Friday, October 22, 2010

Degrees of Virtual Reality

Sometimes on TV a show will open in the fall with its characters transformed after a busy summer. They will usually take the first ten minutes or so of the new season to update viewers on everything that has happened while the show was on hiatus. Well, let's pretend that I have been on hiatus over the summer, and here's what you missed:
  1. In May, we found out we were pregnant and due in January.
  2. In June, we lost that baby, and I was crushed.
  3. In July, we found out we were pregnant again, this time due in March. I was scared of losing another one.
  4. In August, we saw our little peanut's heartbeat on the ultrasound, and I started to breathe easier.
  5. In September, we found out we would be having our fourth baby boy, and we both fell in love with him.
  6. The very last day of September, Rhett lost his job. 

So here we are in October, just trying to put one foot in front of the other. Life has become a whirlwind of trying to find Rhett a new job and arranging Medicaid to cover my now insurance-less pregnancy. 

If you and I are Facebook friends or if you know me in real life, you probably already know all of these things. So why have I waited so long to update here even though I shared the same news in real time on Facebook? There are a few reasons.

First of all, with the morning sickness and fatigue of the first pregnancy, the pain and depression that accompanied the loss, and then another round of morning sickness and fatigue with the current pregnancy, I just didn't feel like blogging for a few months. I did share on Facebook, though, initially because I was so happy after so many years of wanting another baby that I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Then, when we got bad news, sharing on Facebook made the most sense because it was efficient. I didn't want to have the awkwardness of untelling to compound our pain.

What I find interesting is that I was also scared to write about either pregnancy on the blog. Facebook is so ephemeral, and a status update seems to evaporate shortly after it is broadcast. But a blog is more permanent, like an electronic scrapbook. I was afraid of jinxing the pregnancy by announcing it in a weightier medium. Blogging would make it too real, which would make it more painful if things didn't work out.

After the loss, I wanted to blog, but I needed time to process what happened before I could write about anything. (I know I seem way too open about my feelings in so many ways, but parts of me are fiercely private.) By the time I was finally ready to share, I suspected I was pregnant again, and I was afraid it was inauthentic to chronicle my heartbreak when I was already clinging to new hope. After the first loss, I was even more superstitious about discussing the new pregnancy at all, so I silenced myself again.

Now the morning sickness is gone, and I'm not so huge yet that I'm uncomfortable, so I'm hoping to blog a little more. I'm sure this uncertain phase in our lives will provide plenty of writing material. This whole experience has gotten me thinking, though. Do other people find some electronic media (and real-life social situations) less threatening than others?

I guess for me the order of threat from least to most would be Facebook, face-to-face contact, blogging, and email. Why is email the most threatening? I think it's because as a writer, I am likely to pour out my soul in an email to someone I know, and that email could be forwarded to complete strangers without my knowledge. When I write for the blog, I'm aware that anyone in the world could read it, so I write accordingly.

How about you? Do you put a lot of thought into how you use social media? Is there a specific medium that seems more or less threatening to you? I'd love to hear your answers!