Table of Contents
From The Editor:
If you blink, you just might miss summer! The lazy days of summer seem a thing of the past if you’re juggling work and kids and family expectations, or trying to conceive or thinking about becoming a mother. In this issue we look at how to share news (or not), how to ask for help (or not) and other fun random things that make summer, summer.
Do you have a story to share or have a request for a story? You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To Facebook Announce or Not, That is the Question
The prevalence of social media adds a whole new complexity for SMC’ers. How much to share about their journey and when? Recently on the Forum, one member specifically asked if and when members announced their baby news on Facebook.
Ok this question is probably going to sounds super ridiculous & crazy.
Nowadays I feel like everything has to be announced on Facebook from engagements to marriages to babies. If someone gets engaged or has a baby and it isn’t posted on Facebook, I feel like that is strange and I find myself asking why? I feel like this is what it has come to!
So this will sound a little strange and is probably something that is the least important thing to worry about through this entire journey, but I had to ask and see what others have done and said. When you got pregnant did you announce the news on Facebook? I am a little hesitant on how and if I should post on Facebook. I know this sounds so stupid and you all are probably like why is she even asking this, but like I said nowadays if something isn’t posted on there, especially a huge life event, then it seems really strange and people begin to question. People know I am not married and do not have a boyfriend currently, so how do I make this announcement and what have some of you guys done?
I will be trying to conceive (TTC) in the next few months. Of course I have already told a few of my close friends and my family knows. They are all very supportive and I am very lucky to have great friends and family. They would never judge and they are so happy I am going to do this. With that said, I want to be upfront and honest about my journey because I think having a baby is a beautiful thing and a gift from God no matter how it is conceived.
This question has weighed on my mind and I am just curious to know what some of you have done and thought? Any suggestions appreciated.
Member responses fell into one of two camps: those who shared their news, and those who didn’t and rarely share anything on Facebook at all.
From those who shared their news online:
It’s not superficial — social media is an important way that many of us interact with friends and family.
I made the first announcement of my pregnancy on Facebook after my 18-week ultrasound, which is when I found out the baby’s gender. Before I did that, though, I pruned my friend list and quietly unfriended anyone that I wasn’t interested in sharing this kind of news with. I posted an ultrasound picture and said, “Say hello to Baby Boy Samuels, due in October. Sorry he is so blurry, but he’s still very small yet. He is a ‘solo project,’ and I am beyond thrilled.”
And then I just basked in the likes and the warm comments.
Later on, I posted a picture of my big belly because it was kind of comical. I think I also posted a shot or two of my baby shower. But I was not interested in turning my timeline into a pregnancy diary.
That’s about it. Folks generally love babies, so it turned out not to be a big deal.
For my first pregnancy, I simply posted, “I’m pregnant! As of today, I am in my second trimester so I feel safer to go public with the news. I’m due July 30 — I am proof that women can get pregnant after 40!” I didn’t even acknowledge the source of male contribution, and no one asked. People are just happy about babies.
For this pregnancy, I decided not to say anything on Facebook until the birth. At this point I feel so uncomfortable (sleeping, etc.) that, coincidentally, just this evening I shared a Today Show link about a woman tried to induce labor by dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I added the caption, “At this point, I might just try this…” Some friends who didn’t know I was pregnant already “liked” the post without asking anything. A friend I was close with in high school sent me a PM asking if my post meant what she thought it did — she closely followed my first pregnancy, so was incredibly excited about a sibling. Overall, my Facebook experiences have been tame, limited, and completely positive.
I had a long journey to motherhood and didn’t post anything about the trials & tribulations of TTC. I announced my pregnancy around the 20 week mark and was very honest, including the miscarriages, IVFs and that I was doing this all on my own. I received nothing but positive comments and felt so supported by everyone.
I posted their birth pic, but beyond that haven’t posted any pics of my girls. If you missed the announcements you probably wouldn’t know I had kids!
I announced on Facebook with a pic of myself pregnant on the beach (in a tunic and shorts). Mostly very warm comments. Some people from further back in my life asked publicly if I had gotten married or something, so you have to watch for that. A former coworker sent me a note of congrats, and we are not Facebook friends. With that in mind, definitely don’t let your boss find out from Facebook! (I told work at about 14 weeks and told Facebook at 20 weeks). There have been some very cute announcements shared on pregnancy threads.
I am unabashedly a huge fan of Facebook, so I was excited to post my news on it. I waited until I was 20 weeks and knew everything was progressing well with my pregnancy after my big ultrasound scan. It happened only a few days before my 40th birthday, so after a day of people writing birthday wishes on my page, I posted a photo of my ultrasound and said something to the effect of, “This year is going to be the best year of my life for a very special reason: I’m pregnant! Baby W is due March 5, 2013.”
I got tons of well wishes and surprisingly only one acquaintance sent me a PM saying she didn’t know I was trying to conceive, and sort of asked in an indirect way if I was seeing someone. I was happy to tell her about my SMC-hood in my reply email.
It was only as time went on that I slowly started feeding more of the IVF story, the SMC stuff, to the masses on Facebook. It wasn’t that I was being private about it (because I’m generally not a private person), but more that I was just giving bits and pieces to clarify the situation. I also knew my dad was on my Facebook friends list and was still having a tough time with me doing this on my own, so I wanted to be sensitive to him.
I waited until after the anatomy scan to announce on Facebook, and waited until after I had told work and close family. I did not share any of my TTC phase on Facebook at all. I was about 20 weeks when I announced on Facebook. I posted an ultrasound pic from the anatomy scan and said something like – “exciting news to share, I’m expecting! Baby girl expected to make her debut on or around June 18.” I had a ton of likes and comments; it was insane, though nice to know how many people were excited for me. I had a few Facebook PMs from people asking me for more details, they were fishing to know if I had a boyfriend they hadn’t heard about. I was upfront and honest with anyone that sent me a PM and told them I was doing it solo with a donor and all were supportive. I had one person, who I thought I had blocked long ago, post on my wall “Who is the Daddy?” Luckily, I was online when she posted it, so I deleted it right away and blocked her – I just didn’t feel that was an appropriate question for anyone to ask on my Facebook wall!
What I really thought was great was that once I answered PMs honestly, a couple of friends told me they were thinking about doing the same and asked for information.
I too use Facebook a lot and admittedly, it’s turned into baby book at times!
I waited until 18 weeks and knew the gender to simply announce – “just found out the little one I’m expecting this summer is a BOY!!!” Tons of well wishes followed and not a one asked about the father. Everyone was just excited – and some surprised but happily so. I know every person I’m friends with personally. Some are close and knew I planned on doing this solo and others are like old high school friends I just use Facebook to keep in touch and “see” their kids grow up. I post pics of Nate so those that don’t see us all the time can stay updated and never has there been mention of a father/boyfriend etc. so I assume those who didn’t know have gotten the message that it is just the two of us.
For those responders who opted not to share their news, there was an overall sentiment of not posting to Facebook in general.
I never posted a pregnancy announcement or explanation – I figured the people who I wanted/needed to know are the ones I actually talk to or see anyway.
I did post a birth announcement, again, no explanation, and I post pictures, generally to a restricted “friends but not acquaintances” group.
This time, my sister posted something about being excited to soon be an aunt again and tagged me, although I didn’t accept the tag, so I’m not sure if any non-mutual friends/relatives saw it.
I have a fair amount of Facebook friends who I don’t know terribly well. If you read my comments, you could figure out I have a small child, but don’t post photos of his face, or mention it in my posts generally. But, I’m not the norm.
I am not generally a Facebook poster. I don’t like others to tag my location, and I would be livid if my family posted about my pregnancy on Facebook, if I had not (and my mom knows this). However, I have given thought to whether, how, and when I’d post about a pregnancy. I can understand the feeling of not wanting it to look like you’re hiding anything, but for me it’s just about my privacy comfort levels, and I’m pretty private when it comes to social media. But that is also because, unfortunately, I do struggle with caring about what people think and just one negative comment will get to me. I remember, when my mom announced on Facebook that she was going to be a grandma again when my sister was pregnant with her second child, one family friend was like, “oh, who? Know it’s not Jamie!” I was furious, obsessing about what she meant by that. I think that family friend is who I worry about most – she has no filter.
I’m 27 weeks and still not Facebook-public. I keeping expecting someone to inadvertently “out” me. I don’t know what I’m waiting for, but I don’t see the rush either. An acquaintance recently did her Facebook pregnancy reveal around 36 weeks; she made comments suggesting that many of her Facebook friends would be surprised by her news. I thought it was perfectly fine, and it was neat just a few weeks later to see pics of her newborn.
I’d advise against sharing TTC plans on Facebook, though perhaps I’m jaded because it took me 15+ months to get to a viable pregnancy. Hopefully your journey is faster than mine was, but I’ll just say it’s not fun to feel like you’re letting down others month after month with disappointing news (and people will ask if you’ve tested, etc.). Once you are pregnant and ready to reveal, you can make it clear that this was something you’ve been working on for a while and that you’re thrilled.
But for others, the topic was more complicated. While hesitant about the use of social media, in general, there was a desire to help others who might be struggling with fertility issues and loss.
I am a very private person and just don’t share big stuff on Facebook or other social media. Mostly I just try to make people laugh, except for the when my dog died and I did some memorial stuff for her. That was the only serious thing I’ve ever put on Facebook. But I really want to be more open about my TTC journey. I’ve been at it for nearly three years and endured three miscarriages. The miscarriages were devastating and I know we, as women, don’t talk about them enough. I don’t know if it is the pain or the shame or sense of failure. But I just couldn’t. I feel like I’ve contributed to a cultural silence that isn’t healthy. The best way to help remove the stigma around pregnancy loss is to talk about it, I think. And I have failed in that, except with a few close friends and you wonderful SMC ladies who helped save my sanity.
If my journey can help someone else who is quietly suffering with infertility and/or pregnancy loss then I want to do that, even if I have to step outside my comfort zone.
I think I am going to be startlingly open and shock the heck out of 95% of my Facebook friends since they have no idea. I figure I survived three miscarriages. If I get a negative reaction I will just defriend them because I am a total badass who has endured and suffered to make this happen.
My plan is to do a short version with “I’m pregnant, YAY!” Then follow it up with the longer version of my journey. I’ll do that around 30 weeks. Then nothing until the baby pics.
At least that is the plan as of now. I hope I am brave enough to actually do it when the time comes.
How we approach the use of social media is as individual as our SMC journey itself. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to sharing. Or not sharing. For some, social media is an extension of their IRL (in real life) support group as they pursue single motherhood and a way to share their joy. And for many of us, the IRL is good enough.
The Things Kids Say!
No doubt about it – our kids are adorable and funny. Need proof? Just read the things they say.
After complaining that I don’t send enough treats in his lunch:
“Miles’s mom sends chocolate milk and zebra cakes for his lunch every day. I guess she really cares about him.”
I usually just lurk in this section of the Forum, as my kids are way beyond being cute, but this reminded me of the days when my daughter was three or four years old. To get out of the house on Friday evenings, I’d often take her to the Borders bookstore (long gone), since it was really close and I love books. She’d be fine when we were in the children’s section and fine getting a snack, but she’d get bored immediately when I’d start to look at books or magazines myself.
One evening, I was looking at the magazines, wondering how much time I’d get, when I heard her softly singing nearby. She had found the children’s magazines and was looking at a Bob the Builder one. I heard, softly;
“I am hammering, oh I love hammering, I love hammering, all day!” I thought, “Great, she’s occupied.”
The level of singing gradually built up until I heard her sing really loudly, “I am screwing, OH I LOVE SCREWING, OH I LOVE SCREWING ALL DAY!!!”
The store was crowded and ten years later I can feel my face get red as I think about it.
G: (stepping over a crushed can) Why are people still littering?
Me: I don’t know.
G: Maybe Jesus just felt like making more bad guys.
My daughter has been a little constipated recently and has been producing little nuggets each time she goes to the bathroom. She hollered for me to come in the other day (after her requested privacy), “look mom, it’s not a nugget, it’s a cucumber!”
As I tucked my son in for the night, I said “Goodnight my Prince Charming.” Without missing a beat, he looked down at his brother in the lower bunk and said, “That makes you the hideous ogre.”
My daughter, my little hypochondriac: Mommy, I’m sick.
Me: Oh, no! I’m sorry to hear that. What are your symptoms?
Daughter: No symptoms.
Me: How do you know you are sick if you don’t have any symptoms?
Daughter: Cause . . . that’s just the way it is.
The Missing Cat, The Single Mother, And Asking For Help
By Cheri Tabel
I hate asking for help. Truly. I would rather be raked over hot coals then have to ask for help. It’s a horrible trait to have. I wish I knew what early childhood event led to this gap in my psyche, but I don’t. Awareness is half the battle, as they say, but doesn’t make it any easier to do the asking.
Last year we adopted Millie from a shelter. We went to the shelter to get an orange tabby kitten, but from the moment my son set eyes on Millie, she was coming home with us. About seven pounds soaking wet, Millie is white with distinctive black markings and the most lively personality of any cat I’ve ever owned.
In the middle of a warm Friday night in May, our girl Millie went missing. She either jumped or fell out of a second story window in our home. We know this because the window screen was laying in the backyard the next day and the last I saw of her was in that window and now she was gone. My son was devastated. And I was at a loss. In my thirty plus years of owning cats, I’ve never had one take off like that. I had no idea where to start.
I immediately posted the news on my Facebook page and a neighborhood page. My son and I hit the streets, searching our immediate block for any sign of her. Friends offered ideas and search tips. We made “lost cat” signs, which my son and I put up around our subdivision. They came over to look for her. They texted and shared the news on their pages, they wrote and asked about her almost every single day.
But it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Until about three weeks after she disappeared and there was a sighting about a mile from our house. “Come quick,” the caller said. “I’m looking at your cat.” And so began phase two of our missing cat search – the multiple times she was spotted far from home, but we were unable to get her home. She was skittish and feisty and no matter how many people cornered her around a bush, she found a path to run away.
Each time someone called, we ran to find her. With each spotting I could tell things were getting worse. She was losing weight. She looked disoriented. I was beginning to lose hope.
And then I left town for a work conference. While hundreds of miles from home, she was becoming more disoriented and very lethargic, yet even then people couldn’t grab her. Finally a friend who works at the animal shelter where we adopted her formed a plan. But the plan meant someone needed to set out food for Millie the same time every night for multiple nights. I was far from home. How could I possibly do this on my own?
There have been many occasions as a single mother where I’ve made things much harder than they needed to be because I wouldn’t ask for help. When my son and I came home from the hospital, my parents asked how they could help and I said I needed to do it on my own. And immediately regretted it once they left. Former boyfriends have pleaded, “Let me in! Let me help you.”
What made this time different? Perhaps it was my boy at home, who missed his cat so much he would cry at night. Who could see her deteriorating as well. Who refused to lose faith that she would come home.
I sat down at my computer and emailed four families in our neighborhood to see if one of them could help. Or if they could take turns helping. I agonized over every word of that email. It was a strange sensation, putting a need out there, fearing rejection.
It was a strange sensation, putting a need out there, fearing rejection.
Instead of rejection, I got help. Piles and piles of help. Families taking turns putting food and water out for our girl. People I didn’t even know took turns, because of the heat, putting water out for her. And within days, we got her. The food helped lure her out of the woods, so much so that one night along with the food, a friend set a humane trap that caught her.
I’d like to tell you I’m a recovering no-help-aholic, but only time will tell. I can tell you that it felt good, knowing people cared about our girl, about Jackson, about me – enough to spend their evenings out in the woods, trying to find her. We all like feeling needed. I like helping people, why would I think anyone would feel differently if I needed it? I don’t know, but I’m learning. Sometimes life lessons come in furry little white and black packages with whiskers.
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Madelein Olivia was born at home (unplanned!) on 05/05/15 at 2:15 PM. I labored with my mother, and my doula arrived just in time to catch the baby.
I am thrilled to announce the arrival of my daughter, Ailyn Marie. Ailyn arrived on May 25th weighing 8 lbs, 2 oz and was 21 inches long. Big sister Rowan has declared that they are best friends! I’m so very thankful to the entire SMC family for helping me build this beautiful family!
Amy Smith, Alexandria, VA
Louis Dixon Henderson born May 22, 2015