As I lay in the hospital bed feeling utterly alone, I knew I had to reach out for support following a messy miscarriage that had caught me completely off-guard.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, my husband couldn't even be there to hold my hand when I received the worst news: the pregnancy was gone. And so were the doctor and nurses.
By myself, devastated and afraid, within the confines of the small space lit only by monitors, I reached with shaking hands for my phone.
Not many people even knew I was pregnant because it was still early. But my best friend got the update the day we got a positive pregnancy test. I tell her everything, and have for the past 20 years.
Sadly, we haven't seen one another in a year; she lives 13,000 kilometres away in Asia. Since we graduated college, my former roommate has lived in at least four different countries. She always says she can't stand staying in one place, which is only one of the many things we don't share in common — I like my feet planted in one spot: sunny Florida.
No matter, she's my person and I'm hers. Ever since she introduced herself to me at college orientation, we've been inseparable, as much as any friends can be when they live on different continents.
But in my hospital bed, her words of support felt like my very first lifeline.
Right now, I needed her despite the fact that I was waking up to a day I'd come to regard as one of the saddest of my life. Meanwhile, she was about to say goodnight to her kiddos several time zones away. I clicked on the "WhatsApp" icon on my phone.
Typing the news I'd lost the pregnancy made it even more real and I cried for probably the millionth time that day. Immediately, I saw bubbles as my BFF wrote back. I didn't even have time to read her response before she was calling me, but I couldn't pick up. I knew hearing her voice was more than I was ready for. I said as much in a message and of course, she understood. She always does.
We've seen each other through failed relationships, marriages, loss, new jobs, moves, and now this miscarriage. She hasn't suffered this kind of very personal loss before but she knows me inside and out, and understood what I needed to hear. It's also what she didn't say that was so necessary in these early moments after the miscarriage:
"You have other children at home, so it's OK." Or, "I guess it just wasn't meant to be." I heard hurtful comments like this all the time when, about four years ago, I lost a pregnancy at six months along. My best friend had dropped everything at that time and flown across the country to be with me. We drank wine, cried, watched mindless movies and cried some more. This time, getting on a plane wasn't an option, again, due to COVID-19. But in my hospital bed, her words of support felt like my very first lifeline.
In the days after returning home from the ER, my best friend checked in with me every day. She sent me a mix of funny memes to help cheer me up and messages of continued support. Meanwhile, other friends really haven't know what to say to me. It's not their fault. They don't know me like my best friend does.
They can't know how desperately I wanted this baby, how I went through IVF to get pregnant, how I flew to New York for a secret embryo transfer just before the world went into isolation. She's the only person outside of my family who knew I was going through any of this.
She was also the only person to offer up any hope following our loss. "I'm done. I can't go through anymore heartbreak like this," I typed to her just before being discharged from the hospital. "You'll be telling me you're knocked up again soon," she joked back.
My initial reaction was that of shock. Um, I wasn't ready to hear that. Not immediately following a night of scary blood and baby dream loss. But then, I smiled. Who knows? Maybe she was right. The point was, in that moment, I needed to believe it was over when I said it was over; not when nature randomly and cruelly decided it was.
I will never forget the connection I felt that day and each day as I heal from my miscarriage. My best friend's support from what feels like worlds away has helped me put one foot in front of the other as I reflect on decades of ups and downs and how I've been tested before.
Each time, it's with her by my side that I rise up and keep going. Sure, I wish she lived closer. I wish a lot of things were different; that I was still pregnant, that people weren't getting sick all over the world.
I'm also grateful that I am healthy, and that I have someone in my life who never judges me and always has my back. And who knows what memes make me laugh, even on my darkest days.