Community Birth Stories | A Miscarriage Story

Community Birth Stories | A Miscarriage Story

A miscarriage story, as told by Lissa:

I’ve written a birth story for my third-trimester loss before. This is the story of my first first-trimester miscarriage.

It was my 5th pregnancy and it started the common way. I had my usual symptoms of insomnia, cravings, aversions, and nausea. Classic. No additional fanfare or trouble. Everything felt normal. I felt no need to tell anyone other than my husband, but I did email my favorite midwife and doula to see if their schedules looked favorable to serve me again.

At 9-weeks, just days after emailing them, I found unexpected brown and clear mucous with a little bit of pink on my toilet paper on a Thursday. It looked exactly like the mucous plug I lost right before labor started for my previous baby. Immediately devastated, I lay in bed for a three-day weekend and it didn’t turn into anything more than off-and-on brown goopy mucous. No cramps. On Monday, the first frank blood had finally arrived. Not much, but accompanied by scattered small wet clots. My heart sunk a little further. Still no cramps. I waited for two days of this “what-are-you- doing?”-spotty red blood/small clots/brown mucous before I tearfully called my midwife for further guidance.

I actually wasn’t crying before I made the phone call, but as soon as I heard her voice, the waterworks started. This was the same midwife who had talked me through some of the saddest conversations about the traumatic hospital birth of my firstborn and then the heart-wrenching experience of our stillbirth. (She has seen me through two live births at home since then.) Asking my midwife for help, out loud, made what was happening “real” and it was so sad.

After a chat, she offered to send an ultrasound script and, within hours, I was in a radiology waiting room with an uncomfortably full bladder feeling so alone with strangers all around. The receptionists went about their jobs – “ID and insurance card please.” “Sign here and here please”. I wondered about the other people in the waiting room. Were they here expecting terrible news, too? Was today just business as usual? On their cell phones, all of them. Deep in their own places – wherever that was.

30 minutes went by after my scheduled appointment time. The discompassion of massive healthcare operations hardly surprises me anymore, but it definitely still hurts my heart. Did they forget that they specifically instruct pregnant women to drink a ton of water before their scheduled appointment time? They made no acknowledgement of their schedule running late. I finally asked for an update to see if I had time to go to the bathroom. At least the receptionist was merciful at that point and “let” me pee.

After more waiting, my first and last name (whew good thing we passed all those HIPAA rules) was finally called by an entirely too excited ultrasonography student. I was hoping she just hadn’t yet read that she was calling back a patient for “early OB ultrasound” and “vaginal bleeding”. As a medical professional myself, this is not the bubbly demeanor I would have chosen when greeting a patient for such a worrisome pair of circumstances.

The tears immediately came (silently) again, knowing my heart wasn’t in good hands as she practically skipped down the hall. I could just tell this was going to be painful to my overly-sensitive heart. She and another student asked permission to do the scan first because they really wanted the practice. I should have said no. But, I had been a medical student before and I know many people have to blow-it at least once before they can have a chance to improve in a similar situation later.

Everything in me wanted to take the probe myself, confirm the miscarriage and leave. But instead I endured 40 minutes of these people delightfully scanning unnecessary structures and painfully fumbling around my bladder and uterus. I could see the screen. I saw what I needed to see. I wanted to just leave now. Eventually it was time for the more experienced technician to come in and do the whole scan again. She was more to-the-point, but she turned the screen away from me so I couldn’t watch. I asked to see the screen. For the life of me, I cannot understand why she denied that to a patient, much less a grieving one. These are the first, last, and only images of my dead child I’d ever see. Instead, you’re basically saying “No, you can lay there crying and staring at the ceiling while I have the privilege of secretly looking at pictures of your body that you’re paying me to take.”

If this had been my first rodeo with unempathetic healthcare staff, I might have accepted this. I prayed for her, and after asking twice more, she did finally put the screen in a position I could watch. I strained my eyes and watched that tiny uterus nugget and willed it to move. I held my breath. Nothing. Nothing moved.

The students hadn’t known how to display the flatline of a non-beating heart, but this technician did. “NFHT” she typed on the screen. Boy, did that bring back memories from my previous loss. I asked if she could print one of these baby images so I could show my husband. She said the printer wasn’t working on this machine. Of course it wasn’t.

She informed me that it was time for the transvaginal view, and I said “no thank you” and wiped myself off and got up.

Checking out, a receptionist saw me crying and said, “I don’t like to see people cry” and a bunch of other random distracting terrible things to say to a crying person as I stood there at that counter mortified and feeling like every eye in the waiting room was now on me. Her words were the most painful part of that entire miserable week. If I could wish for one improvement to our American health care system…it wouldn’t be discovering new antibiotics or innovating surgical techniques or chemo with fewer side effects. Hands-down, I’d wish for the improvement of compassionate communication with patients.

When I got home, my amazing husband had the kids down for their naps and had food and drink waiting for me. There wasn’t much left to do with the day other than lay in bed and continue to do nothing as my uterus apparently couldn’t be bothered to do anything either.

I hopped online to read about miscarriages. The internet is never lacking on opinions. There didn’t seem to be a consensus on what I should expect. “Light bleeding” “It was like a heavy period” “I filled a bathtub with blood” “Non- painful” “Excruciating cramps” “Constant contraction” “Labor-like waves” “Had to leave work” “Didn’t even notice”. Whatever horror or non-horror I wanted to imagine, I could find a story about it. Thanks, internet.

So here I am, adding my story to the myriad.

On Wednesday (at “10-weeks”), after what felt like period cramps crossed with postpartum uterine contraction cramps all morning, I had a time of calm just around the time I put all the kids upstairs for naptime. Thanks, God. Almost immediately after, I started what ended up being 3.5hrs of “labor”. I suppose it felt more like a drawn-out third stage labor. It was waves of intense cramping with blood constantly but slowly dripping and at least seven palm-sized clot globs that all felt like mini placentas when they passed — sometimes splashing off the toilet seat to the floor before I could sit down. (I’d say the dripping blood was like from a giant finger prick dripping once per second that didn’t stop or slow for hours, in addition to the clots passing.) At first I thought I could handle this with just pads and frequent trips to the bathroom, but I soon gave up and got out the chux pads and took off my pants and just rocked and moaned and breathed and rolled on the floor as these miserable bloody crampy hours passed. In the middle, I managed to get the phone and call my husband home from work. He had no traffic on the way

home in a rainy rush-hour. Thanks again, God.

It looked like a murder scene by the time I was done. Blood running down the toilet, splattered on the vanity, drips on my thighs, calves, and ankles. Even on my abdomen – not sure how that got there. My husband diligently cleaned up spots on the floor and walls. “I’m proud of my little baby for making such a big mess,” he said.

Those drips of blood kept steadily coming for another hour or so – no faster, no slower. If this had been my first baby, I can only imagine how full of questions I’d be. Although I did get to the point when I googled “How much blood is too much blood?” and briefly reviewed a plan for if my husband thought I looked blanched. We peeked out the window to see which neighbors’ cars were in their driveways in case we needed childcare in a pinch. I kept track of my pulse (and kept hydrated and had been eating extra iron for days now, in anticipation). As weak and sad as I felt, my cardiovascular system didn’t seem to think there was a particular problem with all that blood loss yet.

“I’m proud of my little baby for making such a big mess,” he said.

I knew my husband would have felt more comfortable having me at a hospital. But we also both knew my super- sensitivity meant that if I had more encounters with unempathetic medical staff, it could take a physical toll on me equivalent to twice as much blood loss. Should he drive me to the ER and we’ll just wait in the car in the parking lot? Fortunately, I kept my color and my delightfully sarcastic energy, and eventually the bleeding did just stop at home.

That evening, when I could finally come up for air, I called the midwife who encouraged me that it was a good sign that my uterus was doing its job and that the worst of the pain and discharge was probably over. Indeed, it was. I slept really well that night. From then on, it mostly felt like a particularly uncomfortable and lengthy period. Compared to my still birth, I appreciated the lack of deflated abdomen skin, lack of lactating breasts, and lack of vulvar trauma from the skull and shoulders of a full-term baby passing through. I vacillated on whether this felt like a blessing or not; it was just over. Back to “normal”.

We had to decide whether to search through all the clots to have a chance to find the baby. Could it have gone directly in the toilet? Was it even out yet? It was unusually hard to throw away the chux pads and paper towels. That was the last physical evidence of this life short lived. In the trash. I am so grateful for my faith that gives perspective to the seeming wrongness and pointlessness of moments like these. We blasted worship music from our laptop speakers and I sang along through tears. I cannot put into words how much I anticipate the return of Jesus.

My husband and I guessed a gender and chose a name and decided not to tell our young children just yet about this other sibling they now have in heaven. Soon, perhaps.


Click HERE to learn more about the Community Birth Stories Project or to submit your own birth story

How to Write a Birth Story Timeline

How to Write a Birth Story Timeline

We talk about the important of writing and telling birth stories here at TRC on the reg. They help inform our culture of the breathtakingly wide range of normal birth, they help us process and place this life-changing event into the larger context of our lives and they help us introduce our offspring and our newly-minted parental identities to our Village. But I never said it was easy.

I know there’s a lot going on in those early days of parenting and the details of birth fade surprisingly quickly so use this tool to help jog your memory back to those moments; the good, the bad, the triumphant, the dark, the grueling, the beautiful, and the joyful ones.

This list just gets you started so take it and run with it because this is your story, baby.

Birth Story Timeline Prompts


  • What was my pregnancy like? 
  • What were the joys?
  • What were the challenges?
  • How did my body change?
  • What was I concerned about?
  • How did I prepare for labor, birth, and postpartum?
  • What did I learn about myself?


  • What was the time between the end of pregnancy and the beginning of pregnancy like for me?
  • How long did this stage last?
  • Where was I and what was I doing  when labor started?
  • What did those first moments feel like?
  • How did I cope with early labor?
  • What was it like to tell my partner?
  • What was it like to call my provider/ doula?
  • How did I feel as we moved to our birth location? 
  • What was the car ride and transition like?
  • If induced, what was it like to make that decision? How did the process start?
  • What was triage like?


  • How long did this stage last?
  • Who was in attendance? When did the members of my birth team join me?
  • What did the contractions feel like?
  • What positions did I use most?
  • What mental or emotional techniques helped the most?
  • What physical coping skills helped the most (breathing, vocalizations, movements)?
  • What tools did I use (TENS, birth ball, tub, shower)?
  • What coping tools didn’t work this time?
  • What were cervical checks like? How did it feel mentally or emotionally?
  • Was progress deemed quick or slow and how did that label feel?
  • Did we use any medication or tools to change my labor pattern?
  • What was the most physically intense part of labor?
  • What was the most mentally or emotionally intense part of labor?
  • What kind of pain management did I use and what was the decision like? What was the process like? Were there any side effects?
  • What were the other symptoms of labor (vomiting or nausea, back pain, shaking)?
  • How did my team encourage me?
  • When did I feel most connected to my baby or partner?
  • What did I eat or drink?
  • When did I rest?
  • What did I wear?
  • Was there music playing or ambient sounds?
  • Did we have oils diffusing or other scents?
  • What was the hardest decision I made?
  • How did my baby cope with labor?


  • How long did this stage last?
  • How did pushing start?
  • What did pushing feel like?
  • What was going through my head as I pushed?
  • What position(s) did I push in? Birth in?
  • Who was present for delivery?
  • How did my birth team encourage me?
  • Did we have any interventions during pushing (oxygen, episiotomy, vacuum)?


  • What was it like to make the decision for a cesarean birth?
  • How did it feel emotionally or mentally?
  • What was I thinking as I prepared for surgery?
  • What was the atmosphere in the OR?
  • Who was present for delivery?
  • How did my birth team encourage me?
  • How long this stage last?


  • What time was birth?
  • What was it like to meet my baby for the first time?
  • What was my partner’s reaction?
  • What was the first thing I said after birth or to my baby?
  • Who cut the baby’s cord?
  • What did my baby look like? Sound like? Smell like? Feel like? What was any skin-to-skin time like?
  • Did the baby need any help breathing?
  • Did we have any other complications?
  • What was it like to birth the placenta? What did it look like?
  • Did I need any repairs and what was that like?
  • What was it like to feed the baby for the first time?
  • What was the first thing I ate after birth?
  • Who were our first visitors?

Those who want to share with a wider audience are invited to submit stories to our Community Birth Stories Project.

This post is part of our Birth Stories series:

How to Debrief Your Birth | How to Write Your Birth Story


How to Write Your Birth Story

How to Write Your Birth Story

In a culture as widely devoid of postpartum ritual like we are here in the United States writing and sharing our birth stories begins to fill that gap of how we introduce our children and our new identities to our Village. Not only is our culture desperately in need of hearing and celebrating a wide range of normal human birth, but telling our stories is helpful for processing this single vivid experience that changes our lives forever.

Have you ever wanted to write your birth story but felt stuck or overwhelmed? Use this guide to break it down into manageable steps.

How to Write Your Birth Story

1. Do it as soon as you can. I know, there’s a lot going on as brand new parents but the details fade surprisingly quickly. That said, it’s never too late to get started. Partners, too, should take the time to write out the story from their perspective, but try not to corroborate stories at this stage.

2. Get in the headspace. Quiet moments are hard to come by when you have a newborn but eliminate distractions while you do this. If it feels safe to return to the birthroom in your memory you can let your senses help by cranking your labor playlist, sniffing the oil you had diffusing, and have a calming cup of tea nearby. Be prepared to feel strong or conflicted emotions and be gentle with yourself.

3. Write down as much as you can as quickly as you can. This is a rough draft so don’t worry about the storytelling, or getting the timeline and details perfect, just get the bulk of the story down onto paper. Focus on the big moments and how you felt. Dictating to someone or a talk-to-text app is a great way to get it out hands-free. DON’T judge. This is important. Let the story come as it will and try not to judge actions or feelings along the way just get it out. Write about the good, bad, ugly, beautiful, scary, triumphant, grueling, dark, powerful and the joyful parts. Take as much time as you need between this step and the next.

4. Enlist other perspectives. Yours is the most important story and you do not need to include the input of others. But asking your partner, your provider, your doula, your birth photographer or others for their viewpoint can lend missing context to your own experiences especially when it comes to nailing down blank spots in your timeline. Phone calls, text messages, your contraction timer and photo timestamps can help, too. You might also consider asking for your medical records. Add any details you want to your notes but keep in mind that you are not required to change your truth based on anyone else’s perspective.

TIP: Consider asking a member of your birth team ahead of time to write down the times of important moments during labor as long as it doesn’t distract them from supporting you.

5. Reflect. Spend time thinking about how you felt during all the key parts of labor, about the birth in the context of your pregnancy, the immediate postpartum, your relationship with your partner and your experience as a parent. Where were the highs and lows? Use our Birth Debrief to guide you through reflecting on your birth. Again, don’t judge and be so very gentle with yourself.

6. Collect and edit. Now bring it all together. Start with a timeline of events, use our Birth Timeline Prompts to help jog your memory. Take all of the details you’ve gleaned so far and edit, clarify, and piece it all together. Add as much or as little detail as you want. This step can take as long as you need.

7. Share, but only if you want. As much as our culture needs real, normal birth education no one is owed the story of your baby’s arrival and your birth into parenthood, so share only as you desire and feel safe doing so. Ultimately, this story is for you and your benefit.

Those who do want to share with a wider audience are invited to submit stories to our Community Birth Stories Project.

This post is part of our Birth Stories series:

How to Debrief Your Birth | Birth Story Timeline Prompts