How Virtual Support Groups Helped Me Through an Isolating Miscarriage
I experienced a miscarriage during the COVID-19 pandemic. No loss is ever easy, but I've never felt as isolated as I did when I miscarried while social distancing from friends and family. Despite everything, I found solace through virtual connections.
There is miscarriage and then there’s miscarriage in a pandemic. I’ve experienced both and can say, the latter sucks way worse.
This wasn’t my first rodeo. I’d been through a miscarriage before. But that was back when life was normal. I was able to grieve. I saw my friends, I went for coffee dates, yoga classes, walks, and happy hours. I spent time with my family—my husband and two children. I dove into work and slowly but surely, I healed. This time, my miscarriage looked very different.
I found out the good news on February 20, 2020. The coronavirus was already spreading, but there was still little worry about it in the United States, so it felt like a problem far away. I was cautiously excited. Every appointment was met with trepidation but then elation after a successful scan and good heartbeat. I didn’t want to be excited yet, but I was. Because of having been through a loss before, I decided not to share this pregnancy with anyone. Not even the close network of friends I had shared the news with previously. Having to un-tell my friends and family after my first miscarriage was like pouring salt in a wound, so I figured this time I would only share once I was further along.
I let my mind wander to all the exciting dates to come. Mid-April I could post a cute bump picture on my Instagram feed. Mid-summer I could still travel with my family and I’d have a baby in my arms by the fall, which also happened to be my 40th birthday. Each milestone was etched in my brain.
During those early few weeks of pregnancy, as nausea crept up and my stomach (quickly) expanded, COVID-19 was making its way across the country. A few days before my first OB appointment, our world changed forever. Our state took early precautions against the pandemic and soon work shut down, my boys’ school closed and life as we knew it had shifted. Through my morning sickness and exhaustion, I navigated this new normal, excited to be secretly carrying this life and hope inside me.
When I arrived for my appointment on March 24, the nurse ushered me in, giving me gloves and a mask. I was the only person in the normally packed waiting area and I was alone. Because of the pandemic, partners weren’t allowed at appointments. Everything felt eerie and foreboding.
My OB and I smiled at each other from behind our masks as she began the exam. As soon as she started, my heart sunk. The silence as she searched for the heartbeat felt all too familiar. I could see the fetus on the screen, but her long pause said it all. It had happened again—but this time I had to process the immediate emotions alone. My husband was home with our kids. As my OB explained to me that I could have a D&C (dilation and curettage), she didn’t recommend it because it would have to take place in a hospital, and that would be risky with the pandemic quickly spreading. Instead, she prescribed me pills that would cause an at-home miscarriage.
Everything she said after that is a blur. All I remember is feeling that all the dreams and hopes I’d had during these past dark weeks were gone. I went home in a daze, armed with my pills. I cramped and bled that day, alone, while I had to talk through conference calls and do lesson plans for my kids’ remote education. I felt that social-distancing during this heartbreak robbed me of the community that could support me, robbed me of my life that was so full and busy that it could distract me, and robbed me of having my husband there to hold me and let me cry as I left the doctor’s office that day. In the days that followed I considered telling my friends on our weekly Zoom chat, or opening up to one of my best friends on the phone as we chatted about homeschooling. But I didn’t. I am not ready yet to share this chapter with my close circle.
I found my solace in reading the stories of other women who had gone through this (albeit not during a pandemic). Then I joined a Zoom event one night where four moms talked about their fertility journeys. I cried along with them and asked questions and connected with them all on social media. That is why I decided to share my story. If I can help even one woman who is going through this, then I’ve paid it forward.
I also found comfort in my family, my tribe. Every cuddle and kiss from my boys healed me. Even the weekly Zoom sessions with my various group of girlfriends near and far where we talked about homeschooling, TV shows, and grey hair have been helping me find my road back to me.
No loss is ever easy. I know that now, after going through two of these back to back. My empathy for everyone who has ever experienced this type of loss has grown tremendously. Sometimes I feel selfish, I have two healthy little boys after all; some people have none. I had two simple pregnancies, why am I putting myself through this pain over and over again? As I sit here, in a world that seems unrecognizable, the answer seems obvious. It’s as primal as it gets. The more this virus isolates us, the more we are finding ways to connect and be human—even if the most impactful conversations happen through a computer screen. The fact that this terrible situation helped me connect with women I would normally never had the chance to meet and that a Zoom event allowed even more women to join from all over the country are gifts during this crisis. And I don’t take them for granted.
*The author's name has been changed for privacy.