Monday, July 09, 2007

Why I need to stop reading BabyCenter

Another chapter in my baby obsession.

I heard about BabyCenter's Birth Clubs sometime before the last time I got pregnant. And so I peeked into the October 2007 Birth Club for several weeks before the miscarriage. But now that I'm getting back in the saddle (or should I say "stirrups"), I find myself wandering back over there a couple times a day and poking around different boards.

Did you know that the December 2008 club is already active? These are people who plan on starting to try to conceive in March 2008. Members of the January and February 2008 boards are fairly well established now. March is a mix of those who have just found out they're pregnant and those who are waiting to test. April and May are ramping up for their attempts.

I never actually post. I haven't even created an account, in part so I don't start spending more time there. And I constantly tell myself it wouldn't be worth the effort since I don't plan on going back over there again. Because I get both annoyed and sucked in every time I read. Many different things on the boards annoy me. Some of them, I fully admit, are petty, but they add up for me.
  • Spelling and grammar. So many posts have the sorts of errors that just jump out at me--their/there/they're, your/you're. And even when I can get myself to look past all of that, I've come across a good number of posts that are so badly spelled, typed, phrased that it takes me a lot of work to figure out the poster's intended meaning.
  • Redundancy. Different posters, but same questions, concerns, symptoms. There are slight variations on the themes and often there's enough time between similar posts that not everyone is aware of what's been said, but there really isn't much of a reason for me to read the boards regularly.
  • No common ground--the lesbian thing. The boards reek of heterosexuality. I have literally not seen another lesbian in the Birth Clubs. There is a lesbian pregnancy board, but that board is more spread out than the monthly boards since there are fewer lesbians overall. I've also found that the other problems still exist. I've said this to some of my (straight) mommy blogging friends: being a lesbian is just not enough to create a friendship if there's nothing else. And from a little I've read on the lesbian board, most of those women don't feel very welcome on the other boards; some have been flamed for bringing up their sexual orientation.
  • No common ground--other things. I could probably find friends among the heterosexuals, despite the above, if there were other shared areas (and I wouldn't have to worry about drawing angry responses just for being matter-of-fact about my family). But I don't think I'd fit in for my views on religion, family size, and environmental views, to name just a few.
Even without the above, my recent poking around has reminded me of another reason I should just stop looking at the BabyCenter boards. During my second pregnancy, just a few weeks on, women began posting to say that they were leaving that month's board; they'd miscarried. Those stories started to come in slowly and then there was a wave of them. I am not at all proud of this, but each time I saw one of those posts, I ran a mathematical equation: If 15, 20, 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, how much did my chances then improve? I knew that things didn't actually work that way for me, and it didn't make a difference in the end.

Now when I look at the January, February, and March 2008 boards, where there are women going through this loss, an additional train of thought begins running through my head. What if I have another miscarriage? Will I be able to have another baby? Can I hold up mentally if this happens again? What would I do? My biggest fears stem not from trouble getting pregnant, but being able to stay pregnant. I know that I need to banish such thoughts and try to focus on the positive, remind myself that there is no reason to fixate on the negative. Obviously the easiest way to do this is to avoid reading these boards.

But it may take some sort of block to keep me from going back.


Aliki2006 said...

I was an avid board reader for my first pregnancy, and a here and there board reader for my second one. I stopped reading for a bit when pregnant with Liam because I was a nervous wreck about the topic of miscarriages and I remember feeling so devastated each time a woman "dropped" off the board.

I know what you mean about the grammar/tone/etc. I lurk on a ParentSoup Asperger's board but find myself often annoyed by petty things/opinions expressed and just a general lack of interests I would have in common with the posters--beyond, of course, having a child with Asperger's.

kgirl said...

block it. it's not healthy. i'm superstitious, and don't even like to talk about pregnancy before 10 weeks or so. especially since I also miscarried at 7.

i also can't handle the things that bug you (though i am currently writing in all l/c). blogging is much more satisfying.

metro mama said...

Don't go anymore! Those things never helped me one bit, and they're a big time sucker.

You need a distraction, not a constant reminder.

bubandpie said...

BabyCenter is definitely not the place to make friends. I found it most useful for breastfeeding problems, maybe because my board had a couple of amateur lactation consultants on it who always had excellent advice.

Mouse said...

Trillian has already pointed me to some blocking software and other hacks via Lifehacker, so I'll be doing that. This here is a better distraction anyway, and whenever I do post on the obsession, I get much better feedback here.

Lisa b said...

I cannot stand those message boards for exactly the same reasons. Even being heterosexual the heteronormativity does bother me as I always see that kind of assumption go hand in hand with other ignorances like racism, classism etc.
Having motherhood in common does not make me like most other mothers either.

and I think you know my take on "the odds"

Vikki said...

I remember posting on babycenter boards when my son was born. I was the only lesbian on the birth board, not surprisingly. The thing that was hardest was that it wasn't just oozed heterosexuality with constant talk of husbands and men. I took issue with it not as a lesbian but as a person who recognizes that not even every straight woman has a husband/partner that she is parenting with. One time, I made a comment just mentioning that not everyone had a "traditional" family and asked that people be respectful of that and people FREAKED out.

kittenpie said...

I mostly used them for the updates on what was going on in there, and for some questions. The only board I was reading actively for a short while was the exclusive pumpers, because it was nice to find some place where they actually talked about that, since the books don't!

I found the same as you with the birth month boards - I went a few times and the speeling and grammar, the redundancy, the pettiness all bugged me. I didn't feel like I related to them not for any specific reason, but more in that I wasn't ALL about my pregnancy. I know that's what they're there to talk about but still, it just gets overwhelming.