Sunday, August 5, 2012

An Open Letter to My Pregnant Facebook Friends

Dear Facebook Moms-to-Be,

I'm really excited for you. I truly am. Nothing quite matches that feeling of expecting a child, of knowing that a little person is growing inside of you and preparing for that moment when he or she enters the world and irrevocably changes your family for the better.

I loved seeing your announcement, that wonderful post that let the world know that in just a few short months that little bean in your ultrasound picture will be with you and in our lives as well.  I look forward to the pictures that you'll post right after labor. (Though PLEASE don't post during labor.  Maybe I'm old fashioned but I feel like those hours of hard work and labor don't need to include wifi breaks.  They should be private and treasured between you and whoever is helping you out! Wait until you're done and then open up your laptop again.)

I'm sure I'll click on pictures of your baby as he or she grows up and maybe even the occasional video, too.  After all, I love posting pictures of my own child and it's wonderful to see kids growing up, achieving all their firsts and seeing how they change you, my friends, along the way.

But here's the deal.  There are women, lots of them, who cannot experience what you are experiencing.  They have prayed and cried and waited, many for years, and have never seen that little stick turn blue. Or maybe they've seen it turn blue one too many times and never ended up holding that little child in their arms.  Possibly they've undergone painful procedures and tests, have had to change their diets and inject drugs in public bathroom stalls and endured insane mood swings to attempt to get their bodies to cooperate with the whole pregnancy thing.  They've likely read one too many stories about women who chose an abortion rather than give that child up for adoption to women like them who have yearned for a baby for years.  Maybe, like me, they've had the opportunity to have one child and experience pregnancy only to turn around and have any future pregnancies denied them due to the hazy diagnosis of "unexplained secondary infertility."

Whatever the case, facebook can be a hard place.  I want to rejoice with those who rejoice. I really do click on your announcements and though I usually experience a concurrent surge of grief and jealousy, I am excited for this new little life that will enter yours.

What is very difficult for many of us who struggle with infertility is those many posts that complain. That complain of pregnancy weight gain. That speak of fatigue because of a little fetus doing flips during the night.  That daily update us on how hard pregnancy is and how they hope they won't be pregnant again any time soon.    

Because many of us would give anything to have pregnancy weight gain. Or to be kept up at night from a kicking baby.  To have to even think about the idea of fearing another pregnancy too soon.

Do I think you should never complain? Certainly not.  Did I complain when my ankles were swollen and during that awkward period when I grew from "flat belly" to "chubby" but before I hit "baby bump"? Sure. But I didn't complain about it to hundreds of people. Those were the things I talked about with my husband or my mom or a close friend who I knew didn't struggle with infertility at the time.  The immediate world didn't need to know about it and I had already known several friends who had had trouble getting pregnant and had learned at least a little about the arts of discretion and sensitivity in this area.

So, please hear this plea from a gracious and loving standpoint and from someone who has made her own insensitive mistakes along the way.  We are excited for you and will come to (and sometimes host!) your baby showers.  We are usually grateful to hear about your pregnancy via email or phone before you post on facebook if we know you well enough to deserve such a heads up- it helps us prepare for the big announcement that will inevitably incur hundreds of likes and comments, as well it should.  We do want to know. We do want to rejoice.

But know, too, that it often hurts. Sometimes just a little bit deep down or sometimes it hits us on a tough day, when our miscarriages or stillbirths or our unfulfilled longings for pregnancy or our broken adoptions are just right at the surface.  And we don't want to rob you of your joy - that wouldn't be fair or loving of us. But I would love it if when you sought to share your complaints you sometimes, just sometimes, took pause to think of doing it in a way that reflects that you have mourned with those of us who've mourned and that you know we're out there.  And that maybe you value us more than you value a few "likes" on a status that is maybe not so necessary to post.

We live in a world where we're told to do anything we please and the effect on others be damned.  I hope that, at least in my own little facebook world, we can live as though that's not true. Aware of how we affect the people in our lives, choosing to put others ahead of ourselves, making choices that honor God and love people well, rather than just choosing the action that gets the most response from people.  My hope is that those of you who have never been affected by infertility, who haven't even know someone who struggles with it, will know just a little more of how you can support those of us who have had lives enmeshed with this struggle.  There are probably more of us in your life than you are actually aware. 

And my hope, too, is that you WILL keep posting those adorable pics of your babies.  On my good days, they give me hope, they remind me of what's to come and they allow me to rejoice with you.  And that rejoicing always reverberates through my own soul, helping me to wait more patiently and love more exuberantly while I do. 

Thanks for listening,

Carolyn 

5 comments:

  1. Well done, Carolyn. I cannot empathize because I have never been pregnant, but hope to be one day. If I should be blessed to be with child, I promise you that I will be very mindful of what I post on fb as far as pictures and status updates and such that show anything less than gratitude or joy. Rest assured, there will be no posts or pictures of myself or anyone else who is still in the delivery room! That much I can promise you. You are a fabulous mother whom I admire and hope to be like one day. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Im glad u were brave enough to post this. Well done

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for this. We had our son via gestational surrogacy, and Facebook can be a painful minefield for us.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You're welcome, KeAnne. Congratulations on your son and I hope that you can find ways, too, to be able to enjoy the positives of facebook!

    ReplyDelete
  5. LOVE this post!!! Our sweet girl is a gift to us via adoption so I feel the honesty! I appreciate the transparency!!! In His love...Nakira

    ReplyDelete