The other day, in the grocery store, looking at all of the food I had just put on the belt for the cashier to ring up, I smiled to myself. Fruit roll-ups, juice boxes and individually-sized bags of popcorn were things that I never thought I’d get the chance to buy. Because for a long time, it looked like I was incapable of getting pregnant. Little did I know that the worst part of infertility wasn’t even the waiting, the stress, the tests, the not-knowing: The worst part of infertility is social media. Here’s why.
Yes, during my infertility journey I definitely stressed about the crazy procedures I had to endure to try to conceive, starting with one where they shoot dye into your uterus to make sure everything is all clear and, about two years later, ending with a round of IVF that, amazingly, resulted in twins. The expense of all of this, plus the blood draws, having to give myself shots, and the never-ending doctor visits all took a toll. And that’s in addition to how, for me and my husband, trying to conceive transformed having sex from a happy expression of our love into a clinical, fraught procedure.
All of that was hard, but what really sucked was having to see everyone else’s constant social media posts about their pregnancies and babies. While I was struggling, babies seemed to be everywhere; there were videos on Facebook of them getting messy eating ice cream, professional photos of them sprouting out of flower pots and candid shots of them looking adorable in diapers. All of that sounds cute, but when you’ve seen one too many negative pregnancy tests, all of it can make you want to quit social media by destroying your laptop Office Space-style.
Seeing pictures of pregnant women was even more triggering of my desire to commit acts of violence against electronics. There should be a disclaimer that precedes any picture of a woman draped in a gauzy shawl, cradling her naked baby bump: Trigger warning for the infertile. Because woman, we get it — you’ve got life inside you. Congratulations. Now for the love of god, please put that thing away.
Don’t get me wrong; once I was pregnant myself — and later, as a new mom — I did all of these things on social media, and more. From my kids’ first baths to Halloween pics, I relished the chance to post cute photos of my “miracle twins” for all to see. I even did a pregnancy photo shoot, for crying out loud. But I did try to intersperse these baby-centric posts with other things about my life, knowing full well that for my friends who were and are still trying, that seemingly innocuous pic of my babies with yogurt on their faces would have been hard to see.
One of the biggest drawbacks of using social media is the tendency for all of us to compare our everyday lives to someone else’s edited, carefully curated, Clarendon-filtered adventures. But for women going through infertility, it’s not just about resenting the adorable, professional kid pics or the candid first birthday photos; it’s how hard it is to swallow the posts complaining about how difficult parenthood can be. Think about what it’s like for a woman who desperately wants to be a mom to hear about your “crazy mom life” when we would give anything — literally anything — to experience the monotony, the spit-ups, the poop-on-the-wall-reality of parenthood.
So, while you’re busy being real and telling it like it is, realize that some women may see this as ungrateful whining. Before you post about your day from childcare hell, or about how you can’t wait for wine o’clock, remember that there’s probably someone reading your words or seeing your photos who would love to experience the highs and lows of motherhood. To you, grocery shopping with the kids in tow is a boring chore. Yet we would give anything to push a cart up and down the aisles, talking to a small person in the front of the shopping cart as they explain why they “need” those fruit roll-ups and Goldfish crackers.
I’ll be the first to admit: Social media without adorable baby pics would be like the Internet without cat memes — just unthinkable. But if you’re a mom with a trigger-happy posting finger, please just remember that some of your friends and followers may be wishing for just what you’re gloating about. So do them a solid and throw a couple of pictures of your lunch or your new amazing shoes in there for variety, okay? Somewhere, there’s an infertile wannabe mom just like my younger self who will be thanking you.