If you are reading this blog, then no doubt you are at least familiar with infertility. You may even have a close, personal, albeit adversarial, relationship with it. And you may be conflicted by the thought of sharing your experience within your social network. This is especially true in our social media-hungry culture, where every tidbit of information about our personal lives is up for grabs on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog.
So what do you do when the details about your personal life are no longer about what you had for dinner, but whether you’re pregnant — or are able to become pregnant? Well, I say, go ahead and share; or not. The correct answer couldn’t be more subjective, so give some thought to the questions below and let the answer reveal itself.
First, consider how big your online social circle is. Are your Facebook ‘friends’ real friends and family, or do they include co-workers, neighbors, your dentist and your mother’s hairdresser?
Answer quickly. Are you a sharer, and do you share freely? Online posts can range anywhere from, ‘I can’t wait for our 20-year reunion’ to the visceral details of what your kid just threw up at the grocery store. Where does your comfort level lie?
Where are you in your journey? People in the early stages tend to be more enthusiastic and optimistic, while someone in their second or third year of treatment might have a more balanced outlook.
Do you get comfort from the replies and inquiries you read online, or does this give you anxiety?
Consider your partner’s feelings and concerns. This could be a fine line to walk. If you are a social media butterfly, but your partner or spouse likes to keep things close to the vest, talk, specifically, about what types of news he or she is comfortable sharing. Typically, women share more about infertility issues than men, so make sure you are both on the same page about what goes on the page.
If you do decide to share your journey, think about starting a blog. This is a fail-safe way to ensure you have full ownership of the content. You manage the distribution by sharing the URL with whomever you choose. This could certainly be with the general public, but the distribution list could include only your family. It might also be just you. In this case your blog is your online journal. In general, sharing your feelings, thoughts and concerns is a valuable tool that can help you navigate any emotional journey. There’s plenty of evidence that keeping a journal can relieve stress, clarify your thoughts and feelings and give you the opportunity to know yourself better. You may find the simple act of putting your thoughts ‘on paper’ gives you a more positive outlook, whether anyone else reads them or not. One way to think about it is that you are sharing your feelings with yourself. Thoughts in your head are much different than words on a ‘page’.
On a final note, know when to take a break. If Mother’s Day is coming up and this is a day you struggle with, then by all means stay off the social networks. You can always come back in a week or so. Use the time you would normally be online to do something tactical — planting a garden is a great distraction, and May is a perfect time to be outside getting your hands dirty. Ultimately, remember that you are not walking this road alone; sharing is a good thing, even if it’s just with yourself.