I am careful with personal news. I am careful who I share things with, who I confide in. This privacy, I imagine, will be more important to me than ever when I am ready to have a baby.
The news that myself, and my partner, are trying for a baby or expecting a little person all-too-soon should be ours to share. I would want it that way. Non negotiable. News of the first ultrasound, the gender of the baby, his or her weight, the date of birth. These are moments that I would want to share, first and foremost with my partner, family and closest friends in private. Others will know later. On our terms, when we’re ready.
Problem is, not everyone is going to be on board with this plan.
Once you tell one person. The news can spread like lightening.
This happened recently to a new father who took to Reddit to vent his rage. He raced to the waiting room of the hospital. Bursting with the news that he and his wife had just had a baby girl. (They hadn’t known the sex before hand). He was devastated to learn their paediatrician, who was also a friend, had already told the waiting crowd.
“I’m not gonna lie – before I knew of what our friend had done, I looked at that moment as easily one of the top five experiences of my life,” he wrote.
I know, I know. The news was shared out of happiness and excitement. The friend was elated and not intending to steal something precious. But I don’t think the new father’s frustration is misplaced. It was his moment. And sharing news in a moment like that makes it all the more special. All the more powerful.
The worst case scenario however, is through social media.
The Telegraph shared the story of Louise Ball, 31, from Cheshire in the UK.
“I went into labour at just past midnight, and finally gave birth just over 12 hours later, at 12.45pm,” she said. “I couldn’t get onto Facebook because my daughter was born in China, where access is blocked. Three days later, I went to my computer with glee, ready to announce our big news. But I was met by a gaudy pink picture posted on my page by an auntie, congratulating us on the birth of our ‘beautiful little girl’.”
“When I checked the time signature, I realised that it had been posted when my daughter was just three hours old, and this auntie isn’t exactly my closest relation – she must have jumped on Facebook literally the moment she heard,” Ball continued. “I wasn’t that bothered at the time, but when I reflected on it there was a real niggle there. I was still dazed in my hospital bed when she told the world our news. I made my own announcement anyway, and it certainly wasn’t the end of the world – but it did make me mark her card as someone who valued attention over my feelings.”
And that, right there, is the problem. The craving of attention.
Running into the waiting room in the heat of the moment is one thing. But sharing an image of another person’s new baby through social media is something else entirely. That’s making another couple’s moment – the happy, heart wrenching, terrifying moment of becoming parents – about you. When you are likely 100 miles away, sitting in your living room and your own kids are off at university. That’s not loving. That’s attention seeking.