After the Miscarriage: My Experience with a D&E

(You can read about our miscarriage here.)

While it's still fresh in my mind, I want to write about the day I had a D&E (dilation and evacuation) to remove our little girls whose hearts had stopped beating around 15 weeks of pregnancy.  Not that it's an experience I want to re-live but because if I can help one person, then it's worth it.  Writing also helps me process experiences and is very therapeutic to me, so here I am.

My procedure was scheduled for 1pm on Thursday, April 29 with an 11am check-in.  I couldn't eat in the 8-12 hours leading up to check-in, and couldn't drink for two hours prior.  Truth be told, I didn't have one sip of water all morning.  I took a shower and threw up while brushing my teeth.  A reminder that I was still, in fact, pregnant, but with babies who were no longer alive.

We checked in at 11.  I got a wristband, paid the $50 deposit towards our final bill, and we were sent to the surgery waiting room.  I was doing fairly well emotionally (albeit hungry and needing coffee) until a waiting room attendant checked in with us.  Her job was basically to move around the waiting room, prep the patient and family (one support person per patient due to Covid) with information about his or her procedure (she told us mine would last about 30 minutes) and give updates on whether things were running on time, etc.  We asked if Craig was supposed to go back to pre-op with me once my name was called.  She said they would allow it, given my procedure, even though Covid prevented most others from having support with them.  This, of course, opened the flood gates.  I cried then and there, not knowing or caring who was watching.

Going into the procedure, I was equal parts sad and hopeful.  Hopeful because I knew it would give me some closure and allow us to move forward.  It was hard being "pregnant" with dead babies.  At the same time, I felt extreme sadness because although the babies were not alive, they were still with me physically, and that was, in a way, comforting.  The procedure would physically eliminate the babies forever, leaving us with only memories, which was a hard truth to accept.

I honestly have no idea what time we were called back.  But I do remember crying as the employee called my name, crying some more as the nurse introduced herself and told us how sorry she was, and crying even more as I was prepped for surgery.  As we were leaving the waiting room, I also remember someone telling Craig he couldn't go with me, and someone else telling that lady it had been approved for our situation.

Craig stayed with me for about an hour.  I put on a hospital gown, met a ton of medical staff (KU is a teaching hospital so lots of med students...they were all amazing), talked with both the anesthesiologist and OB, and got hooked up to an IV.  I hadn't had anything to drink (or eat) for over 17 hours so it took awhile, several pokes, a vein light, and a second nurse to get the IV in place.  Did I mention I hate needles?  The IV was always my least favorite part of giving birth.

The first medication I took was a pill that went under my tongue to soften my cervix.  It did not taste great and left a grainy, gritty taste in my mouth (with nothing to drink to wash it down).  It also gave me period-like cramps.  Then they started me on antibiotics (standard during surgery to prevent infection) and pain meds.  I had a stress + lack of caffeine headache (plus the cramps) so I welcomed the pain meds with open arms.  Similar to some women in labor, I got the severe shakes.  The nurse assured me it was normal; thought I can't remember which medication caused it.  They piled on the blankets to give me some comfort.

Craig eventually headed back to the waiting room and I sat watching doctors and nurses come and go.  People-watching in a hospital is kind of like people-watching in an airport.  So many stories and experiences inside those walls.  Happy moments.  Sad moments.  Scary moments.  At one point, the nurse asked if I wanted my curtain closed and I declined.

I have no idea what time they finally took me into the OR, as I had given Craig both my phone and watch, but I do know it was a lot later than the 1:00 time it was supposed to happen.  The last thing I remember is moving from the bed on wheels to the operating table and a new nurse introducing herself and telling me they were starting some meds to relax me.