the sparkly life: "Why I Kept My Baby A Secret Until She Was Six Months Old"

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"Why I Kept My Baby A Secret Until She Was Six Months Old"

The post-birth shot that Instagram wouldn't see for months.
nadine courtney erik courtney aurelia
Nadine, baby Aurelia, and husband Erik

That hair though!
Okay, okay--I apologize for the click-bait-y title, but as you'll soon see: It totally describes the situation of the woman you're about to meet. 

So, think back for a second. Remember when you were pregnant and you couldn't wait to share the big news on Facebook somewhere around your 12-week mark? Remember all those bump shots and baby shower photos you Instagrammed? Then, remember when you actually had the baby? You posted that first Facebook image in record time, I bet. 

Now imagine you couldn't do any of that. 

In fact, imagine that you were contractually obligated to keep your pregnancy a secret online. But that's not all. Imagine that, once your baby was born, you still had to stay quiet about her for six. whole. months.

Sounds crazy, I know, but that's what the last year plus has been like for Nadine Courtney. Nadine is a successful beauty and travel blogger, an author, and one of the stars of season two of the Bravo reality show Newlyweds, which aired its finale last night. (She's also a former magazine beauty editor, which is how we know each other.) And perhaps, most importantly, Nadine is a mom, but unless you are close with her in real life, you didn't know that until last week's show aired.

You see, Nadine filmed the show from November 2013 until just after her daughter Aurelia was born in November 2014. But, Bravo needed to preserve some drama for the show, of course. So, she had to stay mum about her daughter until the relevant events aired. That means, blog readers, social media followers, and even less-close real-life acquaintances (*raises hand*) basically found out she had become a mom...six months after she had become one.

It's such a weird, incredibly unique situation, particularly in the light of our hyperactive social media world, which Nadine is usually very much a part of.

And considering I was personally on the opposite end of the spectrum--basically live-tweeting my son's birth and posting a pic of him minutes after he came into the world--I found this whole situation truly fascinating. I mean, can you imagine? Can you imagine being a mom--a first-time mom, at that--and keeping the baby quiet? I really can't. So, I asked Nadine to share with us a little about what it was like...

So, I'm dying to know: What went through your head when you found out you were pregnant and weren't going to be able to share anything about it for a long, long time? 
"It’s hard to remember exactly what went through my head because I was suffering from MASSIVE pregnancy brain. But I remember being insanely disappointed once I did the math and realized that not only would I have to keep my pregnancy secret, but I’d need to keep the baby quiet for several months after she came, too. Mainly, I was worried. I’ve made a career out of being open and honest, and here I am being secretive and dishonest about the biggest thing in my life. I was afraid that my readers wouldn’t understand, and I was also worried—justifiably so—about losing readership because I wasn’t posting as much. When I was pregnant, it was all I wanted to write about, but I couldn’t. Beauty blogging was losing its allure after 10 years, and while I’ve been doing much more travel blogging the past few years, I certainly wasn’t doing that much travel itself last year! I was able to keep feeding the beast, but I think readers could sense that my heart wasn’t in it. And then after Aurelia was born, I couldn’t explain why I was suddenly barely posting at all. I sold my third book while I was 8 months pregnant, and had to keep that secret for a while, too. Once I could finally announce the book deal, I was able to use that as an excuse for not posting as much—but I barely had time to brush my teeth, let alone settle in at my computer to write. As a blogger, it was a really stressful, frustrating time."

I know your contract with the show required that you not talk about details of your life on social media. But did you have to keep things quiet in real life at all, too? 
"Of course, it would have been impossible to keep the secret online and in real life! But when we found out I was pregnant, I was bummed to realize that I wouldn’t be able to blog about it. I’m such a massive oversharer and my readers feel like my family. All of my family and friends knew, although there were some acquaintances I hadn’t spoken with in a while. They had their socks knocked off when they found out on Facebook!"

During your pregnancy, what were some of the hardest moments not to share? 
"I wanted to blog about the pressures that are put on women to be perfect. You’re supposed to have this perfect pregnancy, this perfect delivery, and then be the perfect mother. It frustrated me and pissed me off, and I wanted to write about it--to share my own (very imperfect!) experiences and fears, and find people to relate to and connect with. But, of course, I couldn’t. I wrote some of it down in a journal but now that Aurelia is here, I’m excited to focus on the present and the future—I tend to focus on what’s going on in my life at the moment, and pregnancy isn’t at the top of my radar anymore!"

Since you couldn't share those moments online, what was your outlet? 
"I spent about 99 percent of my pregnancy trolling the message boards on! I wanted to see what other women were going through, and what I might be able to expect (so that I could start worrying and fretting about it, naturally)! I also filmed a lot of my fears for Newlyweds using the video camera provided to us, called the 'Couple Cam.' I poured my heart and soul into those videos, figuring that if I couldn’t blog it, at least I could try to share it in one form or another. Those are all the videos of me crying you saw during the show!"

Was it tough not to be able to post a photo of your daughter right after she was born? 
"It was so tough! I was really cheesy about it, though. October 27th was my due date, but of course my readers couldn’t know that. I was in the process of doing a big blog revamp, and so I decided to push it all live on October 27th. It felt very symbolic to me, and my way of letting the world know that I was birthing SOMETHING that day!"

And then of course, those first few months of a baby's life are usually Instagram gold! How hard was it not to share those moments/cute outfit pics? 
"At the very end of the pregnancy, when I was dying to share, I created a private Instagram account and invited my family members. That’s where I was able to post photos of Aurelia’s birth and the first few months of her life. But now that she’s public, I can finally post her photos on my real Instagram. Hooray! I’ve already been cheating and reposting some of the old pictures, now that I can finally post photos of my bump."

Did you ever slip and accidentally mention the pregnancy or baby on social media? 
"Twitter got me once! I was DM'ing with my cousin about the baby, and her reply came through to my text messages. I hit 'reply' without thinking and said something about the baby, which turned it from a DM to a public tweet. Of course, I realized .5 seconds later and deleted the tweet. Only one person said anything about it, luckily. And then, at the very end of my pregnancy, a blogger friend messaged me on Facebook asking if I was pregnant. I tried to hide my pregnant belly in photos, going so far as to hide behind people in group shots, but a mutual friend had posted and tagged me in a picture. I untagged myself and the friend took it down. Phew!"

After I had my daughter, one of the biggest things for me was joining local mom groups, which forced me to get out of the house, get dressed, and meet new people. Were you able to do things like that even though everything had to be on the DL? 
"Yes! I joined a very popular LA mom group, Babygroup, and I fell in love with my fellow moms. We all text and email each other daily, see each other in class once a week, and organize side lunches, park meet-ups, and baby-free drinks regularly. It’s been a lifeline for me. I was nervous to say anything about the show for the first few classes. (It wasn’t on the air yet, though it was just about to debut.) Then we had one really great class a few weeks in where everybody let their guards down and cried about the various issues they were going through. I shared that I felt very alone and isolated because of the show and the requirement to keep my baby secret, and also talked about my struggles with breastfeeding and postpartum depression and how overwhelmed and sleep deprived I felt after becoming a mother. It was a turning point for me in feeling like I could trust everybody and was the day we really bonded as a group."

After last week's episode aired, were a lot of people surprised to see that you had already had your baby? I mean, I was surprised! I think I kind of assumed that the show had been filmed more recently and that you were still pregnant! D'oh. 
"A lot of people were surprised! The word obviously trickled out through friends of friends, and so a lot more people knew than I had told. But everybody did a tremendous job of wanting to help me keep the secret, which tickles me pink and was so sweet. Lots of friends and acquaintances posted that they were thrilled it was finally public knowledge because they’d been dying to talk about it, which I thought was adorable. Most of my readers and people who had only seen me on the show thought it was all filmed more recently, though, and so definitely assumed I was still pregnant! I love a good reveal (and am usually terrible at keeping secrets), so the day we were able to announce it on Facebook was SO EXCITING. I fantasized about that one in advance for months! (Is that narcissistic to admit? Oh, well. There you go.)"

If you hadn't had the show, and had just had a typical pregnancy, how do you think things would have been different? 
"I am such an oversharer--it would have been catastrophic! I’d be blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagramming, YouTubing the birth, Periscoping from the delivery room--you name it! It’s probably good that I had to keep it quiet. I was able to have a really unique experience in our social media age—made even more unique by the fact that I’m the last person you’d expect to keep mum and not share online."

Did you learn anything from the experience of having to keep your baby on the DL? 
"In retrospect, it was really nice to close the door, so to speak, and have things be private. We needed a palate cleanser and some time to be 'off.' We’d just gone through this experience where we opened our house and minds and hearts and souls to the TV cameras and invited people into our lives to share our most intimate moments and thoughts. Closing up shop and having six months afterwards to be quiet, to reflect, and to spend time bonding for the sake of bonding (not for a reflective blog post, or a pithy tweet, or an adorable Instagram photo) was a huge gift. It was a reminder that sharing is fun, but occasionally keeping things private just for your family is even more awesome. It’s during those quiet first six months that I got my footing as a mother and truly fell in love with my daughter." 

When it comes time for baby #2, could do the secret thing again? 
"No more secrets! I’m done forever!"

So, can you see why I found this story fascinating?? What do you think? Could you keep totally quiet on social media about your entire pregnancy--and your baby? What do you think would be the toughest part?


WorkingMomMagic said...

What a crazy situation!! I really enjoyed this post even though I have never seen that show.. and now I am following her on IG :)

Terri Grothe said...

I have never seen the show but now my interest is peaked.
She has a beautiful little girl <3

Unknown said...

Wow, that would be really hard, especially not being able to blog about it.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I can only imagine! There are some major things I've had to keep quiet about online for a long, long time, and that's been difficult enough. I can't really imagine keeping a BABY secret, and especially the first!!

Meredith said...

Oh my gosh, that's crazy! I couldn't imagine not being to write about the kiddos. At least her close friends and family knew...that would have been nuts otherwise!

meech812 said...

WOW! That would be a very hard secret for me to keep!

Tamara G. said...

There is absolutely no way I could have kept my mouth shut about that.

Donnie L. Vaughan said...

Oh, this is a very secrete foe everyone.

teutonicausa said...

Stunning! I can just envision! There are some significant things I've needed to stay silent about online for a long, long time, and that has been sufficiently troublesome. I can't generally envision keeping a BABY mystery, and particularly the first!!

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