Where I’m at: Facebook and My Pregnancy

I’m sitting on the couch not feeling 100%.  Yesterday I pushed it too far. In other words, I had cankles by bedtime and fell sleep while my husband was mid-sentence.  This morning between watching my stomach move and shake like a giant water balloon, I nursed achy shoulders and a bout of nausea.  This is where I am at today.  I want to sit down, I want to put my feet up, and I am doing that.

Here is what I don’t want to do: I don’t want to post my pregnancy on facebook. This has been a little surprising to me as certain parts of my life are public.  I use my Facebook for work. Therefore, when I speak, post blogs, connect with students or share information, it has always felt a bit like work.

My time on FB has waned in the last 7 months.  Bombarded by advertisements and seeing pictures of someone I don’t know (and am not friends with) that a friend “liked” clutter my newsfeed.  I feel weighed down it by it.

Last week, a classmate of mine shared her teenage child’s view of posting on Facebook, “She is very sensitive to what I post, so I always ask her, and I rarely post anything about her out of respect.”  Mind you, this is her view, and I’m not saying this to shirk people, but rather it got me wondering: just because we can post, should we?

I’m not talking about the occasional family photo, vacation pic, etc. I’m talking about what this article brings up (click here). That our managed, public, socially networked lives are beginning to feel like a job; one that I can’t keep up with anymore and I am not sure I want to.

What do I gain by posting so much?  Or taking pictures of every perfect moment? I don’t want to measure my worth in ‘likes.’ I want to live my story. I am beginning to wonder if Facebook is boxing too many of us in?

This issue has become pressing in managing my first pregnancy.  I thought for sure I would want to post a belly pic or make a public Pinterest board for the world to see what I’m going through and what I look like doing it. But this was of course before I was growing a human. “Because so and so did ____ (maternity pics, belly pics, cooked 300 frozen meals and made homemade baby food before the kid was born, etc.)” started feeling less like inspiration and more like mandates that someone told me I needed to do — and then post about it.

Here’s the reality now: If I were to really show you, I would most likely look like I did last night: my feet propped up with two pillows, my mouth wide open with my eyes closed in utter exhaustion.  This is my maternity photo shoot.

(sneaky hubs took this in my first trimester)

I don’t care if my friends have photo shoots or put their ultrasound pics up.  If you want to put pictures up or cook a ton of meals, fine by me.  This is not about you.  It’s about me.  And I’m tired of people asking why I don’t “put it up on Facebook.”  Because Facebook isn’t my life.  If you want to see my belly, stop by my house.  We’ll have lunch.  We’ll have a conversation.  Email me privately. That’s the way I want my pregnancy to be. I get to do that.

More so, I want some things to be kept sacred.  The line of what needs to be public and private has drastically changed since I grew up.  And now that I am entering a new chapter, I can’t help but think of my son when he is 12 asking me, “Why the heck did you put that up there?” I don’t have his permission.  I haven’t even met him yet and world wants full access to him and our interests to make sure they can cater to our consumerism. I’m not buying it.

Our son is a part of our family, not something to be owned by a public company.  Because I have drank the kool aid to some extent, I understand that what I post is owned by Facebook.  I also get that FB is a great tool for keeping in touch.  But keeping in touch and having a relationship or full access to a person’s life are entirely different things.  What I put up can never be erased; it will always be somewhere, out there and I don’t know where that is – which concerns me.

I use my facebook differently than people, so this isn’t a judgment on others as much as it is an accountability measure to myself, my story, and my family. I want to think about what I’m posting and why.  The post should not be my first reaction to life, being present to what is happening should.  What have I missed of my friends’ stories by thinking I know what is going on because of their profiles? What conversations have I missed out on because I grabbed my phone to take a picture? What real emotions have been taken for granted? What is life like outside of the instagrams and the status updates?  That’s where I want to live.

So will I never post anything again and judge everyone for what they put up?  If that’s what you heard me say, then you missed the meaning in this message.  There are things worth sharing and things worth keeping close to my heart.  I am still figuring out what those things are.  For now, it has meant being quieter, taking moments for myself and with Nate, diving into school and sharing life with my students.

It has meant not posting about my body because a picture of my body is not all of me. I am equally fascinated and haunted by the pregnancy journey and people’s *need* to witness it, touch it, have access to it, and have so.many.opinions.about.it… (still processing this).

For sure we will announce baby boy’s arrival at some point in the distant future, but only after cherishing those few precious moments by ourselves.  Moments meant to be ours.  Moments a picture or status update can never capture. And nor should they because they are sacred.

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13 Comments on Where I’m at: Facebook and My Pregnancy

  1. Melissa says:

    Wow, Kristin! Such food for thought! Thanks for sharing this! I’m looking forward to catching up with you in person very soon! :) Can’t wait to hear more about how this new journey of motherhood has affected your wider story! So love hearing about your life through your writing but I’m more excited to connect in real life. Love you, friend!

  2. Cissy says:

    Wonderful inquiry here. I’ve wondered these same things…as I witness the sweet and hilarious moments of my friend’s children’s lives. One in particular, is exceedingly quick witted herself, and has similarly wired kids. The things they say and do are so engaging and entertaining. But I’ve wondered how will those kids feel about the posts in years to come? Sure…it will be way back in the archives, but none-the-less, public information.

    Thanks for listening to your heart and sharing it here.

  3. Terah Malsam says:

    Wow, never thought about it like that before. I hope you are enjoying your pregnancy. I’m so excited for you to be a mom!

  4. Meghan Jackson says:

    Kristin, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I’ve wondered about how much is too much to share, which is part of why I just decided to go off FB entirely. Since stopping, I get to find out news about loved ones in real time, which is so much more thrilling then having those conversations that go “Did you hear about…?” “Oh, yeah, saw that on FB.” Going off facebook altogether certainly is not for everyone, but for me it was the right decision, and for many of the reasons you listed. My life is my life, I don’t want it to be owned by a company, and I’d rather maintain my relationships the old-fashioned way. :) Thanks for sharing your ideas and making us think :)

  5. Lindsey says:

    I am so proud of you and love that you are wrestling deeply with these things. It is incredibly refreshing to read your thoughts Kristin, and to not shy away from encouraging others to think about how popular culture, especially as related to social media, is profoundly shaping us, and in ways we may not completely want. Enjoy your quiet moments and celebrate life with the wee little man, Nate and friends who are near. Love you lots lady…

  6. Kim Aasland says:

    Hi Kristin!

    First of all, I LOVE the picture you posted in this blog. Reminds me so much of me in my pregnancies, totally knocked out by the time I got home from work. I used to come home, fall asleep on the couch, wake up for the dinner my husband had made, and then fall asleep for the rest of the night! :P

    I wonder if there are certain personalities/life stories/soul types that tend to like FB more than others. For example, you have shared about your struggle with perfectionism. I would think that FB would really trigger a person in that area. Also, I have friends that see FB more as one more thing on their “to do” list rather than a fun and helpful social interaction – so also for them it would not be a helpful medium.

    For me, my biggest longing is to be connected, so FB really helps meet that need, especially given my international life. But it is good for someone like me to examine if that FB connection leads to genuine (face-to-face) connection as well. For the most part, I would say it does. It has really been an in-road to me in developing new friendships as we’ve settled in Pasadena. But, then again, if fits my personality and life story and “issues” well.

    So, yes, FB is not for everyone! And even for those of us that it works well for, it is good to continue to examine its role in our lives. Quite a few people in our church have given up FB for Lent, which is an interesting practice. After all, up until 2008 (a mere 5 years ago), many of us did not have FB in our lives – just email. And before email and cell phones, we had hand-written letters and rotary phones and typewriters (my college experience!) and somehow we made it work!

    Many blessings on your pregnancy! There is nothing more exhilarating and simulataneously humbling than parenting!

    Love,

    Kim

  7. Lauren says:

    Kristin – you so perfectly put words to an inner battle I’ve been struggling to define. Similarly to what I was sharing with you this weekend about the “logic of getting married followed by the assumption that kids are next,” I’ve been struggling with an unspoken assumption that when (not if) we have kids, all parts of their lives will be online. It’s also akin to the pressure or inadequacy I feel sometimes at work when I’m not part of corporate FB groups, as if I’m not social media savvy enough.

    There is much of my life online, but there is a whole lot that I want to retain ownership of and keep unannounced to the world. I want to keep much of the line between personal and professional firmly defined and restricted. But I fear I may be part of a vastly shrinking minority.

    I loved what you wrote about FB boxing us in. I’ve been frustrated lately too with all the ads and recommendations (“Tell Scott you love him, because it’s Valentine’s Day” … Uh, FB, I don’t need you to remind me to tell my husband that I love him).

    I’ve also been feeling more and more like the only way to be a “modern mother” is to post my child’s every waking moment on social media. I don’t even have children yet and I feel obligated to one day post the details of their lives. It makes me wonder what does it mean/look like to be a mom now. And what does it feel like to be a child who – perhaps from the day he/she is conceived – is opposite a camera? Not that taking excessive photos of your children is a bad thing, but if the sole purpose of those photos is to post them online, what does that communicate to children about their lives and their value?

    Like you, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing if parents do that. I’m just saying I’m struggling to figure out for myself where the line of privacy rests.

    Thanks for posting this. It was so refreshing.

  8. As usual, you have a way of putting your finger on exactly what is beneath the surface and driving us all. Thank you, friend, for posting this. I felt myself take a sigh of relief when I read this. The need to capture every moment and share it through pictures and status updates can feel like a bit of a hustle. Like you said, there are, of course, things that are fun to share and I want to share, but it’s about conscious consumption, right? It’s about knowing what we’re doing and why, and not letting the technology rule us. Great, post!

  9. Melissa says:

    Kristin,

    After I read your blog, I thought in a deeper way about posting about my Grandma’s death on FB. I held out for a few days but then someone posted on my wall and I figured I had to say something. It’s funny because by waiting, I really felt how impersonal it was to even post about something like that. I think sometimes we just do these things out of the notion of “well this is what I’m used to doing so I’ll do it” and then we don’t think about the wider implications of it. My other grandma died about 6 months ago and I put it up immediately on FB. I wonder if by waiting this time I really got to grieve more. I think I posted it before because I wanted everyone to share in my grief so that I wouldn’t really have to feel it as much, but this time, I let myself sit in it for a day or two, only telling a few people at a time. Just thinking more about your post…

    Hey in case anyone is actually thinking about quitting FB, I read this blog about how to do it…

    http://mashable.com/2013/03/01/delete-your-facebook-account/

    Thanks!
    Melissa

  10. jacinta. says:

    I feel exactly the same way. I’ve not announced my pregnancy on Facebook, it has been a confusing 39 weeks trying to work out why not exactly. Avoiding others judgements, advice, off handed comments is one part. Your points on friends dropping around to see you and your belly… that really struck a chord with me. So much of the ‘friendlies’ on facebook leave off the cuff comments. They’re are light and fluffy and not particularly meaningful… but as far as my pregnancy goes, I’m seeking real support from real friends in the real world.. and not fluff online. A new life is sacred, special, private. It has been a pleasure to find your post today. I’ve been feeling a little down, not sure if I want to say anthing about my pregnancy online… surely it would be easy to just put up a post and get the 155 congratulatory comments… but I’m glad I haven’t. I’m nurturing a private space for this new little human to just slip into the world and be who they want to be and not have the facebook fanfare tizzying all about.

    • kritzau says:

      Thanks so much for your comment! I truly hope you have found space that is sacred and nurturing outside of the world of social media. Blessings to you in this special (and private) season.

  11. Kelly Martin says:

    I want to thank you for this. I am 7.5 months pregnant, and I have chosen to not post on facebook re: my pregnancy. You pretty much articulated my feelings on the subject. I just sent this to a few friends so they have a clearer understanding of what I am going through. I am assuming when our baby is here, that we will want to post this on facebook and not ‘keep it a secret,’ but as far as the pregnancy goes (which is certainly NO secret, lol), this is a special and private time for my husband, me, and close friends/family, who care enough to make an attempt to talk to me outside of facebook/see me/us in person, etc. Thanks again for this wonderfully written post.

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