Giving credit where credit is due

While my husband and I have been blessed with two healthy and beautiful daughters, we hoped we would have a bigger family by now. Yet over the last few years we have suffered multiple miscarriages at 13, 8, and 10 weeks pregnant. Along with sonogram photos, these gestation periods are some of the few concrete pieces of information we can hold onto from our pregnancies.

You see, miscarriage is an inherently lonely and isolating experience. For a woman who has suffered miscarriage, it may feel like an entirely personal loss because she is the only person who carried the pregnancy. She is the only one who loses the baby physically. This is one major reason why some women who experience pregnancy loss only share their grief in private. The woman often wonders, “Was it real? Was it not?” Then there is guilt and shame in the process. Nothing about miscarriage is pretty or heroic. And as women, we tend to blame ourselves when we don’t have answers.

When I first miscarried, we had already shared the pregnancy news with friends and family. So we had to break the bad news to them as well. Aside from a few words of sympathy, the response was so disheartening that I wrote a piece on what I wish others knew about miscarriage several months later. I felt so unseen and so desperate for community that I also eventually shared it with a group of female fitness friends I knew via Instagram. I worried for weeks before posting about it, but I was so grateful to learn I had nothing to fear.

Social media often gets criticized for its ill effects on our mental health, how it skews body image and beauty standards, and leads to digital burnout. But social media has been for me the greatest source of support, empathy, and information on pregnancy loss. Here are five ways platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube helped me find healing after miscarriage.

01. People do care about pregnancy loss.

Women who had not experienced it themselves but knew friends who miscarried commented on my miscarriage piece, admitting how they wish they knew how to be there for their friends during such difficult times. It brought me peace to learn that one reason my loved ones did not support me was that they simply had no idea how.

02. You are not alone.

Up until recently, pregnancy loss was still a very taboo subject on social media. Compared with four years ago (when I first shared about our loss on Instagram), the number of women who open up about their personal experiences has noticeably increased. This means it is much easier to learn from other women’s stories and connect with them if you experience pregnancy loss.

After I first miscarried, I found a video by Chriselle Lim, a popular style and lifestyle YouTuber, about her recent miscarriage. This was the first time I saw a woman share so emotionally and honestly about her loss on a public scale. “I really think it was God just putting these women in my life to make me realize I’m not alone, and that’s why I want to share my experience with you guys today,” Lim shares in her video. Lim then encourages us to keep an open dialogue about what we’re going through so that we remember, “You’re not alone. We have each other.”

03. It is not as uncommon as you may think.

It was previously thought that miscarriage occurs in 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies (or 1 in 10 to 1 in 5 pregnancies). But more recent studies are showing that “the actual number is likely higher because many miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn't realize she's pregnant,” reports Mayo Clinic. Social media reflects this research as, over the years, more and more women are publicly sharing their pregnancy loss stories on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.

04. Others are grieving with you and want to support you in your grief.

It wasn’t until my second miscarriage that I found the Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss group on Facebook. When I joined, there were about 60,000 members. Today, there are more than 113,000. I didn’t even have to share about my loss to the group. It was a comfort simply to know that other women were going through it. I also found consolation in being able to help other women by answering their questions, allaying their worries, and sharing from my own experience.

05. Your baby was real and the memory of your baby is real.

More and more, I’ve found women sharing how they commemorate their losses and honor the memory of their babies, especially on Instagram. Just search #miscarriage and you’ll find nearly 300,000 women (and men) sharing about their loss. Among them are people who’ve posted photos of their babies’ graves, memorials, scrapbooks, sonograms, baby items, and other memorabilia. When my husband and I decided to bury our first baby, there were definitely people around us, including doctors and family, who made us feel like it was unnecessary or that we were making a big deal out of nothing. So seeing other parents choosing to do the same thing brought us relief and confidence in our decision.

If you or a someone you know has experienced miscarriage and are seeking support, don’t hesitate to point them toward social media. For me it has become an unexpectedly beautiful way to show and experience love and hope during a painful and difficult time.