I got into “mommy blogging” by accident. When I got pregnant with Mia I started a (private) blog as a way to keep my parents and close family up-to-date on the goings-on of my pregnancy. And then at some point enough people requested the password to read it that I just unlocked it and made it public. And then over time more and more people started following it until eventually I guess I became a mommy blogger – or something like that.
Since then I’ve discovered that there is quite the mommy-blogging community – and for the most part, it’s fantastic. There is so much support, and camaraderie, and even the occasional free stuff in exchange for photos or promotion.
But there is also a ‘dark side’ – so to speak – of mommy blogging.
It’s the things we don’t say.
You see, mommy blogs are supposed to depict real life. And most of them (save for the ones with snacks cut into stars and recipes for homemade baby wipes) actually do. But even the most raw and real mommy blogs out there don’t tell you everything.
Sometimes, it’s by accident. We blog about the moments that feel significant, or beautiful or entertaining, and the “boring” stuff falls falls through the cracks.
And sometimes, it’s on purpose.
Sometimes things are just too sad or scary or embarrassing to see the light of the world wide web.
But the problem with that is the readers only get half of the story. And when sad and scary and embarrassing things happen to them, they think they’re alone.
When I was 20 weeks pregnant with Lucy, we got some scary news. And like a typical pregnant woman in the 21st century I turned to Google for advice. I scoured every blog, every WebMD article, every news story I could find to get information, and support. And I found pretty much nothing.
Want to know why?
Because people don’t talk about sad and scary and embarrassing.
And I didn’t either. Dan and I told no one what we were going through.
So today, I’m talking about it.
I’m talking about it so that on the off chance that someone going through the same thing comes across my blog while scouring Google they will find support, and they’ll find the happy ending that happens more often then you think.
When I was 20 weeks pregnant with Lucy we found out that we were having a beautiful baby girl. The ultrasound tech showed us all of her perfect parts – her long legs, her beating heart, her developing brain. And then she printed a couple of photos and told us to wait while she ran all the measurements by the doctor.
I knew immediately that something was wrong.
Her half hearted smile and overly reassuring statements that everything looked great were an obvious tell.
The longer I waited in that room, the deeper the panic set in that something was horribly wrong.
Eventually, the doctor came in, and sat down by my side. He explained that our baby was fine, but there were a couple of things we needed to discuss. The baby’s heart beat was irregular, misfiring every 5 or so beats. And there were cysts detected on her brain – choroid plexus cysts to be specific.
The heart rhythm, he explained, could be a result of an immature electrical system. Something that would correct on its own before birth. And the cysts, he reassured me, were benign, but…
…but they are associated, in some cases, with a syndrome called trisomy 18. A fatal genetic condition in which the fetus rarely survives gestation, and if they do, typically dies within the first year of life.
The doctor told me not to worry, it was probably nothing. All my other tests were fine. He gave me a date for a follow up ultrasound in 3 weeks and told me not to lose any sleep over it.
Dan and I told virtually nobody. It was too scary. Too sad.
Instead I turned to Google and read the most horrifically sad stories you could ever read about babies brought into this world by loving, grieving mothers, only to be buried days later.
I panicked that by the time I had my follow up ultrasound, I would have very few options in terms of ending my pregnancy – and I would be forced to carry a baby to term that would never live.
I slept very little and cried very much.
It was the first time Mia saw me cry.
Over time, the panic eased. My follow up ultrasound showed that the irregular heart beat had resolved. The doctors assured me that the risk of our baby having trisomy 18 was extraordinarily low, based on all the other tests. Low enough that even an amnio wasn’t warranted.
Eventually I learned to move the fear to the back of my mind, and focused on falling in love with our little girl.
I spent hours and hours and hours and so many sleepless nights during my pregnancy trying to find this story. Trying to find just one person who received the same news and enjoyed the same outcome. And I found nothing.
Want to know why?
Because these are the things we don’t say.
These are the things we keep to ourselves to avoid the hurt and the heartache and the questions and the cliches.
But now I realize that part of my job as a mommy blogger is to tell the whole story. The sad and scary and painful (and happy) parts, too. Because according to WebMD, as many as 2% of 2nd trimester ultrasounds reveal choroid plexus cysts on the baby’s brain. And 99% of those babies WON’T have trisomy 18.
But based on the results that Google turns up – you’d think the statistics were the opposite.
So to the person who just found out their baby has a cyst, or an irregular heat rhythm, or any kind of abnormal finding on an ultrasound…
To the person who just had a miscarriage, or who found out they aren’t yet pregnant, again, for the 15th month…
To all the people who are scouring Google at 2am trying to find someone who’s been through what they’re going though, and turning up perfect mommy blogger life after perfect mommy blogger life…
Just know, we’re out there. We’ve been there. These are just the things we don’t say.