During my second pregnancy, I trawled Etsy for the perfect ‘Big Brother’ shirt and spent a while composing the pregnancy announcement in my mind. I had it ready to go. And then I lost the pregnancy.
When I started writing about my experiences as a parent, I fully expected to write about my miscarriage, which happened in December 2015. But it turns out I don’t have that much to say about it. It happened. It was awful. I do still occasionally think about what life would be like if we’d had that one baby, though I think about it less and less as I get to know the two I ended up with.
Anyway. The ‘big brother’ tee shirt never got its day, and I began a year of uncharitable crankiness about other peoples’ pregnancy announcements. Like many people my age, I’ve been on social media for over a decade, and have hundreds of contacts with whom I have minimal actual contact in real life. That woman I met at a wedding? Or the conference? Or the person I hung out with for four days straight at Bonnaroo and then never again? Check, check, and check. And in the time between miscarrying and receiving the green light to try again, I think all of them got pregnant.
Announcements obviously run the gamut: some people post ‘btw internet, we had a baby’ while other people go full-on Beyonce. But when you want to be pregnant and haven’t had any luck, it is hard not to interpret all of them as preening: ‘#april2017! #soblessed!’
So when I got pregnant again, this time with twins, I put a lot of thought into how to tell the world. Because TWINS! Right? But on the other hand, I knew of a few friends who have had trouble conceiving. Perhaps more importantly, I knew there were even more people I didn’t know had trouble conceiving. I didn’t want to be THAT girl.
In my period of infertility, there were a few friends – not Facebook friends but real-life friends – who got pregnant. Hurray! I did not begrudge them their reproductive success. Even so, it meant the world to me (it still does, more than a year later) that they spoke to me or emailed me and said ‘this probably sucks for you to hear, and I’m sorry to cause you emotional turmoil, but I’m pregnant.’ It didn’t actually cause me much turmoil; it was easy to just be happy for them, and grateful to have such thoughtful people in my life.
And then – finallyyyyyy – it was my turn. A friend took a picture of me with my beloved Peugeot bicycle in her front garden. My pregnancy hair looked amazing. My bump (about 18 weeks at that point) looked sweet and compact. My thighs looked enormous, but can’t win’em all. And so almost without thinking, I posted it. #Frannyhavingtwins #goodhairday
And that is how, in a minute, I became the thoughtless jerk whose posts had made me glower for the better part of 2016.
Its hard to know what the right balance is. Its not like people should keep their children secret. The world is full of babies. That’s a good thing. Babies bring joy and light and hope into the world. But I think maybe we should all agree, collectively, to put a moratorium on the following: #soblessed, #blessed (those two don’t need to be used by anyone, for any reason, ever again. Google it. I am hardly the only person who feels this way), #fitpregnancy, heart-on-uterus pics, and ultrasound images. I don’t need to see inside your body, Girl from Middle School.
I know how hard it is to resist. As soon as I got pregnant, I thought: tee shirts! Chalkboards! Balloons! Glitter! Tiny baby shoes! ALL THE PINTEREST! But thank goodness my laziness was stronger than my hormones, because I know how hard it is when you want to be pregnant but are not.