Facebook Is Making Me Baby Crazy
Ty just turned two. He is the son of a couple I went to high school with and is without a doubt one of the most adorable kids I’ve ever seen. In fact, he’s so cute, he could stand in for one of the Jon & Kate Plus 8 kids, and the ratings would certainly double. Plus, he’s got attitude. He’d probably tell control-freak Kate to step off. But as much as I wish I knew this kid, I don’t. I’m just familiar with his image, and I’ve learned about his habit of goosing his mom’s butt via status messages.
From sonogram stills and pictures of newborns just minutes old to classic first-day-of-school shots and naked toddler tushes, Facebook is the ultimate photo album/“hey, look at my kid!” platform for parents. And I fear it’s making me baby crazy.
While I have two step kids of my own (whom I adore), they are seventeen and twelve. Their pimpled faces are far from the diminutive, innocent, wide-eyed creatures I see every time I login to my Facebook account. I’ve definitely got babies on the brain. But if you would have told me a year ago I’d be thinking about having a child, I would have told you to shut up. And I think it’s all Facebook’s fault. The social networking site and its users bombard me with awe-inducing baby pictures (and video and links to mommy blogs) at least several times a day.
Growing up, I never played with dolls and methodically chopped the blonde locks from any Barbie I received as a birthday present. When I married a much older man, people questioned whether or not he’d want to have a child with me. Over and over again, I repeated the phrase: “I do not want children.” I whole-heartedly believed what I was spewing. But now, thirty is on the horizon and I’m beginning to question my stance. My stepdaughter is considering what college she should attend and my stepson has armpit hair. I’m thinking about babies so often that I’m fully expecting “your biological clock” to show up under the “suggestions” tab next time I sign in to Facebook.
In my daily newsfeed I see a chubby little boy with whom I share a birthday. He looks just like a carbon copy of his dad, a Neanderthal who called me “sheep dog” while we were in junior high, never letting me forget that I was fat and had bad hair. I see a gorgeous baby girl who might grow up to be a gossipy bitch, like her mom, who thought it was her business to say whom I was sleeping with, back when we completed an internship at the same company. Note to self: Delete these people from friends list.
Images of baby bumps, trips to the beach and kids drinking from milk-filled bottles abound. Before Facebook, no one would have been subjected to so many pictures of children unless they were standing in the Duggar’s living room or raiding a Polygamist ranch.
“Looks good on you,” my lanky, white-haired, middle-aged brother in-law tells me. He’s beaming with pride—like his favorite activity, soccer, finally became a popular professional sport in the States. Of course he is. I’m holding his first grandchild, Oliver, just four weeks old.
I couldn’t wait to place the wonderfully weak cherub on my chest. From the first moment I saw his picture—on Facebook—I was immediately enthralled by the latest edition to our family. From the way Oliver wrinkled his baby face, making him look like an elderly man instead of an infant, to the fuzzy look of complete joy and exhaustion on his mom’s face as she fed him, I’m pretty sure I felt jealous he wasn’t my child.
When his mom asked if I wanted to hold him, I acted like it was no big deal, when I’d actually been yearning to feel the beating of his heart on mine since she first carried him through the door.
Hell, I didn’t even care that he was crying bloody murder. Other members of my husband’s family told me I have “the touch,” after successfully getting the baby to stop crying. Um, ok, sure, I thought to myself. Unlike me, my husband comes from a gigantic family—all breeders. Honestly, they look at you askew if you aren’t expecting a child or raising a litter. And now I’m finally beginning to understand why. For as much as pregnancy and raising children zaps your energy, free time, and sex life (so I hear), these little people are powerful forces in your life. A child is a shelter from the storm of deadlines, headaches, and loneliness that can affect our everyday lives; a ray of sunshine to brighten the rest of your days. And dammit, I really don’t want the rest of my life to be cloud covered.
But now that I’m finally feeling a desire to procreate, I’m not even sure I can. I was fifteen when my left ovary and fallopian tube were removed. At nearly seven centimeters, a cyst torked and cut off the blood supply to my ovary, which resulted in emergency surgery and a painfully slow recovery. The doctor assured my parents I’d still be able to have children but I’m not so sure. Really, what do you tell two adults who are watching their only daughter, overcome by pain, puke bile into a bucket while a nurse jams an IV into her arm? “Oh and by the way, you’ll never have grandchildren.” But hopefully, the doctor was telling the truth and I’ll get pregnant without a problem—when the time comes.
See, I’m not ready for a baby to arrive in my arms tomorrow, nine months from now, or even a year from now. But the seeds been planted, so to speak. A child is in my future. When I joined Facebook, I expected to play a few games of Scrabble, let the a-holes from my past see I’m no longer fat, and keep in touch with my friends from college and colleagues. Facebook claims it helps you connect and share with the people in your life. I just didn’t expect to connect with those people on such a profound human level.