This piece was selected to be published on iVillage Australia, and I was thrilled that they liked it. I hope you enjoy reading it too. Let me know what you think in the comments.
My sister gave birth to a gorgeous baby girl recently. It took her over a week to announce it on Facebook.
We all know the rules about babies and social media:
- Never announce a birth before the parents.
- Never ever post baby photos before the parents.
- Publicly condemn anyone else who announces a birth or posts baby photos before the parents.
Usually the rules are pretty easy to comply with. These days smartphones are taken into the delivery room and pics of sweaty, knackered looking mums and wrinkly, slightly gunky babies are posted within hours, sometimes minutes, of the grand separation of mother and child.
I had my first son several thousand kilometres away from most of my family and friends. I already had the SMS list set up on my phone. The notification hierarchy was: 1) telephone immediate family, 2) send SMS to friends and extended family, 3) post on Facebook for general ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘aaah-ing’.
This was a great plan until my waters broke on the Saturday morning, labour didn’t establish properly until Saturday night and after 24 hours of fairly fruitless back labour I had an emergency c-section late on Sunday afternoon.
I was exhausted, on a pethedine drip, in shock and a rather a significant amount of pain.
But I was determined to send out that damned SMS, as scheduled.
The needle for the pethedine drip wasn’t inserted quite correctly. Every time I pressed the button for another shot of sweet relief, the back of my hand stung like hell for a couple of seconds before the cold liquid flowed through and started to creep up my arm.
Then I had a minute or two in which to add a few more names to the SMS (the list I had so carefully constructed in the weeks prior had somehow deleted itself) before I started to nod off as the pethedine took effect. A period of time later I would surface and repeat the process, each time adding a few more names.
Yes, I know. I was insane. The post-childbirth hormones make you do some weird things.
The Facebook post (text only, no pics) went up the next morning. I had to wait until my husband brought the laptop into the hospital – this was before the days of widespread mobile internet.
Four days after that I posted 112 photos. Yes, you read that right. No, I didn’t accidentally put in an extra ‘1’. One hundred and twelve photos. Hmm.
Five days after the birth of my niece there were ZERO photos and no announcement. As far as Facebook was concerned, she was still tucked up inside her mum kicking and punching her internal organs and generally making a nuisance of herself.
I suffered through the various stages of Facebook Loss:
Stage 1: Denial
After racing to the hospital straight after the birth to welcome my sister’s gorgeous baby girl into the world, being careful to stay only a minute to two then leave mum, dad and bubs to get to know each other, I raced back home and continually hit refresh on Facebook.
I was sure I must have missed it.
Stage 2: Irritation
When are they going to announce this baby’s birth? I mean, who am I allowed to tell? How am I supposed to express joy when I can’t tell Facebook What’s on my mind? That I’m Feeling blessed and that I’m doing it in Melbourne? Not to mention adding an elated selfie and perhaps a cute emoticon or two.
Stage 3: Bargaining
If she hasn’t posted anything within two days I’ll ask her when she’s planning to.
If she hasn’t posted in seven days I’ll offer to post it myself, on her behalf. Because maybe she’s too busy.
If she hasn’t posted within a fortnight I’ll POST IT MYSELF WITHOUT ASKING!!!
Just kidding, I’d never do that.
Stage 4: Depression
Oh my god, she’s never going to post anything on Facebook. Which means I’m clearly not supposed to tell anyone she’s had a baby. And no one’s ever going to know (except the dozens of people she’s already told in person, or on the phone, or via text message) and I’m going to spend the rest of my life being an Undercover Aunty to a phantom baby.
Stage 5: Acceptance
Eight days after her gorgeous baby girl had been born, when her husband had gone back to work and they’d started to emerge a little from their brand-new-baby-bubble, Ange finally posted a couple of beautiful pictures of her new daughter on Facebook, and announced her arrival to the world.
And you know what? I realised that’s fabulous. Instead of spending all her time taking photos, drafting and posting status updates and replying to comments, she’d been bonding with her baby.
Because at the end of the day, the birth of a baby is not about the rest of the social media world. It’s about mum and dad and baby (and possibly siblings and anyone else they want to include) getting to know each other in peace.
(Of course, this should only be permitted for a relatively brief period before we start demanding photos en masse. Daily. And visits. And cuddles. Lots of them.)
What do you think? How long is TOO long after a birth of a baby to post pics on Facebook?
And here’s a gratuitous pic of my new niece:-)
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Take care & thanks for reading.