Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Own Facebook Foibles

In sharing my FB pet peeves, I realize that I might have come off as a self righteous hypocrite. So, to balance the scales, let me follow up with some of the annoying ways I contribute to FB's lowest common denominator:

  • I post about my kid way too much. The people in my newsfeed (assuming they haven't blocked me) will be treated to a nearly daily dose of how ridiculously clever and adorable my offspring is.  Did you need to see 30 pictures (from every angle) of his recent hip-hop dance recital? Ummm...yeah. Because he was wearing gold chains, a sideways baseball cap and posing like a straight up thug. And he's the whitest kid alive. IMHO, it was high-larious.
  • On that note, I'm hilarious! Or at least I think I am. So, most of my updates are either of my kid or me trying to take a stab at standup comedy by way of social media.  Looking back, I probably miss the mark most of the time. Sorry for that.
  • In my efforts to be the next greatest FB comedian, I probably post too many ecards.
  • And my dog. Have you seen my dog? She's almost as adorable as the kid, so it stands to reason that she gets nearly as much screen time. Remember when I said that I unfriend almost no one? Well, that's not completely true. If you diss my dog, you're out. A previous coworker once posted about how she was tired of seeing pictures of everyone's pets. My unfriending finger got a good workout that day.
  • And finally, I post way too often. Period. While I'm not one of those people who announces when they're going to bed or what they had for dinner (unless it was epic, although I do draw the line on food pics), I'll admit I am pretty boring. Why do I post so often? Maybe I missed my chance to be on stage and am reclaiming it in a very indirect way. I won't lie. I might be a closet attention whore.

I'm probably violating someone else's 'Facebook' rules, but unless you avoid posting altogether, I think it's impossible not to, so I say this: do whatever the heck you want on Facebook. If people (like me) have a problem with it, then we know where the block or unfriend button is. And most of us (who are not me) aren't afraid to use it.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


It seems to me that the season for annoying Facebook posts is in full swing. I guess most people on my newsfeed got the memo and as a result, my blocking finger has been getting a good workout. But don't get me wrong. I love me some Facebook, like in need of a 12-step program and twitching when I don't get my fix kind-of-love. I sometimes catch myself checking it compulsively on my phone throughout the day and am shocked by how cemented the memory of the action is in my muscles when I catch myself reaching down and opening the app before I even know what's consciously taking place.  And then I remember all the douche baggery that keeps taking place there and wonder where my local FBA is (Facebookers anonymous). Luckily, all the great people on my newsfeed balance the scales.

From what I've gathered, it seems as if there are three breeds of sharing that exist in the Facebook world:

  • Those who portray a flawless and oftentimes ridiculously exciting or perfect existence. (seriously, they're parasailing in Grand Cayman again? And how did they maintain their perfect makeup mid-air above the water while taking a selfie?)
  • Those who vomit every last sordid and awful detail of their lives-including detailed medical and relationship information- and in the process make themselves look beyond miserable (perhaps they are-but most of the time you conclude that no one is possibly THAT miserable).
  • And the others, the neutral folks (because their participation is either limited or portrays pretty run-of-the-mill, boring life stuff, like getting an oil change or weeding-YAWN.)

As for me, because I try to have boundaries and not use FB as my personal diary, on most days I fall into the last category. But I realize that to some, at least from the outside looking in, it may appear as if I'm actually more in line with the first (without the parasailing), for unless you're willing to portray the whole picture, your life will almost always look glossed to a high shine. While I complained about weeding my backyard and posted from my professional family pictures (all of which were set in fields aglow in sunlight), no one was privy to the fact that they were taken just a few days after I learned I had lost our baby and the day before my D and C. And people, without any background beyond that, begin to believe that this is my reality, that weeds may actually be my biggest issue and that I spend more than a fair majority of my time laughing in sun-drenched fields, petting horses with my family without a care in the world.

That's the problem with 'socializing' through media. The information you receive is so selective and therefore misleading. I mean, I guess in 'regular' socializing this is also the case to an extent. You need to edit depending on your audience, of course, but in a face-to-face situation, there are no professional photography cover photos or witty, insightful quotes that make you look like the next Maya Angelou. And Facebook runs the risk of making you feel even more alone because while everyone seems to be parasailing in the Grand Cayman on your newsfeed, you take a look around at your life and it seems at that moment like you're the only one barely keeping their head above water (except for the random needy miserable status update person--if it weren't for them, well, then, things would look really grim).

So, at the risk of sounding like I'm whining about the very thing I'm addicted to (really, I do enjoy it more than I hate it), I figured I'd list a few of my long-standing pet peeves:

Social Media Rules

The rules to social media etiquette are beyond baffling, right?!? I ask (somewhat desperately): who do you friend, who do you not friend and mostly, who do you UN-friend??

I have a number of people I've blocked FOREVER, as in, I've not seen them in my newsfeed since almost day one of my FB use (which is going on almost 6 years). It's almost as if we've never been friends, so why continue to actually BE friends on FB? Well, because some people actually consider a friend request denial or an unfriending akin to a literal slap in the face and quite frankly, with all of the customizing features (blocking, selecting audiences for status updates), I'd rather avoid that drama.  My question always is, is it worth it? most times, it's not.

Maybe avoiding drama isn't a good enough reason to be strong-armed into maintaining people on my friends list, but this stuff is not black-andwhite. That's not to say that I don't 'clean house' from time-to-time, either. I have no issue taking someone off who I've not been in any contact with and probably will never run into again. Most of those I've maintained are people who I have a high chance of interacting with again.

Personally, though, you'd have to be a pretty close friend or family member for your unfriending to move me at all.  Speaking of which, my cousin (who I'm not close to at all) unfriended me and his sister (who he is close to) on FB in November because of our politics. And I wasn't overzealous in my political posts. I literally posted once about my chosen candidate. At the end of the day, I found it completely amusing that he would do that, but didn't take offense at all.  Some people, however, do.

The Reciprocator:

Here's the thing: if I like or comment on your status update or picture, it's because I really genuinely like it, not because I feel I owe you anything since you liked mine. That's also the way I feel about blog commenting. I will not get offended if you don't reciprocate. What I've seen happen frequently, however, is that when I like someone's update or picture, they all of a sudden start liking ALL of mine when they had not previously done so. (This only applies to acquaintances, not close friends) Eventually, if I don't reciprocate on all of their updates, their likes/comments eventually fade away. Perhaps this is the media version of the reciprocity we normally engage in with normal social situations and I'm missing the point. But personally, it strikes me as a little juvenile. If you don't find what I've posted all that interesting, then, by all means, don't like/comment!


And do you know what one of my biggest pet peeves is?

The vague status update. I looked it up and there's actually a name for it: vague-booking. These postings (i.e. "So sad! But can't talk about it!") request their audience to beg them for more information, which they almost always get around to after tens of, "what's wrong?" "what's going on?" replies.  I have a feeling they're sitting behind their computer screen hitting refresh and only after having reached a number of replies that satisfies their need for attention do they finally 'relent' and spill the beans. I have a number of multiple offenders (who I know in real life did not get the attention they wanted from Mommy and Daddy- and it shows). I have one request: if you have something to say, just say it. Or don't. Pick one.

Veiled Bragging:

I have a few people in my friend's list (minor acquaintances) who engage in veiled bragging.  There's a fine line between sharing personal triumphs of real value and bragging about things that are distasteful and lack meaning, like how much money you have. For example, one of the friend-of-a-friend peeps on my list always finds a way to work the square footage of his gargantuan house or something that demonstrates the level of his personal wealth into his updates. He stops just short of listing his bank account balance. But he does so in a way that does not make it the focus of the update.  He 'slips' the reference in. Anyway, if you wanna toot your own horn, go for it, but make sure it's something that's meaningful and won't leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth.

The 'Elderly' Selfie:

Everyday I look at my newsfeed and I am barraged by a constant stream of self pictures taken from cell phones...by people who are my age. I am 35, people, not 15. One of them posts nearly half a dozen on a daily basis, everything from on her way to work to sitting in her cubicle. If she has a new pair of sunglasses, a new dress, or if she's reading a book to her kids, well, she takes a selfie. She's not the only one, either. I have a rule that I do not friend past or present students and something tells me that, despite having almost 20 years on them, their newsfeed probably doesn't look much different than mine. I still see the poses, the 'fish' lips, the bathroom selfies, and, yes, the glamor shots from above that happen to capture the squeezed together cleavage. And I swear that for the most part, I have a classy friends list, but some people just can't resist! Hey, if you need a profile pic and need the assistance of a selfie to get it, then by all means, go wild! But if you do not have the word 'teen' attached to anywhere in your age description, then hourly selfies are probably a little excessive. Just sayin'.

The Preggos:

I mentioned before that beyond the douche baggery, Facebook has become a place of some pain for me as it seems as though everyone is pregnant (or just had their baby). Old co-workers, family, you name it--there's something in the water (and I obviously have an industrial strength filter). And as you know, nothing brings out the status updates like bumps and ultrasounds.  My favorite: someone who took a selfie of their 'baby bump' from above-- in the bathroom--while doing fish lips. Wow. I think marrying all of my pet peeves into a single picture deserves some type of award!

I feel like I'm missing a ton of pet peeves here. And I also feel like I sound beyond snarky, but I know I'm not alone in these . Nearly every conversation I've had about FB seems to snake around to at least some of these topics. I also recognize that FB is forcing us to understand a corner of the social universe that is completely foreign to us and for a girl who is still trying to figure out the rules for 'regular' social contact, I'm even more baffled here. Still, I can't help open that app. Damn you, FB! My friend and foe...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Support Group Meeting and Why We Are Choosing Egg Donation...for Now

Last night I attended my first RESOLVE meeting in many years. (actually, technically, I have never been to a RESOLVE meeting as the support group I attended previously was an 'offshoot' of RESOLVE, but I digress...) Anyhow, this one was specifically for adoption. They had emphasized in a previous email that those considering treatment with donor gametes were also welcome, hence why I showed up, though I have to admit it was apprehensively. Even with the stated open door policy, I really don't feel like I fit in many places in the IF world, at least not with regard to support groups. The general group doesn't feel quite right with the alternative methods of family building I'm exploring, but we're not pursuing adoption, either (at least at this time). And as far as I know, there is no Secondary Infertility group and probably not a lot of people jumping to attend. Square peg, meet round hole. So, despite my self-proclaimed ease with all things IF and an (albeit odd) enjoyment of these types of groups, it was a leap of faith to show up.

What I found, though, was that despite my differences, (being the only person still considering treatment and not adopting and also, having a bio kid) the group did not make me feel like a freak.  They were so warm and open that it made me question whether I've ever met an infertile person I don't like (OK, I have, but only once!). Seriously, what is it about IFers? Does the struggle strip them of BS? Does it humanize them to such a degree that your exchanges can from then on be nothing but authentic? Certainly the very topic you're there for makes you get down to brass tax right away and get past the formalities. I know there is no way to label any group with an adjective, but if you could, IFers always seem to be generally likeable and welcoming. Or maybe I've just been really, really lucky.  I truly enjoy discussing adoption issues at an intellectual level (and possibly personal, should it ever be back on the table for us), and for that I loved it, but I still didn't quite 'fit'. However, I feel certain I fit better there than a general group. Anyhow, the topic of why Mr. S was hoping to maintain that genetic link came up and the ladies there were interested in why that is. I mean, most of us, at some level, do desire that genetic link for reasons that can't be fully explained, but it seems that it can be described for men in particular.

I think loss of the genetic link is sometimes harder for men, especially when the female partner is actually carrying the child. Recipient mothers going through egg or embryo donation still have the biological (though not genetic) connection through pregnancy/childbirth.  And I think most people would agree that maternal instincts come naturally to many women and do not require giving birth, but for men, those instincts may be harder to come by. While I know many men who are just as maternal as any woman I've met, in general I don't think that's the rule. Even genetic fathers, whose physical role in reproduction ends at conception, can often have a normal insecurity about bonding. But with embryo donation, even that physical role is removed and yet, maintained by the mother.  I can see how it can feel unbalanced. So, when Mr. S determined that he wanted to keep that genetic link, I wasn't surprised. It's his part and his choice.

We have to be honest with ourselves here-everyone does, especially when you're exploring third party reproduction. Once upon a time, a celebrity had said (I'm loosely paraphrasing here) something along the lines of people who seek out genetic kids are being vain. And then, said celebrity went on many years after that quote to have two bio kids of their own. Personally (and very unlike the empty-headed commenters on articles), I feel that if having a bio kid is that important to you and you are able to do so, then have at it. Don't deny what's important to you. But leave room for changing your mind, too, because you never know how the tides may turn later on.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Hamster Wheel of (non)Treatment

If I am to be absolutely honest with myself, the pursuit of a second never leaves my mind. That's the thing about obsessions. They don't actually let you ignore them. You can be sitting in a meeting about a student's need for behavioral services (completely unrelated to IF) and then, BAM!- you're instantly wondering whether the clinic you're looking at includes the specific genetic testing you want. And lately, these thoughts are more present than ever as I search for ways to add to our family. I look around every corner, and every corner beyond that. I have literally looked everywhere. The search is in my bones and while I would love to take a break as I know that initiating treatment is many, many months away, my heart just won't allow it.

I have long known that one of my goals in life is to eventually be a support for people facing infertility. Well, that is, when I get my own stuff in order. So, with this constant scheming and turning over of ideas, I figure it this way: I am fulfilling goals that are twofold: I'm looking for myself and I am looking for others.  Whether or not I use any of the information I've gathered for myself, I refuse to truly leave empty-handed. I can at least pass what I've learned on to someone else. For example, in the past 6 months, I have explored no less than the following:

  • Own egg IVF (before I got my DOR diagnosis)
  • RPL testing
  • Counsyl testing
  • PGD (PGS)
  • Shared cycle donor egg
  • Own cycle fresh donor egg (including the most recent live birth rates for clinics in my area and the top clinics in the country, as well as cost)
  • Finding a donor using a clinic pool vs. outside agency
  • Which clinics are open to asking the donor to sign up for Donor Sibling Registry
  • Known donor
  • Anonymity using donor gametes
  • Frozen donor eggs
  • International donor eggs
  • Open domestic adoption
  • Embryo donation (also, known vs. anonymous)
If I had to do a search in my email for clinics that I've reached out to with a list of specific questions, I would come up with literal pages. I realize that while part of this sleuthing is to be an informed consumer, the other part is to formulate a sense of control that is in reality very much missing.  I know that consciously, but right now, it makes me feel as if I'm creating some forward momentum.

I certainly won't claim to be an expert in any of the subjects above, however. After all, I just truly entered into the third party family building world a mere 5 months ago, which seems kind of nuts to me because it feels like I've been stuck here forever. I still turn to my forum ladies frequently, but I've done enough digging to be of some use to others...some day. But not today. Today, I find myself baffled and both grateful and overwhelmed that this moment in my life comes at a time when my options are plentiful. Sometimes too plentiful. I find myself vacillating between frozen eggbanks and going abroad.  Yeah, that's where I am today. Last week, it was embryo donation. The week before, adoption. Toss a coin, throw a die. It's getting to the point where I might as well do that because my brain certainly can't seem to land on anything.  And even if it could, it's not like it would be happening anytime soon.

However, I also finally cornered Mr. S (my DH) after many months of taking the subject off the table and this helped narrow it for me. While not asking him to make a decision on the spot, I requested that he start considering embryo donation. I think I knew in my heart all along that he was very lukewarm about this pursuit and he finally confirmed this. He shared that he would prefer egg donation over all other avenues (or having an only child, but that's another topic for another day).  I think a huge part of this is that it is harder for him to lose the genetic link. (I began to write about it here in detail and had so much to say, I started another post: coming soon). For one, Mr. S doesn't need to lose that link. Unlike me, he can still (with medical assistance) father a genetic child. I've long since mourned the loss of my genetics in any future children and have moved on. I am just ready to parent again, but this decision is not mine alone, so for now, we will set our sights forward on egg donation...again.

I know. A month ago I got out of line for the egg donor train and started purchasing tickets at the embryo donation station. Here I am again, trying to run along the tracks and hop onto one of the egg donor cars flying past us. Turns out, though, that the admission price is a little rich for my blood at the moment and no one is letting me on. Maybe one day...

It's funny, long before we could buy a house, I used to love perusing open houses and home sale ads. Aside from the fact that real estate in general makes me giddy (I missed my calling as a real estate agent), I figured that even if I wasn't actively buying, I was collecting information all the while keeping my sights set on a future goal, something to work towards, no matter how distant. It drove Mr. S nuts. He is of the mindset that if you're not legitimately in the market, don't bother. Our way of thinking on that subject has translated over to family building. All of this research for something that, at the earliest, will happen late next spring, is probably premature in his mind. But he is indulging me because he knows me so well. I need this. I'm happy to live in the illusion that I'm moving forward, even if I'm actually stuck in a hamster wheel.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Balancing Act of Self Preservation

While engaging the balancing act of self preservation in infertility, what is more painful, isolation or being surrounded by everything you can't have? For me, that depends on the year, the day, and quite literally, sometimes the minute.

For a long while (say-3 1/2 years), I mostly avoided the Mommy scene in my small town. I tried it out briefly last summer and encountered a group of unfriendly and frankly, downright bitchy douchebags and not having had any other reference point, figured that the moms in this town left a lot to be desired. So, while traveling the halls of my son's preschool post-miscarriage past the burgeoning bellies of quite a few baby #2s and #3s stung, these people were nothing more than passing acquaintances. All I had to do was endure 20 minutes of avoiding eye contact with the belly and I was good.  It was harder to deal with than my previous few years of being a shut-in, but it was manageable.

And then, by way of lots of summer activities, we landed ourselves in the lap of more than a few playdates and I figured something out. The population of Moms in my town don't suck in their entirety. Imagine that! I somehow had gotten myself tangled up with a few bad apples previously, but there are actually relatable and likable women with kids my son's age out there. However, there's one thing that stands out. They all-and I mean ALL have babies. Every. Last. One. of. Them.

Except me.

(ah, Big Bird, I can always count on you to 'get' me)

Yup. Once again, one of these things is not like the other and it's me. Yay...

I mean, it's not like I want a baby on my hip to fit in with the girls, but it's that much harder when your infertility is literally visual in the number of kids you have playing on the playground. And to make it ever-more-present for me, my kid has an over-the-top love affair with babies to the point of sometimes ignoring his peers in favor of them. And I'm sure you can guess what comments that solicits.  So, this isn't just floating around in my head-it's frequent in conversations. It's always present when I am with them.

I wanted to take a break from this damn IF game-even just a brief hiatus, physically and most of all, emotionally, and it seems I never can. It follows me like a shadow. And now, being surrounded by an abundance of fertility, it's dancing in my face. But for once, I am feeling more community than I have in the five years since I arrived here. It is both painful and relieving. At the start of my infertility journey, I would have counted myself out, favoring self preservation, but I'm tired of being alone here. I need connections and I might just need them more than I need respite from the reminder of my crappy reproductive organs and the dreams I have on hold.

I suppose I'll just take it day-by-day. But it's a balancing act. It always is.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mom, I Get It

Mom, I get it. I do. And I'm sorry it took losing you to have such clarity.

I remember well that you were never the same after you lost your own mom. You told me how the first time you left home with your new husband, you returned home a few months later and wept when you held her as you realized how much you missed her. You told me that you still remembered her scent so many years later and it made you long for her. You bathed her, changed her diapers, and watched her die. Her death came as suddenly as yours did for me. You began drinking regularly after she was gone and now I get it. It took losing you for me to see how a piece of you died the day she did. I never got that until now.

I'm sorry I never understood what it was like for you to lose your mother until you were gone. Now I know.