More Facebook Action – In Defense of Infertiles

6 Sep

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.

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32 Responses to “More Facebook Action – In Defense of Infertiles”

  1. Chon September 6, 2011 at 00:23 #

    Oh mo I just want to give you a hug. We didn’t get thtis meme over here, thank GOD!! People can just be cruel but thats why we have our blog friends xxx

    • Mo September 6, 2011 at 13:31 #

      aww thanks hon! xoxo

  2. Jonelle September 6, 2011 at 00:59 #

    I got a head’s up about this meme a week ago as it was sent to me as an “event”. At first I didn’t get it, and I hardly ever pay attention to events. I had to read it twice – and by the second time I was like, “Seriously? What does a fake pregnancy announcement have to do with Breast Cancer Awareness?” I deleted the event immediately and instead posted a link to the American Cancer Society.

    • Mo September 6, 2011 at 13:32 #

      good one!

  3. Chickenpig September 6, 2011 at 01:25 #

    Rock on! I couldn’t have said it better myself 🙂 There have been a lot of infertiles getting flak for what is a private reaction, vrs a public act. It is possible for us to be happy for someone else and yet sad for ourselves at the same time. And this doesn’t make us sad, pathetic, whining victims, anymore than it makes a widow pathetic for being sad and thinking of her spouse at a wedding. Or a divorced person who cringes at wedding invitations in the mail. It is what it is. And that meme was total complete crap.

    • Mo September 6, 2011 at 13:32 #

      well said!

  4. Tigger September 6, 2011 at 01:54 #

    Followed over here from Mel’s post, and will be posting the link to this post on my own blog. Thank you so much for writing this, without anger, without virtiol, without namecalling.

    • Mo September 6, 2011 at 13:33 #

      thanks tigger!

  5. eggsinarow September 6, 2011 at 02:09 #

    YAsher koach. Perfectly said. Love you lady, fir lots of reasons least of which was that would put 1/8 womens thoughts down on paper! Well, on Internet.

  6. eighteenyears September 6, 2011 at 02:17 #

    You know, I think I’ve hidden everyone on FB who would be dumb enough to think this was a fun game (who thinks that really? really? fake pregnancy announcements? oh, ha ha, yes, now let me support breast cancer!).

    You’re nicer than me though. Lately, when I see those announcements, I just hide that person. I can’t do it right now… and that’s okay. They’re not thinking “oh, how can I support someone and their failed IVF” and that’s okay too…

    • eggsinarow September 6, 2011 at 21:52 #

      I hid them too! LOL

  7. Peach (@MivsyPeach) September 6, 2011 at 02:19 #

    i find this meme offensive in many ways. most obviously, it has NOTHING to do with raising breast cancer awareness. it’s just stupid. then, to read your take, it just adds a whole other element of “wtf”.

  8. JM September 6, 2011 at 02:32 #

    LOVE.

    That’s all I got right now. AF this am. 😦

    • Mo September 6, 2011 at 13:34 #

      😦 hugs!

  9. Kristen September 6, 2011 at 03:23 #

    I hate this thing on FB…it’s so stupid, makes absolutely no sense and hurt so many people. Who came up with this idiotic thing, and how do they have the power to make it go viral?!? WTF?!? FB in general is so hard…I just try to stay away…although I do try to be hugely congratulatory/supportive to people I know who have babies/are pregnant. The only thing I absolutely cannot handle is a super sweet casual friend of mine who has the same due date as my baby I lost (coming up next month). Hearing about her progress is like a knife to the heart. But I don’t tell her that. (And she was very sweet and supportive when she heard about my miscarriage…love her for that.)
    P.S. Thanks for your comment about me being positive on my blog today…you totally made my day! 🙂
    XO

    • Mo September 6, 2011 at 13:35 #

      I hear you on that.
      And I love how you’ve been handling everything. You’re the positive one, I’m just in awe! xoxo

  10. Hemlock September 6, 2011 at 03:31 #

    Mo… You always manage to put things in words so eloquently! If there were any way to make you the official Infertile’s Spokesperson I would!

    • Mo September 6, 2011 at 13:35 #

      now I’m blushing.

  11. Kristin September 6, 2011 at 03:57 #

    So beautifully stated. Keiko over at Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed had an amazing post about this http://www.hannahweptsarahlaughed.com/2011/09/im-0-weeks-and-craving-a-baby/ and so did Mel http://www.stirrup-queens.com/2011/09/pretending-youre-pregnant-makes-people-truly-understand-breast-cancer/ that are both worth reading. Good job my friend.

    • Mo September 6, 2011 at 13:36 #

      thanks hon. I read keiko and mel’s posts. They are amazing.

  12. Whoismom September 6, 2011 at 04:00 #

    Word.

  13. jjiraffe September 6, 2011 at 04:34 #

    I’ll raise Whoismom’s word to motherfucking word 😉 Rock on, lady.

  14. Port of Indecision September 6, 2011 at 04:38 #

    Mel wrote an EXCELLENT post today, and she made an analogy to hearing about the tsunami on your wedding day to illustrate that, indeed, one can have simultaneous feelings of happiness for oneself and sadness for others and vice versa; and that the understanding and love needs to flow in both directions. We are absolutely expected to be over the moon, to call and congratulate and send cards and meals and flowers and gifts, and make visits to our friends when they have babies, and as such, they should be expected to share in our sorrow as we share in their joy. (And as we all know, aside from the exceedingly rare exception, that doesn’t happen.)

    • Mo September 6, 2011 at 13:38 #

      So true. I loved how mel described people as Veela. It’s much easier for them to show their ugly side when the going gets tough.

  15. Cattiz J September 6, 2011 at 10:59 #

    Very well written. Thankfully it didn’t come around to my group of fb-friends. But there’s nothing in this meme that makes sense in my opinion.

  16. St. Elsewhere September 6, 2011 at 13:18 #

    Perfectly put out.

    And for all the little cousins that have popped out safe and sound (all of them did) except my little girl who left me with lessons on spirit and struggle, I always wish the best. But I also miss the little girl who would have had kids of her own age to play with and be in the same picture frames that will be shared between cousins so forth.

    Like you, endless baby pics don’t offend me at all. But for some babies, who in my mind were due around the same time as her or a bit later, the milestone pics always tell me what my daughter would have been upto at that point.

    Sad.

    I kind of got a bit suspicious only after the grandma did the x weeks pregnant thing. And then I finally asked. And I wondered what the status actually contributed to breast cancer awareness.

    Nothing actually.

    Nothing.

    • Mo September 6, 2011 at 13:39 #

      So true. Thanks for sharing St. Elsewhere. You are amazing.

  17. bodegabliss September 6, 2011 at 22:30 #

    Amen, sister!

  18. Pcostory September 7, 2011 at 03:01 #

    Great post. The first one I saw was my adopted sister who is turning 50 this year so I chose to just ignore it, then my hubs saw another one and looked it up. But it was all on the heels of my brother doing a real pregnancy announcement in Facebook that I am still ignoring.

  19. slcurwin September 8, 2011 at 09:34 #

    I have very intentionally not looked at facebook since this came out. I choose to stay in my happy(ish) little world where there are no fake pregnancy announcements. I’ve had 4/5 SIL’s pregnant this year and the 5th had a loss. That’s plenty in my books. (I guess the 6th (not actually married in) started the year off as my second nephew just turned 1. No FB for me thank you!

  20. cablearms September 20, 2011 at 16:11 #

    i just fucking love you, Mo!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. I’m a liar « Cablearms - November 11, 2011

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