About half of my high school friends had children before I wanted to start trying. I remember one of them telling me that someone she knew was announcing her pregnancy at six weeks. I waited for her to further explain. “Don’t ever announce that early: if you end up miscarrying, you have to tell everyone you lost the baby.” More recently, a friend sent me a message on Facebook not to tell anyone, but she was pregnant. A little while later, she told me she had lost the baby.
If these two friends hadn’t warned me about miscarriages, things would have been even harder. I might have made a Facebook announcement that I was pregnant as soon as the first test read “positive”, and we had told our families. I wouldn’t have texted a good Mom friend to reassure me that things might be okay — to not worry about the spotting at nine weeks until I saw a doctor.
Perhaps I’m more aware of miscarriages now that I’ve experienced one first-hand. I see a lot more people I know, as well as celebrities, sharing their personal stories to make other women feel less alone. However, there’s one aspect that I rarely see discussed. Jealousy: it was one of the hardest parts.
I took a week off of work for the miscarriage (because I opted to forego the D&C, and I also needed a week to grieve). Upon my return to work, I would check my phone during lunch break as usual. Again – maybe I was just more aware of things due to circumstance. But, it seemed like one of my friends or family had a pregnancy announcement on social media every day that first week after. I would have to storm out of the building in a fit of rage and/or tears every time. I even had to deal with a graduate student being introduced to the person in the cube next to mine: “This is ______, she had an unexpected pregnancy…”
She wasn’t even trying!? My thoughts only spiraled out of control from there.
- “This person is younger than me: I should get to go first.”
- “This couple hasn’t been married as long (or, isn’t married, or even staying together!).”
- “They already have one – can’t they enjoy that kid and let us have a turn?”
To be clear: I don’t actually believe any of those things make someone less deserving to be a parent. But I wanted to share specific examples of irrational jealous thoughts, inc ase anyone out there experiencing miscarriage thinks they’re a horrible person, too.
I’m so embarrassed of the thoughts I had during that time. I’ll never forget that summer of having my blood checked every week to make sure my pregnancy hormones were declining. Speed-dialing my OB/GYN: why hadn’t they called me with my results yet? Didn’t they know how hard this was for me to think about, every day??
Worse yet, my fits of jealousy were interspersed with guilt. Guilt that other people have it worse: infertility, multiple miscarriages, late-term loss, or still-births. Hardly anyone even knew we were pregnant. Why couldn’t I just be thankful it happened as “early” as it did – and feel loving towards the women in my life who were about to become Moms? And when I did finally tell people – like those who couldn’t stop asking when we were going to have kids – they would often say, “Oh that’s common”. Then I would beat myself up even more, for being upset over something that’s so common.
In early fall I got a text message from a college friend I hadn’t seen in a year. He said he’d had a crazy dream about me: was there something I should tell him? I told him what had happened, and somehow he convinced me – without making me feel bad – that I needed to remain positive in order to heal. I finally felt ready to let go of my jealousy. I wanted to share in the happiness of new life with my friends and family again!
I have a few suggestions for anyone that is going, or will go through, miscarriage.
- Maintain a private, ongoing conversation with at least one good friend. This person should be someone with whom you can share all of your feelings, without judgement.
- Delete your social media apps. Seeing those announcements is only going to compound your pain.
- Finally, live it up: enjoy those hobbies you might not be able to once you’re pregnant and/or have a newborn. Travel, drink another beer at the wedding, and have that ladies’ weekend. Spend more time strengthening your relationship with yourself, and with your partner, because those things will feel neglected once a kid (or, another kid!) comes into the mix.
Have you ever had to take a break from social media after an emotional event, such as a miscarriage? Would you recommend it to others?