The second I woke up, I just knew that the mild cramping from yesterday afternoon was more than just mild cramping from implantation. My boobs weren't hurting at all, and I knew if I went to the bathroom, I'd be spotting. To put off the inevitable, I rolled over and grabbed my iPhone off the night stand, and decided to lay there until I really HAD to get up and deal with this. Stupidly, I checked Facebook first.
"Hi all, We have some AMAZING news, we are EXPECTING!!!!!!! 12 weeks!! I know I'm in shock too! I can't..." That's as far as I got. That particular person just had a second baby in January, the same week I was supposed to have my first baby. How was it fair that they were expecting a third child at the same time I was losing my third? I cried into my pillow and hugged my dogs, and forced myself to get up, tell my wonderful husband that we were losing yet another baby and get my ass to work.
Awhile later during downtime at work, I checked Facebook again, making sure to avoid the person that had been announcing their pregnancy earlier that day, along with my usual avoidance of four friends who have just had a baby and seven friends and acquaintances who are expecting. (I've accepted the many friends who's babies are a few months old now, and have stopped blocking them.) As I scrolled down through my news feed, I saw the same status again, and immediately it clicked that it was a "joke".
"Hi all, We have some AMAZING news, we are EXPECTING!!!!!!! 12 weeks!! I know I'm in shock too! I can't believe it myself! We weren't going to put it on facebook but wanted to make it official. :] I mean who would have guessed that we're expecting!! yup its official...we are expecting Santa in just 12 weeks!!! Re-post if you have any sense of humor!"
Ugh. I guess I don't have a sense of humour, because I find it completely inappropriate to be posting stuff like that. ( Spelling and grammar mistakes aside.) These sorts of status updates are right up there with homophobic hate speech and racism in my mind. If you think it's funny, consider yourself "un-friended".
I don't expect the general public to be sensitive to women and men who have to go through what my husband and I have been going through the past year and a half. ( Five years if you count all the years of trying without any results). The vast majority of people I know personally, get pregnant without even trying, complain for nine months, and then have a healthy baby. Once the first one comes, they plan for the second, and so on, and everything goes off without a hitch. The thought of losing their child doesn't even cross their mind, and if it does, they keep it to themselves. Even though 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, nobody talks about it. Nobody wants to talk about it. It's uncomfortable and scary and whatever way you spin it, it's tragic. Hell, I never even THOUGHT about it until it happened to me. Now that I've graduated into the "recurrent" miscarriage club, it's all I seem to think about.
Triggers for women who have suffered miscarriages, stillbirths and infant loss are everywhere, and we all have different triggers at that. The moment you experience loss, it seems that everyone around you becomes pregnant*, whether they be on TV, your best friends, co-workers, or strangers at the grocery store. Just the sight of a strangers huge pregnant belly has brought me to tears. Hell, I've even cried in line at the Shoppers Drug Mart after noticing that every single tabloid had a pregnant celebrity on it. Now, with Facebook being a huge part of our daily lives, it isn't just going into the community that can cause a woman, or her partner, to breakdown. Every single day we're flooded with status updates about sleepless nights, potty training, ultrasound pics, and birth announcements. We read all the complaints about pregnancy and parenting, and just wish that people realized how lucky they have it, and sometimes wonder if maybe we should offer to trade if they don't appreciate what they have or are going through. I personally have bitten my tongue on Facebook hundreds of times in the past year, and have chosen to block some people just so I could make it through the day, and stay friends with them. The positive updates are just as hard, because I would do anything to be in that same state of euphoria that they describe when talking about their "beans" and their births.
In "real" life, I am now very open with people about my troubles with conceiving and with pregnancy loss. After our first loss, I wasn't sure if I should be. I had never heard anybody else talk about their losses, and I was very concerned about making my friends and family uncomfortable. In my mind, with the loss of our baby, they were grieving as well, and I didn't want to be a bother. As I tend to do, I kept to myself, and drove myself crazy in the process. When we experienced our second miscarriage, I promised myself I wasn't going to keep it to myself any more. I don't go ahead and announce it in a Facebook status, but if the subject comes up, I tell people why we don't have kids. I tell them that I'm in the middle of a miscarriage, or I tell them about the years of trying. I don't go out of my way but if somebody asks me why we don't have children, they are going to hear why and I'm not going to worry about making them uncomfortable, because they have already made me feel uncomfortable by judging me for being childless.
It is still taboo to discuss this subject on Facebook though, and I don't plan on starting to air my struggles for all of my 279 friends to see, for the same reason I don't complain about other things in my life on Facebook. IT'S ANNOYING to whine and complain, and I don't particularly want to annoy my friends. What I do want to do however, is make people aware and to teach them to stop and think before they post things like the above "joke" status, or breast cancer support status' that read something like "I'm 6 weeks and craving nachos!, or "I'm 14 weeks and craving pickles!". (That particular campaign sent me on a drinking binge, thank you very much). Some people are not as open as I am. They are silently grieving. They followed the "12 week rule" (which is bullshit, in my opinion) and didn't tell you they were expecting and they sure as hell aren't going to tell you they had a loss. There is nothing worse than losing a child who you've named and made a birth plan for, bought clothes for and told everybody about. The next time you want to "trick" the internet into thinking you're having a baby, think about how it would feel if you were in the position of someone who is suffering silently from a loss. If you think that you would still find it funny, then you are a stronger person than I ever will be, so go right ahead and click "post".
Now, I'm not saying that people shouldn't have the right to post their baby news and photos and complaints of swollen ankles and hormonal wives on Facebook so please don't get all defensive on me. I'm sure that if I am ever blessed enough to have a baby live to full term I'll do the same to some degree. All I'm saying is, is that it's hard to deal with when you're part of the miscarriage club. So,if you are someone who is going through the same thing as me and need some advice, here are a few tips that I have for you, that have helped me cope with on-line triggers.
Three Tips for Making Facebook Somewhat More Bearable After Miscarriage:
1. Block people if you have to, and unblock them whenever you're ready to do so, if ever. Don't feel bad about it, and don't tell them unless you feel you need to. They might not like the idea of you not being happy for them or not wanting them in your news feed, but if they were put in your shoes they would most likely do the same. A true friend will understand and won't judge how you cope with your grief.
2. Find an on-line support group. There are TONS of them out there, from every country, every city. Find one that fits your needs. The triggers I am talking about in this post are on-line, and you need to have somebody on-line to go to for support. If it wasn't for Unspoken Grief I don't think I would have made it through the past 14 months. I visit the site, and the Facebook group daily. This past week, I have found the Recurrent Miscarriage/Multiple Miscarriage Support Group on Facebook to be extremely helpful.
3. Don't feel like you have to "like" pictures of newborns or comment your congratulations on pregnancy or birth announcements if you feel uncomfortable doing so. Being jealous and angry is all part of the grieving process, and we don't have to pretend that we're happy for someone. Most likely, there will be so many "likes" and comments on such joyous news, that they won't even notice that you didn't do the same. I stick with my belief that true friends will understand your reasoning, and leave it alone.
That being said, I'm going offline for the rest of the day to mentally prepare myself for another natural miscarriage, and celebrate what I do have with my furbabies, my loving husband, and a fresh cup of coffee, 'cause this one is disgustingly cold.
*Although I'm not religious, I found this blog post explaining "The Phenomenon" to be my personal favourite on the subject: http://lifelossandotherthings.blogspot.ca/2011/03/miscarriage-and-infertility-phenomenon.html
If you have any tips for Surviving Facebook ( or other on-line communities ) after miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss I'd love to hear them and add them to the list!