The double entendre in the title is intended. After miscarrying last week, I decided to have a D&E performed two nights ago. I want to share my experience, as I was terrified and had no idea what to expect, and hope that those looking for information will stumble upon this.
First of all, I want to clarify the difference between a D&C and a D&E; D&C is actually an all-encompassing term, often used between both methods. A D&C stands for dilation and curettage, in which the cervix is dilated and tissue is scraped from the uterus. A D&E stand for dilation and evacuation, in which the cervix is dilated and tissue is suctioned out of the uterus. Typically, a D&C is used during the first trimester, and a D&E is used in the second trimester. My doctor prefers performing D&E’s, as she feels it’s a less invasive procedure with a quicker recovery time (YAY for that).
As it was a Monday, I had no set surgery time, as all of this happened so close to the weekend. I waited for a call from the hospital, instructing me when and where to report. I toughed it out, not being able to have anything to eat or drink after 9am that morning (okay, so I cheated a bit and had a little water, but I was SO thirsty). I had the most difficult time kissing my little guy goodbye, knowing that there was a possibility that it could be the last time I saw him. While some may say that this is an irrational thought, I am a firm believer in risk with surgery, especially when anesthesia is involved; this is a huge part of the reason why I was torn in making the decision to have a D&E performed (because it was elective surgery).
My husband and I arrived at the hospital for 3pm, and proceeded to wait for what seemed like forever. I must have used the bathroom at least 5 times in my little pre-op room, my nerves were insane. The nurse made the mistake of leaving the door to my pre-op room open, so my husband and myself were privy to all sorts of (unsettling) information, such as them having my name incorrect (!), my doctor’s office not having sent orders over for my procedure, the fact that when they did receive said orders, there was a pregnancy test on there (!), and the topper, there was a mass confusion as to what doctor was actually going to perform the procedure. Fun times. It wasn’t until I was waiting outside the operating room that I confirmed which doctor was going to be performing the D&E. Even more fun times. I’m surprised I didn’t have and anxiety attack waiting, as I was finally wheeled to the OR staging area (read alcove in the hallway) a little before 5pm, where I was then privy to all of the nurses and anesthetists pacing and wondering where my doctor was (!). She arrived a half hour late. Thankfully, I didn’t have a panic attack or an aneurysm in the meantime.
The anesthesiologist came and introduced himself and asked a bunch of questions, and was shocked when he asked if I had any questions and I answered with a “Yes”. I’m a nursing mom, so I was concerned about passing any medications on to my little man after surgery. I was instructed to ‘pump and dump’ for the next 12-24 hours to be on the safe side. Not bad at all, as I thought that it might be a longer period of time. I’ve never really been able to pump much more than D’s intake (it used to take me an entire day to pump 4oz), so I stopped pumping because it was stressful. I did have some milk saved, however, from when D first started sleeping through the night at 8 1/2 months old (YAY), and was able to put together a bottle for my sister (who was watching D and dong his bedtime routine).
After chatting with my doctor, and feeling much more comfortable going into the OR, I was wheeled in. My anesthetist asked me to take two deep breathes from a mask and I was out. The next thing I remember was waking up in recovery, feeling pretty alert and physically fine. The nurses were absolutely wonderful, two of them sharing their own stories of miscarriage with me (one had miscarried twice, and had two preemies that didn’t survive, only to go on to have 2 healthy children). I had absolutely no bleeding, and apparently the doctor told my husband that everything went really smoothly, no hemorrhaging or excess bleeding during the procedure.
I felt really well, and we headed home around 8pm. All said and done, I was in surgery for an hour, and then in recovery for another hour to hour and a half. I had dinner, and was amazed by how well I felt (no cramping, no bleeding). I woke the next morning, almost feeling guilty that my husband stayed home from work, but quickly got tired and started feeling crampy. It wasn’t until about 10pm that night, over 24 hours after having the procedure, that I began bleeding heavily and continued feeling crampy. Today is the second day after having the D&E and I definitely feel worse today than yesterday. All-in-all, I don’t feel super bad, just crampy and tired. I will add that my cramps are much lighter than my usual monthly cramps (I get really bad menstrual cramps – so bad that I’ve passed out a couple of times in the past), so this has been a cake-walk.
Nursing resumed late yesterday morning, after Declan drank little the night before, and pretty much refused a cup of my frozen milk in the morning. I tried formula, from a sample can I had received, and his grimace was worse than with my milk. I then resorted to cow’s milk, he drank a little, but more out of curiosity than anything. Both he and I were glad to resume our nursing relationship by late morning 🙂
I will be honest and tell you that two of the things that were making this miscarriage emotionally difficult for me (other than the fact that I lost my baby) were a.) that I was carrying a dead baby around inside of me, and b.) that I was visibly pregnant, having popped at about 8 weeks (I looked about 5 months pregnant). I will tell you that I was relieved that I only had to wait 4 days to get the procedure done (I think my body was about to start miscarrying naturally anyway, as I had started spotting on Monday), and that my stomach was noticeably smaller the day following the procedure.
The outpouring of support and other women sharing their stories has been amazing…and so incredibly helpful for me in the healing process. It doesn’t take the pain away, but I don’t feel so alone in my sadness. Today is a new day, as will tomorrow be. I look forward to healing, both physically and emotionally, and look forward to trying to conceive another little miracle. I hate the fact that I will always be fearful of losing my baby during pregnancy, as I had been so relaxed about that in this last pregnancy.
As I told one of the nurses before going into surgery: “This week is a bittersweet week, as I mourn the loss of this baby, but look forward to celebrating the 1 year anniversary of my son’s birth on Saturday.” Such is life…