Unbearable: My Feud With Pregnancy.Org – And How They’re Responding

pregnancy.orgHaving a child is usually a happy time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, as we wait longer to have children, infertility and trouble conceiving can become a part of the family making process. Unbearable addresses these difficulties.

Months ago, I wrote a post about pregnancy and parenting websites, and how hard it is to get them out of your inbox after you’ve had a miscarriage. You can click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the page. You can tell Gmail that it’s spam. And yet, because all of those websites give your information to advertisers, there still ends up being an intense of email all centered around your upcoming child. When you’ve lost that upcoming child, it’s pretty hard to handle.

To be honest, the baby email had died down for me. I’m not sure if Pregnancy.com ever saw my post, though they are the ones that I mentioned in the headline. Or maybe I had finally unsubscribed to everything a sufficient amount of times to let them know that I meant business.

I guess that’s why the latest round of emails from another parenting website caught me off guard. All of the sudden, at the end of September, I got an email from Pregnancy.org saying, “Hey Lindsay, we haven’t seen you Pregnancy.org since forever, and we miss you!” It was all cheery and inviting me back, ready to find out how my baby was doing. In that moment, the fact that my original due date had past hit me. If my pregnancy hadn’t been in my Fallopian tube, I would have a newborn right now.

I’m almost amazed that I didn’t think about it sooner. I talk about my experience pretty frequently, given my job. My due date was August 15th, which happens to be my mother’s birthday. I can admit that on that day, I wasn’t thinking about anything other than how awesome my mom is. But once this idea hit, the idea that I should have a baby right now, it was pretty brutal.

I responded to that Pregnancy.org email. I emailed their customer service with what I thought was a completely appropriate response. “Are you fucking kidding me?” Then I linked to my post about breaking up with pregnancy websites.

Apparently that was not a clear message. Or the person didn’t click on the link and just thought I was extremely aggressive spam. A couple days later, they emailed me again. This time it was about Spina Bifida awareness, which is obviously a great cause. But just seeing the name in my email was infuriating. I took to Twitter.

I admit, it was not the most tactful way to vent my frustration. After some support and shared anger from my friends, I finally got some responses from the people at Pregnancy.org. And let me tell you, they are VERY apologetic. I got tweets and emails. I was assured my information has been immediately deleted from the Pregnancy.org database. I really believe that they felt bad and that they were trying to make up for the problem.

But I think the biggest problem isn’t that a single site doesn’t have a very good “Unsubscribe” system. It’s not that Pregnancy.org sent me a single email. Yes, that was hard, but they can’t be expected to understand the moods or personal stories of every person who visits their site.

The biggest problem is right there in the Terms & Conditions that no one bothers to read through. “By accessing and/or continuing to access the PREGNANCY.ORG website and/or the Services, you acknowledge that you have consented to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information as provided in this Agreement and in the Privacy Policy.” By the way, that privacy policy states that they will share your name, email, and other personal information with third party advertisers and marketers. It’s not just the website itself, women are bombarded by email about their pregnancies. And when that pregnancy is no longer, it takes a whole lot of unsubscribing and spamming to get rid of it. And when you have to unsubscribe multiple times, it begins to feel like a never-ending process of horrible reminders of what you’ve lost.

Pregnancy.org feels pretty guilty for making things more difficult for women who are struggling with loss. I have no doubt about that. I think once they actually noticed my issue, they were quick to address it and the customer service representatives did what was in their power to make it right. But I think the site itself could do more. I think all of the parenting sites could be a little more respectful of people’s privacy. They could think about the fact that we are more than our wallets and potential clicks on partner links. My pregnancy and I were more than sales dollars for Pampers and Gerber.

I shared that viewpoint with the people at Pregnancy.org. And if I get emails from Parenting.com or Baby Center, I’ll let them know the same thing. I doubt it will make a huge difference, but it will make me feel better. I do know that no slideshow of tips for nursery decorating will tempt me into sharing my pregnancy information again. I won’t be fooled by those cute weekly trackers and trimester updates. It’s not just the family and friends you might want to hold off on telling about your pregnancy, think twice before you let the internet learn about it, as well.

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