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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Two Ends of the Spectrum

I'm still serving up drinks at the bar (as if the bar ever really closes), but I'm pausing from celebrating to muse on the string of pregnancy announcements that have come in the past week or so. You know how women who live together are supposed to get their periods around the same time because their cycles fall into sync (though I have vague, queasy memories that the study involved rubbing armpit sweat on the upper lips of the other women)? How do we explain the strange phenomenon that seems to strike the blogosphere cyclically? Pregnancy announcements and periods of loss seem to crop up not in series of threes, but in series of tens or twenties. I know others have noticed and commented on it too in the past. Sometimes it feels like the blogosphere is the saddest place on earth with failed cycles coming close on the heels of miscarriages. Weeks later, the winds shift and the blogosphere is suddenly like a giant cocktail party where we're toasting half the guests. It can't actually be in the water since we're not drinking from the same tap. But how do we explain this phenomenon, especially right now when we're firmly entrenched in the land of plenty?

Are these times harder? Happier? Do they give you more hope or make you feel more alone? Does knowing that it's a fellow stirrup queen or sperm palace jester make the announcement easier or harder? What is the best way to announce good news or bad news on a blog?

Even more curious, if you receive good news during an announcement jag, how does that influence your feelings? If you receive bad news during a period of loss, how does the timing influence your feelings? And vice versa--when the bad news comes in the midst of plenty or you need to make a pregnancy announcement when we're mourning many losses at once. When posting emotional information such as a pregnancy or a loss, what do you think about before you hit that publish key?

Feel free to go anonymous in the comments section as you weigh in (though anonymous still means kind). I'm going to state my opinion too (though you probably already can figure out my answer) but didn't want to influence the discussion by placing it here in the post. I'll weigh in below in the comments section. Perhaps even anonymously just to be mysterious...


Anonymous said...

The whole cluster thing...did you notice Bergman, Antonioni and Tom Snyder all died roughly the same day?

In general though I try not to let my shit get in the way of someone else's happiness -- it helps if I like the person to begin with.

Lori said...

I'm not in a position to comment on your main question, but I did want to mention another theory for the synching of women's cycles.

In the fabulous book, The Red Tent (fiction), Anita Diamont suggests that rather than being in synch with each other, we are each in synch with the moon. We used to live more in touch with nature, and our bodies ebbed and flowed with the lunar cycle. New moon = period and full moon = ovulation. I'm not sure if the author grounded this in science or in lore.

Here's a virtual toast to all you success stories, and a hug-and-a-drink for all you "wait 'til next timers."

Elizabeth said...

I do confess to feeling temporarily deflated, at least for a moment, but that moment passes. I think it's inevitable to feel left behind, even when it's within the IF community, where we try to suspend the calculus of "who's next in line" and who is "deserving" that we apply without qualms to the fertile. At the same time, the IF BFPs are also a stimulus of hope, and that's a good thing.

Also - it is a hell of a lot easier to manage envy in blogland, IMO, because of the faceless nature of it. It's easier to give yourself a time-out if you need it, in order to have your moment of sadness for yourself, and then come back with joy for the people you've come to care about while you follow the line of their tales as they unwind.

Jess said...

I was cycling at about the same time as a good friend and she felt her chances were bad. I "announced" my pregnancy to her seperately and right away, because I felt that if she found out otherwise, it would be harder (she is pregnant with twins, though, so in the end a lot of the troubling long-term feelings were spared).

When I have good news OR bad news to announce during times of the opposite, or even in times of anything in the case of pregnancy, I totally DO think about all the other women and men waiting. They deserve the good, too, and I know how it is to be left behind.

I definitely felt screwed over for the almost-three-years we were trying. Because of our age (I was ages 20-23 while ttc) a lot of our peers IRL got married and got pregnant (or sometimes left out the married part) while we waited and waited. It was more discouraging IRL....IF bloggers, while it stung to be left out, were more an offer of hope to me.

Although, it was hard when I was 22 and failing at IVF to see older women who got pregnant naturally while waiting or on clomid their first try. It made me feel even more like WHY US when we coudln't find anything wrong, yet nothind would work.

Tigger said...

I think it really depends on what those people have been going through. I love the unexpected "we really didn't think we had a chance" announcements. It gives me a smile to see other succeed when they have been told "It will never happen without help".

As for periods of joy and mourning...well, I'd love to say that it's probably because we're all so close emotionally, but I can't. The logical side of me says that it's the law of averages. There are so many of us that we're bound to have several announcements of one kind or another all at once. Regardless of reason, it's pretty cool.

Leah said...

For me, it all depends on the day. In the end, I am always genuinely happy when an infertile gets pregnant. I still have not matured to the stage where I'm happy for fertiles. Maybe someday I'll get there. Maybe not.

At the beginning of this most recent wave, I felt relieved that I wasn't cycling. I was afraid that all the BFPs were getting gobbled up. Now that they are like waves incessantly crashing on the shore, I'm pissed that I'm not cycling because maybe I'm missing my opportunity!

I do think that the BFNs in the midst of this kind of wild upswing are harder for me to hear. My heart breaks for anyone who gets a BFN, but when it feels like EVERYONE around you is overjoyed, I know how much it stings. I think I subconsciously spend more time feeling bad for the BFNs than I do feeling happy for the BFPs (though I am truly happy).

I sit on the fence for the not-quite-IFers. I was lamenting to a friend (another IFer) recently about someone I know, we'll call her Jane Doe, who claims to be IF but hasn't really been through the gauntlet -- by my definition, that is. Not trying for very long, done a few Clomid cycles, etc. This friend (you know who you are) said in an email to me that Jane Doe was "impatient, not infertile." That cracked me up and has secretly sustained me since I read it. I know these feelings are wrong, and petty, and ugly. Especially because I know the suckiness of Clomid, and I know the pain of trying for ANY amount of time and not getting pregnant.

Unfortunately, I seem to have that sliding scale of happiness wherein my level of joy at your BFP is proportional to the level of suffering you endured to get it. People that I know personally, or that I've grown to know through other connections, manage to get grandfathered in to genuine happiness.

Clearly I need to stop rambling in this comment before I say something totally stupid and piss of people that I like. Also, Lori is right...The Red Tent is an awesome book!

Baby Blues said...

At first I felt left out when everyone gets a BFP and I get stuck with a BFN. But I have gotten to know these women and I follow their every disappointment. Their tenacity is admirable. And when they do get their BFP, I'm truly happy for them. And when their heart gets broken, I feel it too. I guess we're all in this together. And the IF emotions are universal, good or bad.

Drowned Girl said...

I think people tailor their announcements to the prevailing wind. I would never dream of posting to a forum "Sorry for your loss.. oh, lookie, I'm pregnant!" (though I've had that happen to me) but nor would I want to piss on somebody's parade if I was in a bad place and someone was full of joy.

I don't want to read happy announcements when I have had a loss. Not even from my nearest and dearest online friends. I have just a handful that I really, in my heart, like to see having success when I'm not, and that's because I feel they have suffered more than me. I hope that's not bad. At least it's honest.

Jules said...

I find it easier to cope with a long term IFer announcing their pregnancy. I do feel like I've been kicked in the guts for a split second, but I get over it.

When there comes a sea of announcements, I feel like I've lost my ticket & missed the boat. What's in the water & why can't I have some.

I do have to agree with Leah though, it depends on the day. If I hear of any announcement after a BFN or cancelled cycle, it hurts a lot more.

serenity said...

Call me completely egoistic, but if I'm cycling and there's a spate of good news going around the blogosphere, I believe I am going to be the one to break the chain of good news. (In fact, I'm still paranoid about this - waiting on beta #2 results right now and am fairly certain that my brush with success might be over. How lucky can one really be?)

With all these BFPs right now? Studies have shown that summer cycles have better success rates than winter cycles. Not sure why - something to do with the longer days.

And there's the law of averages too. There are a lot of people cycling, it seems, at certain times.

I am like Leah - I also have a sliding scale of happiness when it comes to BFP announcements. Long term IFers? I'm thrilled, hands down.

It's the others that cause me a bit more bitterness and bring up the feelings of being left behind. I try not to indulge in comparative pain, but after you've gone through so much and you see someone "cut in line," it's hard to swallow.

Samantha said...

I haven't yet had the opportunity to post good news, or for that matter to post a BFN, only cancellations, which have been crushingly disappointing. During such a time, I'm really thinking about me and my disappointment, and am always so grateful to get the support from the blogsphere.

When people are cycling, before I read the news, I sometimes think to myself in a jealous way, "I just know she'll be pregnant." But then when I read the blog, I am hit by a huge emotional surge, either with joy at the BFP, or with anguish at the BFN, and my jealousy disappears. I will say that I do feel even more strongly for those that have been trying for a while, and more strongly for those doing IVF, maybe because I personally have reacted more strongly during my own IVF cycles.

I do also feel a bit sorry for myself with this wave of BFPs, not being a part of it, so I know there's a bit of jealousy in there, but I would much prefer folks to get the BFPs.

oneofhismoms said...

I'm a goofball. I'm always happy when someone who wants to get pregnant gets pregnant. Even a 22 year old on the first try with fresh sperm. I feel like it will somehow rub off on me. (Though that has yet to happen.)

I do think it is odd that I am on the exact same cycle day as three or four bloggers I know. Yet, I am rarely on the same cycle as my life partner.

When I get pregnant I am not going to hesitate to post about it. If you don't want the news, don't read my blog. And, if you're not wanting me to get pregnant, please don't read my blog. I wouldn't want to rub it in anyone's face, but my blog is my space. No?

Waiting Amy said...

Like many have said, I am truly happy for those with BFP, but there was a moment of jealousy and disappointment when I first heard the news. I think for me its been a little tough because I'm pretty new to this community (although NOT to IF). I just got to know many of you and felt like comrades at arms. Then you all went off and deserted! :)

But I'm really am happy for them, especially those who have been struggling for a long time, like myself. I know in my heart that they still will understand my feelings, even though they have crossed over to the other side. And I look forward to reading about their successes.

Carla said...

For some reason, I have genuine joy and feel much more pain for my friends in the blogging world than for the people IRL. Just this week I was absolutely thrilled for Serenity but crushed for Dianne (Flutter). I'm ashamed to admit it, but I am bitterly jealous when I hear a pregnancy annoucement from a friend IRL.

The Town Criers said...

My sliding scale has a special setting for stirrup queens and sperm palace jesters. The struggle bounces one up towards those top notches and the longer or harder the struggle (and the more lost during the journey), the higher and more intense the happiness. When I've had a wish to make, I have sometimes used it on another person in the blogosphere and if/when the wish comes true, I feel a very real, genuine happiness.

I think when they come in clumps it is harder than when you're considering the happiness or sadness individually. I think the clump becomes its own entity and you can be sad or happy about the clump while feeling the opposite for the individual. Does that make any sense? The only comparison I can make is with publishing. I can be excited about different projects as friends get contracts and I can be happy that they have achieved what they want and excited to read the finished product. But I can also become overwhelmed by this glut of good luck (or bad luck when I've also observed friend after friend have a broken contract or leave their agent all seemingly at the same time) when it feels like nothing is happening with me. It's the glut itself that becomes the entity. Wondering how it is completely passing me by when the times are good and wondering how I've dodged the bullet when times are bad.

I've had this strangeness for over a year now where I have nothing to announce. I haven't gotten pregnant therefore I have no pregnancy announcements nor do I have a loss announcement (can you see how optimistic I am? Damn that didn't sound right but I think you know what I mean). And I've often wondered what I will do in the moment. I think I will talk about a loss just as I talk about all other things. But in real life, I never told anyone anything that was happening. I always kept those things so close to my heart and didn't share them. I didn't share my good news either for a long time. We didn't tell most people until we were very far along. I think it was a combination of disbelief and fear that speaking about it would change something. The blog changes things and I've definitely experienced how different a terrible or good moment can be when you have support.

I feel terrible when I think about people being in fear of posting good news and worrying that they'll lose the support of the community. Children resolve childlessness--they don't resolve infertility. And people still need support. A pregnancy is what we all want and what we're all working hard to get. I don't begrudge the happiness of anyone on my team. But I also want to support the people who are hurting or happy as waves pass them by. It's a delicate balance and I think it's possible to consider and think about all parties. At least, I hope it is. We're a community, we're a virtual family. I feel like we always bounce back and come together.

Anonymous said...

In this wave, I have been feeling very GREEN with ENVY. And it is a new experience to feel that way torwards fellow infertiles.

Unfortunately, this wave of good news came with the birth of children in my real life. To people who are not infertile, but still deserve those beautiful children. With the births, my heart sank more in the feeling of being left behind has literally been cutting me in half. I just don't know how to stop that feeling. When nothing in my reality seems to be moving forward.

So, I've been congratulating everyone with the wonderful news of a BFP. Because they truly deserve it. And retreating a bit to find some refuge. I just am not strong enough at the moment to provide support. But, I know that soon enough, I will feel stronger and be able to support them thru their pregnancy. At that moment, I will return.

I just rather let them savor this without me. Isn't that the ironic part...I want this for them. I am just really very sad for myself.

Erin said...

There certainly has been a recent rash of good news. The same, strange thing happened when I was TTC#1 and belonged to a (fairly small) message board--about 8 of us got pregnant at once, and half of us had been TTC for well over a year at that point. It was strange.

Since TTC#2 (and especially since we stopped TTC#2), however, there's always a twinge in my heart, no matter who it is and how happy I am for them. The twinge is smaller for long-term Stirrup Queens and enormous for fertiles. I can't seem to stop. It usually passes fairly quickly but not always. And then I feel upset with myself, like I should be a bigger person. I try to remind myself that good news for someone else doesn't diminish my chances of getting a referral--there's no limit on how many people can have good news. Sometimes that works.

Anonymous said...

I was one of those "miracle" BFPs that wasn't supposed to happen without extensive ART. I couldn't tell anyone about my pregnancy in real life or on my blog for a long time, though. In fact, I didn't announce my pregnancy until I was almost through the first trimester. I wanted to tell--after all, so many people in real life and online had sent me good thoughts and well wishes while we were struggling that I felt I owed it to them to be honest. I couldn't do it, though.

Unbeknownst to anyone but myself and a few others, one of my best friends suffered a very traumatic second trimester miscarriage in my home just days before my BFP. How could I openly celebrate my good fortune while her loss was still so fresh? I couldn't, not in good conscience, so I waited. Only my husband knows that this is the real reason I delayed making my announcement. I had to balance my joy with her grief, and that was incredibly difficult.

Infertility isn't easy, no matter which side of the fence you're on.

Zee said...

As to the current (endless, it seems!) crop of pregnancy announcements, both in real life and in blogworld: Well, in my bitterest moments I'd explain it this way: "It's really quite simple. God, The Universe, or Whoever's in Charge hates me and takes perverse pleasure in not only denying me my heart's desire, but in rubbing my nose in the fact that everyone else--despite all the odds--is getting it instead." In my more rational moments, I'd explain it with the quote "Life is always unfair. But sometimes it's unfair in your favor." (And then I'd add Zee's corollary: "But usually it's not.")

I know. I know. Perhaps it's time to seek therapy.

Anonymous said...

I know someone IRL who just got a BFP after trying for a little more than a year with a "diagnosis" of unexplained. It happened "naturally," too. I was really happy for her, even though some may say she didn't quite suffer enough. However, that may be because I am pregnant. Just wanted to throw that in since we're talking about patterns.

When I got pregnant, it was during another one of these good news cycles, and I was concerned about hurting others, but I was also concerned about the miscarriage rate. If 10 of us were making announcements at the same time, I knew that, statistically, at least 2 or 3 of us would not have happy endings. As some did have miscarriages, I was sad for them, but I also breathed a little sigh of relief that it wasn't me, and that maybe it wouldn't be me. That shameful confession is why this comment is anonymous.

SarahSews said...

I'm not a regular blogger, just a reader and commenter, so I feel a little bit like an outsider. I've never had good news to report and we haven't done a medicated cycle since last November.

When I read about lots of BFPs at once, I feel left out. And like I made the wrong choice in waiting to start IVF.

When I read about a spate of bad news, I feel like I dogged a bullet (since I'm not in treatment nor pregnant, there's no way I could get dragged down too).

Elizabeth said...

Like Samantha said, "but I would much prefer folks to get the BFPs." No kidding! I would never wish infertility or pg loss on my worst enemy.

During this recent wave I have been prompted to ask myself, what am I not doing right? Even though everyone's journey is different, and there's no recipe for success, I still look for clues hidden in other's stories that might point me in the direction of the treasure chest.

Reproductive Jeans said...

I am not one to hide my true feelings: its damn hard to see so many BFP's and then get a BFN.

But would I honestly trade my BFN if it cost ANY of the other ladies who got BFP's in the past month?

Not in a million years.

In and Out of Luck said...

Recently, I thought I was having a miscarriage. And my very first thought was, "Of course I am having a miscarriage. How did I think I would get off so easy? I only tried for 15 months." And I realized that one really shitty effect that infertility has had on me is to make me see myself in a particular category of humanity: the category of People For Whom Things Are Supposed to Suck. And that is just wrong. Yes, I have suffered MUCH less than many women (so far) - see? I'm still superstitious about sounding or even feeling happy or successful or lucky. But ALL of us have suffered and tried "enough." We wouldn't be reading this if we hadn't. Most women don't try to conceive for even six months, much less 15, or 30, or 60, or more. Most women don't do any Clomid cycles, or have any IUIs or IVFs, or know what an RE even is. I understand the sliding scale and I even have it myself, hypocritically enough. But none of us, in my opinion, are getting off too easy, as I told myself I was. We all deserve a BFP and we deserve it today.

Grad3 said...

I am new to the blogsphere as well. So as far as posting a good or bad news... I have no idea. I think because of my situation I will always be cautious in posting a pregnancy but that is because I have been taught that it doesn't end well for me.

I do have a hard time being on hold while I feel like just about everybody is doing something. Although, some of that is just my personality.

Finally,I always struggle telling people in my life about what is going on with a cycle or if I am pregnant. It's because those around me care and love me, so when I am deeply hurting they are to.

While I realize I am blessed to have such wonderful people surround me, I feel like I can save them from the pain if I just don't say anything. As if I am responsible for thier happiness. It's a major catch-22 for me.

Anonymous said...

I find I do have some room for happiness for anyone who gets pregnant after infertility, it is just harder to not feel more jealous than happy with people who get pregnant "easily". The sad thing is my definition of "easily" has changed so much over the years that it includes just about everybody.

I know, it doesn't serve me to compare (my therapist's constant reminder). It's just hard not to. Although I cope 1,000 times better than I used to, it is still very hard some days.

I am also way past feeling hope when someone in a similar situation gets pregnant. I have been "in the same boat" with too many women who were able to get pregnant while I was not.

Yes, I am bitter and angry and can't understand why so much has gone wrong for us. I will also wish you happiness and success even if I don't feel like it at the time - but I want you to believe me just the same - so I will remain anonymous.

PCOSMama said...

hmmm.. I don't really have a lot to say about most of this, but I would like to say this - as an IFer who has experienced a BFP, I did hesitate over posting about it. How should I do it? Obviously I knew that people would be hurt by the news, that always happens when you have been struggling for so long and someone else succeeds, but how can you not share your good news? Is there a 'proper' way to do it? I don't know if there is. We can only hope that some others will find some inspiration in that it worked for us.
The hard part is that you do lose some of your support once you get a BFP. Some people just find it too hard to read about your success and while that's easy to understand, especially considering that your IF blog has turned into a pregnancy blog, it is still hard to lose that support you had. All we can do is continue to let you know that we are thinking about you and praying that your blog will soon become a "pregnancy after IF" blog too!

nancy said...

My input ...

When I have good news when 1,000 other people have good news, it actually kinda sucks. Because now I am just "one of many".

When I have bad news when 1,000 other people have good news, well, it kinda sucks more. I want to feel bad for myself, if only for a few days. And it makes me feel better to wallow in a big bucket of sorrow, but when everyone is celebrating, that bucket can't be found. Yeah, I'm happy for everyone's good fortune, but it makes my bad news not feel as important. Make sense?

When I have good news when everyone else has bad news, gosh, this sucks to. While I'm still going to try to share my news, I'm going to totally keep in mind everyone else is wallowing. And while I know people are happy for me, that guilt is there. Yes, my news is still good news for me, but I can't shout it out as loud as I'd want to if there is bad news around.

When I get bad news when everyone else gets bad news, well, I guess this situation of guilt/happiness doesn't suck, since everyone feels shitty. And that sucks.

Wow. Aren't I just a big ball of fucking sunshine?

Anonymous said...

You know what? I am always happy when I hear about a bfp from a fellow IF sufferer. Really, I am. I never feel angry or upset. I think it's great that someone I have cheered on has made it success.

It's the afterwards that turns me off. They get pg and spend the next 9 months worrying...needlessly about all of the "what if's". Pgcy is a time of worry but it seems us IF sufferers are much better at it. If you are getting good news at all the milestones...than shut up and be happy.

While I will be around to congratulate a bfp, I will not stick around to hear the worrying and fretting. I pop back in to give a congrats when the baby is born. That little confession is why I am staying anonymous.

Pamela Jeanne said...

As someone who will only get pregnant through a wildly unexpected miracle -- come on 14 years without birth control, regular, mind-blowing sex and the most advanced treatments once provided through one of the leading research hospitals on the planet -- I can say with all candor that I participate in this community with the knowledge that the end goal is pregnancy or resolution of some kind. Me? I still ovulate like a champ but I take the money I used to spend on HPTs and apply it to bottles of wine instead.

So to finally answer the question. I am happy when those who have been at it for years without success ring in with a BFP. My only request is that these fortunate stirrup queens *not* cross over to the dark side (you know join the fertile myrtles like nothing ever happened) and forget entirely that they leave behind a group of women who still need support and understanding. You are our greatest ambassadors in your future mommy and me groups to enlighten those who've never seen or tried an OPK about the need for greater sensitivity toward stirrup queens. And now I raise a glass of wine to your hard-won successes!

katd said...

It really does seem like it comes in waves. I have to admit that before Lily, I had a really hard time keeping up with the blogs that had good news. In a way it made me feel hopeful, but in another it made me feel even worse because some people could overcome the IF barrier, but I couldn't. Now that we've adopted Lily, though, I crave the good news posts. I love to read that one more blogger has joined the world of pregnancy or mommyhood. I did find myself much more sensitive to posting parenting "stuff" on my blog, though, because I remembered how tough it was to read it on others' from time to time.

megan said...

first and foremost, i am always happy when someone in the IF blogosphere gets a BFP. no question about it.
that said, i will admit that this recent wave of BFPs has gotten me down a bit. a lot of it is because i so recently miscarried. there is a bit of added loss with this wave of announcements, and a strange sense of fear. as i know that all of these pregnancies are so desperately wanted, i desperately hope that they are ALL successful, uneventful pregnancies. since pregnancy still seems like a very scary thing for me, i'm afraid and worried for all of them....
that sounds kind of stupid now that i've typed it out, but i can't think of any other words for it. then again, my mom doesn't call me worry wort for nothing!