Warning: This post might make you want to leave a snarky comment about how I’m not a mother so I can’t know. If you choose to do that, please word it carefully.
 
Lately I’ve seen a lot of Mom Guilt in my Twitter feed. Most of it coincided with Easter and mentioned Facebook. I’ve also seen a lot of “I can’t handle Facebook. It’s just people bragging about how awesome their lives are and mine sucks.” in general – regardless of Mom status.

Maybe my Facebook feed is different from everyone else’s?  Somehow I doubt that.

Let’s check, shall we?

Here’s what my Facebook feed looks like (in no particular order):

  • LOOK AT MY CUTE KID/PET
  • DEBBIE DOWNERS / WOE IS ME
  • OMG you should exercise ALL THE TIME! / CROSSFIT!!!!!!
  • LOOK WHAT MY IDIOT KID JUST DID / MOM FAIL
  • I’M SINGLE, IT’S NO PANTS SATURDAY AND I’M BINGE WATCHING _________.
  • SOMETHING POLITICAL / SOCIAL OUTRAGE
  • I’M GETTING MARRIED
  • MY HEART IS BROKEN, THAT ASSHOLE CAN SUCK IT
  • I’M PREGNANT
  • SHARE IF YOU SUPPORT _________ CAUSE
  • OMG THIS IS SO CUTE!
  • ANIMAL NEEDS A HOME
  • GEORGE TAKEI
  • FAMILY PICTURE DAY IN THE PERFECT FIELD WITH NAUSEATING COORDINATED COLORS
  • MY JOB SUCKS
  • DOES ANYONE KNOW A GOOD plumber/realtor/auto body shop ?
  • I ATE _________ FOR LUNCH TODAY
  • MY JOB ROCKS
  • EAT THIS / DON’T EAT THAT / FOOD PORN
  • HEY, DOES ANYBODY HAVE A __________ I COULD BORROW?
  • VACATION PICS / LOOK WHERE I AM RIGHT NOW
  • I RAN/BIKED _____ MILES TODAY
  • RIP [INSERT CELEBRITY]
  • THIS IS SO TRUE! (accompanied by reshare of some image with words on it)
  • I’M A ______. WHAT ARE YOU? TAKE THIS QUIZ.
  • HEY, DOES ANYBODY WANT A _________?

None of these really bug me. It’s my friends sharing what’s going on in their lives. Sometimes I feel they are oversharing. Sometimes the pregnancy announcements feel like a gut punch but that’s my issue, not theirs. Sometimes I’m jealous of them. I mean, I want to go to Tahiti too. But then, I’m sure people were jealous when I was in Hawaii. Not that I post pics with that intent.

Here’s the thing. For every happy family picture I see I know there’s at least one meltdown I’m not seeing – probably more like 6 meltdowns and at least 20 takes to get a good shot. For every meltdown I see I know there was also some moment where that person probably felt good that day.

For every homemade Easter basket I see, I’m sure there were five other people who bought them but didn’t share – or bought them homemade and shared as if they had made them themselves. And for the moms who make these lunches…no. Just no. And for the record, I don’t know those people so they aren’t in my feed.
 
I’m not yet a mom. I can’t fully speak to what I will or will not feel when that day comes.  I anticipate feeling guilty about working and not spending enough quality time with my kid. I do not anticipate fretting over a homemade Easter basket for my 6 month old who won’t know the difference and won’t remember it. No matter how many mothers tell me I should.
That’s simply not me. I’m sure I’ll change when I become a mother. And surely I will have emotional breakdowns over stupid shit when I’m feeling overwhelmed (as I’ve previously acknowledged). But fundamentally I am who I am (and don’t call me Shirley). And I am a person who doesn’t give two shits about what Easter looks like in YOUR house. My kid will be lucky if we celebrate Easter the Easter Bunny comes at all. It’s not a holiday I’m fond of. I don’t even think of it as a holiday. I anticipate putting some bunny ears on my infant, snapping a pic (OK, 100 pics) and calling it good.

My kid and your kid will be different. And that’s totally OK. In fact, it’s preferable.
My house will look different than yours. OMG I hope so – I am not a fan of cookie cutter houses. I like character.

People on Facebook will continue to share only what they feel comfortable sharing. For some people that’s only the good stuff. For others…their posts look more like a cry for help because they are in pain over something. And still others… seemingly post everything.
 
Let’s also think about these two points, shall we?
 
When I was a kid I wanted nothing more than a store-bought Halloween costume.  But noooooo, Momz insisted on making mine because homemade is better and we were poor. So really, no matter what you do, your kid is going to grow up and want the opposite. You really have no control over this. You might as well accept it now.
 
And didn’t your mother ever ask you, “If all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you do it too?
 
No, of course not, Mom.  DUH.
 
Yes, I’m that old. I actually did say “DUH” to my mom while growing up.  A LOT.
 
In short… I have my own drummer. He marches behind me. And beats in whatever time I tell him to.

But he’s invisible because the only drums in my house are for Rock Band. That we haven’t played in years.

Hey, does anybody want some Rock Band paraphernalia?

I’d include a picture of drums but I don’t have any. So here’s a random guitar.
guitar
 

Dealing with feelings of jealousy was hard for me at first. Those feelings were new and felt alien to me. They felt wrong and I was ashamed of them. But the fact is that jealousy is an inherent part of going through infertility. As soon as I accepted that and learned to embrace my jealous feelings (as opposed to denying their existence) I felt better. It took some time to reconcile these feelings as being part of who I am. I’ve never thought of myself as a jealous person before. But when it comes to IF… there’s no getting around it. We are both happy for and jealous of those around us who succeed in their infertility journey. And the two emotions are NOT mutually exclusive. And it doesn’t make you a bad person.

I know I felt guilty during those few short weeks when I was pregnant. I think it must be similar to “survivor’s guilt.” You don’t want to alienate those around you who have been so supportive but are now left in the dust. It’s a tough path to navigate. Knowing that others are feeling jealous of you and not wanting to rub salt in that wound makes you tread lightly and definitely dampens your excitement.

But.

Because we all feel this jealousy we understand it and can be open and honest about it. This point was really driven home to me when I was in the hospital. A coworker came to visit me. She knew about my struggles because she had gone through it herself (not ectopic pregnancy but infertility). She finally got her son with IVF #4. When she came to see me she admitted, very unabashedly, that she had felt jealousy when I told her IVF #1 had worked for me. She already has her baby (although she tried for another with IVF #5 and failed). But her very first reaction was to feel jealous that mine had worked on the first try and hers hadn’t.

At first I was a little taken aback by her very matter-of-fact confession. She didn’t apologize for feeling that way or seem to feel badly about it at all. But then I realized that if we can’t be open and honest with one another then we’re not doing it right. We all experience these emotions so we know that other IFers will understand them. So let’s just be open about it.

Did I feel guilty when I was pregnant? Absolutely.
Was that normal? Probably.
Did I let it overwhelm me? Not really. I managed a few moments of pure excitement in between the guilt and the fear (that something would go wrong).

Do I now feel jealous of those who are still pregnant? Absolutely.
Do I also feel genuinely happy for them? 100%

Even if I get my baby will I continue to identify more with infertiles than fertiles? Most definitely. If my coworker could still feel jealous of me even after having her baby (who is now 2 or 3 yo) then we are all in this together forever. Some will succeed and some will not. But we will be forever bonded by the experience.

[for @Kat_Cushner – wishing her a happy, healthy and guilt-free pregnancy from the bottom of my heart]

Anonymity

July 22, 2010

I was reading someone else’s blog and came across her reasons for starting her blog anonymously. She has since ‘come out of the closet’ and the blog is no longer anonymous. She stated that one of the reasons she started her blog and shared it with real life friends and family so that they would know what she she was going though. That makes sense. But she was protecting her identity and not revealing any identifying info so others – presumably strangers – couldn’t figure out who she is. That struck me as a bit odd. Mostly because that’s not my reason for maintaining my anonymity.

I remain anonymous for different reasons. I don’t share this blog with friends and family. If I did I wouldn’t be able to use it the way I do – as an emotional outlet and a place to vent about people I know IRL. It’s really more of a journal. Which likely means it will never become popular or make it on anyone’s list of Must Read Infertility Blogs. And I’m OK with that. It serves my purposes. It acts as a journal for me and it’s also a way to share my experience with others who may be having similar experiences. Through blogging, and twitter, I’ve discovered other women who are going through the same things. It makes me feel less alone. So maybe this blog can do that for someone else.

As for identifying information… there are about a zillion clues to my real identity contained in this blog (although I suppose you wouldn’t pick up on some of them if you don’t already know me). I don’t work that hard at remaining anonymous. I don’t use real names so that all our identities are somewhat protected (I really don’t want to out Right Guy – that’s not my place and he’s a private person). But if someone were to try and figure out my real name, I don’t think it would be that difficult and I don’t think I’d care that much. I think I’d have more trouble with friends and family reading this blog than ‘strangers’ finding out my real name.
——————————————————————————————————————–

I wrote those paragraphs a few months ago and have had this post saved as a draft ever since. At the time, I had an original feeling of needing to explain my choice in remaining anonymous. But after some reflection, that feeling passed and just didn’t quite resonate with me. So the post has been sitting in the ether, waiting to be either deleted or expanded. Well, today, after reading Keiko Zoll’s first installment of A Belly Full Of Fire I decided I needed to finally revisit this topic. Because I’m torn.

I would really like to Take The Pledge issued by Resolve. I am open to my friends and family about my infertility (although I can’t say I’ve shouted it from the rooftops). And I have no problem using my real name to advocate for infertility issues. But I DO have a problem with using my real name on this blog. And I feel that if I’m going to do it, I should do it ALL THE WAY. Dilemma.

What to do?

  • I could start another blog/twitter account under my real name and use it for advocacy and this one for venting. But that seems silly. And if I’m going to be a health advocate I would have to do it for not just infertility but also lung cancer and other senior/caregiving issues. And who has the time?
  • I could remain silent but that seems irresponsible. Although, there is also a part of me that feels like I’m too old. I feel like the ladies with POF in their 20s have a much better and bigger soapbox to stand on. I suppose I’m still dealing with feelings of guilt that I simply waited too long. Which is really not rational given that my symptoms, masked for who knows how long by birth control, started at age 34. It is also not rational given that I did TTC with my ex-husband when I was 28. Back then I had endometriosis and it turned out he had an abysmal sperm count. But somehow I still feel ‘judged.’ I still feel like everyone thinks I just put off having kids to further my career or something. And that wasn’t it AT ALL.
  • I could start using my real name on this blog/twitter. SCARY.

I guess I need to deal with all the aforementioned guilt first. Ooh, what fun. ::sigh::
I suspect this guilt runs much deeper than I’m even aware of. Even the name of this blog, Fox In The Henhouse, is a (not so) subtle nod to the guilt I feel that I somehow caused this. Because I am the Fox. So I’m essentially accusing myself of stealing my eggs. Boy, am I a piece of work. 😉 Again, good thing I have a therapy appt in a few hours.

Anyone got any advice on overcoming all this crap and just going public?