The post  below is written by a reader, whom sadly had to undergo a D&C (dilation and curettage), a treatment for diagnosed miscarriages in the first trimester. The procedure was done at Clinique de La Source in Lausanne, and she kindly shared her experience here. I certainly hope that none of you will ever have to do this, however I think this is a valuable information to share on this blog. Please feel free to contact me (info(AT)lausannemom(DOT)com) in case you want to get in touch with this post’s writer.


What to expect when it all goes wrong.

My husband and I were at my OB appointment.  I was 9 weeks and 2 days, and getting more excited with each passing day.  We went into the next room to “look at the baby” as the Doctor said.  We were anxious to see how our “Little Pumpkin” had changed, since we last saw the tiny beating heart at 6.5 weeks.  (I was due in October, so we fondly referred to our little one as Little Pumpkin.)  The Doc fired up the machine and got started.  I’m never good at picking images up from these things, but I could tell something was different.  I kept holding my breath, because at our last appointment, this was the only way for things to remain still enough for us to see that little white flashing light.  Breathe…hold….breathe….hold. I couldn’t see anything.  Then he made a few clicks on the screen and 6 weeks 4 days came up on the bottom corner.  That couldn’t be right.  Then he turned on the audio and we heard…nothing.  The worst sound in the world.  Just white noise.  “I think this pregnancy” the Doctor said, “has not progressed.”  (Or something like that, I really don’t remember, but I knew what he meant.)  We had lost the heartbeat.  There was no growth.  It was over.

I knew statistically the odds of a pregnancy not lasting through the first trimester.  I am forever on pregnancy websites, message boards, etc.  But I didn’t really think it would happen to us.  Who does?

Since my pregnancy has ended weeks ago, and my body had not done anything about it, the Doctor suggested I go through with the “curettage.”  Or what it’s more commonly called (at least in the US) a D&C.  Even before I ever got pregnant, I knew what a D&C was from my stalking of all things pregnancy on the internet.  I had hoped that if for some unfortunate reason, my pregnancy was not meant to last, my body would do the things necessary.  The whole thing just sounded scary to me.  But after that awful appointment, as I did more research, I found out that sometimes letting nature take its course can take quite a long time, and can be quite painful.  I had a trip planned back to the States in a few weeks, and I didn’t want to still be going through it (the miscarriage) at that point.  And there was the possibility that I would still need the D&C after that anyway.  For these reasons and a few others, which my husband and I discussed, we decided that the D&C was the right choice for me.  This was not to say I didn’t have my apprehensions.  I was scared to bits!  I had never had any type of surgery before, unless you count getting my wisdom teeth out, and a root canal.  I was so scared before that procedure, I had to take anti-anxiety medicine the day before, AND get super “don’t remember anything” sedated, during the whole thing.  To say I am a nervous patient is putting things mildly.  (I just recently am able to have blood drawn without my husband there, holding my hand.)  So as you can imagine, I was dreading the day of my D&C.  It is for this reason, that I am even writing this.  I knew in general what was going to happen, but if God forbid, anyone else is in this same situation, I hope you find this information helpful, and I hope I can ease your mind a little bit, if you are as nervous as I was!

The first thing I had asked my Doctor when we talked about doing the D&C was, “Will I be asleep?!?”  He said yes, thank God!  I can barely get through a pap smear, I don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t said yes.  (Changed doctors probably.)  If your doc doesn’t offer this for you, don’t be afraid to speak up.  I’ve heard some quite unpleasant stories about women who have had this procedure, and not been “put under.” A quick Google search for D&C will tell you that the procedure can (and is) done with varying amounts of pain killers or anesthesia.  Anything from just giving the woman some strong ibuprofen, (huh?) to general anesthesia.  In my opinion, there’s no reason for you to be conscious during this procedure.  I don’t think I could have handled it, pain issue aside.  I liked the idea of you go to sleep, you wake up, it’s done.  You don’t have to hear anything, see anything, etc.

The procedure was to be at La Source.  The same place I was supposed to deliver at.  (And hopefully will someday!)  My husband took the day off from work and we drove there in the morning.  They told me to be there at 9am, even though the D&C wasn’t scheduled til noon.  Not sure why they do this?  I suppose it’s not important.  At the Doctor’s office, they gave me a long list of things to do/not do the day before and day of.  It was all in French, so I Google translated it.  (Fun!  Not.)  It was basically like, don’t eat after midnight the night before, don’t drink alcohol, and don’t eat anything that morning.  You can have clear liquids such as hot tea with sugar, black coffee, apple juice and water.  I get that water is clear, but the other 3 had me stumped.  Not like I wanted anything that morning anyway.  I was too nervous, so I just drank some water because I knew that if I was dehydrated, it would be difficult to get the IV in, and I think that was the thing I was dreading the most!  You also have to fill out a form to give the anesthesiologist.  It was also in French, bummer.  It was just your basic patient history thing.  Have you ever had surgery before, allergic to anything, that sort of thing.

So we get there and the first thing we do is tell the front desk we are there.  Then the admissions lady comes and gets you.  Thank God I had my husband with me, for a number of reasons: (1) I was useless because of my nerves, and (2) his French is way better than mine.  He answered all of the lady’s questions, and she printed out some labels and papers and gave them to us.  Then she told us where to go next.  I honestly don’t remember where we had to go, I was in a daze!  I’m pretty sure I had already started crying in the admissions office.  Oh well.

We get to the place we’re supposed to go, and check in again, so to speak.  My eyes nervously darted around to all the curtained off areas containing beds. Ick.  Imagine our surprise when she led us to a nice private room with a door and everything.  She (in French) told me to change and I could lay down in the bed.  From entering the hospital, to getting into my room was maybe 10 minutes.  I was highly impressed.

I got into my hospital gown thingy and crawled into the bed.  I amused myself for a minute with the bed controls.  I always wanted to do that.  I had my own bathroom in my room, which came in handy because when I’m nervous I have to go a lot.  A nurse came in, but she didn’t speak English so she said she would switch with someone who did.  That was very thoughtful of her.  Another nurse came in to answer any questions, and fill us in on the timeline.  I told her I was super super nervous, and she asked me if I wanted something to help me calm down.  I said yes please!  She came back not 5 minutes later with a little tab for me to dissolve on my tongue.  I was even nervous it was going to taste bad, but it had no taste.  I think it worked, because I stopped crying uncontrollably every time a medial professional came into my room.  If you are a nervous patient like me, don’t be afraid to ask for something!

The anesthesiologist came in and talked to me, in English.  I told her I was really nervous about getting the IV, and I asked if it would hurt.  She came back with 2 round stickers to put on the tops of my hands that would help numb them so I would feel it less.  She put one on each hand, because she didn’t know yet which hand the IV would go into.

Around 11:40 they came to get me.  I started crying again, I couldn’t help it, this was IT!  My husband, who had been by my side the whole time, walked with me as far as he could go.  Then it was just me and the nurse.  We went into an elevator and came out just outside of the operating room.   Another nurse came over and talked to me (I can’t for the life of me remember what about) but she spoke English.  She was about to put in my IV when I told her I was super nervous about it.  She said “Oh really?!  Ok hold on.”  And  went and got a male nurse who I assumed was the expert of putting in IVs.  But I think he was just there to distract me by talking to me (in English, again!) because before I knew it, the IV was in my left hand! I did it!  One scary thing down!  I think I told her I loved her, then she wheeled me into the operating room.  I got super nervous all over again and the tears wouldn’t stop.  My doctor came in and said his favorite saying “How’s life?” and asked me how I was.  I told him, “Um, I’m SUPER nervous!”  He said not to worry and it would all be over soon.  Easy for him to say.  The nurse who put in my IV came over and said she’d be putting an oxygen mask on my face, then the anesthesiologist would be putting the medicine in my hand to make me go to sleep.  She said it might burn.  I started to panic, and she wiped my tears.  The anesthesiologist came over and asked if I was ready, I think I said something to the effect of “Uhm…no?  I don’t know?”  And I saw her lift my hand up and then I felt the burn.  It hurt!  I took 2 panicky breaths, so hard that the oxygen masked sucked onto my face.

The next thing I remember, I was in back in my room with my cell phone in my hand.  I have no idea how I got back there, or how I had my phone in my hand!  I tried calling my husband but he didn’t answer.  (Turns out, the procedure went faster than he expected and he was still in the cafeteria finishing up eating, and updating his parents on the phone.)  SOMEhow I texted him “back in room.”  The next thing I remember after that is he was right by my side again.  He said when he came into the room, my left boob was out…!?  I have no idea.  I think I was in and out of it for a while.  A nurse came in and I told her I was thirsty.  She asked if I wanted to eat something too, and this sounded like the best idea in the world!  My husband made sure to tell her I was a vegetarian.  She asked when I wanted to drink, and this must have been a hard question because I just stared at her.  She started rattling off my choices and when she got to Coke I shouted “Coke!”  I was really excited about the Coke.  Turns out, they only brought me a tiny glass of it.  Bummer.

I was allowed to go home after a call to my Doctor, and after I peed and they made sure I wasn’t bleeding heavily.  I had on some nifty mesh underwear, and the world’s biggest pad.

All in all, the whole experience was as pleasant as it could have been, under the circumstances.  The team at La Source are wonderful, and I can’t sing their praises enough.  They eased my mind and tried to make me as comfortable as possible.  If you have to go in for this procedure, please try not to worry so much.  You have enough on your plate to think about.  My main advice is:
– Bring someone with you, don’t just have someone drop you off and pick you up.  You need someone there to distract and help you.  Bonus points if they speak some French.
-The worst part is when the medicine goes in your hand, I promise!  It feels kind of like what I imagine Bella felt like when James the bad vampire bit her wrist.  But if that’s the worst of it, I’m not complaining.  And you only feel it for maybe 2 seconds.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Meta and she will give you my info.  I’d be more than happy to talk to you more about it, or what happens after (recovery) or anything else.  Everyone seems to have different recoveries, but I can share with you how mine went.  This club is one no one wants to join, but I’ve found it is a very supportive one.  I hope this info was helpful.

♥  Anonymous