Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The barren woman's hate list: item #8 - Facebook

The problem with Facebook is that it's full of people you don't really like or care about.

I want to qualify that statement for the select few people who know my real identity and are also friends with me on Facebook. What I mean to say is that I have 100 friends on Facebook. That puts me in a camp of people who, whilst not Facebook sluts, accepting friend requests left, right and centre just to boost their total, certainly have more Facebook "friends" than they have real, genuinely close buddies.

The majority of Facebook friend lists are made up of old schoolmates and fellow university alumni, ex-colleagues and people you worked in shops with during summers when you were 20. I haven't seen many of the people in my Facebook friend list for years; nor do I want to in several cases. But I know the ins and indeed the outs of their reproductive prowess - and in many cases I know what their reproductive systems look like on the inside.

I don't know what planet you'd need to be born on to have the remotest desire to change your Facebook profile picture to a scan photo. The profile pic is meant to be something that represents you - be that a photo or a cartoon, it should be personal and meaningful. It should not be a photo of the contents of your uterus. I elected to use a photo of myself paddling in the Gulf of Mexico as my profile pic. It never occurred to me to use the snap of my Fallopian tubes, taken by the radiologist during my HSG.

It's amazing how many people do it, though. It actually induces a roar of misery in me when I log on and see that "X has changed her profile pic" next to a grainy black-and-white thumbnail of an ultrasound.

Obviously the news of the pregnancy is not a shock, because the smug bastards have already announced that to the world through the medium of Facebook status updates. You know the sort of thing. "X is pregnant!" followed by 807 messages of congratulation; then for weeks thereafter, "X has morning sickness because she's pregnant", "X's back is hurting because of her big fat pregnancy", "X wonders if you're all aware that she's pregnant, isn't she BLOODY clever?"

I've considered - at some length - staging a protest by using Facebook to describe my own progress through the hell of infertility. "Helen is on her way to the hospital to have a series of unpleasant instruments rammed up her bits." "Helen is bleeding like a stuck pig for the 36th month since this nightmare began." "Helen is lying on her back with her legs up the wall as her husband's sperm trickles slowly but surely onto the pillow."

But that wouldn't be appropriate, would it? And not just because many of my Facebook friends are also professional colleagues. It'd make people uncomfortable, for one thing, and it'd force them into lavishing sympathy on me. It would just not be the done thing.

Which is exactly why Facebook shouldn't be used to crow about pregnancy. The people close to a pregnant woman, who really matter in her life - her partner, family, closest friends - should already know and care that she's pregnant, and should be giving her the love, congratulations and support that she needs. The majority of people on Facebook - the ones she went to school with ten years ago - couldn't give the remotest fuck, and nor should they. So stop bragging.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Turning 30

I knew it'd feel like a milestone, but I wasn't expecting a slight surge of positivity.

It seems like I've been in a negative slump for so long now - one that's left me unable to write here, as I felt I had nothing of value to say - that the sudden arrival of go-get-em energy that's hit me since my birthday on Thursday has caught me unawares.

It's not all good - the anger's back too, and I'm crafting, in my head, another of the barren woman's hate list posts like those I wrote when I first started the blog. But then those posts, as grumpy as they are, were quite healthy in that they helped me vent.

I'm annoyed with myself, for slowing down the pursuit of pregnancy, for letting myself be stymied by apathy and defeatism. I think the 30 milestone has made me realise that, actually, there is a finite amount of time left for me to achieve this. I know I'm still young enough for a first pregnancy to be achievable, but what if we have to go through all this again for a second?

I'm also cross with the clinic we're with and the treatment we've been offered. But I also feel proactive. I feel like doing something to try to address the situation, which I haven't felt for weeks - even months. I honestly think I'd started to give up.

For my birthday, hubby took me to Paris. We're coming out of what has been the hardest patch of our relationship to date. But we're coming out of it. And in Paris, walking hand-in-hand along the banks of the Seine in milky February sunlight, I started to feel like we could actually have a baby this year. We deserve a baby. We'd be good parents. We can do this.

We walked into Notre Dame and I paid two euros to light a candle. Hubby asked me why I wanted to do this - I'm not religious - and I just shook my head as I knew I'd cry if I tried to articulate that I planned to ask for a baby.

I think he knew anyway. It may sound crass and selfish - particularly to people who are comforted by their faith - that I just leapt on the bandwagon of a pretty church to pray for what I want, but all I can say is that to me it felt like the right, even the only, thing to do.

We wandered around the cathedral while I tried to decide on the best place to light my candle and say my prayer. I was anxious to get it just right, but I was distracted by the hordes of tourists photographing the staggeringly beautiful stained glass windows and the soaring arches of the ceiling.

In the end I chose a place just beneath the statue of St Theresa. I felt drawn to her and have since learned - thanks to Wikipedia, as my level of theological ignorance is shameful - that she said "Patience obtains everything", which seems germane.

On our way out I discovered a spot that would have been much better - just beneath an effigy of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus - but I still felt I'd done the right thing. All day in Paris I imagined us bringing our child there in years to come; that night in our hotel, I dreamed of having a perfect red-haired boy. Obviously we rutted like rabbits the entire time we were there in the hope of achieving a miracle - though if we have, I shan't be following the Beckhams' example and naming the child after the city. Paris Hilton and her antics have put paid to that notion.

The most beautiful passage I've read about asking for a baby is in Mitch Albom's 'For One More Day'. I wept like a kid during most of this book but the bit that made me disgrace myself on a train was the passage where the protagonist's mother - who has died; the whole book is about him getting another day with her after her death - tells him about her own efforts to have a baby in an effort to explain to him how much he was wanted. I was going to paraphrase the passage but I won't do it justice, so here it is in full.

"'You know, for three years after I married your father, I wished for a child. In those days, three years to get pregnant, that was a long time. People thought there was something wrong with me. So did I.'

She exhaled softly. 'I couldn't imagine a life without a child. Once, I even...Wait. Let's see.'

She guided me toward the large tree on the corner near our house. 'This was late one night, when I couldn't sleep.' She rubbed her hand over the bark as if unearthing an old treasure. 'Ah. Still there.'

I leaned in. The word PLEASE had been carved into the side. Small, crooked letters. You had to look carefully, but there it was. PLEASE.

'What is it?' 'A prayer.' 'For a child?' She nodded. 'For me?' Another nod. 'On a tree?'

'Trees spend all day looking up at God.'"

I'm going to leave it there for today, but I promise to write soon - it'll help me unwind my confusion over what we should do next. And I may also be posting a good old rant...