Thursday, September 27, 2012

When good women go bad

Just after I found out I was pregnant I was scrolling through some of the Bounty forums and came across a forum called DIF13 (Due in February 2013). I clicked into it and they had a link to a facebook group that had been set up for all Mummies who were pregnant and due in February next year. So I decided to join the group. I thought that, as a first time mummy, it would be a really good way of getting some support, information and be able to share things that I didn't necessarily want to share with the hubby or questions that I wanted real answers for.

This group now (up until last night) has well over 180 members. It was a really special place to be; members could post inane things about their pregnancy, how they were feeling or indeed just chat about their life! We uploaded 12 week scan pictures and then gender scan pictures and it was all so supportive and friendly and helpful. People posted questions that they felt they couldn't really ask anyone else and get real, honest and experienced answers. 

This was, until yesterday. Unfortunately, one of the mummies in the group gave birth to a stillborn baby last week. Utterly devastating and something which, I just cannot even begin to comprehend. I lived in fear for the first 12 weeks of miscarriage and now I live in fear of something being wrong with my baby or, indeed, having a stillbirth. I hope never to have to go through this, the pain of losing a child, I am sure, must be like no other. 

Anyway, everyone in the group has been sooo supportive of this wonderfully strong and brave mummy and, even though she felt she should now leave the group, everybody begged her to stay. So she did. 

A situation arose when she uploaded a picture of her son. A beautiful picture which she felt comfortable enough with us to be able to share with us. 99% of people were supportive and said how brave she was for uploading the photo. However, she had said in advance, if anybody would prefer her not to put the picture in the group, then to let her know and she wouldn't. It appears no one did. So she went ahead and put the picture up. 

A day later, one of the group members made a very public complaint about the picture, saying how she found it upsetting. And this is where the problem began. This poor woman who has lost her child, was then ostracised by various members and indeed, the lady who complained about the picture has also had a variety of criticism laid against her. 

I'm not writing this to pass judgement on either of the women or on their opinions at all. But it did become apparent, that, actually, this group of women, who all thought they were in the same situation and felt comfortable enough to share some pretty intimate information, actually do not know each other at all. We are all complete strangers. We don't know each other at all and therefore how much can we truly rely on each other for support and, to some extent, discretion about each other's most intimate details. 

In a way it smacks of cyber bullying; just in the way a child can be vilified for having an opinion and experience hate and abuse on their own facebook/social media sites. Aren't we old enough to know better as adults? Shouldn't we have grown out of this by now? 

I, for one, am going to be extremely careful with what I share with this group from now on. I still value their experience, their knowledge and indeed their support and also it's not to say I haven't actually made some really good friends through this group, I have. But I still think there needs to be some degree of thought into what I say to these ladies and to remember that, actually, I don't know these women at all. 

Has anybody had any experience of support groups in pregnancy? How did you find them? 

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