‘I Owe $2,500 for My Miscarriage’

The first time we heard the heartbeat, my pregnancy app said that baby was the size of a blueberry. There it was, our second surprise baby, their little heart flickering at us. “Hi, baby,” I heard my husband say while the nurse handed him the photo of our little one. The second time we went in for an ultrasound, two weeks later, to make sure everything was progressing normally, things went differently.

Before the appointment, everything with my pregnancy seemed normal—I was more tired than usual, sometimes taking naps at the same time as my son did; I had food aversions, especially to things that had very strong smells; and I had to pee all the time. I had no bleeding or cramps. Walking into the ultrasound center, I fully expected a normal appointment. They were going to measure the fetus to see how far along I was, look for a heartbeat, and make sure it had implanted correctly in my uterus. But when the sonogram technician kept pushing the wand around inside of me and making faces I knew something was wrong. “There’s no heartbeat,” the doctor said. My body immediately went numb.

I knew this was a possibility, considering that 1 in 10 women experience a miscarriage. It was an even higher possibility for me, since doctors had discovered a polyp on my uterus after the birth of my first son. Still, hearing those words felt like running face-first into a brick wall—I was stunned, shocked, and confused at the sudden pain. Despite the fact that miscarriages are so common, nothing can really prepare you for how you’re going to feel or react in that moment.

My husband kept telling me how strong I was and how we were going to be okay, and I knew, eventually, he would be right. But right now, all I could think about was not having a dead baby inside of me.

I called my gynecologist and she gave me three options: We could wait for my body to miscarry naturally; I could also take misoprostol, a pill that helps speed the process along by inducing strong uterine contractions (also sometimes called the abortion pill); or I could get a dilatation and curettage (also known as a D&C) in which a medical professional surgically removes all pregnancy material from your uterus.

Given that the fetus had stopped developing two weeks prior and my body was showing no signs of having noticed, my doctor warned me that a natural miscarriage could take weeks if not months. I couldn’t bear the thought of living in that limbo, not knowing when or if my body was going to start the process, still feeling all the symptoms of pregnancy but also fully being aware that this baby I was carrying was no longer growing, so I opted to miscarry through a D&C.

Miscarriages are traumatic on so many levels. Knowing that there was a fetus that had stopped developing still inside of me was destroying me emotionally. It was all I could think of. The loss of that potential life was gutting enough—the thought of then seeing the miscarriage unfold in my underwear made me feel sick. We scheduled the surgery for two days later.

The day of the surgery I was pretty relaxed. I had read innumerable stories of what the process is like, and I felt mentally ready to face it. Then, while signing my intake papers at the hospital, I read the word abortion on my chart. My whole body tensed.

Technically D&Cs are used in cases of miscarriage and abortion, and so hospitals sometimes use one label for both. “Abortion simply means the ‘termination of pregnancy,’ whether by the body or an external force,” says Chloe Lubel, a midwife at Central Park Midwifery, who oversaw my first pregnancy and also saw me through my miscarriage. I understand the technicality, but seeing the A-word when you very much did hope to carry your pregnancy to term and meet what had been stirring inside you earthside is gutting.

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