"...suffering is one of the universal conditions of being alive. We all suffer. We have become terribly vulnerable, not because we suffer, but because we have separated ourselves from each other." -- Rachel Naoimi Remen

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Stomach flop

There isn't much that "gets me" anymore.  I feel as though I have healed up from the hurt of recurrent miscarriage, and am so thankful for that.  (Of course, I am forever changed; but healthy again.) Furthermore, I'm a big believer in the power of positive thinking.  I am not a fan of those bloggers, writers on social media, or even just people in plain old conversation, who have a complaint about everything.  Like many of you, I'm getting tired of hearing about the latest thing that's offensive to someone else.  Sometimes, it seems like we have to constantly walk on eggshells.  

On the other side of the coin, however, sometimes I know the complainers are doing a public service.  I know from my experience with blogging, that sometimes I have been able to speak for others who aren't able to speak for themselves.  Most of the time they are just still too hurt to articulate themselves (or sometimes they are just too polite).  

So what's my point?  

Nothing continues to upset me like "gender reveal" announcements.  
Not that these parties, or social media announcements are in and of themselves evil.  But, I'm being honest here, they make my stomach flop. 

Maybe it is just me... let me give you the background here - just after I miscarried the first time (I was 16.5 weeks that time and my baby had Trisomy 18) - I was at work and a friend of mine was excited to see me. She immediately shared her story and pictures of her gender reveal party with her pregnancy.  (There was a bunch of family and friends and PINK everywhere!  Pink icing, Pink balloons... I think Pink balloons may have come out of a Pink cake?)  If I had still been pregnant, I would have been further along than she was, and throughout the whole conversation, I just held back the tears.  She didn't know I had recently suffered one of the biggest devastation's of my life, and she didn't recognize I was saddened by her story, because she was just so excited and enamored with her big news.  It really wasn't her fault, she didn't do anything wrong, but my heart sank nonetheless and I felt sick to my stomach.  Certainly it is less dramatic now, but that sensation has truly stuck with me. 

So, maybe it's just me. 

Interestingly, when I was pregnant the first time (just four short years ago) the typical timing to find out the gender of one's baby was at the 20 week (5 months) ultrasound.  Now, there are genetic tests that are widely available at 12 weeks (still first trimester where miscarriage rates are 1/3 - 1/5!) which can give this information.  In addition, highly sensitive ultrasounds are being done earlier and more often in pregnancies here in the US and parents are finding out sooner the gender of their precious cargo.  

Keep in mind, I'm speaking as a person who has never actually attended one of these parties.  My suppositions and judgements (yes, I'm being judge-y here) are from my broken (and potentially jealous) perspective based on my view of social media posts and stories alone. 

Mostly, the topic of gender reveal parties bothers me because I feel like it's the epitomy of our aggrandized first world society.  Often times, it doesn't look to me like it's the miracle of human life being celebrated.  I feel like it's a modern creation of one more reason to throw a party and check out pinterest.  Which, again, is not inherently evil.  In fact, I'm all for celebrating the small victories.  I just think we should focus on what's truly important, which is our growing family and the miracle of pregnancy, not pink onesies or tiaras.  Furthermore, I am not sure a gender reveal party is best shared with the whole (social media) world.  And, I wonder how wise it is to broadcast your celebration in this way when the baby isn't viable yet.  When the baby has four, five (or even six!) more months to grow inside you.  I understand wanting to know the gender and sharing it with family and friends.  I've done that too.  I recall everyone asking if "it" is a boy or a girl.  I know the desire to call him or her by name, even when he or she is not fully developed.  And, I absolutely believe in the child's person-hood even when previable.  But, I think we should each be part of a world and part of a society where we appreciate how complicated the miracle of life is.  We shouldn't take it for granted; and the very nature of the gender reveal party feels to me like it's taking for granted.  It looks like a boastful luxury, to me.  

In many parts of the world, a woman has NO access to ultrasound technology.  I once diagnosed twins on a woman in Costa Rica via doppler.  (Of course she was devastated, wondering how she would afford to take care of one, let alone two, babies.)  

Even in our part of the world, many parents lose their children even after they know the baby's gender.  Some of our friends never even get the luxury of seeing two pink lines.  The layers of loss for these women and men are deep.  On the surface it may seem trivial, but the joys that many take for granted are sources of heartache for some others.  Creating even more potential layers for loss for families with infertility just seems unfair.  

Now, I'm a firm believer that everyone who's pregnant deserves to enjoy the celebration of a baby shower, gifts from friends, and parties in her honor.  That's also a first world creation, but I understand and support those celebrations, because babies are indeed worth celebrating over!  We are fortunate to live in abundance and I absolutely love showering others with generosity during the exciting time of family growth!  I just think that these advertizements are one of the many ways in which social media does more harm than good, and I think gender reveal parties, and especially pictures of said parties, would be better left off the world wide web. 

In summary, healed though I may be, seeing pictures of gender reveal parties on social media hurts me.  

And, I doubt it's just me. 

[Consider this your public service announcement of the day ;)]

1 comment: