Guest Post: On the Other Side of Miscarriage
Updated: Mar 11
By Karin Thoms, Peer Support and Community Coordinator at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario
Karin shares her experience of having a miscarriage as a result of a partial Molar pregnancy. I am so grateful to Karin for sharing her story so that we can normalize the difficulty and the pain in these situations. You are not alone and we are here to support you.
My miscarriage is not something I talk about often, or really even think about much anymore, but the memory always seems to be hovering over me – reminding me to be grateful for all that I have.
Our son was just over one year old when we decided to try for another baby. My husband and I told ourselves, and each other, that we wanted kids two years apart. That was the ideal number of years for children to be apart, to be friends with one another, to grow up together. That was a lot of pressure to put on ourselves, but ultimately, after 3 months of trying, we saw the two solid lines on a pregnancy test in February 2019.
Instead of feeling all of the joy I felt when we found out I was pregnant with our son, I felt terrified. I immediately felt like we had made a huge mistake. I wasn’t ready to welcome a new baby into our lives. I was still recovering physically, mentally, and emotionally from my first pregnancy. What were we thinking? I know now that I had some version of postpartum depression and anxiety after having my son, and I definitely hadn’t healed yet. I now had to give up my body and my brain to another baby, and I was nowhere near ready. Even when I told my mom, who is the epitome of support and love, that I was pregnant, she responded with, “really?”. She knew that I was still struggling after having my first baby, and she was shocked that we were even trying again.
Nonetheless, we went ahead as “normal” with the pregnancy, attending doctor, midwife and ultrasound appointments. I asked to be assigned to one of the wonderful midwives that helped deliver my son. Although I felt connected to her from that experience, I never felt comfortable enough to tell her my apprehensions about the new baby. I was ashamed that I was regretting our decision to have another baby.
My husband and I attended the 8-week ultrasound appointment, and we saw the fetus bouncing and wiggling around, just like we remembered from 2 years earlier. I remember feeling the same sense of relief that this baby was alive and seemingly well. Although I had apprehensions about this pregnancy, I still loved this little being growing inside of me.
About two months into the pregnancy, I started feeling really unwell. I didn’t experience much, if any, morning sickness in my first pregnancy, so this felt unusual. In retrospect, I don’t think I was even experiencing true morning sickness because it didn’t feel the same. It didn’t feel right. I think my body was trying to tell me that something was wrong.
On May 2, 2019, we were planning to take our son to the 12-week ultrasound appointment before dropping him off at daycare and heading to work ourselves. My husband and I had a conversation, while laying in bed, the night before and we discussed the possibility that something was wrong with the baby. Somehow, I intuitively knew that something was not quite right. My husband and I said we love each other and agreed that, no matter the outcome, we would be okay.
The next morning, the Ultrasound Technician confirmed that my intuition was correct. The baby did not have a heartbeat, and looked like it had stopped developing around 9-weeks. Although deep down I knew the outcome was bleak, I still laid on the table in complete shock and disbelief. The Technician asked me if I wanted to keep a picture, and I immediately responded with a sharp, “No, I don’t want a picture!”. She nodded in understanding and went to retrieve my husband and son from the waiting room.
After the appointment, I called my midwife from the car and told her the news. She advised me that I had a “missed miscarriage”, and I had three options; wait to miscarry naturally, take a pill to start the process, or have a D&C (Dilation and Curettage) procedure to remove the fetus. Knowing myself, and knowing that I would have a difficult time witnessing the process of a miscarriage, I quickly decided to have the D&C.
I had to wait a couple of days before they could schedule me in for the procedure at the hospital. Waiting for the call from the hospital was torture. I was given time to process what had happened before the finality of the procedure, however I was terrified that I would have to experience the goriness of a miscarriage, after already knowing that the baby didn’t survive. Finally, two days later, they called to schedule the procedure.
My experience at the hospital was better than many others have experienced. The nurses and OB were very sympathetic and sensitive to our situation. The last thing I remember before being put under anesthesia, is one of the nurses lightly stroking my arm, soothing me to sleep. The memory of her gentle support still makes me cry with gratitude whenever I think of it.
Afterwards, I woke up in a hospital room with my husband’s loving eyes looking at me. I could tell he was full of sorrow too, and worry for me. The OB told me that the procedure took longer than expected. Typically, they say it is a 20–30-minute procedure, however mine took over an hour. We found out later that I had a Partial Molar Pregnancy. A Partial Molar Pregnancy is when the embryo develops incompletely, and there is an overdevelopment of “grape-like” cysts that grow in the uterus. In my case, an incomplete embryo and placenta started to develop, which is why we saw the fetus moving at the first ultrasound appointment, and why it took longer to complete the procedure.
Unlike most miscarriages, I was given a reason why my pregnancy ended. The fetus would never have survived a molar pregnancy. Although I know the miscarriage wasn’t my fault, I couldn’t help but feel guilt and shame about my negative thoughts and apprehensions about the pregnancy. It felt like I willed the pregnancy to end, and now as a punishment, I would take on my husband’s and my pain, grief and shame.
I was so hard on myself for something I had absolutely no control over. It was fate, and I know that now. If I hadn’t endured that miscarriage, I wouldn’t be blessed with our beautiful daughter, who is now over a year old. Our loss taught me to be grateful, to not plan every step in life, to love wholeheartedly, and to live in the moment and be present with my loved ones. It taught me to trust in my intuition, to advocate for myself, and to be vulnerable and talk to someone, anyone, about troubling thoughts and feelings. I’m not sure I would have learned these valuable lessons without going through this immense loss.
We waited a year before trying to get pregnant again. During that time, I talked to a counsellor (many times), and sought out other forms of therapy to help me heal. I am so glad I took the time to heal and discover what I really wanted and valued in my life. I encourage anyone who has experienced a miscarriage to reach out and talk to someone. I was lucky enough to have an amazing counsellor who talked me through a lot of my grief and shame. I am now a proud PAIL (Pregnancy and Infant Loss) Network volunteer, where I am paired up with people who have experienced a first trimester miscarriage, and support them through their grief. The PAIL Network is an amazing resource that I wish I knew about when I experienced my loss.
Thank you for reading my story. There are many intricacies that I have left out for sake of time and sacredness. If you ever want to talk about your story, or ask questions about mine, please connect with me @Karin_pwo on Instagram, or email me at email@example.com. You deserve to share your story, and I am here to listen.