Who Are Instagram’s Infertility Influencers Really Helping? 

In minutes and hours after learning about my first miscarriage during a routine ultrasound, my senses were sharpened by the physical details around me: the flowery heat of May in Maine, a single cirrus cloud of feathers on a otherwise perfectly blue sky, MOJO RZN license plate above. the grenadier Mustang in front of us in a light while my husband and I went home disappointed. Early pregnancy can be speculative, these early days full of perspective and brilliant suspense. It is a time of dream and hope. My loss landed immediately. Many of my days had been spent on the air, in a bubble of wish-making lists and scrolling through Instagram, a bubble that appeared when so clearly there was no heartbeat on the cool screen and dark image room. Now, as we returned home and our little boy, the specific details of the trip were asteroid. The smell of burnt brakes, the ticking of a turn signal, the Taco Bell sign lit up with the promise of medical insurance and paid vacation, recorded under a tire, and a persistent, invasive voice in the my boss asking me the question. : Will you post it on social media?

I didn’t, but boy did I move. Through billboard accounts with accurate messages about loss. Through rainbow-colored sepia-colored posts and empty cots. Through the candles. Wishes. Prayers. The thing was, she was right: she knew that miscarriage was the biological process of a non-viable pregnancy. But the loss of potential — that emotion of anticipation — was an abyss of sadness that I did not see coming. Miscarriage is like nostalgia for someone you will never meet.

In the minutes and hours after my second miscarriage, I thought: You must be kidding me. I was assured that, statistically, there was an 80 percent chance that I would have a normal pregnancy. But after my dilation and curettage, I received unexpected results: this time, I had experienced a partial molar pregnancy, a medical anomaly that only affects 1 in 1,000 pregnancies, and I would have to spend months of close follow-up to make sure that there was no fabric. left in my womb, because it can turn into cancer and spread to my lungs in a matter of weeks.

I went back to Instagram and resumed scrolling. There were the same old hashtags #TTC (trying to conceive) and bodies without babies, the color-coordinated grid posts with phrases like “you’re not alone” and “1 in 4”. There were pictures of people holding their babies rainbow in shots made under flowering cherry trees.

In the meantime, I started eating ham sandwiches in bed and left my duties as a father. One day I realized that seven solid days had passed since I had even stepped outside; I tried to get out of my bedroom but I couldn’t. My phone’s text messages didn’t respond, but not because I wasn’t there, my thumb was still mechanically escaping the posts. The losses narrated in prominent accounts of infertility were delicate and compound; rooms that had no babies still had good light flooded through the Sierra filter; the women who posted selfies seemed, well, bathed. Like everything else on Instagram, even mourning had become an aspiration – beautiful but empty. And I had undone.

There is a debate over whether miscarriage, especially in early pregnancy, is death. Socially, we can’t even agree on what abortion is. State by state, women are treated differently, and our work environments rarely recognize it. Miscarriage “is a kind of loss that our culture doesn’t know what to do with,” says Crystal Clancy, a Minnesota psychologist and perinatal mental health specialist. “Because it can happen at different stages of pregnancy, because it has different meanings for everyone, because people may not be comfortable with it, it’s something most people don’t want to talk about.” This affects people both financially and emotionally. Most people do not receive paid leave due to loss of pregnancy, which can force people who have to have a D&C, an outpatient surgical procedure, to have their phone nearby and vibrate in the event of a job. In addition, most insurance companies offer irregular coverage for miscarriages. I am still paying for my two D&Cs, which were not covered by my insurance and ended up costing me more than my cesarean and five-day hospital stay after the birth of my daughter. There is simply no social safety net for miscarriage, which is also evident online.

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