s heart.

Miscarriage “to-do” list & natural miscarriage

Today, I happened to come across this article about coping with miscarriage. It includes a miscarriage “to do” list and one of the points was to “find the ‘rightness’ in every emotion. She says, “For example, I started bawling because of my thought ‘I’d lost my baby’…The fact is I gained a baby, a pregnancy and a gift of loving this little one while it was with me.” I have written before about not liking the “lost my baby” term and I liked this perspective of having gained a baby, instead 🙂 In tip number 13, the author also says this: “‘Let go. Let go of the need to control.’ This is the start of my meditation cd. It’s what I heard that first helped me to relax and open up enough to have the miscarriage naturally, it’s also what I realized I have to do so that I may celebrate the life and spirit of our little one without being dragged down by pain.” I, too, found the notion of “letting go” tremendously important in having a natural home miscarriage and wrote about that in my first post on this blog.

I am pondering this letting go notion more recently, because we are planning to have a little ceremony next month on the 6 month anniversary of when Noah left us (which is close to his due date/my birthday). A comment was made about “releasing” him as part of the ceremony. I balked at that, because it makes it sound like I am clinging or “holding” him back. This is not how I feel—I feel like he left in November. I do not *feel* him in a sense of a little spirit hanging around/held back by me. I do not dream about him or really have a feeling that his spirit is still here—he is gone and I know that. What I do feel is a need to remember/acknowledge/continue to learn—and I do not want to let go of any of that. And, I do feel a sort of “energetic” connection of sorts via my baby-in-my-heart necklace and via his plaque on our tree. I feel like there is a space in my heart for him that will always be there and in a sense he is still, “there,” with me, but not in a way that needs to be released or let go of. I let go of the baby in November, but I am not letting go of the lessons or the memories or the heart-space and that is okay.

I DO want to let go of the stored up trauma about the blood loss I experienced, the placenta aftermath, and my very real fear that I was going to die. I have never felt that close to death before and I have not yet ever been able to process that feeling in words. If I think too much about it, my uterus hurts and I feel like “closing up.”

The same website has an article about “natural miscarriage,” similar to the idea I have for a book I want to write (I hope to post more about this soon). In that article she says:

Embrace the sacred privacy!

As I was looking back on the loss of our baby, it was apparent that one of the things I was most grateful for was the privacy I had to experience this birth just as I felt I needed. There was nobody around telling me what to do, there was only my husband supporting me with what I needed.

I can’t tell you how invaluable that was to me, as I was camped on the toilet, pooping, bleeding and chanting all at the same time. It was just as important in walking away from the experience empowered in trusting the natural divine as anything else I’ve experienced. We can find our honor and the sacred even in events that we’d rather not be participating in (like the loss of our babies).

I definitely felt this sense of the sacred. In the book Wild Feminine,, the author talks about the time post-miscarriage as being a “sacred time” and I agree. I felt a sense of openness and transformation similar to after my other births, but actually more deeply and profoundly even than with those. The privacy of being alone to do what needed to be done was also of great importance—just like with homebirth compared to hospital birth. The connection to what was actually taking place in my body, vs. being at the mercy (so to speak) of other people’s ideas, interventions, emotions, and perceptions.