As I descend happily into the delights of regular blogging, I’ve found myself thinking about online anonymity and what it means. There’s an honesty I feel I can give here, amongst a community of people who understand just how horrific this process is. As loved as I am by my support network in real life, there’s only one – Mr Bun – who really understands. Here, there are many.
The life of someone going through IVF is, at once, both painfully private and brutally public:
Sneaking out of the office for hushed phonecalls with your nurse. Grasping for more tall tales about why you won’t be drinking at yet another dinner, function, party. Pseudo-smiling over yet another squealy pregnancy announcement. Batting away the inevitable, well-meaning ‘When’s it your turn?’ questions with carefully studied replies.
And then there’s the flip side. You sit exposed in waiting rooms, lie open under ultrasounds and queue up at blood clinics with so many others. You all avoid eye contact, but it’s clear – you’re all INFERTILE. There’s no turning away from it. A hidden condition laid open in the most intimate of settings.
Mr Bun and I made a decision early on to be pretty open about IVF. The loose rule is, if you’d be OK telling Person X about an unsuccessful round, you can tell Person X that you’re undergoing IVF at all. Make sense? So, many people know about what we’re going through. Not in a blow-by-blow way, but enough that they can be supportive and understanding at times when it’s most appreciated.
Then there’s the next level up. The intimate friends and close family who know more. The pain, the results, the plans, the dates. Yet even those can sometimes lose track. And that’s why I’ve been thinking – how many of you share your blogs with friends? And is it a good thing? Because, as much as I think it would make things easier – I wouldn’t need to repeat updates or re-tell stories – I believe there may be something in the anonymity that is in itself quite powerful.
At the end of the day, my biggest hurdle to telling anyone about our infertility is Pity. I naturally shy away from telling newly-married couples, or women in their early thirties. Because I know it’s only a matter of time until they fall pregnant. And when they do, they have to tell me – ohhh, the pity in their eyes. It gets me every time.
I guess, until I move through the fear of Pity, it’s not much use to open this place up to my Real Life friends. But maybe. Maybe by letting them in I’ll be moving through the Pity stage faster.
Image: thank you