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Self-Betrayal on Facebook

August 26, 2011

Long before I got pregnant, I made a promise to myself.  I promised that I would never, ever post a cheesy, sappy, or cutesy announcement of my eventual pregnancy on facebook.  In fact, I wasn’t going to post any kind of announcement at all.  Now I admit I didn’t really think this through.  If I never mentioned my pregnancy at all on that primary venue for keeping in touch with old friends and distant family, then wouldn’t they all be shocked when there was suddenly a tiny baby in my pictures?  Or would I refuse to post baby pictures, too?? But I didn’t get that far.

This was a promise I made to myself when I was struggling with constant disappointment and bitterness over our inability to conceive.  Every time one of my facebook friends posted an ultrasound picture with a “Surprise! We’re pregnant!” type of announcement it felt like a stab in the heart.  In fact, one of my friends learned she was pregnant with twins, and shared the news by posting a photoshopped image of two Cinnabon boxes in an oven, with the two ultrasound photos pasted onto the boxes.  Seriously???  I refused to make anyone else feel that way, should I eventually be lucky enough to have such news.  I didn’t know if any of my facebook friends had fertility problems, but I wasn’t going to take that gamble.  No, I would be the sensitive, sensible mom-to-be who didn’t hurt other people’s feelings by celebrating her own good fortune so publicly.

Then we got pregnant.  During the first trimester, with all the scary stuff going on, you bet your sweet bippy I wasn’t even remotely tempted to post an announcement.  Even during that scary period of time, when other women’s announcements via ultrasound image or bump picture were showing up in my newsfeed, I felt a stab of bitterness that they could feel so safe parading their news while I was fearful every day that I might lose my baby.

In my defense, every time I saw one of these announcements, both before and after we got pregnant, I did feel happy for these people.  I’m not that heartless or self-centered, I swear.  There was always an initial stab of pain, maybe some tears, and then a genuine happiness that these women were able to achieve what I wanted more than anything in the world, and therefore assumed they must as well.   But some of them overstepped my tolerance level when they went on to update their status daily with their pregnancy symptoms, or ridiculous proclamations like “I can’t see my feet!” that broke the camel’s back and led me to hide them from my newsfeed.  I’m just saying.  I’m human.

Once we were “safely” (if it’s ever really safe) into the second trimester, I decided that one of these days I might not be able to help myself, and I would have to at least allude to the pregnancy on facebook.  I didn’t want to be coy about it and say something that would lead friends to guess that maybe I might be, just so I could pretend like *I* wasn’t the one who brought it up, *they* were (I’ve had other friends do this and it’s almost as bad as the double Cinnabons, if not worse for its under-handedness).  But still, I resisted.

Then some of my twitter friends who also suffered with infertility started asking when I might post on facebook about it, and how I planned to do it.  My gut reaction was always, “Oh I’m not going to.”  But then I started to connect the dots and think about friends learning for the first time about my pregnancy when I posted a status update saying “Our baby is turning two!” or something like that.  It just seemed silly.  Not to mention that I knew that everyone would be happy for us, even friends who might be suffering out there, so long as I found a non-obnoxious way to do it.

Eventually, it happened.  My husband actually instigated it.  On the anniversary of his father’s death, he wanted to post something about his dad and incorporate the news of our baby.  He asked me first, and I said I didn’t mind.  When the congratulations started rolling in on his wall, I admit I felt envious and like I wanted a bit of the limelight too.  He suggested that I post about it, too.  So I did.  I like to think I found a classy way to do it, I didn’t post any images or say it in a cutesy way.  I just said that we were indescribably thrilled to share the news that we are expecting a baby in February.   This was several days ago, and I think I have something like 45 likes and 30 comments of people expressing their joy for us.  It feels good.

It also feels a bit like I betrayed myself.  And any of my friends who may be secretly suffering.  I can only promise to them that I will not post updates constantly about the size of my belly, and I won’t post ultrasound photos.  I’m sure I’ll post now and then about bits of news, like when we find out the sex of our child.  But these women, if they exist, probably have no idea that I struggled just like they did.  I am too private of a person to proclaim something about that on facebook.  When people ask if it took us a long time, I tell the truth, quite emphatically, and say that yes, it did.  But only my closest friends and family know about our struggle with infertility.  And I’m okay with keeping it that way.

It feels good to be out in the open about the pregnancy, but I am not about to air out all my dirty laundry just now.  Maybe some day.

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