So – for those of you who don’t read Elphie’s blog, please check over there for some context. In short, her very eloquent post about the problem with the so called “breast cancer awareness game” received some pretty nasty comments from some ignorant people. People were calling those of us offended by this game “selfish”. Accusing us of not being able to be happy for our pregnant/mommy friends.
I’ve decided to take this discussion as an opportunity to explain why it is that women with fertility issues have problems with FB pregnancy announcements. And trust me, this has nothing to do with being selfish. In fact – it’s quite the opposite.
In the year and three months since my first pregnancy, I’ve seen pregnancy announcement after pregnancy announcement. I’ve seen birth announcements. I’ve seen pictures of happy mothers and fathers holding their newborns. These have come from my friends and acquaintances. On every one of those announcements I gave a hearty congrats. In some cases, when possible, I went to visit baby and mom in the hospital. In one case, I even spent several days keeping a friend company while she was going crazy, because she was overdue and getting VERY uncomfortable.
I did all of those things happily. I was happy for them.
I was sad for me. Sad because each one of these kids was a potential playmate for my lost children. Sad because I could have had that happy announcement five months ago. And again 3 months ago. And again three months from now. I would be holding on to a huge bump now. Or holding my child. Their happiness is a reminder of my losses. Of my sadness.
So I rejoice with them. But in the privacy of my own home, in front of my computer screen, I have every right to cry. They don’t see my tears. They don’t see my sadness. Some of them, who know my situation, are sensitive enough to acknowledge it and allow me to show them my sadness. But most either don’t know, or, frankly, don’t care. That is their right.
Just like it is my right to cry in the privacy of my own home when I am reminded of my losses by a barrage of happy baby pictures. I don’t complain about those much. I’m sure I’ll be the same when hopefully I bring my own baby home. That is their right. Just as it will be mine some day.
But it’s not my lot in life yet. Now I’m faced with my losses, and nothing more. So yes, a picture of a baby, in certain emotional states will send me off the edge. Other times I’m ok. I don’t comment on their photos and say that they have no right to post them. I “like” them as often as anybody else. Because that is the part I show – the part that is genuinely happy for those newly minted parents.
So why is this stupid meme different? Because it’s cruel. Not only to women in my situation. To every mislead friend and family member. But yes, especially to people suffering from infertility.
Because seeing one pregnancy or birth announcement a week on average is enough. Seeing ten at once, not knowing the true motives behind it, is enough to send anyone in my situation over the edge. That’s a reminder of my losses ten times over. All at once. I didn’t comment on these “announcements” cursing the “new soon-to-be-mommies” out. I took a moment to breathe, and to cry, and braced myself. Ready to congratulate them all.
And then I found out they were fake. Each and every one of them. So all of that emotional turmoil was for nothing. For a stupid meme that is supposedly “to raise breast cancer awareness” but doesn’t send anyone to a foundation. Doesn’t give any helpful information. In fact, it doesn’t even have the word “breast” in it.
I’m not mad at the women who posted it. I’m sure they meant well. I’m sure they did it all in good fun.
But that doesn’t make THE SITUATION any less offensive. It’s not the individual act, but rather the collective effect of it. It did NOTHING for breast cancer awareness. What it did was make 1 in every 16 women cry. Or at least feel a little stinging pain in her chest. It’s the RANDOMNESS of this, and the UNINTENDED cruelty of it that is offensive. It’s the MISGUIDED intentions behind it. That’s what is causing the uproar.
It has nothing to do with my or my fellow infertiles’ “bitterness” or “selfishness”. We did not choose our situation. We are women (and men) desperately wanting to have children, being reminded on a minute-by-minute basis of the failure of our own bodies, and having to put on a strong happy face to the world.
We don’t begrudge our friends their happiness. We mourn our own struggles. We are not “bitter” about our friends’ luck. We are jealous sometimes, yes. But even this is something we don’t share, because we know it’s not our friends’ fault that we are infertile, or having repeat miscarriages.
So we smile. We click on “like”. We congratulate and go to baby showers and attend the bris, and come to the hospital with flowers and chocolate.
But it is our right to mourn our losses quietly when we go home. And it’s our right to be offended and hurt by a barrage of fake pregnancies. Because for us it is a cruel joke. Crueler than it would be for the potential grandmother who sees her daughter’s status and cries tears of joy before finding out it was for “breast cancer awareness”. Or the sister who was offended because she wasn’t told in person of this “pregnancy”. It’s crueler because for us, it stung to begin with. And to find out that it was for nothing makes it sting all the more.
Again – I don’t blame the individuals who posted this. I’m sure they thought nothing of it at the time.
However, I reserve my right to be angry at the collective situation. And that’s not selfish. That’s self-preservation.