Thank God my friends did not tweet the birth of their child.
Brad and I have been super-close for a decade. I wrote a whole ode to our friendship in a post back in April. We’ve seen each other through all kinds of drama: work, family and relationship-oriented. We’ve spent countless hours on the phone. We Facebook IM every day before I go to work and email each other once I get there. There’s absolutely nothing romantic between us; we’re just lucky to have each other as friends.
Yesterday, Brad became a daddy for the first time. His wife Carrie delivered baby Max after about 24 hours of quasi-labor followed by the real thing.
And not a word of it transmitted on the internet, until after little Maxwell arrived.
I knew Brad and Carrie would never go for the social network method of childbirthing, because neither one of them have the stomachs for that. Neither do I. A coworker has told me more than once about the person she had to nix from her online life because he was offering up regular transmissions about his wife’s dilation, effacement and station. The fact that he did this made my co-worker pretty sure he had some other significant character flaws.
Nobody wants to know that stuff.
Or at least, so I thought.
I spent Tuesday night with minimal sleep, waiting for a message on my phone (I had been promised a direct message, as opposed to learning about the child’s birth via Facebook, which I would have tried to be a big person about, but would have definitely hurt my feelings). I had dreams about it. When I got up in the morning I had to check the phone to make sure that Brad hadn’t actually called me and told me they were worried that the baby was breech, and that I had lost track of reality in some fuzzy sub-alert state (indeed, it was just a dream). Hours and hours and hours went by. Brad had told me around midnight that the doctors were going to induce Carrie because her contractions weren’t regular enough, and by noon I was wondering if they had done it right away or let her sleep for a while and then did it, or what. It could be hours and hours, I told myself.
I had flashbacks to when my sister was in labor with my nephew. That was hours and hours, though not as many as Carrie. The whole time, I was resisting the urge to pick up the phone and send a text: “Update???” Read: “Um, yo, bro-in-law, that’s my sister you’ve got there trying to squeeze that kid out, so if you wouldn’t mind letting us know if she’s still alive, that’d be great. Thanks.” But I didn’t do that. Delivering a child is sort of a hurry up and wait situation and no anxious father-to-be and exhausted, pained mother-to-be need to be bothered in the process. It’s an experience that’s between them. Much like the conception. They’ll tell you when the kid is here. Leave them alone.
So I left Brad alone, which I had promised I would do; he was already in a high state of agita with his in-laws and his mother at his house. They drive him crazy on a totally normal day.
It’s this “Leave Them Alone” philosophy that resulted in my tremendous annoyance when, hours and hours into this whole delivery effort, I found that some other people – mutual friends – did not share my viewpoint. I had decided it wouldn’t hurt if I checked out Carrie’s Facebook page to see if anything had been posted that I missed. I wouldn’t post anything, of course; I just wanted to see if there was an update. She and Brad had posted nothing, but a small cadre of friends had.
“What, no update in the middle of labor? We’re waiting!”
“Yeah, we’re waiting!”
“You should be keeping us posted!”
“Get the drugs!”
People. Are you kidding me with this?
First of all, there’s a reason neither Carrie nor Brad had posted anything on their respective pages about Carrie being in labor. There was no mention of it on the pages at all until our friend and former co-worker posted that first one. But he goes and posts it and now everybody sees that Carrie’s in labor. Which means everybody chimes in, sends messages, sends texts, whatever. Because people think it’s all about them. And they apparently never think of the possibility that something may have gone wrong, that something tragic may have happened. It didn’t, thank God, but it always could, and then they’d feel like total jerks. And they would be right.
I mean, who posts on a laboring woman’s Facebook page that they want an update? Basically all you’re doing is broadcasting personal information to hundreds of people she didn’t want to be informed. She’s not going to see the page until at least the next day. She doesn’t exactly have her laptop in the delivery room, or her smartphone in her hand. She’s sort of preoccupied with trying to deliver a child and then trying to wrap her head around the fact that this little bundle is here and needs her for everything and all of a sudden she needs him for everything, too, and the nature of her marriage and her life has just completely changed. She’s got some stuff to digest. So she maybe doesn’t want to be answering Facebook messages right now.
As for Brad, maybe there aren’t many of us who truly know how he is in major life-changing situations. His anxiety level is high on a regular basis, but he’s really good at hiding it, so maybe the circle of those who know not to make this crazy life-changing situation any more manic is fairly small. But as one of the people who does know this, I feel the urge to protect him from the mindless people who don’t.
I found myself drumming my fingers on the keyboard, dying to post something snarky under all these people’s idiotic musings, something zingy and pithy, directed at them, in hopes that they would get how stupid and thoughtless they were being.
But… I took a deep breath and employed the Thumper Rule instead. If you can’t say nothin’ nice, don’t say anything at all.
Brad was going to be annoyed enough at them later, though he’d let it go because he’d be holding his newborn son when he read the messages.
We could talk about them after.
Finally, at 4:30 or so yesterday afternoon, I got a text informing me that one of my dearest friends in the world was now the father of a healthy, 8 lb 12 oz boy named Maxwell. I yayed out loud at work. Which was awkward, because at the time, I was on the phone with a co-worker friend who was telling me about how his neighbor’s home had been robbed.
“So these kids just came in in the middle of the day, broke a window and got in–”
“…Yeah, I’m gonna assume that’s not in response to the robbery.”
I spent the rest of the day checking to see if pictures had been posted… and they were, here and there. I won’t post them in this entry because he’s not my kid and I don’t have the copyrights to him. But he’s beautiful, and he’s got his eyes wide open most of the time, it seems. Much like his father, he appears to need entertainment.
This morning, while I was still practicing the Leave Them Alone, This Is Family Time philosophy, Brad sent me a text and a picture of little Max, wide awake and ready for action. “This is one alert dude,” Brad told me.
“How are you?” I asked.
“Good. I cried for about 20 minutes,” he said.
I loved that text. It told me so much about our friendship and his life in those few words. It made me cry to read it.
We exchanged a few more messages – everything went really smoothly, Carrie’s hurting but doing okay, they’ll go home tomorrow (the hospital has a minimum two-day stay at $750 a night – and I think that’s just the room rate). I know we’ll talk soon, and I can’t wait to meet the little guy.
But I’m so glad the whole cyber-universe didn’t have to read about Carrie’s cervix.
Well done, Brad and Carrie.
Featured image from gawker.com