I talked a bit previously (here) about how I’d been needing to avoid my pregnant friends and family and the resulting babies. I noticed the other day, though, that there are more pieces to this puzzle. I am a huge online consumer. I follow hundreds of blogs with topics ranging from lifestyle to food/cooking to fashion. I love a good blog. I am also a major Pinterest user. Then there is online shopping. I mostly window shop, but I even buy our trash bags online.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, my search history, blogs, and Pinterest feed started to reflect that. On Pinterest, I had a board where I stored general baby ideas (called “Maybe Baby”). I had a board called “Baby Instruction Manual” filled with tips and tricks for managing every detail of a newborn baby’s life. I also had a board full of nursery ideas. I was following every major baby brand’s pins. Pinterest and other similar platforms recognized this baby trend and filled my feeds with ideas and advertisements geared towards a mommy-to-be. Every time I scrolled through there were ads for diapers, tips for getting your infant to sleep through the night, and guides for how much milk your baby needed at each stage of infancy.
In my blog reader, I had a full section of baby/pregnancy blogs. These blogs varied in subject matter but generally featured some picture-perfect pregnant woman or new mom writing about their perfect lives. Then, there was the shopping. I had signed up for some ridiculous number of shopping newsletters trying to get the best deals on the million items it seemed we needed in preparation for Isaac’s arrival. I received daily offers from companies like Giggle, Munchkin, Pottery Barn Kids, Baby Gap and the list goes on (and on and on).
I certainly had moments during my pregnancy where I couldn’t believe that I would actually have a baby boy to take home and care for. Especially in a first pregnancy, I think it is difficult to picture a real living human inside of your belly that will one day kick and scream. I worried something would go wrong as many expectant mothers likely do. However, at the end of the day, I didn’t really think that at 32 weeks we would suddenly lose Isaac. Somewhere around 27 weeks, it sank in that this baby boy was healthy and with some assistance could live outside of my body. Maybe he’d be born early or have an unforeseen problem and need to spend time in the NICU, but we were having our baby.
Then we heard the words no pregnant couple ever wants to hear. “I don’t see any cardiac activity.” Then I woke up cozily propped up in a hospital bed at dawn on July 16th to realize it wasn’t a dream and our baby was gone. Here’s the thing about all of the Pinterest boards, blogs, and email promotions. They don’t magically disappear when you lose a baby. My husband did a fantastic job of sneakily deleting all of the pregnancy tracking apps, kick counting apps, contraction counting apps and calendar reminders from my phone. He even smartly kept my phone away for the first week or so. I didn’t miss it. I did, however, have my iPad once I left the hospital.
Browsing through Pinterest and blogs was a favorite activity long before I was pregnant. I opened up those apps, desperate to distract my mind from the traumatic loss, labor and delivery of Isaac. I did realize that there would be some reminders, but I seriously underestimated the level at which the “baby stuff” had taken over my digital world. I had to wait another week before going into Pinterest and Feedly (the RSS reader I use) and painstakingly eliminating all things baby. With Pinterest it took an entire afternoon of unfollowing users, marking posts as “not interesting”, and eliminating ads. With the blogs, I had to get on a computer to eliminate each baby blog one by one. There are still a number of blogs in my feed where the blogger just happens to be pregnant or have adorable little kids. I still have to swipe through those posts without reading them.
I have a feeling I will either be pregnant again (hopefully) or we will be expanding our family in a less traditional fashion, and I will still periodically be receiving email promotions from baby brands that I have overlooked in my unsubscribing marathons. I cannot count the number of email lists I have unsubscribed to over the past four and a half weeks. However, at least once a day, I see another email from some adorable baby brand. Each time it breaks my heart a little bit more.
No one wants to be surrounded with reminders of what they have lost. To clarify, I want reminders that my baby boy was real, but not regular reminders of what could have and should have been. Then there are the moments when I have to open those baby emails to unsubscribe. I still see adorable onesies in those emails and have an inexplicable urge to buy them for a baby who will never wear them. That is not fun.
Maybe I should invent a service that helps couples purge the baby reminders from their digital lives after this type of loss. I might create a page that provides instructions for each platform that directs you how to actually eliminate the baby pins, blogs, and emails. It was not as easy as I had hoped.