were women pregnant before the internet?

The internet is a wonderful thing…  with a click of a button (or two) I can take care of banking, catch up with family members living thousands of miles away and download Adam Sandler’s classic, The Wedding Singer.

Since finding out that I am expecting my first baby, the internet has taken on a whole new role in my life:

101 things that can go wrong with my pregnancy

Access to information is a funny thing…  if it wasn’t for the World Wide Web i’d have no idea that the following are apparently off-limits for the duration:

  • foot rubs
  • diet soda
  • face wash containing salicylic acid

I’d have no idea that the baby is currently the size of a lemon, that we likely conceived on November 9th or that Kate Spade makes a beautiful baby bag.  This knowledge offers an experience of pregnancy that is remarkably more-informed than that of our mothers, and yet somehow – even without the availability of instant google results- we all seemed to make it here just fine.

In the same way that an online platform has fostered  an explosion of “photographers”, “business operators” and yes *ahem* writers; the virtual expanse has launched a community of non-experts for every imaginable topic.  Including pregnancy.  As mentioned in previous posts, I am an active member of the online community at the bump – at any given time, hundreds to thousands of women in various stages of gestation, conception and baby-obsession are posting their symptoms, questions and theories to an intrigued and ready-to-share  (Prêt-à-Partager?) audience of qualified-through-google strangers.

why do we do this?

Before the internet, where did we take our questions?  Without google or thebump, I imagine I would solicit advice from my mother, older sister, cousins who have had children, and friends.  I have fantasies of sitting with cups of (non-caffeinated) tea, discussing ice-chips and salted crackers, listening to stories passed down with loving care and protection.  While the internet freely offers information, it does so via statistics, urban mythology and (let’s be honest) sociopaths.

Working in a newsroom, I have found that it  all too easy to find “reputable” statistics to support practically any claim; likewise, surfing the internet will inevitably provide limitless logarithmic and anecdotal encouragement and pessimism regarding any symptom or question concerning my pregnancy that comes to mind.

The internet has been the final nail in the instant gratification coffin (or wait – was that the iPhone?) we want what we want, and we want it now…  and when a woman is pregnant, what she wants more than anything is to know that her baby is healthy and normal.  Fortunately, some things are still a mystery; and childbirth- when you really think about it- is still a plain ‘ol miracle.

how to deal

Consider the source.  Blogs, message boards and forums can be entertaining, raise interesting questions and provide a sense of connection during what can be a physically and emotionally isolating time for many; however, approach the advice offered with the same critical eye and skepticism that you’d use with any random posting on, say, an online dating site.

Remember that at statistics are “true, but…” . Do 30% of pregnancies really miscarry in the first 4-8 weeks? Well it’s true, but  what age groups, geographic factors, fertility challenges and pre-existing abnormalities are blanketed with those statistics?  When reading the small print of studies, it is often shocking how little the average person may have in common with the selection of  population used for a specific study.  Take all stats with the proverbial grain of salt.

What really matters.  If there was ever a time for family, it’s throughout pregnancy.  Take advantage of this opportunity to reconnect with the women in your life who have forged the way ahead of you – listen to their stories, value their experience, weigh their advice and graciously accept their hand-me-downs (you can never have too many gently-used onesies).  At the end of the 9-months (like with the end of any era) you may regret the time you spent alone, staring at a screen;  but I guarantee you, you will never regret the time you spent sharing with a loved one.

the bottom line

Typically, the only common factor in any illness or health-complication is stress.  The likelihood of an internet-search resolving your fears during pregnancy is slim, and spending hours reading stories of what happened to so-and-so in the middle of little-town, nowhere who had EXACTLY the same symptoms as you will only garner more fear, more anxiety, and more stress.  Your clinic/doctor/obgyn likely has a 24-hour number to raise your questions within a context that actually applies to you, don’t be afraid to use it (after all, these doctors need to do something to earn what we’re paying them, right?).  Don’t be afraid to trust that you’d know if something was really, seriously wrong.  Don’t be afraid to accept that our bodies will figure it out – just like our mothers’ bodies did.  Long before the internet.

14 weeks – baby is approximately size of a lemon

who knows– everybody!  I consider having less than 6 months to go to be “second trimester”, so we made the IPO (Facebook announcement) today.  “the kate spade baby bag I ordered should be here in about 2 weeks… The baby will be here on about July 31 ♥ ♥ ♥”

what’s new– I had two days this week where I didn’t throw-up; followed by this morning when I literally vomited while brushing my teeth.  Classy 🙂

total weight gain: 10 pounds.

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