I’m not talking about the Kardashian-Jenner’s who are well on their way to building an army of beautiful offspring that will no doubt be listed on the “Forbes most powerful” before they hit puberty. Nor am I talking about the young Royals, who’ve given us a wedding, a pregnancy and a newborn in the space of a week – Kris Jenner works hard but she’s no match for the Royal Family! I’m talking about social media and the blizzard of pregnancy announcements dominating our news feed.
A while ago, I realised that Facebook had untangled my internet search history, worked out that I was trying to conceive and had tailored my timeline so that every single advertisement was a thoughtful link to pregnancy and babies. The worst being the ads for contraception – thanks Durex but I’m doing alright without you. I think FB also re-jigged my algorithm so that I now have to scroll through all the womb x-rays and celebrity bump updates before I can get to the good stuff – the cat videos.
My news feed, once occupied only by prosecco clinking Boomerangs and kebab shop selfies, is now a platform where people buy and sell prams and compare the size of their growing fetus to various grocery items. All wonderfully exciting and I am truly, so so happy for all those lucky parents-to-be. I cannot tell you how loudly I would want to shout from the rooftops if I ever became pregnant myself and I’m sure that I too would download the app and be giddy with excitement to learn that my baby is the size of a red cabbage so trust me, I’m not judging. But a crappy side-effect of infertility, and one in which I seriously wish I had some control over, is that every pregnancy announcement is a reminder of what I’m failing to achieve.
A few months ago, a friend shared the news on Facebook that his dog had miraculously given birth to 6 puppies – that was the last straw for me. This bitch wasn’t even trying, no stable relationship to speak of, still living with her parents, zero income – not to mention the fact she was about 3. Hands up if you’ve ever been jealous of a cocker-spaniel…….
I came off Facebook for a while after that.
It’s true for many of us that we’ll focus on the stories and people who have the very thing we want for ourselves. On social media we’re essentially scrolling through a picture perfect version of other people’s lives and it forces us to draw comparisons against our own. What we see are the neatly arranged pretty little Instagram tiles and happy announcements – what we don’t see are the “behind the scenes” challenges, difficulties, failures and realities of very ordinary lives.
For people struggling with fertility, it can seem like pregnancies (with apparent ease) are all around us but in reality we’re just accidentally seeing it that way because we want it so badly. We see pregnancies all over social media, in our dreams and everywhere we go partly because we’re actually… sort of… looking for it.