After my first loss I joined several online support groups — one in my pregnancy app and a bunch on Facebook. For the most part they have been very helpful. I have asked questions about the physical symptoms I was experiencing, as well as vented about things I couldn’t tell anyone who hasn’t been through a miscarriage. I have also felt comfort knowing I have helped other women when I comment on their posts. However, I have also felt hurt various times in these groups. Here’s how.
They delete your post if you mention a current pregnancy, even if it’s going wrong. There’s no bigger slap in the face than reaching out for help regarding an impending miscarriage and getting shut down. In one of my groups I posted that my hCG had remained constant, and asked if there was any possible way I was not going to miscarry. One girl commented, tagging an admin, saying my post wasn’t in line with the group rules. I was completely crushed. In a MISCARRIAGE support group, I couldn’t ask a question about a likely MISCARRIAGE?! Why did I have to wait two days, when I did in fact miscarry, to seek support? I needed it then, while I was waiting to lose my baby.
I was already going through heartbreak, and I had made myself vulnerable by opening up to strangers for help. If I got turned away by women who have been in my shoes, then how can I expect anyone else to give me love and support? I get that current pregnancy talk is hurtful to women whose pregnancies failed, so I understand the rule — but it wasn’t a healthy pregnancy that I was discussing. I didn’t wait around to get my post deleted, banned, or scolded for breaking their precious rules; I left that group faster than you can say bye, Felicia.
You get attacked and deleted if you post a photo of anything resembling an angel baby. I wrote a blog post on this topic before (titled “The Controversy Surrounding Angel Baby Photos”). I completely understand that photos can be triggering for some women. But all I did was post a photo of me and my husband holding a clay replica of a 13 week fetus. One girl completely went off on me. I felt bad for any pain I caused her, but I was also hurt beyond words. Was she saying my daughter was ugly and scary? Probably not, but it sure felt that way.
How could the sight of my precious baby cause harm to someone? And it wasn’t even my baby! Just something that looked like her. I took this very personally because if I couldn’t share her with other angel mothers, who could I share her with? I’m sure some of you agree with the other woman, and that’s ok. But I hope you at least understand how incredibly hurtful it feels to have to keep photos of my daughter (and even a clay doll of my daughter) to myself because the rest of the world can’t stomach the sight of her.
Your post gets deleted if you talk about any of the topics they deem triggering (trying to conceive, living children, and abortion). I posted in one group seeking support for the pain brought up surrounding the January 2019 abortion laws enacted in New York. The laws allow abortion up until birth, and it was very upsetting to me, as someone who had involuntarily lost an unborn baby just a few weeks prior. It wasn’t a post asking who agreed and who disagreed with the law — it was just a “hey, I’m hurting and need to vent” kind of a post. Anyways, I got in trouble for it, which made me hurt even more. I understand that the admins want to avoid sensitive political debates, but if we have to censor everything we say in order to not piss someone off, then how are we supposed to heal?
In another group I saw a post asking what angel moms were doing for their would-be due dates. One woman commented that she and her son were dong something (can’t remember what), and an admin commented and scolded her for not adding a trigger warning first. Like… what?! Because she has a living son other women are going to get jealous? They do realize there are living children out in the real world, right? It’s like no one can speak because every little thing has the potential to trigger someone. Why can’t we all just say what we want to say, without walking on eggshells. As long as we’re all kind and compassionate towards each other I just don’t understand why we have to hold back in fear of hurting someone’s feelings.
In another group, someone posted asking if there was a similar group for women trying to conceive. It wasn’t a post about trying to conceive — it was just a post saying hey, I know we’re not allowed to talk about TTC here, but is there another group we can turn to for that? It got reported by multiple members and the admins deleted it. Another member made her own post expressing how upset she was by the other woman’s post. I just don’t get it. Just seeing the letters “TTC” caused an uproar. I completely understand women who are not ready to try again after their loss. But I just can’t comprehend the heartbreak and rage over that post. It actually really upset me and I spent a sleepless night stewing over it. I can only imagine how hurt the woman was who got attacked by multiple women in her trusted support group.
Angel dads aren’t allowed in most of these groups. This one isn’t one of the “ways I’ve been hurt,” it’s just a related observation. It seems wrong to me that none of the groups are willing to help men process their grief as well. I get that some women feel more comfortable in environments that only consists of women. I work out in a women-only area of my gym. And pregnancy loss is very different for women than for men. But I do wish at least some of the groups allowed men. It would be therapeutic for me to hear about how the dads are processing the loss, as well as to reach out and give them suggestions on how to be there for their partners. Most probably wouldn’t join anyway, so it would be a very small percentage.
So, in summary, I respect and appreciate the online support groups that are available. No group is perfect, and I don’t expect them to be. But unfortunately I’ve had a few bad experiences. Because of my desire for open dialogue without restrictions (other than unkind trolls), I created a new Facebook group. All are welcome. All angel photos are welcome. All topics are welcome. The only rule is to treat others with kindness. If you’re at a point in your grief where you are no longer triggered easily, please join me!
If the link doesn’t work and you can’t find the group, go to my Facebook page Forbes Better or Worse, as it’s linked to that page. Both the page and the group have a light blue cover photo with a quote. Hope to see you there!