When everyone but me is having babies - a baby is what I want most in the whole world - my heart breaks a little bit more. Yes, I am a mother, I have (had?) a baby - a gorgeous little boy called Hugo - but he died.
Hugo was born 16 weeks prematurely, and died in my arms when he was just 35 days old. I am an empty-armed mother.
I miss Hugo so much, I dearly want him back in my arms. But I know that is not possible.
With most people living their lives on social media these days, the baby news, the scan photos, the bump updates are like salt in the wounds. What to do?
Other women have every right to share their baby news, their photos, and their updates, just as I share photos of Hugo's life, and his grave garden. I would never dream of asking them to stop sharing photos of their bumps or babies.
Photos in particular have an uncanny knack of appearing on my timeline when I am having a particularly low moment. Rather than continue to torture myself, I have started unfollowing, for now, on Facebook some women and some baby and pregnancy-related organisations.
It is not personal towards them - it is about my sorrow, my heartbreak, and me avoiding further sorrow and heartbreak by underlining what I no longer have. It also helps prevent additional emotional torment - at these low moments, I have found myself muttering under my breath uncharitable words, jealous words, resentful words. This isn't 'me', and while I can reassure myself such reactions are understandable in the circumstances, those thoughts make me feel guilty. It is not these other women's fault that I do not have my baby (it is no one's fault): they have been incredibly kind towards me.
What a mess.
It is such rational thoughts I try to bear in mind when I read of women who say how desperate they are for a little brother or sister for their existing child, and how sad they feel when they see the pregnancy announcements and bump updates. I want to shout "But you have a child in your arms! Be grateful!", and to be fair, most such comments from these mothers include an acknowledgement of being grateful for what they do have (these are women who have not suffered a loss). I try to temper my frustration with the thought that these mothers are perhaps mourning for something they took for granted: that it is not always easy to get pregnant, that life is not always under your direct control. That life is not fair.
When a friend reveals she is pregnant, while I cannot pretend it does not hurt - it does, a lot - I offer simple congratulations. I try to remember how I felt when I announced I was pregnant with Hugo. Full of joy and excitement, and a desire to share my joy with the whole world. It had taken two years to get pregnant, two years of reaching for the tampons every month instead of delight at a little blue line, and resentment of a different sort in response to baby announcements. I was over the moon. I try to think that I will once again be able to share a scan photo, a little brother or sister for Hugo, in the future.
I know I am not alone in feeling this way. When a baby is your greatest desire, and everyone but you seems to be having them it feels really painful. No matter what your situation is, I say do whatever is right for you. You don't have to avoid social media; take advantage of Facebook's 'unfollow' button (it means you don't have to unfriend an individual, but their updates won't appear in your news feed).
Try to remember you are human - jealousy, resentment, and anger are all emotions that are natural under the circumstances, and do not make you a bad person (this is something I try to remind myself regularly).
Your real friends will understand.
The 'unfollow' strategy doesn't help in real life, of course - if anyone has such a strategy, please do let me know!
When everyone is having babies but you - do whatever you can to be kind to you.
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