Saturday, December 13, 2014

In defense of natural miscarriage

One thing I was sure of even the first time I miscarried: I did not want a D&C. Even before the doctor had definitively told us, "I'm sorry, there was no movement," I turned to Father and told him that no matter what, I did not want a D&C. I wanted to carry my baby until God decided it was time for him or her to be born, and go through the labor and delivery. I wanted to complete the cycle that had started months ago. I wanted to give my baby no less than I had given any of my living children: the dignity of birth.

Unfortunately, the doctors did not see it the same way. They were very surprised at my decision and urgently counseled me against it. It would be "too hard, emotionally," I would "never be able to go into labor on my own." The best thing for me would be for me to have a surgical procedure to dismember the "tissue" and suck out the pieces. So neat and tidy. At least, that's what it appeared to be to them. But my biggest concern was not my doctor's convenience.

The first time I miscarried I had an uphill battle. I was patted on the knee and told that this is what the doctor would recommend to his own wife. I was refused any other options (medical induction, etc.). I went home and prayed. Two days after that appointment I went into labor and delivered my beautiful little boy at home without any complications. When I went back to the doctor I was accused of having procured some medications to induce labor on my own. I never walked back into that office again.

We held Innocent and loved him, wrapped him in a soft blanket, took photos. We let the other children see and touch him. We buried him with respect and a hand-carved cross marks his grave. In the end, I felt that I had done everything I could. I had no regrets. The time during the wait to miscarry was difficult, but I wouldn't have traded it for the sterile convenience of a D&C. I had to trust that God would carry me through the valley, and He did.

We've done that three more times.

I never had such a difficult battle with miscarriages two, three and four as I did with the first. My doctors were kind and compassionate. They did everything they could to ensure that I would deliver the baby naturally. They believed, along with me, in the sanctity of the body made in God's image.

It's hard to wait. It's hard to walk around with a swollen belly, knowing your child is already with God, but not able to "move on". It's hard to wake up every morning and wonder if today is the day, and go to bed that night feeling sad and increasingly a little more desperate. This is a death watch. Once upon a time, people died at home. When death was near, relatives and friends would gather in the home and keep watch, praying and offering comfort. It was understood that only God knew the hour of death.

This still happens in hospitals and nursing homes and, thank heavens, at home with hospice. But increasingly there is a movement toward the elimination of suffering. Euthanasia (poorly named) is being touted as the best and easiest way to die. Why sit by your loved one's bed and wait for them to die? Get it over with and move on. That's basically what a D&C is. And the unfortunate and ugly reality is that D&Cs are surgical procedures and pay more. They can be scheduled at the doctor's convenience. They're quick. It's much tidier that way. (For the doctor.)

I have never met someone who regretted delivering their baby naturally. But I have met a lot of people who regretted having a D&C. People who wished they had been able to see their babies, give birth, bring a natural end to the pregnancy. The natural consequence of the spread of abortion is that unborn babies are being considered increasingly disposable. Human beings are not disposable, whether they are six weeks gestation or 98 years old. God is the Author of life and only He knows the day and time we will depart this life.

As I have said, it's hard to wait. I've waited up to three weeks to go into labor. If you know someone who is waiting to miscarry, support them. Watch with them. Be with them in this dark time and you may be surprised by the grace you're given.

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Yes, it happens that no matter how long you wait you do not go into labor. I know at least one person who waited six weeks and finally had to have a D&C. If you're showing signs of infection or begin bleeding and do not stop, you may have no other option. But this is pretty rare. In general, people find out the baby has died and have a D&C within 48 hours. The majority of doctors do not offer any other option and women don't know that they can refuse and wait.

9 comments:

  1. I wish that I had read this many years ago, before I needed it. <3

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    1. I know. <3 I can't go back in time, but I can try to educate people now.

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  2. Very well written. Thanks for writing this. <3

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  3. Yes! A friend of mine had a miscarriage rather late (I believe she was 11-12 weeks along when she found out her baby had died). The doctor's office tried to bully her into a D&C. As an Orthodox Christian, she felt it was wrong to dispose of a baby (a human, deceased but human) like medical garbage. The nurse told her she could absolutely NOT have her "tissue" back after the procedure, and that "there isn't anything there anyway. Just tissue." She refused the D&C and waited to miscarry on her own for a couple of weeks. She was angry at the doctor and nurse for saying that her baby was "tissue" and "wouldn't even look like a baby," because when he was born, he had all of his features. After all, he was 11-12 weeks when he died, so he looked very much like a tiny baby. I was horrified that medical professionals who know better would lie to her about what her child would look like and would not recognise her religious convictions. I have heard that some places WILL allow you to dispose of your child as you see fit, but I think if a person is considering a D&C, she should definitely figure out her options. The pros to natural miscarriage as that it is also safer to conceive again shortly thereafter, should that happen. With a D&C, you must wait several months since the uterine lining has been scraped.

    I know natural miscarriage is NOT always an option, but it usually is. What did women do before the procedure? I don't think every woman who ever had a miscarriage just carried her deceased child in her womb for all eternity. So it's wrong to say a D&C is the ONLY option!

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    1. Yes, it is unfortunate that it is so uncommon for hospitals to allow you to receive back the body of your baby if a D&C is necessary. (Because sometimes it IS necessary despite your best efforts.) There is legislation being introduced (at least in some states) that would make it illegal to refuse to give parents the bodies of their babies after birth or D&C. I hope it passes, but it's going to be a long haul. DEFINITELY make sure that you discuss this with your doctor AND the hospital pathology department BEFORE you have a D&C if at all possible. You can alter the consent forms to reflect that you do not give the hospital disposal rights. That's what I did when I went into the hospital to have Andrew. It was an induction, but there was always the possibility that things would go awry and I would have to have a D&C.

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  4. I miscarried in December. I did not want a D&C at all. So, I had my 9 week old baby at home. Within about 20 minutes of his birth, I nearly passed out. I couldn't move and as I lay in my bed. I was losing a LOT of blood.

    We called an ambulance and I went to the hospital. They seemed to stabilize me on fluids but still I was losing a lot of blood. Then, I suddenly went into shock and my blood pressure plummeted. I'm not excatly sure how they revived me but I did have to get 2 blood transfusions, followed by a D&C to remove the remaining clots.

    I am very glad to have delivered at home but I advise all women to know the symptoms of too much blood loss and do not delay going to the ER, if need be.

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    1. Absolutely. On the "Actual Process" page I emphatically state that bleeding too much is a reason to seek medical care immediately. I can't emphasize that too much. There is a time to stay home and a time to seek help. I am glad that you were able to have your baby at home, but also glad you decided to seek assistance when the bleeding crossed the line into too much.

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