Admittedly, aside from my fellow Babble blogger and new friend, I never knew anyone who had a miscarriage. Or so I thought. It wasn’t until after I miscarried my twins at 17 weeks that I began to hear from family members and old friends who had also suffered this awful loss. I began to think about how infrequently we, as a culture, speak about miscarriage. Personally, I couldn’t imagine remaining silent about this (with or without my blog). Sure, I know everyone handles loss differently, and I am certainly not judging those who don’t speak about it. But my heart breaks for the women who feel as though they can’t speak about it because our culture has made the topic taboo, and our cultural silence surrounding miscarriage somehow implies shame or fault. That, I am not okay with. While I don’t wish for anyone to experience what it’s like firsthand, I do think it’s critically important to talk about miscarriage and to share what we know and have learned from our own experiences with others. Heck, I was a miscarriage ignoramus before December 22. I wish I didn’t know this stuff because of my own loss. I wish I hadn’t learned these terms because of my own loss. But now that I do know this stuff, now that I have learned these terms, I want others to know about this should they ever find themselves in the utmost unfortunate and tragic situation of losing a baby in the second trimester — or ever, really.
Preterm Premature Rupture of the Membrane, or PPROM, is the fancy medical term used when a woman’s water breaks before it’s supposed to. This is part of what happened to me during my 2nd-trimester miscarriage, but no one knows why.
2. Incompetent Cervix
An incompetent cervix is one that begins to open before a baby is born. This isn’t something any of my doctors are willing to diagnose me with because we don’t know if my water broke because my cervix began to open or if my cervix began to open because my water broke. I can only win this official diagnosis if I miscarry again during the second trimester, and — trust me — I’d happily go without this diagnosis.
3. Antiphospholipid Syndrome
This super-long term has a more common name, Hughes Syndrome, and it’s often called “sticky blood syndrome.” Basically, women with it have an increased tendency to form clots in blood vessels, which can affect the placenta by mistakenly attacking it and resulting in a miscarriage, usually during the second or third trimester. This is something I will be getting tested for, and if I do end up having it, it’s completely treatable during pregnancy with daily anticoagulants.
4. Spontaneous Abortion
This is actually the medical term for miscarriages. I take issue with both terms: spontaneous abortion and miscarriage. First, the word abortion has so much social and moral negativity associated with it. Second, miscarriage implicitly suggest that the woman did something wrong (i.e. I miscarried). Alas, both terms stink in my book, but are our only two options for describing what happened.
5. Incomplete Miscarriage
An incomplete miscarriage is when tissue from the pregnancy remains in the uterus even after bleeding has begun. An incomplete miscarriage will either run its course when all pregnancy tissue has left the uterus, or a woman will have to seek treatment to have the remaining tissue removed.
6. Septic Miscarriage
This was what my doctors were most worried about. Because one of my twins’ water broke, the risk for infection to the uterus and to me was drastically increased. If an infection spreads to other parts of the body during pregnancy, sepsis can occur — and is potentially deadly.
7. Cervical Cerclage
Because we’ll never know if my water broke because my cervix began to dilate or if my cervix began to dilate because my water broke, there’s been talk of a possible cervical cerclage. Doctors would basically stitch my cervix shut to prevent it from prematurely opening. I could opt to do this at about 14 weeks, or I could be monitored weekly to check if my cervix is beginning to open and have the procedure done at that point. I’m still undecided about any of this.
8. Miscarriage Vs. Stillbirth
I was 17 weeks and 1 day when I miscarried my twins. I had begun to show — quite a bit. Many people have asked me why my pregnancy loss isn’t considered a stillbirth. The doctors have told me that any loss before 20 weeks is considered a miscarriage, while any loss after 20 weeks is considered a stillbirth.
9. Shortened Cervix
A shortened cervix is often also called an incompetent cervix, or is referred to as cervical inefficiency. It may efface and dilate without contractions in the second or early third trimester as the weight of the growing baby puts increasing pressure on it.
10. Rainbow Baby
This is my favorite term (and not because I’m gay!). This term is the only term with any positive connotation behind it. A rainbow baby is one that comes from a successful pregnancy after a miscarriage. I cannot wait to meet our rainbow baby.