About 12% of women in the United States (approximately 7 million) are either facing an infertility diagnosis, are going through infertility treatments, or are looking at other options for pregnancy and parenthood (like embryo adoption). Yet, many of these women still state they still feel very much alone or misunderstood in their journey.
Friends and family are usually a go to support system, but even these individuals sometimes really do not know how to relate or just “don’t get it.” For many people, to fill in the support gaps, they have turned to Instagram.
Instagram (and social media in general) has given the infertility community a place to connect, encourage, and vent their frustrations with a group of people who actually understand and have been there, done that. Instagram has 50,000+ fertility-related hashtags that are used to help these users find each other and connect. Hashtags like #infertility, #IVF, #TTC, #infertilitysucks, #embryodonation, etc.
However, with community comes comparison. After seeing other accounts’ and individuals’ updates on their progress, uncomfortable thoughts may creep in:
“Wow… she’s so lucky. She only had to do one cycle of IVF, not four.”
“It’s so unfair; she only had to wait two months for donor embryos and I am still waiting!”
“Why did I have to spend much more money than her…?”
Jealousy is so hard, especially when it comes to infertility. Wanting to have a baby is such a fundamental, natural human desire. Usually, you have to put on a happy face and congratulate these women with heart emojis as they are so excited to share their news, but it can definitely bring some ugly feelings to the surface. Sometimes, these thoughts and feelings can do unchecked, leaving you feeling bitter and not able to celebrate any forward steps in your own journey.
But how do we stop the comparison game and the jealously? How can we truly be happy for others without it impacting our thoughts on our own family building journey? While the process and impact are going to be different for everyone, here are three simple things you can do:
A lot of times, the jealousy, comparison, and bitterness actually stem from unprocessed grief. Grief that you are not able to conceive naturally; grief that infertility treatments did not work; grief that you cannot give your child a brother or sister; grief that life did not go as planned. When you process your grief, through whatever means is necessary to do so, you are more easily able to let go of the jealously and the bitterness.
Sometimes, processing our grief and promising we will stop the comparison game is not enough. You have to get rid of the temptation at the source. This means unfollowing certain accounts or hashtags that trigger us the most. Many think this may be harmful, that they will hurt feelings of others by doing so. But your mental wellbeing matters, and a simple post explaining your decision and how it’s not personal is enough explanation (if you so choose).
- Remember: Her gain is not your loss
Lauren Bourne posted a quote on Instagram that is perfect in this situation:
No matter what the situation is, someone else’s promotion, a marriage, or even a pregnancy, is NOT YOUR LOSS. Repeating this phrase when you start comparing can go a long way.
While Instagram has subjected people to the ugly comparison game, it has also done wonderful things as well. Like educate families about the option of embryo donation and adoption! To learn more about this option, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.