Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back in the Closet with Facebook

So I just joined Facebook, along with what appears like a tidal wave of people my age. It’s been fun—touching base with people I haven’t talked to in years, checking out their photos and friends.

And of course, checking out their kids. Because pretty much every one of the people I knew in high school and college now has kids.

I could be all mopey and say that it’s really hurting me, but right now it isn’t. I guess I’m past the point where I surprised to be the last one of my peers to have children. And I really have come closer to the “acceptance” point with regard to my infertility. So seeing pictures of people I used to know playing in the snow with their adorable pink-cheeked toddlers doesn’t hurt all that much.

But it is awkward. Because while I’m pretty much out of the infertility closet with my close friends, it isn’t really something you chat about in an open forum with used-to-be-friends. My infertility is a big part about why I haven’t reached out to old friends in the past few years. I mean, what is there to say? They tell me about their kids, their new career path, etc., and then they ask, “so what’s going on with you?” And the truth is, the only thing that is going on with me is my fertility treatment. It is in my mind all the time, it’s what drives me, it’s this huge part of who I am. But it’s a conversation killer, a true dud. Nothing stops a conversation like: “What’s up with me? Oh, nothing really. Spent the last three and a half years trying to get knocked up. Had a few miscarriages, major surgery, and took out a second mortgage. We’re considering using someone else’s sperm. So what kind of investment banking did you say you were getting into?”

I actually tested this theory with my oldest friend, my BFF from high school. She found me via e-mail a few months ago. After a few nice e-mails, I came right out and told her about what we’d been through. I didn’t lay it on too thick or anything, and I prefaced it with an explanation that, based on our long history, it felt weird not to tell her. I didn’t hear anything for a few days. Then I got an e-mail saying she hadn’t forgotten me, but didn’t have time to write a meaningful response. Then nothing. I’m sure she feels awkward now that it’s been so long. (And I really do need to write to her again and let her off the hook, tell her that no one ever knows what to say about this shit.) But this certainly told me that what I suspected all along is true: infertility is a crap topic of conversation.

So while I’m enjoying Facebook, I’m back in the closet. And it sucks. I want to be who I am, and I feel kind of pathetic. I mean, if I’m still childless after 12 years of marriage, I should at least live some kind of awesome, jet-setter lifestyle, right? Or be some big hot-shot in my career? Instead I just feel lame.

And I’m developing an annoying habit of self-narrating my life in my head. “[Babychaser] is drinking her coffee while she checks her blog.” “[Babychaser] is putting up Christmas lights.” “[Babychaser] is doing her laundry.” “[Babychaser] is driving herself nuts thinking of herself in the third person.”

But what I want to write is “[Babychaser] is still infertile.” “[Babychaser] is wondering if she’ll ever have a pink-cheeked toddler to romp in the snow with.” “[Babychaser] is taking a nap, because she doesn’t have anything more urgent to do on a Sunday afternoon, because unlike you fertile assholes, she has no children.”

And I’m already fantasizing, rolling the words over and over again in my head like a mantra, what I really want to write: “[Babychaser] is pregnant.”

16 comments:

Io said...

Ok, I'm laughing my butt off at the narrated status messages.

But yeah, the Facebook thing is weird and sad and screwed up. Al and I got in an argument tonight because a friend of his (who is my "friend" on facebook but I don't really know her that well) keeps leaving comments on my facebook about kids being contagious, blah blah blah...and today I had a status about throwing up and she commented "Watch out, I thought I had a virus, and seven months later I had [her kid]! Tee hee!"
Al got shitty because he felt like I should just ignore it, but she keeps doing it, so I told him to fuck off and sent her a message saying that I know she didn't mean to be hurtful, but we can't have kids, so could she stop with the comments.
Yeah, sorry, didn't mean to write my own blog post as a comment! But I feel you - I wish there was a way to just announce my infertility to everyone in a way that wouldn't be weird. I mean, can you imagine people commenting on that status update? "Oh my god, babychaser, that sucks! Want one of mine?" or some other equally inane thing.

Nikki said...

Exactly my dilemma! 12 years after marriage if there are no kids to boast about, at least there should be a bunch of major achievements tucked under my belt, or some major hep and happening lifestyle. Nope - none of that here!

I'm tired of answering the "What's up with you, do you have kids?" question with "Nothing much, I have a dog - he's awesome."

Not just is a response about IF often a conversation killer, sometimes it's a relationship killer too.

Yup, I too am dying to list "(Nikki) is pregnant" on FB some day!

Dora said...

I hear you. I don't even want to count the number of people whose emails and calls I've ignored because I just don't want to get into all this shit.

"What's new with me? I'm trying to conceive as a single mom, but it's not working because I have crappy old ovaries."

I refuse to put up a facebook profile.

peesticksandstones said...

This is such a cool post. I, personally, have this thing about people using a picture of their kid instead of themselves on their profile. It just seems so weird, like do you cease to exist once you're a parent?

I've had such similar things happen with "old friends" these past couple years. Folks get so weirded out by the miscarriages in particular -- and tend to fall off the face of the earth. Will I ever stop being bitter about this all?

Lisa said...

I dream about writing that last sentence....

I actually link to my blog on Facebook and I've linked to some infertility related things. I've always been open about it and hoped that, by talking about, I was helping educate others and spread the word. In fact, an old high school friend sent me a note the other day that she had read my blog and found it so interesting and will follow it.

That said, I can totally understand not wanting to share this with people you haven't spoken with in 10-20 years! I sometimes wonder how someone I knew 20 years ago views me now when they find out about my infertility.

luna said...

this is one of the exact reasons why I have no interest in facebook. I've seen how people can re-connect and how it can be a very cool thing for many, but just not me. there's a reason I'm not in touch with most of those people anymore.

Lorraine said...

Why is it that nobody ever knows what to say about anything? My friends getting divorced say the same thing. My friend with terminal cancer said the same thing, too. Why is it so hard for people to just say anything real?
The reason I hate facebook is that it seems like an extension of the culture of marketing that has taken over our lives. You have to spin your own existence as if you are a PR person for the fabulousness of being you. I don't think I can keep up with that kind of manufactured enthusiasm...

Barb said...

I know you feel down and like you haven't accomplished much b/c of the IF, but from our perspective in our home, being a lawyer is an enormously amazing accomplishment that you should be proud of.
xo

annacyclopedia said...

Oh, hun. I hear you, I really, really do.

Pepper said...

You've poignantly said everything I've been feeling since I discovered FB. I read this post twice because it so resonating with me.

Here's the thing: we've both accomplished much more than many of the people with whom we reunite on FB. The fact that we haven't yet succeeded at that elusive thing we've been working toward for years seems to negate all of our accomplishments, but it doesn't. Small consolation, I know, but true nonetheless.

The former BFF who doesn't know how to handle your IF experience is another disappointment we experience all too often. It's as if society hasn't learned the beauty of simply saying, "I'm sorry you're having a hard time. Please let me know if there's anything I can do."

Eh. Phooey on it all.

Rebeccah said...

I hear you. I'm a bit older than you are, because my friends have not only had their kids, they're eagerly waiting for them to leave the house! So when they hear that I've been trying for my first ... well, silence is the nicest response I get. I haven't ventured out on FB yet, partly because of that.

(But this narrating your life thing sounds fun! I might try it!)

Ally said...

I am so, so with you on that one. Facebook can be fun, but it can also be deadly. I mean, it's kind of set up to be a minefield for the infertile. ("Why yes, I see you are successful, gorgeous, and prolific with reproduction. Me? I'm um...um...um... excited about the new pair of shoes I just bought!" You can almost feel the pity radiating outward.) So I'm back in the closet, too. Sigh...

Maybe we should design our own version of facebook for people like us? Aah, the potential...

Me said...

I think that the crux of the issue is less infertility and more BAD STUFF. People are fake happy-crappy assholes. And if you haven't got cotton candy stories to tell them they can't deal. Or rather, don't want to deal. My first clue on this was in 2004 before I ever even knew about IF. But my husband had his left foot amputated that year. There were VERY FEW people who gave ANY response at all, must less a supportive one, when I responded to "how have you been" inquiries honestly. It sux. It's bullshit. But it is. That said, the last 4, almost 5 years have taught me a LOT about how NOT to be like that.

kylene said...

I just wanted to comment to let you know that I read your blog regularly through my Google Reader and have been diagnosed with pcos and am getting ready to undergo fertility treatments. I want to give back to the community that has encouraged me so much, so I started a blog of my own. I would love it if you would post my link on your site! Thank you for your rants and great sense of humour, they have been a great encouragement to me!
http://restorethmysoul.wordpress.com/

Wishing 4 One said...

I hate facebook and all other social networking sites. Now let me clarify- its cool for some, especially those who want to "check out" what old friends are doing, but not me. I could give a shit about old friends and am glad not to be in touch anymore. I know, sounds cold, but believe me those old friends now that I look back at them were mostly useless. I really do wish the loser old friends the best, but don't care to connect to them AT ALL.

I say write a facebook entry saying you had quintuplets and tell them you cant believe they didnt see you on CNN and Fox News and all major newspapers etc. That'll shut their kid-story-telling asses up!

Sorry, I really am not a lunatic....just really wordy this morning...

La La said...

I know exactly how you feel. ((hugs))

Myspace used to be one of the hardest things for me...still is in many ways. Once and infertile, always an infertile I suppose.

You're day will come, and then you will have your revenge. ;)