I had a baby once, even yesterday. But then she was no more. I birthed it in my bathroom and held her in the palm of my hand and severed the umbilical cord with my fingernails. Her body looked absolutely functional and flawless. She was a perfect little baby - just extremely little. And dead.
The rest of the night – she arrived at 2 in the morning – so the rest of the night got interesting in its own right. I passed the placenta, and the contractions continued as my body expelled clots the size of oranges. Sitting on the toilet during these clot expulsions sounded like I was peeing, but that was actually the sound of blood gushing out at such a remarkable volume. After about 3 hours of this I began to feel light-headed and unsteady on my feet - and even unsteady lying down. I was alone, with 2 kids asleep and a husband overseas. I texted my doula and she came over immediately.
I got a friend to come over and watch the kids; my doula drove me to urgent care where they gave me an IV drip and evaluated me for a blood transfusion. By 10AM the bleeding had tapered and the contractions had stopped, and while my blood cell count etc was low, it was not low enough to need a transfusion. They said it was about the same low level most women have after delivering a baby. They said the worst was probably behind me.
But the worst was still to come: when I surrendered my baby permanently for lab testing. I couldn’t let him go…. I made myself, and felt a violent ripping away deep, choke-ably deep inside. In my heart I am still in that lobby, on my knees, wailing in that primal way that is understood across all species.
While it is all fresh in my head, let me offer what I can to others. If you think you are going to have a later-term miscarriage at home, here is a list of things to have ready, including things you need if you’re alone and trying to shield any other children from one of life's harshest realities:
- Your phone charged and ready
- Gatorade or anything to replace fluid & electrolytes
- Working thermometer
- 6+ large towels and/or 50+ XL Chux pads. Line bed with them keeping in mind all the positions you might be in. Line bathroom floor and counter with them
- Maxi pads with wings – I would get 4 packs of 16, maybe a few types so you have the recollection of what it’s like to have choices.
- 8 pair of underwear minimum – 6 in bathroom, 2 in bedroom. I would highly recommend disposable underwear for incontinence. The blood comes through in buckets and even the best maxi pads don’t stand a chance.
3+ washcloths - one to catch baby into, one to wipe blood off legs and feet, one spare one
- 6+ pairs of pants or shorts
A container for fetus for burial or chromosomal test, (which should then also include some placenta)
A spare container for tissue you don't know if you're supposed to save or not
4+ rolls of toilet paper
An empty laundry basket
- Cleaning wipes to wipe down blood off toilet, walls, light switches etc
- Folex to remove blood stains if you have any carpeted areas
A giant empty trash can
- Camera in bathroom and something to place baby on for the photo (Your phone may have moved by the time you want to take a picture).The collection vial makes for a wretched photo op, trust me.
- TV w old reruns of your favorite sitcom or anything to pass the time
- Gloves for fishing things out of the toilet, if it will make you feel better about it
- Your choice of pain killer(s). It is labor after all.
- And last but not least...... A PERSON. Otherwise 9-1-1 is your only alternative if things start flirting towards sideways.
A special thanks to women who have written out their painful story with actual details; other than my doctor telling me there would be a lot of blood, these stories were my sole preparation: