You’re scrolling through your Instagram feed when all of a sudden, you see it: a fuzzy black-and-white photo of something resembling a blob. You squint. Oh, wait. That’s a baby. The caption is always some variation of: “Introducing so-and-so, expected arrival later this fall!” The photo racks up tons and tons of likes and comments. But you can't help but wonder: is it adorable or is it... well... kind of annoying, in a way that's hard to put your finger on?
I will be the first to admit that I’m an active social media user and over-sharer. I Instagram just about everything from my morning coffee to my fluffy orange cat, and I’m not above making embarrassing statements on Twitter if it will result in a good laugh. Over-sharing just comes with the territory. But as much as I live my life online (and I have to, as a writer and editor), there are a few things that just seem like they should stay private, and an ultrasound is one of them. That's why, the moment I found out I was pregnant, I vowed that I wouldn't post my ultrasound on social media.
To be honest, my husband and I struggled over how we were going to announce our pregnancy on social media. Telling our friends and family was the easy part. We put our parents on speakerphone and casually asked them how they felt about being promoted to grandparents. And I told my best friend, who's getting married this summer, by informing her that I’d need a bigger size in my bridesmaid dress.
But when it came time to telling our Facebook and Instagram followers, that was the tricky part. Not announcing the pregnancy was never an option, at least not for me. With something so obvious happening to my body, I wanted to get it out in the open. Otherwise, it felt like I was harboring some kind of a secret.
An ultrasound represents my insides. I mean, that’s literally what it is.
Let’s be real: there’s a lot of pressure that goes along with the big social media reveal. A quick flip through Pinterest will make you think that it has to be done with kitschy calendars or tiny shoes (confession: we ended up doing both.) But as I Googled “cute pregnancy reveal ideas,” I never once entertained the idea of posting our ultrasound, for one simple reason: it felt too invasive and personal.
To me, an ultrasound represents my insides. I mean, that’s literally what it is. It’s a photograph of what’s going on inside my uterus. In some ways, I’d rather pose nude than share a photo of my organs, because an ultrasound is as intimate and as internal as it gets. Sure, someone might analyze or judge the hell out of my naked body, but there’s another layer of intimacy that goes along with sharing what’s happening inside. And in a day and age when we’re literally putting everything online, shouldn’t some things stay between a close-knit inner circle of people who truly care?
I imagine that for women who desperately want to have a child but are struggling with getting pregnant, seeing a photo of someone else’s ultrasound might be like a knife right to the heart.
If we’re being honest with ourselves and each other, we have to admit that we don’t really care about 95% of the things we see on our feeds. In fact, as a society, we seem more annoyed by others’ status updates and life events than ever. Just look at how many people write articles calling out “obnoxious” social media behavior. And knowing just how judgmental I can be about things I see on my friends’ profiles, like “hashtag-blessed” status updates and “copy and paste” memes, I didn’t want our baby to be the inspiration for yet another eyeroll.
While it can be argued that baby announcement photos in general are annoying, there’s something a bit more raw and real about an ultrasound. It is photographic evidence that there is a human growing inside your belly. And I imagine that for women who desperately want to have a child but are struggling with getting pregnant, seeing a photo of someone else’s ultrasound might be like a knife right to the heart.
Furthermore, I don't want my unborn daughter’s social media footprint to begin before she’s even out of the womb. As a millennial, I am entirely in control of the images that exist of me online. Sure, there are some pretty awkward ones from my early days on Facebook, but at least they’ve all been posted or tagged with my consent. What if my daughter doesn’t want her fuzzy, black and white, blob-esque photo shared with every single one of my Facebook friends, most of whom I haven’t seen in over a decade? Sure, she hasn't been born yet, but one day, she’ll probably have an opinion about this.
At the end of the day, the decision to post an ultrasound photo is yours and yours alone, and I don't judge anyone else who chooses to do it. But it might be worth taking a moment to think about who sees your social media posts, and what their response might be. Sometimes, it's OK to keep some things reserved for your VIPs. Your friends and followers won’t mind. Honestly, they might even thank you for it.