One of the first words of advice I got from both my PA and one of my former-infertilite friends was not to believe everything you read. (B. confessed to me that she threw What to Expect When You’re Expecting across the room when she read that if she wasn’t eating 6 small meals a day she was starving her baby; she could barely keep water down much less eat all day long). Every author has their own angle, and no one really covers everything that you need to know. And, they said, don’t drive yourself crazy with the internet. It is so tempting to look everything up, analyze, and freak yourself out. Just keep things in perspective and trust your doctor.
In the four brief weeks I’ve been fortunate to even be thinking about this, I’ve started to put together my own words of advice to any infertilite experiencing pregnancy. Here goes.
First, the internet isn’t that bad as long as you stick to reputable sources. There are a ton of websites out there who want you to sign up for their weekly emails to tell you what you should obsess about each week. Take a look at a few that are interesting to you, give their site a glance-through and see if it’s tone, messages, and level of information are right for you. I personally subscribe to BabyCenter. Try to pick one, or two if you find two sites with complimentary features, but make sure not to overload yourself.
Second, be very cautious of discussion boards and comments especially if they are on a general pregnancy website. Sure, it may be reassuring to know that you’re not the only one craving York peppermint patties. Just know that the moms on those boards represent a WIDE range of age, background, and experience. You won’t find the same kind of sensitivity on those general boards as you might in a smaller, more intimate group – especially one in tune with your infertility background. (Again, I can’t say enough about the UUSisterhood and Mullerian Anomaly Yahoo groups and the supportive women on those boards). I recently read a post on the January Birth Club discussion board on BabyCenter of a wonderful poem written “for those of us who have had mc (miscarriage).” It was followed by another post – written in all capital letters – DON’T TELL US ABOUT YOUR MISCARRIAGES – which asked all the women who, in their responses on a post, write about having had a miscarriage after doing certain things or as a result of whatever happened to refrain from bringing everybody down. “We’re already all scared of a miscarriage; we don’t need to be scared any more, we need to be reassured. Don’t rub it in our faces and keep it to yourself.” OUCH. It made me want to respond, “There are women on this board who have really struggled to get pregnant and might have had a few miscarriages on the way. Don’t rub it in OUR faces that you’re on your fifth baby and you weren’t even trying.” The women’s bios that I’ve read on this particular board range from teenagers in high school to women in admittedly abusive relationships to women with multiple children already at home who think their advice is the definitive Truth. While we all should be supporting each other through this time, instead the banter factions into cliques and sometimes hysterical drivel. If you peruse them at all, take it with a grain of salt.
Third and finally, just because it’s a trend doesn’t mean you have to do it if you don’t want to.
“Belly photos” are all the rage now – some people actually have these professionally done. This, and other suggestions such as “creating a daily ritual that helps you connect with your baby,” sound like a great idea in practice but are met with skepticism from the burned infertilite. You may want to take belly photos but you’re petrified about the “what ifs” – what if this one doesn’t last? What will I do with the photos then? You may want to keep a daily journal of your pregnancy experience, thoughts, and wishes for your baby, or even start a scrapbook, but you’re worried that this will jinx the experience and it will be all for naught. These emotions duel with the other implication that you’re afraid if you don’t do these things that everyone else is doing that your child will be at a disadvantage and you’re a bad mother. How could you not record every moment of my life, mommy? you hear your disappointed unborn child ask. Do I mean that little to you? Well, this just sounds silly, doesn’t it? Ignore the trends. Do what’s right for you and what you’re comfortable doing.
If you’re crafty and excited and ready to live in the moment, scrapbook till your little fingers bleed. If you love the camera and have a willing photographer and scenic landscape, go ahead and do the belly shots if you want to. But do not feel guilty for not doing any of these things, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Your only responsibility is to have the healthiest pregnancy you can – physically and emotionally – and if that means holding off on cuddling the cute Carter’s bear cub jacket in the store until you’re six months along, instead of blissfully daydreaming at week 10 about how cute your little bear cub would look in it, then so be it.