Confession: I am addicted to YouTube. I’m not even talking about cool videos, like live footage of punk bands playing house shows or tutorials on how to dye your hair the perfect shade of lavender. Instead, I watch videos by tragically untalented boy bands that are clearly never going to make it, vlogs from girls deciding to get breast implants — and pregnancy announcement videos.
These videos are just like they sound: A couple, usually millennial and blandly attractive, tells their family that they’re going to have a baby. Usually it’s done in some kind of creative capacity, such as hiding a literal bun in an oven for a soon-to-be grandmother to find. The money shot comes when the baby is announced — and it's always followed by screaming, then hugs, then tears.
There are probably hundreds of these videos on YouTube — maybe more. I have gone into a trancelike state and watched an entire 50+ video playlist of them in a single sitting. There’s something soothing about how brief and predictable they are. Sometimes I find myself getting distracted by the home décor in the background: the placement of televisions in the living room, the giant suburban kitchens, the art-of-questionable-taste hanging on the walls.
And, then there's these videos' spiritual brethren, the Instagram pregnancy announcement. This usually takes the form of a posed tableau: a guy passed out next to a positive EPT test; a cherubic little kid with an “about to be a big sister” sign next to her; a pajama-clad nuclear family reading baby books; and even a Breaking Bad parody. Search for #pregnancyannouncement or #werepregnant and you can scroll through thousands.
Obviously, I’m not the only one with a pregnancy-video problem, since some of these things rack up hundreds of thousands of views. “People are addicted to observing real emotions,” says Rachel DeAlto, a communications expert and the author of Flirt Fearlessly. “Pregnancy is one of life’s last miracles and it invokes those real emotions: We want to feel happy and excited, and sometimes we want to tear up — either way, we want to feel.”
For me, watching these videos is also an exercise in masochism because — full disclosure — I hate them. They remind me of pregnancy coverage in US Weekly (which, while I’m on confessions, I should say I’m also thoroughly addicted to); they're all bump synonyms and pastel baby showers and nurseries with inspirational murals done in low-VOC paint. If you are someone who is not about to bear a child, the fetishization of modern pregnancy can be annoying, to say the least. Even if I were pregnant, I like to think that (to quote Taylor Swift) I would never, ever, ever...post any kind of saccharine announcement to my Instagram account.
But, for all my surliness, I can’t and probably won’t stop watching them. I'll scowl at the cutesiness and at what an airbrushed version of life this is. Maybe, deep down, I find that stuff soothing. These videos' bland positivity and unquestioning upbeat-ness is what keeps me coming back, again and again.