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Social Media Saved Me After My Miscarriage

This is what happened when I became part of an infertility and loss community online.

Social Media Saved Me After My Miscarriage
Risa Kerslake

When I started my personal blog back in 2012, it was to keep friends and family up-to-date on our fertility treatments which soon grew into a very public blog and social media page three years into our journey. My husband and I were starting our first intrauterine insemination (IUI) around the time I created my blog, which I wrote in religiously about my treatments, desperate for someone to understand what I was going through. I found others who blogged about the same thing, and no matter where each of us were on our separate journeys, we were there for each other, commenting on posts and requesting each other’s friendship on Facebook.

Being so open about our infertility actually was a huge blessing because when I lost my first baby, I was already surrounded by incredible support from the people I never even knew existed prior. When our first IVF cycle loomed before us, my blog was there, ready to record it all and show my fears, worries, and excitement to everyone who would read. I documented our treatment plan, all the medications I needed to take, our fights with the insurance company, and yes, my hope that this would finally bring us our miracle baby. During all this, I continued building relationships with women all over the country, participating in sock exchanges for our transfer days, and sending care packages to those who’s cycles failed.

Little did I know I was setting up myself up for the biggest support system of my life when it would all come crashing back down.

In June of 2013, my husband and I drove to the fertility clinic bright and early for our embryo transfer. Several days prior, I underwent minor surgery to retrieve the eggs from my body that would then be fertilized in a lab with my husband’s sperm. Unfortunately, only one embryo was left to grow and develop, but it didn’t stop us from feeling full of hope. After all, as those in the infertility community would encourage, “It only takes one!”

That one embryo was transferred into my uterus, smoothly and efficiently by a skilled fertility doctor. I spent the next two days on bed rest, eating the foods that made me happy, and talking to my embryo: Please stick around. Please stay and grow into a squishy baby.

A few days before my official blood test to determine if I was pregnant, I decided to test at home with a pregnancy test. Heart pounding, I stared down at the stick with the two pink lines. I was pregnant. I cried to myself because I was the only one home and immediately shot off a post to my infertility Facebook group with a photo and the congratulations started rolling in. I drove off to a baby clothing store against my better judgment to buy a onesie that I could surprise my husband with. I shook off the uneasy feeling that I was jumping the gun, that it was too early.

Social Media Saved Me After My Miscarriage
Risa Kerslake

That night, after announcing to my husband our good news, I started bleeding, but my home pregnancy tests stayed positive. My community was quick to reassure me —bleeding is scary, but it could be nothing. Lay down, keep your feet up, it will be OK.

My blood test a few days later confirmed it: We were having a baby. We were officially pregnant. I posted on my blog and Facebook page. That moment was six years ago and I still remember the high. My phone pinged with messages, texts, and blog comment notifications. I had to hold myself back from buying more baby clothes, but I could never heed my own advice and I ended up with four outfits, all waiting for the baby that was to come.

I continued to bleed as I went in for my second blood test, 48 hours later. It was then we found out I was losing the baby.

48 hours. Two days ago I was getting messages of smiley faces and congratulations. Now, my blog comments and Facebook messages were filled with “I’m so sorry for your loss.” My face, that ached from smiling so much, was now puffy and red.

As I stopped all my medications and waited to stop bleeding, I found myself needing to connect with those who had been there. My friends, the women who used to be strangers on the Internet to me, rallied around me. People I had never met in real life became my main source of support as I grieved the loss of my baby. They were the ones who said his name. Who checked in with me. Who knew just the right things to say to someone who just lost their child, when really, there’s not much you really can say.

It was these women who somehow got me through the next few weeks. I continued to write, logging my thoughts, my tears blurring the keyboards as I sat on the couch late at night. My friends sent cards, packages, and small trinkets that now sit in the memory box I have for Adam.

Social Media Saved Me After My Miscarriage
Risa Kerslake

Six years later, his memory still takes my breath away. I have a beautiful little girl, who came about on our fifth embryo transfer. I’m currently seven weeks pregnant with another — and our final — miracle baby after a total of seven transfers. Some of those women from six years ago are now among my closest friends. We’ve graduated from blog comments to text messages and Facetime, and some I’ve even met in real life. They’re my family. They saved me from the hell that is baby loss and they’ve been there, through the years as I welcomed my little girl into the world. We now continue to support each other through toddler tantrums, picky eating, and coming to terms with the end of our family-building journeys.

I don’t know what it would have been like going through that alone. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have my people there on the other side of the laptop. Going through my miscarriage was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. I’m so grateful that I didn’t ever have to walk it alone.