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After my eldest daughter was born we were put into a small 4 bedded ward. In the 3 beds along side us were
1. a shocked, numbed 16 year old whose baby was being cared for elsewhere in the hospital by nurses who constantly cajoled her to visit him, 2. a woman who had been there a while, her baby in intensive care, the air surrounding her brittle and desperate, and 3 a woman whom I didn't see, her bed curtains drawn around her grief as her child died in the night and she was moved on.
Zoë was the only baby there - healthy, strident, beautiful, loved, mine.
I felt that I needed to hide her, to keep her small and quiet, to quell my love and pride and overflowing joy so as to not upset these others. I felt that my good fortune was in some way responsible for their grief.
I was reminded of this by a post that I saw last week in a business Facebook Group - the commenter said that they had made up a new Facebook account to join the group simply so they wouldn't have to use their original one and see other people's sickening posts about their perfect children, houses and holidays. The post got a lot of likes.
Perhaps it came at a touchy time for me - I had just returned from an amazing holiday, a US road trip that had been 3 years in the planning, dreaming, saving. My friends had heard about the plans a lot before we left and my Facebook friends got daily, gushing, "Oh isn't life amazing?" updates from me. What if I was irritating and depressing my friends?
It hadn't occurred to me that my happy posts could piss off some people and I began to think that maybe I should stop posting smiling photos of my girls or Californian sunsets or food.
And then I remembered that hospital ward and the horrible feeling of trying to put a cap on my happiness and squeeze it out of sight.
And I realised that I want nothing to do with the life beliefs that underpin this attitude - that there is a limited amount of happiness or love or luck in the world and that, if you are loved, or are happy or lucky then someone else will not be.
I thought about my own Facebook feed and how I love seeing friends' children, their holidays, their pets and their new homes. I remembered how a smiling baby photo, seen while I drink my morning coffee, will buoy me throughout the day, how seeing a young friend feeding a giraffe on a trip to South Africa will make me smile, how excited posts about a brand new house will leave me reminiscing about when we moved here. I cannot imagine how witnessing these wonderful moments from other people's lives can diminish mine - on the contrary they enhance it.
And so I resolved rather than shrinking the love and luck and happiness of my Facebook feed I shall be expanding it - commenting more on my friends' posts when they make me smile, or tear up, or laugh. You can never, ever have too many photos of happy children.