Twitter Dramaz

October 22, 2013

Oy. 

Sorry about that you guys.  I don’t usually cause the Twitter Dramaz.  If I participate at all it’s usually to defend a tweep. But this time, it was me who was defended.  And I thank you all for the show of support.

Here’s the backstory for the folks not on twitter and to fill in the gaps for the ones who are.

Last week was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (OCt 15th).  I joined a Facebook group with that title.  Perhaps I should have expected dead baby pics to appear in my feed.

But I didn’t.

Was that silly of me?  Perhaps.

I logged in to Facebook and was greeted with a picture of a dead baby with a caption that indicated its age at 18 weeks gestation.  This pic was posted to the group and I do not know the mother who posted it.  The pic was…well I found it disconcerting.
The pic was of a just born stillborn baby.  When I say just born, I mean it had not been cleaned up.  It was a bloody mess (my apologies if that sounds offensive or is triggering but it was). All babies come out like that.  Most people prefer to take pics later. Perhaps she didn’t get the chance to do so.
But the state of the baby was a large part of WHY it disturbed me.

And so I tweeted about it. 
this was my original tweet:

image

And this was my tweet in reponse to someone who inquired about it:
image

In retrospect I can see how comparing it IN ANY WAY to an aborted baby might offend someone.  And I am genuinely sorry that it did offend someone.  My heart breaks for her (her Twitter bio says she lost at 20wks). 

Not to excuse it but here was my thought process:

1. I needed to describe the pic in 140 characters or less and was worried about using graphic words like “bloody.” I am still struggling to find a way to describe it that won’t offend anyone – even with more than 140 characters at my disposal. It was a graphic pic.

2. I have never seen any other dead baby pics besides the ones used in anti-abortion campaign ads.  Which may not even be of aborted babies.  For all I know they use pics of stillborn babies in those ads.  Which is why I likened it to the ad and not abortion itself. Perhaps I’m sheltered.  But I just don’t go around googling “dead baby pics” so I had no other frame of reference for what I was seeing. My own losses weren’t like that.

3. The baby was still bloody, further reminding me of the anti-abortion ads because they go for as much shock and gore as possible.

What did not enter my thought process at the time but almost certainly affected my decision to make such a comparison is this:

For me personally, abortion and pregnancy loss are inextricably intertwined.  I know most women draw a thick hard black line between the two.  But I live in that gray space in between.  My babies did not die on their own.  I killed them.  I had to.  Accepting that as fact and owning it gives me more power and comfort than trying to paint a rainbow over it.  But I’m a dark humor type person and I prefer to own my guilt rather than let it own me.  I call my twins the Zombabies for Kermit’s sake! I understand that most people don’t think like that.  But I do. 

So… excused or not, that’s where I was coming from when I made the comment that sparked the controversy.

With all that explained, I would like to further elaborate on the topic.

My original post sparked some conversation.  While most people seemed to agree with it, a few people piped up and said, Wait a sec.  They offered me another perspective.
They very kindly and respectfully said, Hey, did you think about it this way?  And so I did.  And I realized that maybe that pic brings that mother comfort.  And maybe she finds it beautiful.  And maybe it’s the only one she has or will ever have. And who am I to judge that just because that wasn’t even an option for me?

So by the time any of this drama had started I had already started thinking of it differently.  Thanks to respectful twitter conversations.

And those conversations are now continuing and advocating that talking about your loss openly and having professional pics of your baby go a long way to helping you heal from the loss.  I couldn’t agree more and I now have a new perspective. Yay for rational communication!
All this has opened my eyes to the concept of professional photos of lost little ones (didn’t know that was a thing) that apparently look much better in black and white or with a bit of photoshop help.

Again, I’d like to reiterate that the photo I saw was not that.  It was not professionally done. The baby had not been cleaned up.  It looked like an afterbirth snapshot.  It was not at all how *I* would like to remember *my* baby.  But to each her own. And perhaps it’s all she has. And my heart goes out to her.

I do still think that photos like that are not appropriate for public forums – even for a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day group.  Or perhaps even LESS appropriate for such a group as it’s sure to be triggering for someone. I found it disturbing but surely someone else found it emotionally debilitating.

But if it made that mother feel better…  Or if it made her loss seem more real…

If it helped her in any way to post that then I think it’s hard to not be OK with it.

But it could have also left someone else more disturbed than it left me.

We all have to grieve in our own ways and sometimes it’s difficult not to step on someone else’s toes.  I guess I should just be happy that arguments like today’s don’t happen more often. I tried to smoothe things over but, alas, it didn’t work.  It just incited more bile to spew forth at me and those who gallantly came to my defense.

For those that did not witness the #TwitterHate today, here’s what happened:

Apparently my post offended someone with a private account who lost a baby at 20 wks.  A friend of hers with a public account (who has also experienced a similar loss) decided to take me to task for it – 4 days later.  I have zero issue with that in and of itself.  But she refused my apology and resorted to name calling very early in the conversation. It quickly devolved into a word brawl.  I can handle name calling – especially when the names are amusing (Brit slang vs American slang).

[Yes, I had to google “bellends”]

But then there was a gut punch aimed at me and I had to just walk away.

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And so, to the two ladies whom I offended, I really am truly sorry that my words hurt.  To the one with the private account: I really hope you can forgive me.  To the one spewing bile from the public account: I really hope you find a sense of peace soon so that you can stop chanelling your grief as anger toward others.  It’s a natural reaction but it’s hurtful.

I can honestly say that no harm was meant by me.  But someone else intentionally inflicted wounds. And they hurt.

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14 Responses to “Twitter Dramaz”

  1. notwhenbutif Says:

    “My babies did not die on their own. I killed them. I had to. Accepting that as fact and owning it gives me more power and comfort than trying to paint a rainbow over it. But I’m a dark humor type person and I prefer to own my guilt rather than let it own me.”

    ^^^ This. 1,000 times this. Walking in to maternity triage to voluntarily terminate a much wanted and so longed-for pregnancy has a way of truly graying the lines for all things reproductive rightsy.

    That experience also changed my appreciation for the honest and (frankly) incredibly graphic photographs one can find on the Interwebz when Googling. I was terrified when, two days after the Methotrexate injection I took to terminate my ectopic, I started passing golf-ball sized clots and bleeding heavily. My OB had told me all tissue would be naturally reabsorbed by the body. I went back to triage, yet again, where I ultimately passed the embryo. I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering whether my “ectopic” truly was or wasn’t. (I do have certainty, however, that the same betas that lead to the ectopic diagnosis did spell doom for the pregnancy no matter how you slice it. I’ve forgiven myself enough to move beyond the was it or wasn’t it obsession, and found peace with the decision we made.) All that said, the graphic pictures I found on the Internet helped me process what had happened. Much more so than the L&D nurse who hid the “products” from me and scooped them into the nearest biohazard bag at lightning speed.

    When the heart stopped during my last pregnancy at 9 weeks, I again took to the Internet to prepare myself for what I would see when I again passed the products at home. (Despite having seen the heart stop via ultrasound on a Thursday, my RE wouldn’t schedule a D&C during the weekend, and I started actively miscarrying on a Sunday.) Fixating on those images, preparing for what the tissue might look like, knowing what it was I was going to try and save in a sterile collection jar for testing, was what dark and controlling me needed in that moment. Admittedly, there is a difference between the appearance of a 9wk fetus and a 20wk still birth, but I can’t speak to later losses, only the three I’ve personally experienced.

    But, HERE’S THE THING. (Yes, I’m finally getting to the point…) I sought those images out. I was a moth to gruesome flame. To me a different side of the coin that inspires you to utter Zombabies. I needed it to grieve, to process, to function, and I SOUGHT IT OUT.

    To force all the members of the seemingly safe space of an open PG and Infant Loss Awareness Group be passively required to encounter such images without any warning, any choice, any escape plan, should be questioned. We have all done things in grief that, looking back, we regret, and one lapse in judgement or failure to think something through when burdened by a broken heart and body shouldn’t relegate anyone to a life of scorn and criticism. But, as souls heal and body’s recover, we all owe it to ourselves to stop and think, “Is this thing I’m doing going to hurt or help others? Hurt or help me? Where on the scale between helping/hurting me and helping/hurting others does the full weight lay? Why, then, am I doing it?”

    I’ll leave it to everyone else to apply those questions to you and your instigators/attackers today. I know where I’d find more harm than good…

    • Furrowed Fox Says:

      You know, if I had been in your situation I absolutely would have sought out the images. Because I want to know what to expect. I looked at the photos from my surgeries. But I didn’t keep them. They weren’t photos of babies, they were photos of my internal organs being eaten by embryonic cells that got lost. I never passed anything with either of my ectopics. And I’m glad you’ve been able to find peace with the methotrexate decision – that must have been a hard road to travel.

      And yes, we have all done and said things out of grief that were ill advised at best. I never meant it to appear as an attack on that poor woman who posted it. Or to imply that she aborted her baby. Or as an attack that she didn’t have the opportunity or money to hire a professional photographer to get a nicer photo. Things like that don’t occur to you when you are grieving.

      I agree with your assessment of stopping and thinking. Sadly, I doubt she was in a frame of mind to do that.

  2. Dipitie Says:

    I hate that anyone has to go through a loss like this, but in my opinion, who am I to say a chemical pregnancy is worse than a late term loss or vice versa? That was what bothered me the most – the idea that only a late term loss was valid enough to warrant support. I reached out to her originally to try and make her see she was attacking someone she knew nothing about, and it quickly turned sour. I realized she was close to her EDD, and offered my condolences, which were ignored and/or returned with hate. She’s said many things that are unforgivable – I don’t care what she says about me but it’s that dismissal of the infertile, of the miscarriages, that bothers me. Because that affects ALL of us. Anyone who’s had trouble getting pregnant. Anyone who’s had trouble staying pregnant. It became quite clear early on that she’s never had trouble, with two healthy children, until this third baby that she lost just months ago. Not only has she not experienced our issues, she obviously isn’t capable of empathy for these things. Of course, her friend that she went to bat for, is infertile. Got pregnant once, and had a late term loss, or so I gathered from the public part of her profile. I hope she realizes what a monster this woman is, and that she was marginalized as well when this woman was attacking us.

    On a side note, your feelings are more common than not, and I doubt many people would have been as tactful and respectful as you were when voicing your opinion.


  3. I’ve seen a lot of dead baby pictures in my 3 1/2 years reading IF and loss blogs (though never a bloody one, I hasten to add). It never stops being disturbing to me. I have guilt for feeling that way because I know the images can be comforting to the parents but they are always, always jarring to me. I think respectful twitter conversation is good for different perspectives but it can also be good to find someone who says “me too” and I was grateful someone gave voice to an opinion that I’ve not seen shared before. And disclaimer: I am sorry for everyone’s losses and think they should grieve in whatever way helps them the end don’t troll me thank you.

    • Furrowed Fox Says:

      Thanks. I really hope this post doesn’t further inflame the situation in the end. I was careful not to include anyone’s twitter handle but my own. And I almost didn’t post her tweet to me.

      Can’t we all just get along? 😉


  4. I didn’t witness anything on Twitter. I just want to say, I agree with you that some pictures, comforting though they may be to the mother, might cause unnecessary distress in someone else and should carry a warning sign. He’ll, I’ve posted pix of my newborn niece on my blog and forewarned people. It’s the respectful thing to do, in my opinion.

    Of course there are times when our intentions don’t come across in the way we hoped they would. Making mistakes is one of the most human experiences I can think of. I think it takes a humble person to own up to those mistakes, and try to explain the rationale behind your decisions. But it takes a special person, though, to recognise the opportunity for growth in that difficult moment. So, I applaud you.

  5. Aussa Lorens Says:

    Yikes. People just get set off too easily and have a free pass to be super express-y on the interwebs.

    Also, I am sorry for your loss.

  6. Catie.field Says:

    What a horrible thing to say, I’m sorry you had twitter drama. 😦 I’m sorry that I might have sparked some of it too.

  7. Lisette Says:

    Oh dear. So much anger, so much rage. I’m sorry you had to endure this. You are entitled to your opinion, one that I share. It makes me sad that this kind of rage is being directed at others who are also hurting. Loss is ostracising enough. Any loss is heartbreaking at any stage. Yes people find ways to grieve differently but when confronted with images like these in a public forum there’s no choice but to react. And not everyone will see it as cathartic or healing, but rather the opposite might occur. I sought images like these out to allow my brain to understand what my body was going through but I chose to do so when I was ready after I had thought long and hard about it. Being confronted by it unexpectedly would upset me personally but I do see how it might help the mother to acknowledge her loss, as do you. Regardless, I applaud you for attempting to smooth things over, for acknowledging the other perspective. That’s brave. I’m sad that it wasn’t good enough. There’s too much sadness and pain in our lives as it is. The last thing we need is to pick on each other. What happened to sisterhood in loss? Can’t we go back to that? xx


  8. Foxy, you finally made it in twitterland; welcome to the club, I’ll send you the code to access the private lounge. We wear pink on Wednesdays.
    Anyway, while many of us understand how triggers work and avoid to put others in that position, there are still so many that fail to grasp that concept even when it affects them directly. They throw massive amount of information and then, don’t quite understand why people react the way they do. Some do it intentionally, while others are not even aware of it.
    Also, this is a bit shortsighted to not know that pictures can be stolen and use to further something like anti.a.bortion groups or for catfishing. As I’m not on FB, maybe this is something that needs to be address with the group?
    While understand while this person posted pictures, your feelings are also very valid. You both need to feel safe on that space. You also started a good conversation, which many felt it was needed. Most importantly, you learned something and apologized to this woman.
    Now, what happened days later is unacceptable but sadly, very common. This other woman was so full of anger and no outlet or techniques on how release it in a healthy way. We all know that anger is a process that goes with grieving and loss, but I was just floored me on how easily she got personal and cruel. It really showed the lack of emotionally maturity and to an extend lack of support. The language and ableism that she was throwing around showed also that this is something that she was accustomed to use or be around.
    Most importantly, she made her “friend” pain about her. She hijack it and made it about her. The whole conversation was about her need to let that anger out veiled in “sticking out” for her friend. She now sabotaged any reaching out and support for her friend and for her, which it’s really sad.
    I thought, you did a good job trying to have a conversation, too bad it wasn’t reciprocated.

  9. KeAnne Says:

    Tough day yesterday, but you stayed classy. I’ve visited many blogs over the years that showed pictures of deceased children, and those pictures never fail to shock me, but I would never tell those parents they didn’t have the right to post them because that is their space. Ms. Infertile is correct that the shared space needs to be a safe place for everyone in the group. It would have been nice if she had asked to post that picture or if there were agreed-upon rules about how those pictures were to be shared.

    It’s an important conversation to have and in some ways, I think it is the extreme end of the spectrum of the phenomena of over-sharing on the Internet.

    And it’s also nice to have learned a new vocabulary word or two 🙂


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