Back in September, I ran across this wonderful Meme by The Adventures Of Captain Dad about Birth Announcement Etiquette. I thought, "YES!! Seriously! This should be common sense." So I shared it and moved on with my life, then I started to really take notice of how often I see this. But it's not as simple as an accidental "congratulations" before mom and dad are ready to share. It's the Dick Vitale type constant updates that are being splashed all over Facebook.
Whose Birth is this?
That seems like it might be a simple cut and dry question, after all there is only one person giving birth. So, who gets to know about the birth? All the details, the pictures, the story? Again this seems obvious, the person giving birth decides. It's their story, and they can share it with whoever they deem worthy. So if this is the case, why is it that every time you log into social media there seems to be a play by play of someone's cervix scrolling across your feed from someone other than the owner of the cervix involved? Someone's best friend, mother, grandmother, sister, uncle is super excited about the arrival of their new loved one and wants to share that with everyone.
It starts with something simple like "I'm going to be an Aunt today!!" That's it. Mom does not get to make any announcement. Auntie just took that birth and made it hers. She didn't mean to. She would never intentionally do that, but the fact is that she did. The family that is giving birth is now receiving texts, FaceBook messages and phone calls full of people giving well wishes, congratulations, and wanting updates. That might not seem like a big deal to some, but please keep in mind that this woman is dealing with a TON of emotion right now. Labor is intense, and she is working hard to bring her baby into this world. But somehow she is expected to give updates. She is busy, you say? No problem! A friend or family member is giving the world a play by play.
"Dr. will proceed to induce if needed starting IV and we are progressing" ***We?***
"She's dilated to 3. 80% effaced. The nurse says her blood pressure is high. Watching that and relaxing until time to push."
"Dilated 6 cm, 100% effaced. Epidural in and we are waiting!"
"Dr. is here and WE ARE PUSHING!!!!" ****** Wait, who is pushing?******
"7# 6 oz and breastfeeding with gusto!"
And a recap!! "Her water broke at 9:30 at home. We got to the hospital at 10. She went from 3 cm to 10 in 2.5 hours. Started pushing at 12:40 and had him after 3 pushes at 12:47."
Now each of these updates is receiving comments from the gallery. Lots of love, prayers and congratulations all going to the wrong person. Mom and Dad don't get to make any special announcement about the arrival of their sweet babe. What would be the point? Someone already did it. Everyone in your family already knows all about the most intimate, emotional moment of your life. Even family members without social media will know everything. The only thing they want to know from mom and dad now, "When can we visit?" Then there is the c-section mom coming out of recovery only to discover that the whole world has already seen pictures of her baby and heard the details of her birth....all before she has even held her sweet baby.
Are we really at the point that mothers have to sit friends and family down to let them know what is and isn't OK to share with everyone? Not even just birth; surgery, losses, pregnancy, promotions. Who gets to share what? Who is receiving the attention? Can we keep our egos in check and not be insulted when someone we love asks us not to share something on Facebook or Twitter? Is it really that hard? You love them. You want the best for them. You want prayers for them. What do they want? What do they need? Let's put the focus on them and offer our love and support, and let them decide what they need and who they share it with.
Here is the thing. I know that these loved ones mean no harm. They are super excited/joyful and want to share it with everyone. They may even have permission to post these things, but the birthing woman is too busy to babysit your sharing. So, where do you draw the line? What detail is too personal? How much do you open someone else up to the world? How much do you open yourself up to it? Maybe simply taking notes for mom would be more helpful. I think it's great to have all these details, and mom will likely want them when she goes to write her story. But let her live it before she writes it. Don't get me wrong, I love to read birth stories. I think they are powerful, and it is always an honor when a woman wants to share her story with me, but it should be her choice to share.
It should come from her.