I’m a person who reads Facebook a lot. And I post a lot. And I mean a lot.
People without children often lament the fact that, as they enter their late 20s and early 30s, their Facebook stops being an endless virtual party and turns into an endless virtual nursery. In fact, there is a browser extension that turns all your precious baby pictures into pictures of cats. That is how much people dislike seeing your babies crash the drunken kitty cat rave that used to be their newsfeeds.
The infertility community, in particular, has an awful lot to say about your Facebook babies (feel free to sub Instagram, Twitter, whatever). To many, your successful reproduction feels like a personal affront. You wouldn’t be flaunting your kids if you cared at all about the plight of the infertile! You have no idea what we’re going through! So you should be walking on eggshells to avoid hurting our feelings. And you should hide away the children you cherish, just like the infertile among us will one day also respectfully hide away the children we worked so hard to create.
…..wait a second. Will we? Or will we instantly forget we were ever hurt, offended, and embittered by your thoughtlessly, cruelly rubbing your photos right in our faces?
I haven’t seen this in action, as I’m not aware of any of my Facebook friends who used assisted reproductive technology. And that’s part of my point. Most people aren’t “out” about their struggles to conceive on their social media. Do we necessarily know how many and which of those babies was created using ART? A lot more of those adorable tots than you realize may be the products of medical magic. You can’t simply assume that these babies are a personal affront because they were created gratis, using no more effort than it takes to have a nice pleasant roll in the hay.
We infertile folks tend to accuse the successful breeders of not considering the feelings of other people, and being selfish. I’m going to controversially suggest that maybe we are the ones who aren’t looking within. Your baby photos could, instead of being viewed as a slap in the face, be seen as an example of what we’re striving for. When I see a photo of your baby in a high chair with cake in his ear and up his nose, instead of thinking “Why does she have what I don’t?” I try to think “That’s why I want a child!” When I see a video of your toddler dancing, instead of thinking “How come she had it so easy and I have to work so hard?” I think “THAT’S why I want a child!” When I see a post with an absolutely hilarious quote from your precocious three-year-old, instead of thinking “He has something amazing that I don’t have, and he just doesn’t care how I feel” I try to think “I can’t wait to see my child grow into a clever, delightful little person like his kid.”
I’m not perfect with this. Sometimes I get a little bummed for a moment by seeing all the baby photos, and who knows whether I might start to feel differently if I got to a point where I felt that I needed to stop the ART interventions and accept that I wouldn’t have a child. But, for the moment, I think it’s worth it to work as hard as I can to see the documentation of your children’s growth as an inspiration and reminder of why I continue to work so hard to have the opportunity to post my own photos. And they’re going to be adorable. Enviably adorable. You just wait!