Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What Lens Do You See Through?

Facebook is perplexing to me sometimes. It is a mass of messages, and attempts at communication, and it is really, really easy to make a mess of things.

Did I make a mess of things? I'm going to let you be the judge.

A friend posted a video on my wall, with a lovely message about how we are in our tenth month, and how excited they are for us, and just that we were thought of. I thought it was really nice.

And then I watched the video.

The video was super touching, "Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Parent." I had tears leaking from my eyes for most of it... and then it kind of pissed me off. I'll let you watch it and see what kind of reaction you have (be warned if you are not in good place due to a loss or a negative or anything really, don't watch it.):




The message from the friend was lovely though, so I responded and thanked her...but couldn't let well enough alone. I didn't like the message at the end of the video. I couldn't just globally "like" it and have it out there that I supported this message, when I had a very specific problem with it.

Here is my initial response:

Thank you! I love most of this video and there were definitely tears shed. (The only part I didn't like was the insinuation that if you're not a mom you are lesser somehow...I know a lot of people who are childfree by choice (and some not) who would not appreciate that piece of the message or find it particularly true...) Most of all, we appreciate your thoughts! Thank you for thinking of us and sharing in our excitement. It's going to be great! And yeah, that boy at the end is PRICELESS! :-)

And then I felt bad for not just thanking outright and overlooking what I didn't like, so I wrote:

Sorry to soapbox your beautiful message of love, can't help myself! :-)

But then two things happened. First, I got a message from the person who sent it in the first place, that said:

I'm so sorry, Jess.

Oh no no no, I wasn't looking for an apology. I was just looking to express a sensitivity to a piece of the video that I found a little...insidious, for lack of a better word. I responded and let her know that I really felt like most of my message was appreciation for thinking of us, and that I did not expect an apology or feel like she was personally responsible for the video. I got that it was the equivalent of a "thinking of you" card.

And then, another friend wrote on my original comment about the video:

I did not see that insinuation at all?? What part are you referring to?

Uh-oh. I didn't want to make the first person who posted feel worse about the content of the video, but I also saw an opportunity to explain my frame of reference. So I did. And it was really, really long.

Okay, so you have to understand my frame of reference, which is that I know people for whom becoming a parent did not work out, despite medical treatment, and in some cases despite going for adoption (and in some cases that wasn't an accessible option for a variety of reasons). And I have friends who have decided children aren't for them. They hear a message all the time that says, "You don't know the full measure of love" or "Having children is the best thing you can EVER do" or "you can't understand what love is" because they don't have children. And while we are excited, because we are on the path, we are still a childfree couple, and things could (hopefully not!) work out in such a way that we don't end up with a baby. So it's a sensitive issue on many levels.

Then my stupid keyboard sent it prematurely, so I had to continue in another comment. I realize that probably seemed like overkill, but here is the rest:

So, I am NOT mad at this video, and I do NOT think that the overall message is a bad one. I take exception with the following: "You can't understand the love until you experience it...because you haven't, you haven't yet." "This will be the best thing you've ever done." "If I wasn't a mom... I can't imagine. It's been too wonderful." It CAN be wonderful, and it CAN be the best thing you've ever done, but the issue I have is the message that it IS the best thing you can do and that may not be true for everyone. This is a video that was seen through my lens by people who haven't had my experience, but I also had quite a few parents perplexed about how I saw what I saw. It's the beauty of life...there are so many different ways to interpret things based on your own personal lens and experience. I am particularly sensitive to it because this is my past and really still my present. :-) Does that help? Man, I should have just written a blog post! :-)

Why not write a blog post? So what say you? Was I overboard? Did I see something that isn't really there? (I don't think so, because as I said other people who have never experienced infertility and who are parents saw what I saw before I even put any comments up, and I got a few private messages afterwards backing me up, but maybe they are more sensitive because they've been exposed to my lens?) Or is does this video truly take a turn for the worse right before the end? How do you feel after watching it, given your unique lens?

I have to learn when to soapbox and when to leave things alone, but I kinda feel like soapboxing is part of who I am. Bryce says that it has the unintended consequence of making people pussyfoot around me, but I hope that's not true. I hope my soapboxing was at least pleasant and not confrontational, but informative to a perspective that many people might overlook, most of the time obliviously.

How are people to open their eyes to this particular lens if it's not pointed out?

18 comments:

  1. Hi, new reader here! Figured I would break the ice and offer my two cents for what it's worth!

    I'm not on Facebook anymore and haven't been for a very long time. But initial thought reading your post was that if it were me I would have just said Thank You and move on. People outside of the circle have no idea about dumb stuff they say, and obviously this friend didn't have a clue the video would convey anything to you other than what she saw. If the entire video was offensive, that would be a totally different story. I like to get my hackles up, too, but sometimes less is more. And I personally don't think Facebook is the place to try to enlighten anyone, but that is just my particular hate relationship with the site and social media in general.
    If I really felt I had to address the video content with this friend, I would have probably opted to private message them instead, to try to avoid all the other backlash that goes with posting personal feelings on such a public forum.

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    1. First, thanks for visiting! I so appreciate your two cents! :)

      That's true, I could have just sent a private message. I think there was some history involved that made me want to be a friendly eye-opener (although maybe it didn't come across quite the way I intended) because of so much past obliviousness. Ironically, the backlash was publicly entirely directed at me... :) Unless my messages were felt as backlash. I almost never get political on Facebook, but over the past week or so I'd been feeling emboldened by issues that I am passionate about.

      Thanks for your insights! I really am curious what others think about the whole shebang. Sometimes I really need to just learn when to keep my big trap shut... :) I've been on an advocating streak and so I think it got me in a little bit of a pickle! Oh well... Easy to do on social media, and posting when feeling "hot" is usually not such a great idea in the long run.

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  2. I don't see anything wrong with what you said. If that's how you felt, you shouldn't feel ashamed. At the end of the day, no matter what you say, there will always be someone who will disagree or who wont see things the way you do. I've noticed that while dealing with infertility, people just don't get it. They'll say things like, "why don't yall just do IVF or adopt?" And, although I know they are saying it because they care, they just don't realize how complicated and expensive it is. Same thing with people who have never experienced a miscarriage. They just don't get it. And I will usually thank them for their messages and politely explain why we do things the way we do them. Anyways, never be afraid to share your thoughts and opinions. I think you did great! You said thank you and expressed your feelings, no need to hold them in and feel angry. Stand up for yourself and believe in your thoughts and opinions and ignore the negative people or people who have attitudes because their thoughts and opinions differ from yours.

    Prayers and Blessings to you and your family!
    Megan R Richards
    meganrrichards.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts! I have been thinking long and hard and I think I probably could have just left it alone, but I don't really regret saying something. I don't think I would have been angry, but I would have felt disingenuous. It is true that this is a really often misunderstood perspective to have, and it can feel lonely seeing things that don't occur to others. But, I do think that I shut down a kind gesture, even if I disagreed with several things in the video. Sigh. It's another way being infertile is complicated. I appreciate your thoughts!

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  3. I think that some people just don't get it and are not going to get it. It was a nice gesture on the part of your friend (although another thing that I don't agree with is that you need to get infants on a schedule- some kids need it, others (like my daughter) do just fine without one), but it's possible that anyone who is not infertile won't understand your position.

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    1. It was totally a nice gesture... and then I kind of feel like my getting on a soapbox kind of was more what was remembered than the thanking of the kind words and thinking of us. Oh well, live and learn. It was interesting to get private messages from people who said they understood, but also feel a little mystified as to why they wouldn't back me up publicly, even though "back me up" kind of sounds like a conflict and to me it wasn't. It was explaining, in my mind, but maybe it sounded more conflict-y than I intended. Interesting about the schedule--our nurse friend also thinks schedules for infants aren't the best (or wired).

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  4. So in my opinion all that crap is, well, crap. What if you don't love your kids more than the moon and the stars because of post partum depression? What if you don't want an effing schedule because everything works great without one? What if having a kid makes you so obnoxious all you can talk about is how much you never knew love until you had a kid? What if having a child destroys your marriage and you're a little wistful for the good times pre-baby? What if your baby cries all the time and that makes you want to run away? Clearly I have my own soapbox about this drivel. That said, I probably wouldn't have said anything because infertility is pretty private, or at least kept to very close friends and not open to Facebook. (Hence my anonymous blog). However, I admire people who can have contradictory opinions and express them kindly. Which is what I think you did. Even people who think they know (because it took them 13! months to conceive, or they needed Clomid! and timed intercourse) don't know. You never know what people go through, you never know what people's stories are and that seemingly nice sentiments or innocuous comments (such as who does he look like, you or your husband? ) can be loaded and hurtful. If a couple more people know that because of what you wrote, good for you. If they're so sensitive as to be offended, then they probably aren't your type anyway. *stepping off soapbox now*

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    1. I love your soapbox! I am on the opposite end of the spectrum, because I have been totally open since 2010, and so maybe that emboldened me to not be shy about pointing out the biggest thing that stood out to me as insensitive in the video. I probably could have been okay not saying anything and accepting the love, but I hope that my additional comments made it clear that the person wasn't the issue, and that I was super grateful for the thoughts. But, I can see how that would be lost on some people (but not on you... so thank you for seeing that piece of things). I feel like I always want to explain, and you're right, not everybody's going to appreciate that. But oy, I do feel a little badly about the fact that people felt shut down. Oh well, can't make everyone happy I guess! Thanks for your thoughts and your soapbox! :)

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  5. I watched the video, and I honestly didn't didn't pick up on what bothered you until I read your explanation. It seemed harmless and (authentic) tear jerking to me: quite sweet as these things go. BUT as you pointed out in your comments (which were very articulate) I think it's a matter of who is the audience. This video is obviously not targeted to child free by choice people. I don't think the producers considered their perspective because why would they? Why would a child free by choice person watch it? This is intended for expecting, meaning most likely pregnant parents, although the mixed race family might be a nod to families by adoption. And parents of newborns, probably. I think the message of "you've never loved this much" goes over quite easily with this crowd because one, we're physiologically wired to bond and prioritize the baby. It's not rational. Two, baby's here. What choice do we have except to say that it's the best thing ever, the purest love, etc etc. We can't go back. The little one is going to completely re-program our lives. It's much easier to cope with that when we decide we like it. That's my take. I think your perspective is valid too. You don't quite fit the target audience: you are expecting, but there's an element of uncertainty: you're not yet at the point of no return. And you are currently child free not by choice. The video doesn't totally speak to or for you. Which is ok!

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    1. Wow, those are such great points! It's true, I'm probably not the intended audience, and why on earth would you watch the video unless you were expecting a baby in one way or another... True too that what else would you say in a video sponsored by a storage company that's probably banking tons of money on the amount of stuff a baby comes with... no one is going to say anything negative. I feel like even the lady with twins kind of irritated me, because she joined in on the "anything can happen" thread and was like, "like the possibility of twins!" and all I could think was how I was so much more likely to have twins the whole time it was possible (maybe) that we could carry our biological child/ren. That twins could come as a surprise and not a measured risk (or hopeful outcome even) isn't my experience. I do feel badly about so clearly seeing it through a different lens and having a hard time letting that go given all your points in particular, because you're right -- it is a cute video (for the most part). Thanks for weighing in!

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  6. Oh, and AJ wasn't on a schedule until I went back to work. My take on schedules is that they are for the parent's convenience. Which is fine, but if you are ok to just go with the flow, no need to worry about it. For me trying to get an infant on a schedule seemed overly stressful, like creating problems where there were none. People in a different situation with a different baby and lifestyle would do things differently. It is kind of funny that the first tips were "don't care about what other people are doing" then the next one was "everyone is doing this: you should as well!" All kinds of crap will come you way as a parent: choose your battles.

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    1. Hilarious... I didn't eve think of that! "Don't listen to the internet..." "GET ON A SCHEDULE IF YOU WANT TO LIVE!" Oh, irony. :) Hysterical. I agree with you -- totally parent convenience. If it works, fine, but I guess we'll just see what's right for our unique baby and our particular situation. Which is the way it should be, right? Thanks again!

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  7. I commend you for wanting to open a dialogue on stuff like this, because it is amazingly prevalent. I think most parents don't see those messages or, like Torthuil says above, are very open to them because of how much the baby(ies) has changed their lives. I see a fair amount of posting in my FB feed from parents about how raising kids is the best accomplishment ever blah-blah-blah. And it always gets my hackles up, honestly. I know they don't mean anything by it, I know that they're only trying to reflect their reality, but I find myself often going "yeah, and do you have any idea how incredibly dismissive this is of the accomplishments of people who don't have children?!" I mean, I know people who are childless IRL that save lives, worked as school superintendents, volunteer regularly (among other things), are generally amazingly accomplished people and I think their work should be acknowledged accordingly.

    I think what you did was to explain that perspective... perhaps it won't get through to everyone, but if it helps one person go "oh, huh, that does make some sense" and consider it, that's important.

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    1. Thank you! I feel like my need to explain that perspective stemmed from having this lens, but also because the person who posted it frequently posts things (or has said things) that really irked me with regards to parenthood, pregnancy, infertility, etc. But I'm glad that my perspective didn't come over as overly attack-y, which was my fear. I didn't want to shut her down, I just wanted to open up some minds on this issue. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  8. I could totally see what you saw and it made my heart ache and then made me bristle. Good point from another poster that the intended audience is not a person who is childless or childfree or going through IF. However, I think your reaction or response were within reason. While it may not have been the message of the majority of the video, it was NUMBER ONE. That makes it kind of weighty and the last sentiments you are left with. It kind of tosses all of those good feelings out the window (at least for me). Plus, your friend posted it on your wall and not as a private message. While you could have sent a private message, I think you did your best to thank her and acknowledge her intent. It was an opportunity to open dialogue about how you feel about the video being childfree at the moment. Even when baby comes, it does not erase the past. Joining the club does not mean all of that past hurt vanishes or doesn't count. The video devalues your experience and it is good that you spoke your truth. And you did so in a way that was as kind and compassionate as you could. Time will tell how your friend really feels. You are being a brave friend and really, hopefully, preventing her from accidentally hurting you again.

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    1. Oh, thank you. I really feel like this comment gets what I was trying to do, what I felt in the moment, and why I couldn't just like it and let it go. :) Thanks so much!

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  9. If I was scrolling through and saw it, I would be so grateful to you for having said what you did. I always waver back on forth on whether to say something when I see that oh-so-prevalent message. I don't think "They haven't been through it so they don't understand." is a very good reason to keep quiet.You can learn to be sensitive to something without going through it yourself.

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    1. I'm so glad... I've been on a tear of "I can't let that go, I MUST say something!" on facebook, and sometimes it isn't quite as appreciated as it is on the blogosphere. :) It is a prevalent message. It IS possible, I agree totally, to be sensitive without having that experience. I have friends who are extraordinarily sensitive to my experience who are mothers multiple times over or who are child free but did not go through infertility. All it takes is compassion and an ability to see outside your sphere (which is admittedly harder to do than it seems for some). Thank you for your thoughts!

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