Speaking to Cosmopolitan, Ellen Gustafson, a social change advocate, entrepreneur and new Mum, has spoken about her decision to avoid posting online about her pregnancy until birth.
Following a pregnancy loss at 20 weeks due a rare X-chromosome autoimmune disorder that kills males who inherit it, Ellen was hesitant to post about her pregnancy online because of the anxiety which surrounds a pregnancy after loss. Whilst many parents celebrate by sharing photos of their first trimester ultrasound across social media, for some, this period is anything but a time for celebration, with the experience of previous loss hanging over them.
As Ellen clearly explains, ‘until this child was safely in my arms after delivery, I was never so comfortable to think that she would definitely arrive.’
‘This hesitation was not born of irrational fear or superstition or religious conviction, but of learned experience that not all fetuses who make it past the first trimester will actually be born.’
As well as this sense of unease surrounding the pregnancy, Ellen’s decision was also influenced by her past experiences.
‘The choice also came from a deep sensitivity to the pain that those happy announcement posts cause to women (and men) who are desperate to get pregnant and have a child but sped months and years and untold thousands of dollars “trying”.’
Whilst Ellen’s pregnancy journey may have been too difficult to describe or explain on social media, she describes how not posting may mean she contributes to the ‘problem’; a lack of representation of pregnancy loss and complications on social media.
Whilst 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, the number of parents who speak out about their story is dramatically lower.
As Ellen goes on to describe,
‘I can assure you that in my Facebook feed of thirty-somethings, there is nowhere near that percentage of mentions of difficulty in conceiving. Good friends who I know have issues only share the eventual happy ultrasound announcements, maybe with a quick mention of “at long last”.’
Now, holding her baby safely in her arms, Ellen feels ready to share the truth of her story and open up about the various parts of her pregnancy journey, including miscarriage, IVF and eventual success.
We applaud Ellen's decision to opening up about her choice, in hopes of spreading awareness and by opening up ‘more honest discussions of conception and birth beyond 140 characters’. As she concludes, it is important to both acknowledge and discuss these issues.
‘I know the pain that baby announcements can instigate for some people and I don’t begrudge anyone their sadness; I understand it.’
If you’ve suffered the heartache of loss, our midwives are trained in bereavement support and are here for you, whatever stage you are at on your journey. You can email them at [email protected] or phone our free information line - 0800 0147 800 from 9 – 5, Monday - Friday.
If you’d like to share your experience of pregnancy complications or loss, we’d love to hear from you. For more information, please see our #misCOURAGE campaign here.
You can read the original article at Cosmopolitan Online.
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