Thursday, November 20, 2008

Message boards.

I first got into this whole infertility/pregnant/parenting community back when I was ttc#1 back in 2002. Since them, I've been fortunate enough to run through the whole gamut almost 3 complete times. Before I blogged, I was solely on the boards all the time. I still "know" many women from all of my go arounds, sometimes being surprised that we actually met on the boards and in not some other fashion.

I was just thinking about the differences between the boards and thought I could make it into a semi-interesting blog post.

TTC-JSO (Trying To Conceive, Just Starting Out). Ahhhh. The innocence of this board. Full of hope and well, they should be, as 60-80% of these girls will get pregnant before having to move on. The problem with this board though is if you know anything at all about your reproductive system, questions will annoy the shit out of you. And if you do have to graduate to the next step of ttc, all the BFPs will also annoy you. Not because you are pissed someone else is pregnant, but because you aren't. It's hard to watch EVERYONE get pregnant without you. Especially when the majority of the BFPs are from the same girls who just assumed they'd get pregnant.

TTC-6+months. And so you move on, a little wiser, a little more bitter. But you are still within those "normal" limits of under a year and still hopeful. The others on the board are now half and half from those who still don't get it and those who are starting to worry because there ~may~ be a problem. The BFNs are wearing on you, but you still have hope. And then the dreaded year mark comes and goes. Off to the next board.

TTC-12+months. Officially bitter. You seek treatment (or not) and you know you are falling into the "infertile" category now. Most everyone on this board follows "board etiquette" as they have been around for awhile now. Much more support is given because the girls have known each other for awhile now and after watching so many others get a BFP and not you, a camaraderie builds. Pretty heavy topics can be discussed and most people understand all about the reproductive system. "Stupid questions" aren't asked anymore and everyone is truly in support of one another. This is also the last place to go if you don't move to treatments. This is "home" to many a broken hearts. I was personally a "member" for 6 months the first time and 8 months the second time. Well, actually longer the second time because I skipped the whole JSO thing (and there was only a 6+ month board), so I was really in one place for 20 months.

TTC-ITSG (Infertility Treatment Support Group). This board has changed recently, so I can't really comment how it is ~now~, but when I moved here when on my first IUI in June 07, it was a close knit group of women. "Rules" were serious here as we were all bitter and very emotionally touchy. You didn't put "trigs" in the subject when necessary, it was pointed out immediately. You didn't see too many lurkers just popping in with their BFP news like you see on the other boards, it felt "safer". These women were women who were going through IUIs, IVFs and FETs. There weren't many girls simply on medicated cycles and really, not many having "just" IUIs. These were the big hitters going for the big treatments. Many failed. Many succeeded. Once you were "in" the group by showing you weren't only asking for help/support for yourself, but you helped and supported everyone else, these women would take care of you whenever you needed them. It was probably the closest group of women I've ever had the pleasure (although unfortunate circumstances) to meet.

And then, if you were lucky enough to graduate, there were the pregnancy boards.

1st Trimester. Oh good lord. I couldn't stand this board when I belonged. It seemed like it was a never ending slew of newbies asking the same questions over and over. And the non-pregnant girls who wanted advice from the 1st tri requesting advice on ttc (which is funny, as most of these girls just got pregnant. You want to ask a question? Ask a TTCer who's been at it forever.). And there is a lot of horror stories here too, as many pregnancies do end in miscarriage, so this is where you see them all. If you have any anxiety at ALL in your pregnancy, this board will freak you out.

2nd Trimester. You are getting in the groove of things, but still, nothing much is happening to discuss. So lots of people talking about gender and the big u/s and the beginning of feeling movement. I've always thought 2nd tri is the most "boring".

3rd Trimester. Birth stories, the question "what should i pack" is asked 1,000 times, labor, movement, complaining, registries, baby showers, women asking for inductions because they are "tired". Ugh. It's fun the first time, but I find myself not being able to really get into it.

PAIF (Pregnancy After Infertility). The home of anyone who understands infertility, not really who went through infertility. There are women who simply got pregnant naturally but had gone through IF in the past. Or women who simply took a cycle of clomid. The majority are, in fact, women who are pregnant after infertility they just had, but it's definitely not a steadfast rule. Everyone is accepted though and no one is deemed "more infertile" than the next. These women stay in one place the whole pregnancy and we cheer each other on. This is where I would call my board "home" now.

PA35 (Pregnancy After 35). A good board for us old ladies ~wink~, but I find that it's hard to be part of the group because of my infertility. Not everyone here understands the trials and tribulations of infertility which is a major influence throughout this pregnancy for me. And there is simply a different "vibe" here. I want to say it's more mature, but I don't want to make the other boards sound immature, although there ~are~ instances of immaturity in the other boards. There is also a different viewpoint of invasive tests here, which are more on our minds because of our age. But I've found that testing is almost frowned upon here and I'm not sure why. Whether it's because of our age and it very well maybe our last "chance" at a pregnancy so why would we risk it? Or that we went into this knowing the risks so we are more okay with the result set. I'm not sure. But I'm not as frightened of the stats of testing because of going through IVF/FET. With everything I went through and the odds I beat to begin with, the risks of CVS/amnio just doesn't phase me as it does others. Again, there is that difference between going through IF and not.

Anyone agree with me? Disagree? This ended up not being such a fun and exciting post.


Sarah R said...

OMG, I totally agree. I hardly fit in on the first tri boards because I've been through it before. The same questions get asked, and it gets a little redundant. The first time around, things were all pretty new to me, but still. Some of the questions asked were from teenagers and they obviously had no clue.

I actually do not like the new WebMD boards, and I am assuming those are the ones you're referring to.

That said, I do like the 1 year old parenting board--that is my "home" now. There are a group of girls that I've known since TTC#1, and so we have been through the journey together.

I sought out a new message board, and I have been a member there for almost 2 years. It's called The Mommy Playbook, and it blows WebMD right out of the water. LOL. Plus, it's an EZ Message board, so you get the real signatures, avatars, and better smileys!

Misty Dawn said...

I agree w/the things that you said about the boards. I've only had one PG (that ended in m/c) on the I was only on the 1st Tri for a couple of days. I'm very familiar w/JSO, 6+, 12+, ITSG. In the beginning I did start out on JSO, then felt bad when it was time for me to transition b/c of all the friends I had made. So I posted on both. Then JSO really started to get to me....I couldn't handle the same questions over and over again or the often announced BFPs. Up until recently I was still on 6+, but webmd finally decided to put us together a 12+board. I've really become close w/the girls on 12+. We've gone through alot together and not many of us get to leave. We prob have the lowest BFP avg out of all the TTC boards. We are go through testing and treatments together, since we are so close most of us just stay and don't advance to ITSG. I generally post on both 12+ & ITSG. Although I call the 12+board home. Sometimes I don't feel like I belong on ITSG, like now since I'm TAB due to finances. When I have more things to talk about related to TTC/Cycling I post more frequently on ITSG.

If there is EVER a FT PG, I would love to call PAIF home. I don't think I could stomach 1st Tri again. Hopefully the girls will accept me. ~wink~

Bree said...

Oh the boards.

Whenever I venture onto a typical board I find myself screaming with irritation. No, I do NOT want to see your effin' blinkies. No I do NOT want to hear about how your first three pregnancies were accidents-despite-birth-control but now you're so frustrated that it's taking more than one cycle now that your actively TTC. I could go on, but I'm not sure my blood pressure can handle it.

The one board where I felt comfortable was for two-mom families and wannabe families. Given that most of us start with IUIs (yet don't have any fertility problems per se), it makes sense to hang out with people who 'get it' and don't assume that IUIs equal subfertility.

Now that I'm on my eigth medicated/monitored IUI cycle, though... I can't venture onto any boards. I don't really fit in with the l#sbian newbies, and couldn't handle their "BFP on the first try" stories anyhow.

Some days I need to avoid others' BFP announcements. Some days I need to avoid pregnancy tidbits... even from those who moved heaven and earth to get pregnant in the first place. (Yes, I know that's effed up and may even offend you. Apologies, although I suspect you get it.) I've become exceptionally jealous of those who can keep trying until they succeed, as effed up as that sounds, it's true.

My partner and I have mutually agreed on this, but it's still horrible to write: I'll be done after 11 IUIs. No IVF. No switching donors. Just... done. (A large part of this is due to the fact that we already have a daughter--whom my partner carried--and any additional treatments will detract from the time and resources that we should devote to raising her.)

Good lord, I've written a book and gone WAY off topic. Sorry.

To close... boards mostly suck. I prefer to have my news filtered through LaFaCA.

Brett and Audra said...

This post is actually very informative. I've only been a part of the ITSG board and only DREAM of being part of the PAIF board. You hit the nail on the head in regards to ITSG,as we discussed on my blog, it's changed so much lately. Too many lurkers for my taste.

The Captain's Wife said...

I began my stint on TTC JSO...moved onto TTC 6mo+, and spent some time on TTC AL (after loss) and was fortunate to not go any further.

I was SO glad when they created the Am I Pregnant board so those stupid questions woud stop!

I have dabled on the different Tri boards, but I pretty much stay on the PAL board (Pregnancy after loss). The TRI boards tend to bore me and I feel like I already know the answers to the questions they are asking.

On PAL we are all in the same boat, have endured a loss (or multiple losses) at some point in a previous pregnancy and our fears are valid.

I have become "friends" with a few girls from the boards (you included) via their blogs or by exchanging personal emails.

I find it exciting at this point, watching so many of the girls getting ready to ahve their babies, seeing girls that were previously on the board or TTCAL make there way back to PAL. I do wonder though...will there be a void once I have this baby? Will I move over to a parenting board? TBD I guess...

calliope said...

I was on a message board for people trying to conceive with donor sperm and it was a really awesome group: gay, straight, married, single. Those that got knocked up still hung around and chimed in with support when needed.

Then there was this surge of haters that started posting. And after the haters came the drive by posters. You know the people that would post things like, "I just got knocked up after my 1st home insem with donor sperm. So it can work!"
um. yeah. Thanks.

Then it got sort of weirdly crowded with the knocked up people sort of taking over the trying boards and killing us softly with blinkies and photo montages of growing bumps.

So I had to quit posting or even lurking there because it became so US and them.

Now I have my primo message board that is like the ultimate safe haven (comprised mostly of other folks that abandoned the other message board) and I have one little "long time tryers now pregnant" group and that is mostly all I can face.

I think, in theory, message boards can be great- but when it stops being about supporting each other and it becomes a soapbox for self proclaimed experts - well that is when I fart loudly and exit stage left.

Krista said...

Wow they have a TTC12+ board now? I didn't know that. My home was TTC6+. We "met" on JSO I think, when I was still investigating and pre-TTC planning.

I never really got into the Tri boards though. I tried a bit, but I never felt at home. Is there still a PAL (pg after loss) board? I knew a lot of girls on there when I was pg and would follow them on PAL more than participating on the Tri boards where I was "supposed" to be.

Lisa said...

I do not know much about the infertility boards or the TTC AL board either so I can't comment on them.

You forgot the part where just about everyone on the pregnancy first tri board talking about showing already (at only 6 weeks). Also, the fact that they are all convinced they are having multiple due to the excessive morning sickness, a dream they had, or the fact that they are already showing. You also get the women who are having their first baby and are certain that they are feeling movement (at less than 8 weeks!). Sorry these annoy me so much!! I only started to notice them after I found out I was having twins...

This was a very interesting post, Nancy. your outlook on the WebMD boards is bang on...

Morgan said...

I haven't stepped foot in a message board in months, I got tired of everything (peoples stupidity although yes I have been there before too) I can not stress how much I freaking HATE message boards now. At first I always had to put in my 2 cents, then I got so tired of it all I just lurked and didnt even try to explain thing to people anymore, and now I don't visit them at all.

OMG has anyone else noticed peoples names are finally being capitalized in the comments....that used to bug the shit out of me how they weren't!!

Sara said...

Pretty much sums it up!

I guess for me I like PAL because, like the other boards, the women there know what you have gone through before this point.

Io said...

Heh. You're funny.
I did some boards a little bit before I discovered blogging, but even when I was just starting out the new people bothered me. I never go on them anymore, but I think that's also because I have nothing to say at all - since I'm not actively ttc I don't really have anything to say.

Kelly said...

I'm a first time mom and the trimester boards bug the hell out of me too. WedMD especially, which coincidentally is where I found the link to your site. I can't agree with you more about how annoying it is to read the same questions over and over again read about ignorant people looking for reassurance. I read a post last night where a woman was asking if it was ok to carry a large purse instead of a diaper bag. Since when does someone need permission.

Love your blogs. I've been lurking for months but this is my first time commenting.

Marie said...

I agree with you 1,000% although I never went onto the JSO boards. When we were JSO, I wasnt aware of those boards. Those were years of crying in my cornflakes alone. I stumbled on the TTCISG & that is where I stayed. Then after a while of IUI's & few IVF's (& a heart wrenching m/c after IVF#1) thrown in for good measure, ended up on the PAIF boards. After I gave birth to my daughter i TRIED to go onto the parenting boards but they were definatly not me. So, I did nothing as far as boards til I was trying to concieve #2. Another few failed attempts, then vwa-la ..... TTC#2 turned out to be #2 AND #3!
I do go onto the Pg after 35 boards n ot so much for bonding between us 'mature' foxes, but it makes me feel better that women over 35 actually DO have babies.

Kaci said...

Oh the lovely message boards. I remember getting so fed up on JSO with the people who never posted but then expected huge congrats when they got a BFP. I never moved on to the 6+ months board because back then there wasn't a 12+ mo board and most of the people on the 6+ board had been there a while. I didn't feel I fit. Plus, I was never home when I ovulated so I didn't feel like some of my cycles really counted as trying. During my pregnancy with Matthew I was somewhat active on the tri boards but when I was having Scarlett it all seemed ridiculous to me. I was invited by a friend to a message board that called itself WebMD rejects and still post/chat/talk/email with them now.

Probably next time I TTC I will not use message boards at all.

Heather said...

OMG....totally! I am the first tri boards now and I harldly post! All those stupid questions over and over again drive me crazy. "Oh, I'm spotting", "oh I'm bleeding...should I be nervous?" aaaaahhhhh! Makes me want to write back and say "yeah you should be nervous....stop asking stupid questions and call your doctor!!!!!".

Nikki said...

I agree with you. I liked the earlier grouping of boards on Web.MD.

Of late ITSG has got - well, diluted. It doesn't feel like it used to a few months back. Too many "drop ins" and too many "quick BFPs". Lately it seems like people come out of lurking only during their 2ww and then announce a BFP in 10 days. They expect us all to flap our hands and jump for joy for them!

It got a little irritating, and has pushed me into lurking mode. I do answer some questions once in a while, but really don't spend as much time there as I used to.

I don't know much about the pregnancy boards - I was on PAIF for about 2 weeks before my pregnancy was discovered to be ectopic. I found myself completely silent there - not because of the others on the board, but because I was so freaked out about my pregnancy - worrying that something would go wrong again. It did go wrong, so I guess my worrying was justified.

I have been hanging out on IVFconnections recently and I'm liking that much better. Their veterans board is truly a safe haven for bitter IVF vets.

Perhaps I connect more there because EVERYONE there is doing IVF. I find myself feeling hopeful for myself just meeting so many people in my shoes (some in shoes worse than mine). On WebMD, I feel like my story is one of the longest drawn most hopeless ones :-)

Hollie said...

Very informative post esp for ladies looking for a board. I'm so glad we met on TTC-ITSG. Our group of ladies has been so great, and it's really fun to follow everybody.

Jewels said...

Dang - I commented earlier and lost it.
Yes I agree - and just to add...
the TTCAL board has it's own feel too that I was quite surprised at. Like you said the TTC-ITSG board is strict on their rules. The TTCAL is not. I was shocked on how many PAL women were there and didnt put "trigs" in the post title - only "TIS" in there sig. (uuuh, a little late dont-ya-think?")
Anyway. I think your dead on on the feal of the boards.

BTW - I liked your post =D

ssbean said...

Because this is my first pregnancy and really I've never been around babies much, I found the tri boards home. However, what I've noticed is that half my time in a certain tri, I can relate and talk. Then there comes a point, that I just lose interest. At 19wks, I have begun to lose interest in the 2nd tri. It's the same thing over and over again. But, I feel so addicted to the message boards. I'm thinking strongly about taking a week away from posting on the message boards, and maybe even from blogs. A internet less week.

I must say there's nothing like the bond on the TTC12+.

~*JaYmE*~ said...

I think you hit the nail right on the head! I never did go to the JSO. By the time I found it I was already at 6 months. I highly doubt I will go over to the first tri either. I'll stay on PAIF. I dont think I really want to hear all the "OMG I think I'm PG and I'm only 16" crap. I did email you back by the way. I don't expect a reply but I did want to make sure you got it. Didn't want you to think I didnt appreciate it!

MrsSpock said...

I was never a fan of boards. The questions annoyed me. As did the rampant misspellings and grammar errors. And the blinkies.

mommybird said...

I never did the TTC boards, but I imagine your discription is quite accurate because it is for the tri boards. First trimester kills me, by 9 weeks I could have screamed at the "could I be pregnant?" posts. I didn't reply because I thought "do you have a uterus? have you had sex? Of course you COULD be, go POAS and leave us alone." would be somewhat rude. There was one girl who, after receiving a few responses, asked what ovulating was. I couldn't take it after that, figure out SOMETHING about your body before you spread your legs girl. The other boards get rather redundant the second and third time around as well.

Carrie Ann said...

This was an interesting post. I never joined a board when TTC and I wish I did - esp. when times were tough.

JamieD said...

I agree whole heartedly. I remember being frustrated with the TTC-JSO board when ~I~ was TTC-JSO. I have a low level tolerance for stupid and there seemed to be no shortage of it there.

I think I probably learned the most from the TTC 12+ board but you are right. Bitter, bitter, bitter. Even though I am quite bitter myself I learned fast it was best to lurk.

I don't go back very often. There are some girls I still think about and wonder if they ever got their BFP.

It is funny to think back when I was on the JSO board and 'dreaming' of when I could post about my own BFP and graduate to the 1st Tri board. Those were the days . . .