One of my friends from college sent me a Facebook message with a link to an article called On Pregnancy and Privacy and Fear by Aubrey Hirsch. My friend had read and knew that with my first pregnancy I felt in many ways like my pregnancy would define me instead of the degree I had just earned or my aspirations for my career. Reading this article in some ways resonated with what I was feeling–not on all points but on many.
I eventually got down to the comments, where there are several other mothers and mothers-to-be who shared the author’s fears, but there were also several people who just didn’t see what the author was complaining about or thought she was being selfish. I am not really responding to the article so much as expanding on what Aubrey wrote with my own experiences.
Having just had my second child, I will admit that I probably didn’t need to be as secretive about my first pregnancy. But at the time, I didn’t want everyone on Facebook knowing about it. I didn’t want to become a tidbit of Facebook gossip for so many of the Facebook “friends” that I haven’t spoken to in years. There are a handful of Facebook “friends” don’t even speak to me or read my status updates or respond to my comments on their statuses. I am basically ignored. Why would I want to share such news with “friends” like that when they had shut me out of their lives?
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was at an strange place in my life. I had just graduated with my second degree and I was considering graduate schools to attend. There were not many entry-level jobs in my field in my area available at that time, but my husband was making enough for my to be able to stay at home. I still tried to find employment, but the few job opportunities that opened up–the company didn’t hire anyone for because they just didn’t have the work in the end. So I stayed home and learned about pregnancy, about my son’s development, and about being a mom. But even though I read through so many things and asked my doctor many questions, there was still this mystery about the childbirth process. What happened in those moments that changed you? When would I know that I was different?
This unknown event was somewhat frightening and exciting. And now that I have gone through it, it is something that is difficult to explain. I don’t even know when it happened. I remember having my son held in front of my face, swaddled and blowing an amniotic bubble. He looked bored and confused. He looked at me and I didn’t know what to say. I just stared back. Maybe that was when it happened.
So many people call giving birth or having a baby or being pregnant a “miracle.” Sometimes hearing this or reading this rubs me the wrong way, but it doesn’t make it any less true. It bothers me sometimes because saying it is a miracle when so many women give birth everyday–well, that sounds rather ordinary to me. But it is still miracle because you, personally, were able to carry and bring this little person into the world. On a personal level, I think it is a miracle, especially when there are many women out there who would love to experience labor and delivery for themselves but cannot for many different reasons.
But what about everyone else? Why is everyone else so interested in you once you are pregnant? Frankly, I don’t know, but I know now that I have been pregnant and had a baby, I am excited for my friends who are pregnant. With first time mothers-to-be, I am excited to answer any questions because I had so many! And I feel like I should ask how they are doing health and pregnancy-wise because it isn’t like I am not worried, but I am more genuinely interested in knowing about everything that is happening in their lives. If they are focused on baby, then we talk about that!
With other friends who are mothers and are pregnant with their second child, I feel like talking about the pregnancy is a point of common ground, especially if we haven’t been the closest in the last few years. And not many of my friends really can understand on a technical level what I do for a living. That isn’t their fault. I like what I do, and when I come home, I don’t mind talking about other stuff–I prefer it–like cooking and my diet and nutrition.
I am not sure if other mothers feel this way too or not. But I did find with my first pregnancy that one person did take my pregnancy much too personally, and I still hold a bit of resentment towards that person. It feels as though this person took something from me.
If I had been a surrogate mother, I could understand how someone else could be so emotionally invested in my pregnancy. I could even understand my mother being extra emotionally invested, being her daughter, but my mother wasn’t that I could tell (my family is really good about granting space when appropriate, though too). But I wasn’t a surrogate, I was having a child of my own. Well, to be fair, my husband and I were having a child. I was the one responsible for watching what I ate and maintaining my weight. I was the one to deal with all the “joys” of pregnancy. I was the one to give birth–well, I labored for several hours before I needed an emergency cesarean section. I went through all of that. Some women may envy me for all that and that is okay, but after that child was born, my husband and I would be the ones responsible for his care.
So I got upset, knowing all of this when one particular person took the news I was having a baby very poorly and much too personally. This person respected our wishes (my husband’s and mine) not to spill the news on Facebook, but heavily questioned our reasoning and felt it was unfair. This person demanded an apology because we were being mean for not saying anything sooner. Admittedly, it was my husband’s responsibility to tell this person, but this person’s behavior was probably the biggest reason why he didn’t want to say anything.
We are rather private people and this was our news. This would be our child. At that time, we were trying to prepare for our new role and in his case, my husband was trying to enjoy the last weeks as a non-parent. I didn’t begrudge him this too much unless it caused problems.
In the end, I don’t really understand his reasoning, but I think it came down to the fact that he didn’t think this person really needed to know until he decided to say anything. He wasn’t trying to be malicious–and I don’t think this person really understood that. Regardless, this person wouldn’t drop the issue and reminded us–well, my husband more than me–of our horrible transgression through Facebook and with several voicemail messages.
With our first child, I don’t think there was anything wrong with keeping this huge life even to ourselves and focusing on preparing for the child. And I was happy to read that we were not alone in wanting the news to be a bit more private. But I also think such news doesn’t necessarily need to be shared with the world or on Facebook, and certain people who want to take someone else’s pregnancy personally, to be honest, they need to grow up and stop expecting the world to revolve around them.