The cold, hard and ugly truth about announcing your pregnancy on social media
Should you share the good news about your pregnancy with everyone on your social media account, or is it better to keep such things private? Read about one mother's decision to be open about her entire journey and the backlash she received from it
When I found out I was pregnant for the first time six years ago, the very first person I told was my husband.
We had been desperately trying to conceive for three years, so after countless trips to the fertility specialist, the both of us going on special diets, and trying various alternative methods to boost our chances, when our prayers were finally answered we were very excited to share the good news with everyone we knew.
We told our immediate family in person and I called my best friend on the phone (as she lives overseas).
It had not been an easy journey for the both of us and as a writer, I would pen down my thoughts and emotions in words or type it out onscreen.
Why social media?
Although the world of social media wasn't something new nor novel at the time (remember Friendster and Myspace?), I had just gotten the hang of Facebook because it took me a while to finally jump on the bandwagon and see what all the fuss was about over this fast-growing social networking platform.
I was amazed by the number of old friends I could easily connect to and pretty soon I was hooked!
Being a Third Culture Kid (TCK) who has migrated a few times and moved to countless new neighbourhoods within each country, it's been hard to stay in touch with friends and form strong friendships that last, so social media is a great way to stay connected with former schoolmates and my relatives who are also scattered across the globe.
Big news like me finally getting pregnant after several years of trying was definitely something I was eager to announce to my entire Facebook friends list.
Some might say that private matters like this should only be shared with a select few, such as your parents, siblings and closest of friends you can count with one hand, so why the need to proclaim it to the long list of old friends and relatives?
Personally, I'm not the sort to randomly add people on Facebook unless I actually know them in person and are actually friends with them, as I share such personal pictures and details about my life there.
There is a long list of friend requests that I have no intentions of accepting, even though I have met them before or they are a friend of a friend, because I just do not feel comfortable showing them this side of my life.
I may love social media and connecting with others online, but I am still selective with those I want to open up to.
Baby number two
When we started trying for our second baby, it seemed as though it was going to be a long and difficult process yet again as another three years had gone by without any sign of two pink lines on that test stick.
So I dealt with all this sadness and anger that was eating away inside me by writing it all out in status updates, long-winded rambles, and emotional poems.
Everyone had a small window into my world to know what I was going through to try and conceive this baby.
When a miracle finally did happen, naturally I shared the exciting announcement online once again.
Congratulatory messages came pouring in and I was giddy with joy -- not from all the attention, but by the touching fact that so many people had been rooting for me and were genuinely happy to hear the good news.
But my happiness was short-lived.
I was still in my first trimester when it was discovered that I had a rare complication known as a cornual ectopic pregnancy, which could put my life in danger.
I was advised by different doctors from two different hospitals to terminate the pregnancy immediately before my uterus ruptured and could cause massive internal bleeding.
Completely devastated, all I could do was cry and hold my firstborn daughter tight as I mulled over my decision.
Once again, I turned to social media for support because I definitely needed all the love and positive vibes I could get -- in real life and virtually.
However my body decided to naturally terminate the pregnancy right before I was going to schedule my surgery but the shock hit me even harder when I realised that I was actually carrying twins.
As much as I wanted to lay in bed for weeks to come and just cry my heart out, I had to quickly pick myself up and continue to focus on taking care of my daughter whom I currently home-school and have no helper to lend a hand.
So I poured my heart out online
I dove into the virtual world and would express my grief and sorrow online -- not to ask for sympathy, but to try and make sense of the tragedy that had happened to me and to share my story with the hopes that it will help to heal someone else who has also suffered a pregnancy loss, as I myself was trying to heal, physically and emotionally.
It was very difficult for me to talk to someone face to face about my emotional turmoil because every time I tried to do so, I would end up crying so hard that I was just literally unable to express myself.
The words I wrote flowed more freely than the ones I tried to say.
My husband was as broken up about the whole thing as I was and we avoided talking too much about it with one another because it only made us even more upset and ripped our hearts up a little more each time.
So I wrote about it on Facebook, shared uplifting pictures, positive quotes, relevant song lyrics, joined online support groups, and received countless messages of love and support on my wall, via private messages, through SMS, WhatsApp, emails, as well as in person.
The heartfelt online comments and private messages we received actually helped us through all the pain and gave us a lot of support we needed during our time of grief.
But I also received messages about how I may have actually brought this all on myself.
Apparantly it was all my fault
According to some people's logic, the reason for my miscarriage was due to my over-sharing of personal updates online for all to know of.
They warned me about the pantang (taboo) of announcing such news so publicly and that my doing so ultimately led to my pregnancy loss.
One of the beliefs is that some people might not be truly happy for me and could even be envious, so their jealousy and "evil eye" played a part in making sure my twin babies never survived.
If such a thing really was possible and such horrible black-hearted people even existed in my social circle or extended family, then I strongly felt that I needed to do some serious Facebook culling and real-life figurative burning of bridges too.
Which is exactly what I did.
There must be something truly wrong with someone to their very core for them to have such ill-intentions for others.
I have also been told that some people choose not to share this sort of news online because if such tragedy were to befall them, at least they won't feel ashamed about it.
But why should I feel any shame for something which was beyond my control?
It's not like I intentionally chain-smoked cigarettes, drank litres of alcohol, did hard narcotics, or went bungee-jumping on a daily basis throughout my pregnancy to have caused the loss.
I did absolutely nothing wrong for the fertilised egg to implant itself in a non-ideal position inside my uterus, nor did I take a coat hanger to myself to end it all.
There is no shame in suffering from a miscarriage. It is not your fault.
Your life, your choice
If you are not the sort of person who would announce your pregnancy on social media, that's totally fine, but please just respect others who do choose to do so.
If you feel such private moments should be kept for real-life and people in the flesh, that's great, but please remember to keep your ego in check.
Kindly refrain from making condescending remarks masked as good intentions because you'd be surprised how easy it is to see through the ugly facade.
We all have the right to do as we please without being judged by others who feel they know better or think they are better than us.
You don't know what someone is going through in life or all the battles they may be fighting.
Not everyone is surrounded by a close-knit family.
Not everyone grew up with their childhood friends living in the same neighbourhood.
Not everyone has close friends who actually stay in the same country.
Not everyone has a strong support system outside of cyberspace.
Not everyone faces the world the same way you do.
I write to heal myself and others
Writing is my coping mechanism -- it is how I heal and also deal with the pain that still haunts me to this very day.
If my babies survived the nine months, they would have been born a few weeks ago and I probably would be breastfeeding both of them right now instead of sitting here writing this with empty arms and a heavy heart.
Social media has been my means of staying in touch with family and friends from all corners of the globe, sharing updates with those who care, and also a place for me to express myself and vent about my feelings.
So I will continue to write through all my pain, I will continue to heal my mind and soul, and I will continue to pray for my rainbow baby.
Remember, if a woman chooses to share the happy news of her pregnancy on social media, she is not doing it for attention, but as a connection to everyone she loves and hopefully those who also love her back.
What do you think about announcing your pregnancy on social media? What are the pros and cons of doing so? Share your thoughts with us below