Social media is a funny thing. It’s a double edged sword that allows you to keep in touch with family and friends who may live far away, but it also shares aspects of your private life with ‘aquaintances’ you may not have spoken to for a decade or more.
Before the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Vine etc the largest audience you were likely to reach was a group email and prior that it was three way calling or party lines! As fun as it is to share pics of your awesome new car or your ugly Christmas sweater with the audience at large there are certain elements in our lives that used to be, and in my opinion still should be, more private; pregnancy being one of them.
These days more effort goes into most Facebook pregnancy annoucements than the actual ‘getting pregnant’ part, and following that there are the weekly ‘Bumpies’ (see: selfie documenting the ever growing baby loitering inside some lucky mama’s lady parts), the ‘due date approaching’ complaint statuses and ‘play-by-play’ labour documentary. Seriously, try Googling ‘Pregnancy Announcement’ or ‘Gender Reveal’ and prepare to be swamped by tons of creative pink and blue images!
Now I’m a reasonable person and I can see how many people are excited to share such an important moment in their lives with their nearest and dearest, but the problem with social media is that isn’t who you’re sharing with…you’re sharing with everyone! Aquaintances, friends of friends and possibly even the internet at large if you’re like me and find the ‘privacy settings’ complicated and time consuming. I love to see all the growing families in my social circle and am certainly ‘guilty’ of flooding the news feeds of friends, family and acquaintances alike with pictures of my adorable boys but pregnancy was something different. Something we wanted to hold on to for us, and share with the people of our choosing when the time seemed right.
With V we didn’t share on Facebook until we were over the viability marker and we didn’t post a single ‘bump’ picture. We actually didn’t post many pictures of V until he was about 6 months old. When it came to A we conciously chose not to reveal our pregnancy on any social media whatsoever and we didn’t announce his birth until a week after he was born.
Why you ask? Well pregnancy hasn’t been kind to us. We almost lost V and with all the complications we were anticipating, and later experiencing, with A, we just didn’t feel that everyone needed to know. It was a time to focus on us as a family and not worry about a zillion people asking how we were doing, what were we having, any signs of baby yet? Or ‘Dear God you’re huge’ comments. Do you really think I wanted pictures of my stretch marked giant belly and 205 lb sweaty, unshowered, nephrostomy tube sporting self on the internet? Not in this lifetime! When you post things on a public forum you open yourself up to possibly hurtful comments, generic platitudes and unsolicited advice that may do less for your self-esteem then the anticipated ‘likes’ and congratulations.
But as for us, it wasn’t limited to social media. We made a conscious decision and went a bit further. We have pretty much no belly pictures at all, for either boy. We didn’t document our weekly progress because we were already so focused on meeting milestones that I couldn’t find any pleasure in physically documenting them as well. Also, to be honest, I didn’t want to start taking pictures and then have the unthinkable happen. What if we didn’t have a healthy baby to bring home and my phone was full of ‘happy’ belly pics? We have no maternity shoot pictures, no pictures of me in labour, nada. I kept ultrasound pictures in a drawer in the bedroom, not on the fridge like ‘normal’ parents-to-be. Also to return to the Facebook point in this type of situation, it would be hard enough to tell the people close to us that we’d experienced a loss, would I really want well meaning but generic condolences by friends of friends etc? I just couldn’t imagine and am lucky that it never was an issue for us.
I am so proud of the PAL (pregnancy after loss) mamas on my Facebook list and my friends struggling with infertility. One of the things they mention, when asked, is how hard it is to look at and read the statuses of pregnant friends etc on social media. As happy as they are for their friends, it still brings focus back on what they are having trouble achieving themselves. I know hiding a post is always an option but for those friends I’d rather share my experiences as much or as little as they’re comfortable with in person, not innundate them from afar, especially not with complaints when they’d love nothing more than to be in that position themselves.
Now when I look back on my largely undocumented pregnancies do I regret it? Not really. I know a lot of people want to keep those pictures as a keepsake but honestly I don’t need it. I can see the results of my hard work every day when I look into the faces of my two miracle boys, and if I’m feeling really nostalgic I’ll grab a quick peak before my shower and marvel at my Freddy Krueger stomach. I think the only time I curse myself for not having more pics is when I’m planning a blog and don’t have any photos to add!