I was talking to my daughter the other day about why she shouldn’t post a picture on social media of a party that she attended because other kids who weren’t invited might feel sad and excluded seeing the post. She persisted, but I was resolute. She finally agreed, but stomped away, mumbling how strict and uncool I was (both of which are true).
Why do I feel so strongly about this? Mostly due to working with infertility patients for the last 20 years who are often ‘left out of the party’.
Think about it.
Many women spend their 30’s either pregnant or breastfeeding. Most conversations revolve around topics related to challenges of these, i.e the number of dirty diapers in a day, breasts leaking at inappropriate times, what to do with young kids from 5- 7 pm when it was cold and dark outside and they were bored. Lunches and dinners consist of a discussion of the best products for babies or kids, I know this from personal experience. During this time period, I didn’t post much on social media, but if I did, it would be reflective of snapshots of this life: kids everyday, everywhere.
Infertility patients are inundated with conversations and pictures of the family life that they hope to have at a time that they don’t have it yet. Sometimes I would complain about the struggles of having a young family and other times I would laugh about it, like when my daughter told everyone at my son’s baptism that she had lice. Either way, I developed a camaraderie with a group of my ‘mommy friends’ who were in the same life stage. We forged strong bonds as a result of learning how to be moms together. We were all attending the same party. How does a patient who is undergoing infertility treatments assimilate in this world?
In addition to social isolation, infertility patients also experience a lack of control. Consider when someone wants to lose weight. They go online, find exercises and diet tips, get a trainer, join a gym, maybe use some people’s own weight-loss journeys as motivation. Theoretically, if you create a calorie deficit, most likely you will lose some weight. Infertility patients can follow all of the rules, do everything that is asked of them, employ experts, and still may not conceive on a timeline acceptable to them. Consider the loss of control and frustration that ensues. It’s inescapable as reminders of other people’s fertility is present at all times of the day. Imagine being immersed in your own fertility journey and attending a baby shower during lunch at work. Considering going home and receiving an invitation to a baby shower in the mail or electronically. Reflect on relaxing at night while perusing social media and seeing picture after picture of women who seemingly conceive with ease.
My hope is that we are all aware that by living and celebrating our daily family life, we are tacitly, albeit unintentionally, creating an environment that isolates infertility patients and is a reminder of the lack of control they are having in their own lives. Of course, I’m not advocating that you don’t post pictures of your kids or your life, that would be unreasonable and hypocritical of me, as I, myself, do this often. But maybe we can use social media, in this case, as a reminder to be compassionate.
I was reading that a way to instill gratefulness into your life is to silently state something for which you are thankful every time you open a door. I’d love for you to consider that every time you post a picture, maybe you say a little prayer or put a kind thought out to the universe (if you’re not religious) for those who are struggling with infertility or pregnancy loss.