D and I are always seeking community. Sometimes it’s just a search for like-minded folks and sometimes we’re looking for people near our age. We try social groups and local events. We’ve been to people’s houses just to see who else turns up. We’re sort of lackadaisical about it, not surprisingly, we’re relatively normal folks and we get along well with the people around us, even if we wouldn’t have picked them as a community. However, with our efforts to conceive, the need for community suddenly got more urgent.
We wanted to know how other people were feeling when going through the same things we were. We hoped to make a place for friends and confidantes that intimately understood the journey. As you can imagine, there is not a visible trying-to-conceive queer community in Charlottesville. It might exist, but it has defied our efforts to find it. We’re actually not that picky – any community of other women trying to conceive is helpful to us. They don’t have to be local, or share our identity or be using an identical process, we’d just like to feel like there is someone else experiencing what we’re going through. Thank you internet.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been grateful for the ways digital community has had an impact on my life. I’ve started to reach out here and there to other bloggers and I’ve anonymously followed a few forums with folks who did their IUI the same time we did. Although those forums seem wonderful, I haven’t managed to get a foothold into finding a home. I feel like I automatically disconnect with many online participants discussing fertility (though, you’re here, so not all exactly!) Here’s why:
No husband, No infertility. While our infertility problems are still an equipment failure, we never had the right equipment to start with. And although I certainly qualify as fertility-challenged, the person who is conceiving appears to be 100%. On top of that, in person I rarely worry what others will think of my wife and I, but in online fertility conversations, I feel as though it’s a teenage coming out process all over again. Will you judge me because I don’t have a Dear Husband?
No medication. Because her body is supposedly a juicy, baby haven, we are not using clomid, trigger shots or IVF. Try googling ‘trying to conceive without medication’. There just aren’t that many credible, readable (let’s face it, capital letters and spelling are still relevant) folks online. Wikianswers is not a holy grail of pregnancy facts.
No acronyms. Speaking of spelling, I’m mostly acronym-opposed and use as few as I can. TTC isn’t a tag for this site though that’s absolutely what’s going on, and posts haven’t included a flashing icon with the letters BFN (do you know it took me a month to realize the flashing gif was a negative pregnancy test?) The letters feel false coming from my mouth, though it’s very nice to know what they mean. Finally. Though I know it isn’t intentional, the acronyms are a good example of a device that both unifies a community and excludes people who don’t know the secrets. Thank goodness for google.
No experience. There’s a difference too, in where people place themselves in the process. Have I unintentionally alienated someone because it’s our first attempt? Do women who have been trying for four years have a drastically different set of experiences and require a different community? Are families with children a different community than those without? It wouldn’t surprise me, but I admit that I’m too inexperienced to know.
Not the mother. This is the biggie, I’m the non-biological mother (or, uh, hopeful mother). While this process for us is shared (at least, as much as it can be when only one person gets to use their uterus), in the end, I’m relating this information second-hand. This seems to be in direct conflict with other bloggers, and certainly with forum posters. Since it isn’t me, do I use the royal we for everything? Do I masquerade as her? Is there a place for the daddies (though given usual gender roles, I am most certainly mommy)? Is there an etiquette for the rest of us?
Community, in the end, isn’t a bit like one minute instant oatmeal. It’s more like a twenty ingredient French Laundry recipe simmered over three days. I’m gathering the ingredients but I’m not at all sure anyone will eat what I cook.