Facebook already gives us so many ways to share — but I’m especially interested to see how their newest feature plays out.
We now have the option to post when we’re expecting a child.
Your Timeline encourages you to post major Life Events: When you married, when you bought a house, when you started a new job. It even suggests smaller Life Event options, like when you broke a bone, when you got a tattoo, or even when you had your braces removed.
But these are all past events. History.
Now, Timeline offers two forward-looking Life Event options: Organ Donor, and Expecting a Baby.
Facebook made an enormous deal of the Organ Donor option a few months back. After a couple of days of hyping a “major Facebook announcement,” Mark Zuckerberg himself unveiled the feature on Good Morning America, encouraging people to share their organ donation status to encourage conversation. People fell over themselves heaping praise on what a fantastic effort this was. More attention to organ donation could help save the lives of the 114,000 people waiting for a transplant.
And it is a noble effort.
But I wonder if “Expecting a Baby” could be even bigger, for reasons you might not expect.
One of the big mysteries to me is how, as a society, we don’t talk much about miscarriage — even though the numbers are staggering. In 2004, the CDC said there were 6.4 million pregnancies in the United States.
1.06 million ended in “fetal losses,” which is how they classify still births and miscarriages.
That’s astounding. One in six pregnancies end in a fetal loss.
It’s virtually never talked about. Many people wait until they’re 12 weeks pregnant to share their news with friends, because that’s when you’ve made it past the greatest risk of miscarriage. That skews the perception — it’s much more rare for a fetal loss after that point, so when you finally hear a friend is pregnant, it’s much more likely than 5-out-of-6 you’ll see baby pictures in a few months.
When a miscarriage happens in the first 12 weeks, it’s not just hell — it’s a private hell.
You grieve, you cry, you’re shell-shocked . . . and many of your friends don’t know. You never told them you were expecting — and now you’re dealing with a death.
And when you need it most, there’s no social protocol.
If an adult dies, you can make an announcement. People send flowers, attend a service, bake a casserole. They console.
When a miscarriage occurs, you . . . keep going. Most people you know didn’t know you were expecting a baby, and it doesn’t quite seem right to tell people about the passing of someone they never could have known. So you put on a good face and continue on, carrying around a now-darker secret, until you can cry your eyes out behind closed doors.
The most confusing part of this: When friends — and even acquaintances — know you’ve lost someone close to you, they offer tons of support. It’s a huge, helpful part of the grieving process. We all go through this, so we all understand that kind of pain.
Not everybody is affected by miscarriage. And those who are — well, you may not know who they are, because they also kept quiet about the early stages of their pregnancies.
And I understand it’s a stretch, but maybe, maybe some of that could change . . . thanks to Facebook.
Social networking makes it so easy to share our lives. Now we’re encouraged to share our most meaningful news with a couple of clicks.
And God forbid something should go wrong; but if it should, our Friends could offer support.
It might not be for everyone. But I’d bet it could help at least some of those 1.06 million people.