Friends, Facebook & Fertility: A Status Update from the Infertile Side

This is one of those posts I probably should not write. One of those posts where I say things so politically incorrect that I may lose a subscriber or two over it.

Yet, if I don’t say it who will? If we cannot speak from our dark places, how can anyone else ever find the light to shine onto their own?

 

So today I would like to send a plea to the fertile friends who walk amongst us to please, oh please, press the pause button on your incessant talk about your children. About how incredible the bond of motherhood is. And about how there is nothing else in the world like it.

Please stop posting one photo and video after another of every single child, every single day, on your Facebook page. And please, pretty please, stop telling those of us who are on the other side that we should do this, or try that, and then one day we will be a mother too–and when we are we’ll understand.

We know your intentions are good. We know you love your children. Yet we also need you to step outside of your bliss bubble to come back to the land of the living every now and then.

It is fine to love your children, to share a picture or two, or a story or two, occasionally. Yet also please understand that one after another would feel to you like our sharing the details of every medical procedure and every test result every single time we talked–and then posting photos of negative HPTs, ourselves in the midst of a hot flash, or an up close shot of our bloated bellies on a day-to-day rotation.

We are more than our infertility and all we ask is that you remember that once you were more than a mother too. Once you were a woman who was our friend.

Remember when the beautiful boy you couldn’t imagine living without broke up with you? We shunned any word or topic containing men for at least three months. And the time your father passed away? We held hands while the tears fell and we recounted all of the precious moments fallen behind. I still don’t share stories about my father–knowing that it is too painful a reminder of what you have lost.

So why now when facing a broken body, and mourning the loss of biology’s greatest dream, do you only speak of babies?

Today my status update from the infertile side is a simple one: To my friends with children, whom I love dearly–please grant me one day, just one day, without a photo, video, or story about your child. Just one day.

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25 comments

  1. so similar to one of our posts we have drafted up. this has been so tough and we need a break from facebook soon.

    our facebook feed is entirely babies!

  2. jncwhaley · · Reply

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I feel like you wrote everything I was thinking. My husband and I having been TTC for 2 years now. We are starting IVF in February. I teach dance and it seems that EVERYONE is pregnant or just had a baby. I also keep getting how we can get pregnant and tips from the mothers. That’s just awkward and they have no idea why we have to do IVF. I just keep telling myself that it is ignorance on their part. I keep smiling on the outside but want to tell them off on the inside. Thank you for writing this. I don’t feel so bad.

    1. You are definitely not alone jncwhaley and I’m glad that my sharing helped you to see that. I believe there are so many feelings–many that we have to filter out–that come along with trying to conceive. I believe others have the best of intentions, yet that does not mean that we cannot also have our feelings. Best to you on your journey.

  3. I am an infertile who is a mom because of adoption. I have been battling IF for over 20 years now. All that to be said because I completely disagree with this. I went thru a stage in our TTC battle (before FB, Twitter, Blogs, internet therapy) where I secluded myself from everything ‘baby’ based. You have the lovely choice of ‘hiding’ these people who are overly obsessive with pics/videos of their children (in which they are proud of). I am one of those moms. My son is 5 now and I post everything I can about him (namely because ALL of our family lives in other states and it’s a way for them to be apart of his life). I know better than anyone how seeing things like this (IRL) can send a dagger thru your very soul, but to ask a parent not to be proud of their babies even for one day…I just flat don’t agree. Hide them if it hurts you that much. De-friend them if you have too…but to ask them not to be proud of their babies….not kosher at all.

    1. Rae,
      Thank you for sharing your perspective–one I knew writing this post and sharing it would trigger.

      For clarification, I am not asking anyone to not be proud of their children–not in any way, shape, or form. I am hypothetically asking for friends who have children to be conscious of the feelings of others who do not, and to occassionally share parts of themselves, which do not involve their children.

      I do appreciate you sharing your perspective. In reality what I was doing with this post was shedding light onto those emotions, and desires, that are not so politically correct–and which will cause backlash from others. I am ok taking that backlash so that women facing these challenge do not feel shame about completely normal and natural feelings.

      I celebrate the beauty of motherhood and I celebrate the struggle of infertility. I believe there is room for both.

      Best to you.

      1. I, indeed, live in the best of both worlds. I am still infertile but now a mom thru adoption. There are ppl that are my friends on FB that I’ve hidden because they are pregnant. It still bothers me to a degree–especially when it’s a teenager or someone who already has a history of not taking care of their children,yet are having more. I didn’t mean for this to sound like I was ‘lashing out’, where I can see you would get that. So for that, I apologize. Although my TTC is over, never feeling life grow inside me still bothers me to this day–especially when AF decides to show. I completely understand. I also know what it’s like to finally be a mom, even though I never got to be pregnant. Once an infertile, always an infertile at heart 😦 It is sooo ‘normal’ to feel this way. I had these feelings long before FB that I had to deal with on my own. I do sympathize, always will.

      2. Those of us who have struggled in conceiving are like a sisterhood–no matter time or “mom” status, there is room for all of us. And the “mother bear” I sensed in your first response actually put a little smile on my face. I love that part of us as women. I know you know from the pain of your journey. And I celebrate the incredible gift of motherhood that has been a part of yours. If anyone has a right to be proud of their children, it’s women who have gone through IF. Thanks for your dialogue with me–different perspectives are always welcome.

  4. well said…

    1. Thank you Rishu. I hope you are well.

  5. I completely agree with this post. Even before I struggled with IF, I have been mourning the loss of my friends on FB. They did not leave or defriend me or anything. I just lost them as people to their offspring. As soon as the baby comes, the profile picture changes to the child, and nothing more but child related posts ensue. I am not against some posts and updates sharing of photos of the children, but it is nice to hear how the friend herself if doing every now and then, as well.

    1. I agree Amanda, there is a loss of an aspect of friendship when a friend has a child. I suppose in some ways it is inevitable as the gift of a child does change many aspects of our lives. Yet I can’t help but think that it would be just as good for the women who are mothers, as for us who are not, for those women to be able to stay connected to other aspects of themselves–aside from motherhood.

    2. exactly. well said.

  6. Cameron Paneiko · · Reply

    Exactly why I no longer have a FB account. What did everyone do before FB?? How easily we forget life before social media. Photos are great, stories and “updates” are special, but we don’t need to see every stinkin’ one!
    Honestly going through IF has given me such a different perspective on life. If I hadn’t been infertile would I have been posting like crazy, trying to keep up w/everyone else? Now knowing how the infertile woman feels every time she sees a sonogram or belly bump pic, I am thankful that I can step back and think about other’s situations and life struggles that I never would have considered before.
    Thanks for posting!

    1. I agree Cameron, we do have a different perspective having faced fertility challenges. Hopefully this experience will help us to be more sensitive to others in many aspects of our lives. And while I have not abandoned FB, I definitely visit there much less often.

  7. Not to ‘rub it in everyone’s face’, I also wanted to say that when you finally do become a mom (rather thru adoption or IVF or natural) your life COMPLETELY changes in ways that you can not fathom now. Infertiles who now have children, or friends who never walked a mile in our shoes–it’s all the same. That child BECOMES your life whether you want him/her too or not (I wish that everyone who reads this will someday soon know what I’m talking about). You don’t even realize when it changes. It just happens. I remember very well the pain of our 20+ years battle with infertility, all the BFNs, finally getting a baby boy only to have the BM to change her mind and take him from us (thank God she gave him back 6 weeks later or I wouldn’t be here to write this).
    It’s just that I can see both sides now. It still does hurt like heck to see ‘some’ people pregnant-to see their sonogram pics….on the other hand, I celebrate when one of my IF friends finally get their baby/babies. It’s such a touchy subject, especially now that we have all this social media everywhere. It’s why we have blogs like this, twitter for IFers, and therapy. Even though I am a mom, I still have the twinges of jealousy & issues with God to deal with that i am now FINALLY seeking therapy for. Adoption doesn’t cure infertility. In some ways, it makes it worse. I love my son more than my own life. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t sometimes mourn the fact that he didn’t grow in my belly…somebody else who was completely unworthy of him got to feel him move inside her (don’t judge me, you don’t know our story).
    All this to say: One day, you will also know why every profile pic is the baby/child. That child becomes you. Hardly ever do I get a call from family or friends where the 2nd question is “How’s the baby doing?” (even though he’s 5 now)..lol

    1. Rae, I am happy to read of your happy ending, and the joy you have found in motherhood–though hard won. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I too hope we will all one day know the other point of view firsthand. As a woman who struggled through the trials of IF, and adoption, you offer emotions and a vantage point unique to others struggling with IF or who conceived easily. Thank you for speaking your truth.

  8. I know the pain…I was there for 5 years. And, I still feel pain when someone posts about baby #2,3,4 etc or someone who just got married and already has an announcment. IF robs you of being able to have that pure joy for others in that moment. But, part of my IF journey was owning my own jealousy. That was a hard pill to swallow. But, I can be an ugly jealous person–fairness is not the question. Fairness is not our call.
    I have my miracle baby now. She’s about to turn 1 actually. God gave her to me when my RE said that it wasn’t going to happen. She consumes my life and therefore is the topic of many FB posts. I still feel the pain of the IF struggle. I still feel my twinge of jealousy…I still ache for the childless women…I still feel sad for myself sometimes and the years I spent in darkness. But, I own my feelings. It’s my jealousy.

    1. That’s exactly how I feel too! I knew I wanted a baby from the time I was 6 years old feeling my brother moving in my Mom’s belly. I just never fathomed how much that child would change my life. You dream of it daily when you can’t have one. IF was a long, hard road for us. It robbed us of joy, romance, tolerance–it nearly cost me my life & marriage. Thru adoption, I now have my miracle. He consumes me and I am glad he does. You have no idea until you have your miracle what you will do once you’re holding thay precious baby in your arms. I hope that for everyone here.

  9. First of all, this blog (in general) is a blessing. Thank you so much for writing it, it has been an absolute comfort to me. Second, thank you for this post in particular. My partner and I have been going through infertility treatment for over a year (her not me, but as you know the time and emotional journey affects both) and I am currently dealing with the incessant baby talk at work. I have a pregnant coworker who talks non-stop about her pregnancy and literally rubs it in my face (rubs her belly). There are also several other mothers among my coworkers so when the baby talk starts it get amplified by this mommy group. One of the other mothers said the other day, “I fully plan to have a second child because having an only child puts too much focus on one child.” I’m sitting there thinking wouldn’t it be a miracle to have just one?

    My pregnant coworker is a friend and knows that my partner and I are having trouble conceiving and going through assisted reproduction treatment (due to PCOS). I think she believes she is being friendly with her baby talk and sharing all of her tips so that I can “learn” from them. She obviously doesn’t realize how hurtful the incessant (and I mean non-stop) pregnancy talk can be for someone in the midst of the struggle. And when it’s a work situation you don’t really have an option to remove yourself from the situation. I wish I could send her this post but I think she’d be really offended. I can’t change my work circumstances but I have attempted to proactively manage the situation introducing “non-baby/pregnancy” topics to conversations. Sometimes this works and at least lessens the baby talk time. Like you said above, certainly there was a time when a woman was more than a mother and had other topics to discuss. I don’t think my coworkers (who are aware of my situation) are being intentionally hurtful, I think they just really don’t grasp how ridiculously difficult it is to go through this process.

    1. Thank you C. Your story touches my heart, and your sharing is a blessing to me. All the best to you and your partner as you journey toward parenthood.

      1. Thank you. I have to attend a baby shower for this coworker next weekend. Trying to get in the right mindframe to do it. We’ll see what happens!

      2. Baby showers can be tough. I have found that having a good friend to call who will tell you things that you can’t help but crack up at (upon departure from the shower) is a great safety hatch. I figure we either laugh or we cry, so why not laugh if we can. My dear friend said all the inappropriate things you are not suppose to say about pregnant women and baby showers (all those thoughts that are unspeakable) until I finally started laughing so hard my stomach hurt. Soon, the the tears dried up and life moved on. Best to you.

  10. Thank you for being a voice!

    1. Thank you DB. Wishing you all the best.

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