As Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock reveals her pregnancy with a stunning photo shoot posted to her Instagram, our own secret mum-to-be, The AnonyMum, tells us why she’s keeping, ahem, mum on social media.
With several thousand followers and a relentless scrolling habit, I always thought that I would be posting the happy news of my pregnancy straight after our 12 week scan. Before I found out I was pregnant at the beginning of the year, I often scrutinised friends’ happy news and thought about how my own would look – a tiny pair of trainers? A classic scan print out artfully arranged in a flatlay with a tiny babygro? Or perhaps a smiling photo cradling my bump? And yet, here I am, over halfway through the journey at 22 weeks with no square to show for it. Why am I not sharing the news? Well, in all honestly, I don’t know.
Okay, I know I’m not Beyonce whose second pregnancy post garnered over 11 million likes on Instagram or Katy Perry who decided to debut her bump in a music video but in a world where sharing our lives with strangers on the internet has become the norm, I find myself suddenly shy on social media.
Perhaps a little is fear – as a first time parent-to-be in my late thirties, there is some anxiety behind my decision to remain silent despite all medical reassurances that everything is fine. At first I said I’ll just wait a few weeks more, then I’ll wait til I’m showing… oh let’s wait until after the 20 week scan. One healthy anomaly scan and a small bump who enjoys kicking me at every opportunity later, several of my friends are still puzzled by my baby’s digital absence.
But you share… everything? exclaimed one of my friends when I told her the news and how I’d appreciate it if she didn’t give the game away. And it’s true. From artfully arranged breakfasts and daily outfit snaps (taken front on) to trips to B&Q (#renolife) and behind the scenes snaps from my life as a stylist, I document the minutiae of my life on Instagram for everyone to see.
Admittedly in the last year, my content for the grid slowed down as the world did. Whereas once upon a time I took the mantra of posting daily images to the grid seriously, a global pandemic and the resulting lockdown dramatically decelerated my grid-worthy content and I stuck mainly to stories. However, with life slowly opening up again, so has my posting habit.
Recently, I posted a photo of myself and our dog amongst the cherry blossom that my husband had snapped on a sunny Sunday afternoon and then promptly panicked that people would spot my emerging bump after a friend of my aunt who follows me commented with how are you feeling? (We have told select family and friends on the proviso that they keep the secret – at least on social media). Once the comment had been swiftly deleted to avoid any raised eyebrows and the source reminded about the social media ban I had put on the news, I spent a skittish evening texting my friends who know about the baby asking them if I looked pregnant in the post. After a resounding no, I decided not to delete the post but the experience made me wary and solidified the fact that actually, maybe Kylie Jenner was on to something.
Having just left a full-time contracted job to return to a life of freelance, there is also a niggling doubt regarding my work. We’ve all joked about baby brain but would clients book me if they knew about my newest built-in assistant? My husband is anxious when I so much as pick up a book that he deems too heavy, so me dragging suitcases all over London to photoshoots sends him into a tailspin of worry but luckily, I have a very strong assistant who is willing to keep my secret and enjoys the challenge of a suitcase and two flights of stairs.
With most of my meetings still taking place via video calls and many showrooms closed, a largely remote life has meant that my small bump has remained strictly off the agenda – when I left my previous role, I was 16 weeks and no one was none the wiser.
As and when I’ve interviewed for other permanent or contracted roles this year, I have often wondered how the company I’m pitching myself to would feel if they found out that actually I’d be clearing off on maternity leave in September? I don’t need to hazard a guess that even the most woke company would likely have their reservations about hiring me. With many recruiters and HR departments now checking out prospective candidates’ digital foot prints, I decided that an announcement wasn’t worth the risk of scuppering my employment chances.
Of course, I doubt I can keep the news a secret forever – unlike the aforementioned Kylie Jenner, I cannot lock myself in a mansion with a team of staff to run my errands for me while my middle slowly expands. A close friend (who happens to live on another continent) managed to keep her second child a secret until three weeks after he was born. Her chosen announcement? A text message that simply read ‘surprise! I had a secret baby!’ and an attached photo of her gorgeous little boy. When I asked her how she had managed to keep everyone from guessing even in her holiday snaps, she replied ‘angles and lots of black clothing’.
When I told three friends who are former team mates of mine, they confessed that they had taken to studying my posts and stories for tell-tale signs for months before I actually fell pregnant. Admittedly, I too have been guilty of scrutinising friends, colleagues and acquaintances posts when I’ve noticed the smallest shift in their appearances. Is that post-Christmas weight gain or the first signs of a bump? Where did those boobs suddenly come from on my previously flat-chested friend? With this in mind, a small part of me thinks that perhaps by announcing the news myself, I can at least take some control of the situation rather than being a point of speculation and gossip on someone else’s Whatsapp group chat.
So, will I be taking to the squares any time soon? For now, probably not. But if I change my mind? There’s a pair of tiny baby-sized Wayfarers in my desk drawer.
Feature image: Bow-detail trainers, £14.99, H&M (courtesy of brand)