I don’t hate Facebook pregnancy announcements. I really don’t. In fact, I enjoy seeing them on my timeline. It's cool to see how creative some people are, like when they put a dog's paws next to baby shoes, or when they show the couple standing next to an equal sign and a sign that says "3." I like seeing how happy people are about pregnancy, especially because it's so rare to see such public displays of happiness. Being so openly happy makes you vulnerable to criticism, because unhappy people tend to hate on happy people.
That said, I never announced my pregnancy on Facebook. I am not usually a private person: I share my feelings with anyone who will listen, and I like to live my life as an open book. But while I enjoy other people's public celebrations of their pregnancies, I considered my own pregnancy a pretty private thing, and I didn't really want the social media masses to know about it.
I decided to have a baby for one simple reason: I felt like I kept hearing a tiny voice inside me telling me that I should. At first, I was confused by this feeling, because I'd never really dreamed of having a child before, even as I got older and my biological clock started ticking. Even now, I can't totally explain it. But the feeling stuck around, and I decided to trust it.
When I finally got pregnant, I was extremely tentative about celebrating it. I didn’t want to act like my whole life was going to change. I didn’t want people in every corner of my world to spit that age-old proclamation at me: "Just wait. You didn’t know love before. Your whole life is going to be different now. You are on the edge of the most exciting ride." I didn’t want other people to tell my what my experience with having a child would be like. I wanted to figure it out for myself.
Motherhood is not a one-way ticket to happiness. It's not a given, and it's not a guarantee. It is much more complicated than that.
I know that people say these things with the best of intentions, and I know that they believe it deep in their own hearts. They can’t wait to tell you how happy you’re going to be when you have a baby, because they were so happy when they had their own kids.
But there isn’t one story for all mothers. There isn’t one script that all pregnant women follow. Some mothers fall deep into sadness after their babies are born. Sometimes, that sadness doesn’t disappear for a long time. Some mothers abuse substances. Some mothers leave. Motherhood is not a one-way ticket to happiness. It's not a given, and it's not a guarantee. It is much more complicated than that.
The truth is, I was terrified that I would not love my baby as much as other mothers loved their own children. I was scared sh*tless that I would regret the decision to have him, and that I would spent the rest of my life wanting to be without that responsibility. I couldn’t bear to have people tell me how wonderful my post-baby life would be. They couldn’t possibly have known, because I hadn't experienced it yet. I wanted to wrestle with my ambivalence on my own, without anyone in my feed telling me otherwise. So I didn’t say one word about my pregnancy for the entire 10 months.
I didn’t tell my Facebook friends that I was a brand-new woman, or that I finally felt complete, or that everything finally made sense now that a baby had been placed in my hands. I told them what I wanted to say, in the way I wanted to say it.
The day after my baby was born, I posted a photo of me waving my finger in his microscopic face with the caption: “Being alive for just a day does not prevent you from a sassing.” I didn’t tell my Facebook friends that I was a brand-new woman, or that I finally felt complete, or that everything finally made sense now that a baby had been placed in my hands. I told them what I wanted to say, in the way I wanted to say it. "I have a small person entrusted to me now," I was saying. "I will sass him and I will love him and I will figure this out. Your projection of happiness doesn’t have a place here. I will figure this out on my own."
People were kind. They congratulated me and wished me the best of luck. And they were right: I did fall in love with my baby, and I am happy. Very, very happy. Happier than I ever thought I could be.
Today, when I see on my feed that someone is pregnant, I actually have to stop myself from commenting wth things like "Holy sh*t, you’re gonna be so happy!," even though I really think they’re going to be. Most of the time, I keep my tongue tied and my mouth shut. Because they are allowed to experience parenthood in their own way. And it’s not for me to say what their journey will be.