What it's like to have a miscarriage in the social media age.

I waited until I was 12 weeks along to announce my pregnancy to my "web of people" on social media.

"HEY, YOU GUYS. WE'RE HAVIN' A BAYBAY!" was plastered all over my wall, along with some super adorable pregnancy announcement photos my friend snapped a few weeks before. The support and love flew in. The predictions of the sex and the hunt to find the perfect name started. We had just announced our pregnancy to thousands of our friends and family.

Photo by Amy Lynn, used with permission from Rebecca Swift.


We were over the moon excited. And then, two days later, I started bleeding.

I called for my partner, Patrick, from the bathroom with a shaky voice. It wasn't just a dot of blood. It wasn't brown. It was bright red and there was a lot of it. I remember how huge his eyes were.

We both immediately knew this couldn't be right. After friends assured us that a little bleeding is fine and that everything was most likely OK, we called the clinic and set up an appointment for the next morning.

There wasn't any cramping (yet), and we spent the evening scouring Google and WebMD for any answers we could find. The most information we could dig up was from equally worried women begging for answers themselves on random forums. The conversations always started with blood. "What color was it? How much was there? Was there cramping? How far along are you?" But still, this was all speculation and every case seemed to vary, so we looked forward to seeing our doctor as soon as possible.

As we arrived for our appointment the next day, we walked hand-in-hand and attempted to ease the tension with jokes and banter. We opened up the famed Pokemon app our kids had been playing while we waited, and we giggled about finding a Pokemon sitting on the exam table between the stirrups and my legs. We were nervous, but at least we would have answers in the near future.

The doctor came in and we got right down to business. He poured the goop below my stomach, lifted the heart monitor, and placed it down against my skin. Pat and I took a deep breath and waited.

Image via iStock.

I heard a slow heartbeat and almost knocked the doctor over with excitement, and he said "No ... that's your heartbeat." And then, nothing. We couldn't find a beat. The tears immediately started streaming.

We moved into the ultrasound room, and once again, it was confirmed that there was no heartbeat. We cried.

We were shown that the embryo had actually stopped growing at seven weeks. They asked if I wanted the ultrasound picture. I whispered "no."

I learned there are two separate functions in the growth process, and while the fetus growth had halted, the amniotic sac had not, which is why my body continued to think and operate like I was pregnant several weeks after.

Then, I learned there are two options to remove what they now referred to as the "contents of the uterus." I could get a D&C (dilation and curettage), where they surgically open the cervix and remove or "vacuum" out the contents, or let nature run its course. I didn't know much about either, so I didn't decide right away. If I wanted to, I could have the procedure the next morning. I told them I would be in touch.

As we walked out, none of the nurses made eye contact. I have never felt so cold or alone while surrounded by a group of women. I sniffled hard one last time and tried to keep it together.

The rest of the night was a blur. We held each other, told family members and close friends. Then I thought of the thousands of people we told on Facebook. I quickly felt embarrassed. How would I dodge a million questions in parking lots and at parties and over social media over the next few months?  We would think about that later, we decided.

I was told having the D&C procedure was a "pleasant" way to speed up the process and obtain some closure, so we chose to have the procedure and scheduled an appointment for the next day. Then, the cramps started.

It was around 8:30 p.m. when I started feeling the discomfort. These "cramps" were more painful than any period cramping I had experienced. And over the next hour, as they kept coming back, the time in between was shortening from 15 minutes, to 10 minutes, to five minutes...

I decided to sleep it off and mentally prepare myself for the next day. But I couldn't sleep. I was tossing and turning.

The cramps were more painful than ever, and I raised and contorted my pelvis and scrunched into the fetal position to try to suppress it. It was excruciating.

This was more painful than giving birth to either of my two daughters (and, yes, I had pain meds back then). I realized as the cramping grew more frequent and painful, they weren't cramps at all — they were contractions. I was going into labor.

Patrick carried me to the bathtub and we ran a warm bath with Epsom salt. The words of my doctor flashed through my mind: "You may feel pain. You might not. It can happen naturally. You might not even notice."

I winced through the pain, and every time I had a contraction, a wave of blood filled the tub. Patrick held my hand (in between dry heaving into the bathroom sink), and after a half hour of the most pain I've ever experienced in my life, I said "it's coming." And I pushed out a small fluid-filled amniotic sac with a tiny embryo inside. The pain stopped all at once. We could breathe.

Image via iStock.

We didn't know it could happen this way. I didn't know you could go through the pain of childbirth with a miscarriage.

I didn't know how I felt about being 31 and not knowing that this completely natural thing thousands of women go through every single day was physically possible.

How is my body's natural way of flushing out a baby that wasn't going to thrive, and the pain involved, something I had never heard of before?

Even as we had researched our options online, nothing had led us to believe that not immediately having a D&C could leave us in this position. I feel my doctor could have better served me by preparing me for the worse-case scenario, not the best case.

I dried off, tossed on a robe, and scooped up the amniotic sac in my hands. I placed it in a tiny gold jewelry box of my daughter's. It was the best thing I could find at 1 a.m. Somehow it felt to me like a gold encrusted shrine wouldn't have sufficed for this poor little baby. Biased mother, you know.

It rained that night. Patrick and I found an area in our garden in the backyard. He grabbed a shovel and started digging as the rain fell on us. It was serene and quiet out, and I was thankful to have his support and kindness there by my side.

Watching a father-to-be dig a hole and then place a golden box into the dirt — something I thought was going to be our child we would raise for the rest of our lives — was one of the hardest things I have experienced in this lifetime. I was glad it was over.

The next day, I woke up tired, defeated, and sick to my stomach because, although the hard part was over, I still had to admit to the world what had happened.

I like to keep a positive attitude on social media, but I couldn't ignore this. So I trudged over to the computer and laid it all out:

Image via Rebecca Swift.

"It's with a heavy, heavy heart that I share this. Although it's not the preferred platform, you have all been so wonderfully supportive in sharing our happiness. I thought we were in the clear at 12 weeks, but unfortunately our little one didn't make it past that. Thank you so much for the kindness, the love and support, and the thoughts and prayers. It means the world to us."

The thing I was mortifyingly embarrassed to admit and dreaded putting out there quickly became my saving grace. Love surrounded us. The support and the uplifting messages poured in. We didn't feel alone.

Friends and acquaintances from high school and college and all walks of life, husbands of wives who had gone through it themselves, women who had braved the dreaded bathtub scene all reached out to send their love. It felt so good to talk about it. I know a lot of people suffer in silence.

An estimated 1 in 6 pregnancies end in miscarriage. There are up to a million cases in the United States alone per year.

For me, learning these statistics and knowing how common miscarriage is hugely helped me with the grieving process. I know we all grieve differently, some publicly and some privately, but the support and stories that have been shared with me since publicly announcing my miscarriage have made me feel less alone.

I wonder how more prepared I would have been in making a decision about my D&C had I been able to find more detailed information from women who had been through this.

That's why it's been heavy on my heart to share my personal experience. As real and painful and horrifying as it was, I've decided not to sugarcoat it for a second. Because if I'd known what a miscarriage could really be like, I would have been more prepared for what happened to me that night.

For those of you who have gone through or are going through a miscarriage, know that I'm grieving with you and surrounding you with my love. Know that it's more than OK to talk about, and there are millions of women just like you. You are not alone.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.