Facebook is a landmine. For all the interesting travel notes of adventuring friends, or the latest local event to attend, or whatever awesomeness George Takai has posted that day, there is the inevitable photo of your friend’s kids, the daily update of the newborn’s sleep progress, or, worse of all, the happy announcement of the latest successful conception. And they are all so happy. Everyone is. And then all those tiny thumbs up start to come in, they rack up and expand until by days end all 172 people they know have liked their pea-sized fetus, and you can only update that they were all out of celery root at the grocery store because posting “My FSH is super high and the Doctor’s aren’t optimistic.” seems tacky.
I never used to be like this. I used to be a pretty chill person, which may surprise a number of people who know me, but then “being chill” is pretty relative to what you have to live through. When I was thirty and hadn’t had a date for two years and lived alone in an attic apartment while working at a third rate law firm that didn’t give me a regular paycheck and was under an ethics investigation by the Office of Lawyer Regulation, after having had my insides scooped out with only one ovary remaining cause my endometriosis was so severe I couldn’t walk otherwise, I didn’t really mind all that much. It never bothered me when my friends were better off. Other people’s weddings were no big deal. Someone else’s rising star and successful career barely phased me. You got two ovaries? Good for you, best of luck with that. Jealousy was never my thing.
I have goals and a work ethic, I just have never been overly competitive or eager for the lime light. I’ve only ever just wanted a simple life, a comfy home, and a trusty dog, so wanting what others had, being jealous, even resentful of someone’s else’s accomplishments, it wasn’t something I did. Now I view your facebook post about your annoying pregnancy acne and weird cheeseburger craving with a kind of seething fury akin to scorned women and Shakespeare villains.
One day, when I meet my fertility buddy, H, at the coffee shop on the lake for a much needed infertility support lunch, I confess my facebook frustration. We are sitting in the quiet room, at a large table by the window, and since no one else is there we are talking openly about our latest test results, and general woes. Although, to be fair, we have done the same in non-hushed voices when the room is full.
“Someday, “ I confess, “when MJ and I officially give up, I’m going to post an annoyingly personal and pissed-off rant about how I am officially and permanently infertile and all those ‘Baby so-and-so due this Spring’ jerks can just choke on it.” Of course, even as I say it, it occurs to me that most of them won’t care. Or would respond with some annoying cliche about how sad it is because kids are so wonderful. Or worse, I’ll log on to find I’ve received an obnoxious number of thumbs up’s.
I bite into my salami and cheese sandwich, which goes against everything I am supposed to be doing to my body to prepare it for conception, while H laughs and shakes her head. “No you won’t,” she says. Which is true, because in addition to my barren womb, I also lack backbone.
Instead I have secret Facebook fantasies where I post what I want and I do not “like” your “Hello second trimester” post, which I feel compelled to congratulate you on, cause who wants to be that girl? What I’d really like to say is “Fuck you.” Is there a “fuck you” button on Facebook? Is there a “Has it occurred to you that some of us die a little when they see a baby and spend all night crying in bed when you announce your pregnant?” button? Cause I’d use that one, if at least for brevity.
Instead, when that status update shows up and I find out someone is pregnant, I go find MJ or I text H, usually both. They are the only ones who will understand why I am crying. They are the only ones who will understand why I am angry. When I find MJ I will say it softly, sometimes a whisper, as if it hurts to come out. I will already be crying. He will look at me, his face sad but filled with understanding and we have an entire conversation in those expressions, the way couples who have been together for a long time can, and the way we already know everything cause we’ve had the conversation so often. And sometimes later in the car, when I’ve calmed down, we’ll say something snotty about the person who posted, and how they’ll be a terrible parent. It’s a small little safe place between us, where we can be honest about how we feel, and we can be sad and we can be angry and petty and jealous, and yet still be us, generally nice people who didn’t really mean it. I turn to MJ and H, because they are the only ones who understand that my jealousy does not make me a bad person.
It is hard to explain this. It is hard to convey to someone who has not had to struggle with this, who has simply gotten pregnant without any other thought. There is such an expectation, a kind of inherent entitlement, that you will grow up and have kids. You worry about external factors: meeting the right partner, having a job, a home, being in a non-war torn country. You do not worry that your hormones will not be able to support a child, or that your semen will simply choose to lag behind at the cervix with no real direction or motivation. You do not believe you will be infertile. Why would you? You are told by the world that you are fertile, that you are raging with fertility and that you must abstain, or protect, or plan to the T to avoid unwanted pregnancies. You are not told that against all outward appearance, and social expectations, that you might be different, that you might just be the person who doesn’t work right.
It is hard to explain the kind of anger that can build when you find this out. When time ticks by until it has been years of trying, of tests and blood draws, and ovulation kits and temperature read outs, and still, though the people around you start families, you just don’t work right. And there is no explanation for why. For why you and why this.
I am not unhappy for my pregnant friends. I am not angry about the photos of your kids, some of them are actually kind of cute. I am unhappy to be infertile, and I am angry that this is happening to me. And there isn’t a status update or thumbs up in the world that can change it.