motherhood

Our D&C Experience (with Q&A)

While I am sad to be writing this post today, I hope this helps other mamas who are going through this to not feel alone. I am a private person by nature, but I started this blog with the intention of being more honest about the rawness and reality of motherhood. Miscarriages are such a privately grieved loss for so many mothers. Everyone grieves differently, so I will never fault another in their choice to keep their personal matters private, but I do hope that if you have found yourself here today, I can offer answers that you’re seeking.

We found out that our baby was no longer with us on a Thursday afternoon. Due to some concerns (which will be addressed in a separate post about our miscarriage), my doctor recommended a D&C immediately. Being in the middle of a pandemic meant that it was difficult to be scheduled for surgery, so I was not able to get in until Tuesday morning at our local hospital.

The Hospital & Surgery

The hospital requested I be there at 7am for a 10am surgery, and told me to not eat or drink anything (including water) starting at 12am. We left B at home with my mom, who came in the day before to help with everything.

After registering and taking thousands of dollars from us (biggest eye roll possible at the American Healthcare system), they immediately took me back to begin the process of getting me prepped for surgery.

A urine sample was collected, along with lots of blood (which I almost passed out from, due to not being able to eat or drink for so long). The nurse hooked me up on some fluids right after collecting my blood to get me feeling better. I had to request multiple times for my RhoGam shot because I am RH-, and it somehow didn’t end up in my chart.

After being hooked up to everything, they allowed Jesse back there with me, and we mainly sat for hours. The surgery center became overwhelmed, and they were almost an hour and a half late getting me into surgery.

Right before they made Jesse leave, they gave me the first round of anesthesia, which mainly caused my eyesight to lag and made me feel a bit groggy. After wheeling me into the OR, they put me on the surgery table and I was given a second round of anesthesia.

My surgery was approximately 30 minutes long, from 11:20am to 11:50am. I woke up in recovery at 12:20pm, but the anesthesia was causing me to fall back asleep. I woke up again at 12:30pm and then 12:40pm. The nurses kept me in recovery for a bit because my blood pressure was so low. I also lost a good amount of blood during surgery. When I woke up, I asked to see my baby and started crying.

I came down from the anesthesia very quickly (that’s a redhead thing). Besides being just a tiny bit groggy, I didn’t have any issues. I didn’t need help getting dressed (Jesse did help me, though) and walked to the bathroom with no help, which was nice. I was a bit grumpy and emotional.

It was very nice to go in for surgery and not have to do anything besides lay there. You just wake up and it’s over, which is something I really needed after everything we had been through.

The Recovery

As I mentioned previously, I lost a lot of blood during the surgery, which attributed to me being a little disoriented. My blood pressure famously runs low so between those two things, I really had to take it easy.

I continued to lose blood, which is normal after that type of surgery. I came prepared, though, by packing Depends, which is an absolute must if you have a D&C.

I did not have much pain the rest of the day. In fact, I had zero pain immediately after surgery and the hours following it. It wasn’t until later that night that I started to get some period-like cramps, but that was really it.

On Days 2 and 3, the pain amped up a bit to stronger period cramps. I have been mainly tired, and spent a lot of time in bed just resting. Physically the recovery hasn’t been bad. It’s mainly an emotional recovery, and it doesn’t help that your hormones are out of wack.

Sporting those super fashionable Depends on Day 2 with a bloated postpartum belly

Days 4-7 were pretty hard. I was having significant cramps and bleeding. It caught me off guard because I was feeling way better the previous days.

Unfortunately, I continued to bleed for another month and a half post-op, which isn’t normal. Once I went in for my check up, they told me I still had pregnancy tissue that I wasn’t passing, so I was forced to take Cyotec to pass the rest from my body. I explain more of this in my upcoming post.

Q&A

Were you scared to get a D&C?

Yes, I was terrified. I am very apprehensive of medical professionals, and I had never had surgery or been put under before. My only hospital stay was when I had B, which wasn’t the best experience. I’m someone who likes to be in control of my body. The idea of being put to sleep while having surgery performed on a very personal part of your body was a mental block I had to get over. I had a few panic attacks leading up to the surgery.

Why did you get a D&C?

I will explain this in depth on my post about our entire miscarriage experience, and there are multiple reasons, but to summarize: I had a lot of pregnancy tissue that needed to be removed, that was both inside the sac, and also little pockets all over my uterus. My doctor was afraid if I tried to pass this on my own, that I would hemorrhage.

What happened to the baby’s remains? Were you able to see them?

I was not able to see them. If you would like to, you’ll have to discuss that with your doctor ahead of time, but due to the type of surgery and how they remove the baby, it’s generally considered unwise to view them, as it can cause more harm than good for your emotional state. My baby’s remains were sent off to Pathology for testing.

How much blood did you lose?

During the actual surgery, I lost 200 ccs of blood. I continued to lose a lot of blood afterwards. I’m not sure the total from start to finish, but probably at least 800 ccs if not more. I bled more with this than I did postpartum with Briggs. That is more than what the average person would lose. As a redhead, I bleed more and require stronger anesthesia.

How similar was this to postpartum recovery?

Very similar! It wasn’t as painful, and the recovery was quicker than my postpartum, but it feels like the exact same thing, just on a smaller scale. I had lots of bleeding, clots, and it took a while for my body to have a bowel movement. I’m someone whose body bounces back quickly, and I did not have a hard recovery with B or this surgery, in terms of pain. Everyone is different, though.

Are there any products you recommend for this surgery?

Absolutely. Just like postpartum, I recommend Depends, lots of water, Tucks (the pads soaked in witch hazel), and hemorrhoid cream. If you have a peri bottle from a previous pregnancy, that will help flush out some of the blood and might make you feel better. I’ll link all these at the bottom of my post. A heating pad was also a godsend.

Did they give you anything for pain management?

Yes, the doctor prescribed me a couple of narcotics (I would have to check the names), and 800 mg of Motrin. I didn’t fill any of them. I’m not a fan of strong pain meds, so I would recommend just a regular OTC Motrin or Ibuprofen if you’re having discomfort. If you’re in enough pain to warrant that strong of a drug, you need to go in to the hospital immediately. That’s not normal, and could be a sign of an infection.

Did you throw up after the anesthesia?

I did not. My anesthesiologist gave me a motion sickness patch behind my ear a couple hours before administering the anesthesia. He said it’s been proven to help with the side effects. I would ask your doctor for one. I didn’t have any nausea at all, which was so nice, because I had been so sick before this surgery.

Did they put you on diet restrictions after?

No, the doctor said to take it easy with light food and avoid things that might make your stomach upset (like greasy or fried foods). I mainly ate soup (y’all know I’m a huge soup lover), saltines, and had my first meal later that night, which was comfort food. I had lots of ginger ale too.

When did your bleeding slow up and then stop?

By day 2, my bleeding had significantly decreased. But I continued to bleed for over a month, and we found out later I still had pregnancy tissue my body wasn’t wanting to get rid of. It’s normal to bleed for a couple of weeks. Anything beyond that, please reach out to your physician.

What were you able to lift? Did you feel good enough to walk around and do normal activities?

They said nothing over 7 lbs, so I couldn’t lift B for a couple of weeks. I probably could’ve walked around and resumed my normal housewife activities for the most part, but I just didn’t feel like it, and I really needed my body to heal after everything its gone through. I rested up in bed for a couple of days (per doctor’s orders), then got back into the swing of things. I highly recommend having a family member there to help care for your littles if you’re already a mama. I was blessed enough to have my mom come in to stay with us for the week to help out.

How did you feel after the surgery? Emotionally speaking

This will take a toll on you. Right after waking up, I was emotional from the anesthesia. I’m not going to lie, I was happy to have the D&C, even though I was scared. I just wanted this nightmare to be over. We basically grieved the loss of this child 3 different times in an 11 week span, which was so much on us. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

I’m of course still incredibly sad (beyond measure) at the loss of our baby and the fact it had to come to this, but I am happy that we can finally have closure, and we could focus on my body healing. I was so sick for weeks, thinking it was the pregnancy, when in reality, it was the deceased fetus making me sick. One thing I’ve learned is that grief comes in waves. Give yourself grace, and make sure to treat yourself to something extra nice.

What has been the hardest part of recovery?

Coming home without your baby. It’s difficult to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills for a baby you don’t get to take home. The recovery is also so similar to a postpartum recovery, so it’s very mentally conflicting to have to separate your previous experience with what you’re currently going through.

TMI/Trigger Warning: After birth, you have bleeding called Lochia. It has a very… distinct smell (ask any mama and she will tell you!). I had that with this recovery (was not expecting that), and it was very triggering for me, because I had only known that specific smell from the time I gave birth to Briggs. So smelling that has been very difficult on me, knowing that I am going through a postpartum process without my baby.

2 thoughts on “Our D&C Experience (with Q&A)

  1. While I’ve not been through your particular type of experience, I am able to relate to the emotions of loss. For many years, I refused to go to baby showers because we weren’t conceiving another child. It wasn’t until after much prayer, that I found myself near other Mama’s with their newborns.
    Thanks for putting your thoughts into words for others, like me, to experience, Becca.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I can relate with your sentiments. All of my friends were pregnant and giving birth as we lost this baby and it was so painful to constantly see it in my newsfeeds on social media. I had to really take a step back for a while to grieve the idea that we weren’t having another. I’m so happy you’ve been able to work through your grief. You have a beautiful family.

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