I counted the other day. A statistical sample of the top 50 items in my facebook feed included 13 baby- or child-related posts. That’s more than a quarter of my facebook feed that makes me want to cower in a corner with a pint of chocolate ice cream and a large box of tissues.
Not that I’m not happy for my friends. I am, really I am! But I’m somehow capable of a sort of wave-particle duality in which I can simultaneously be overjoyed for the happiness of my nearest and dearest while also feeling the most intense jealousy and anger that I am capable of feeling.
Lately it seems to be third-child announcements. THIRD child. Like, they already have two living, breathing children, and all of a sudden they’re blithely announcing that another is on the way. Usually five or six months in advance — today I saw an announcement for late July. There’s about twelve feet of snow on the ground, but they’re already thinking about midsummer when their third bundle of joy will arrive to join its big siblings on picnics and walks in the woods and I might not even be pregnant by then. And even though these women are all less far along than the stage when we lost our baby, probably things will be fine and their midsummer bundle of joy will arrive right on schedule. Seriously, how is that fair?!?! (And let’s not even talk about women airing their pregnancy complaints on facebook. Ugh.)
I don’t know what most of these families have been through — maybe they’ve experienced pain and loss too — but that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? On facebook, all I see is the whitewashed happy family of soon-to-be five. I don’t hear about the pain, and therefore my imagination assumes there isn’t any. And my subconscious balances their three living babies against my one dead one and I feel bitter.
I hate feeling bitter. Most of the time, I do so well at seeming normal. I’ve dandled a couple of six-month old babies in the last few weeks without even crying. Just yesterday I cooed over a wee one, bounced her around, flew her like an airplane, and her dad told me that even though she’s in a stranger-danger phase she seemed totally at ease with me. I like babies, and most of the time they like me back. But my goodness, does it hurt. To hold those babies, and then hand them back to their parents, and then go back home to a house with a big empty bedroom and a closet full of hand-me-down baby items that people started sending when I was three or four months pregnant. And yesterday, dad-of-the-wee-one (his third, by the way) so casually talked about when we have kids… which as far as we know now, might never happen. Or might as well be a decade from now. At least, that’s how I feel.
I don’t know that there’s a solution, other than staying off facebook entirely, but I do know that if — when — we finally welcome a living baby someday, I’ll talk about the bittersweet nature of our experience. I don’t know if I’ll want to post on facebook until after our story has a happy ending, whatever that might be. I never announced my first pregnancy to my facebook “friends,” which was a huge relief in the end. But sometimes I find myself writing a still totally hypothetical second-baby announcement in my head. Lately it’s been going like this:
“One year ago today, our first daughter was born. Most of you haven’t heard much about her, because she died from a placental abruption when I was 4.5 months pregnant. Today, we’re overjoyed to announce that we’re expecting our second baby in December. We make this announcement with hope, love, and not a little bit of trepidation. I hope you’ll see good news here in a few months. If you ever find yourself going through the particular hell that is second trimester pregnancy loss, please know that we are here for you.”