When I initially read the prompts for Chapter Three of The Writer’s Block, I really wasn’t sure I’d even have anything to say this time around. I don’t really think too much about going back in time to change things. Not because there aren’t things worth changing, but because I believe that every event in our lives leads us to the place we are right now, but literally and metaphorically. I happen to love my life, despite the challenges I’ve faced. So, I wouldn’t risk making a change that might completely alter my entire history, or cost me all the good I have in my present life. The other three prompts seemed interesting, but well… I’m in SL with my RL husband, so sex in SL is sort of irrelevant to me at this point. But I did mentally keep coming back to the fourth prompt… “the struggle between the real and the second” seemed very compelling to me. But what to say? I honestly wasn’t sure I could think of anything. My SL and RL have always been pretty merged (the whole RL husband thing again).
Then yesterday I was shooting a new poster for the front of our store Embody. We have six huge posters of our products, and we try to highlight the basics and best sellers with the posters. One of our biggest selling categories has always been maternity. So, for the poster, I got all dressed up like I’d been thoroughly knocked up and was about to pop. I thought I looked pretty darn adorable, dressed like a pregnant diva on a shopping spree, and well… it made me realize that maybe I did have a story to share about the struggle between the first and the second.
I remember when I was still brand new to SL. I mean, maybe two weeks old, and we were at a club where a woman had a tummy talker. I found it so odd. I didn’t understand the point of role playing a pregnancy (or anything) at all. But I had literally no exposure to RP before SL, so that’s not really surprising. Also, let’s face it. It’s easy in life to be judgmental. Humans are judgmental by nature, and my personal opinion on that is that we need to be able to make judgments. Being judgmental helps us make decisions and choices. The question is whether or not those judgments are flexible, and are they based on all the facts. Can we be fair judges in our lives, both real or second? That’s the part that’s tricksy.
I like to believe I am open-minded. I am fond of saying that I am a bisexual, anti-dieting, Libertarian atheist with a degree in anthropology. If I couldn’t be open-minded, or accepting of differences, I wouldn’t really have very many people to talk to in this life. Besides that, agreeing with everyone all the time sounds boring to me. I like debate, and intellectual discourse. I like to learn. I may be opinionated, and there are some things which I cannot imagine I will ever feel differently about, but I’m willing to listen to other perspectives.
Okay, so back to the story… the tummy talker kind of freaked me out. The SL pregnancy thing just seemed odd.
Then a friend of mine in SL got pregnant a few weeks later with twins. She looked, well… adorable, to be honest. All round and cute and dancing around with her new husband, and she mentioned that they couldn’t be together in RL and he couldn’t have anymore RL kids even if they could. Suddenly, I saw the whole thing in a new light. You see, part of how I wound up in SL was infertility. Oh, not directly. It was not like “well, can’t have kids, let’s join SL.” It was a series of events, but they are all events that would’ve transpired very differently had we had children as we’d planned, and tried for for two years. That all ties back to my not changing the past thing, really. If I’d become a mother, as I’d dreamed of my entire life and for years after meeting my husband, I know I would have been damn unlikely to be in SL. Which is not to say mothers shouldn’t be in SL, by the way. I just want to clarify that. It’s just my personal belief that I never would’ve been in stupid YoVille, which is what led to me winding up in not-generally-stupid SL. Just a disclaimer.
It wasn’t long before I realized that I could have an SL pregnancy and baby… I didn’t get to do any of the fun “I’m pregnant” stuff in RL because I couldn’t get pregnant. Infertility sucks all the joy out of the entire experience, at least until you get pregnant, if you’re fortunate enough. I wasn’t. But here I was, in a virtual world with virtual doctors and my real life husband. Rad is a serious trooper, and he went through it all with me and even played along. Once he asked a silly question about whether or not the gymnastics type run in my AO was safe for the baby. The first time, I was pregnant for only 5 weeks, and Ashlan was born. The second time I was pregnant 20 weeks, and we had Trinity. After Ashlan and Trinity, I was supposedly done. I wasn’t going to do it again. It wasn’t inexpensive, and it was silly… right?
Then my real life sister got pregnant. She was 17, and pretty much got pregnant the day she left rehab for the third time. Now, I love my nephew. I’ve only gotten to meet him once, but I adore him and we talk on the phone (he usually hangs up on me). He’s so sweet and I am so grateful we have him in our lives, but it was hardly ideal for my troubled teenage sister with a dysfunctional relationship to have gotten pregnant. And it just tore my heart to shreds. My sister was like my daughter, which is a long and complicated story I will spare you all from reading, but she was. We were inseparable, and we were so much alike in many ways. Until the drugs. Then things changed. Eventually, we had a huge fight. She told me I was just jealous of her because she could get pregnant and I couldn’t. Now, she was 18 and troubled and pregnant… but that is something that will always sting, and our relationship has never been the same. Maybe when she gets a little older (she’s not quite 22), things will change. But for now, it’s a gaping hole in my heart… and in the moment, several years ago, it was utterly crushing.
During that painful time, I decided I wanted another SL pregnancy and baby. Rad told me he didn’t think I’d be satisfied until I did one that lasted nine whole months. Now, you won’t meet a lot of people in SL who have done nine month pregnancies. Not in SL where a week seems like a month, and a month easily feels like three. Time in SL is so strange and nebulous. But I said yes… okay, let’s go for it. Let’s do the whole nine months. I didn’t pick the gender this time, either. I did, about halfway into the pregnancy, decide I was having twins, but we RP’d it like the doctor “discovered” the second baby. I didn’t pick hair color, but rather gave options based on our avs. Same with eye color, skin tone… you get the point. I made it as real as I possibly could, so that I could get it out of my system. And it worked, too. No, it is not the same. It could never be the same, naturally. But it’s as close as I could get to the real experience.
I know pregnancy in SL is one of those “hot button” issues everyone has an opinion on, and I know the vast majority of people I’ve met find it silly, stupid, weird or some combination of those things. I’ve seen plenty of snarky comments about prim babies, tummy talkers and pregnant avatars. I always get really mad, but I remind myself that at first I also didn’t “get it.” The thing is, you don’t have to “get it” to be more accepting and less judgmental. I don’t get a lot of things. I don’t get prayer, for instance. But I try to not judge people for whom that is an important part of their lives. I believe that, so long as your choices aren’t hurting other people, they are yours to make.
For me the struggle of not being able to have children in real life turned into something of a struggle in Second Life when I felt judged by total strangers or even friends for being (or having been) pregnant in SL. Now, mind you I muted my tummy talker in public places (with only family-friendly locations as an exception). Or I took it off. I didn’t wear it to laggy events. I didn’t take my (prim) babies to public places because I personally didn’t see the need, although I know some people RP in a way where leaving a baby with “Nanny Inventory” is not okay. But I went through so much trying to get pregnant in RL… and I never could. Second Life gave me the chance to live out a dream. No, it wasn’t the dream I wanted or imagined, but it was as close as I could get to that dream. I remember being baffled when a girl wearing an interactive cat tail judged my av’s pregnant belly. Really? I doubt she had a RL cat tail on her body. Part of what makes SL fun is doing what we can’t do in RL, or what we choose not to do in RL. For some of us, that includes pregnancy and families.
So, the next time you see a pregnant av before you snicker about it, consider what it might mean to her (or him!). Consider that maybe the person had cancer treatments that left her infertile. Or that her partner can’t have RL kids. Or that it’s the only way for two people who are currently living thousands of miles apart to share that experience. Consider that just maybe what you don’t understand is allowing the person to work through something very painful and difficult, and you don’t have to understand it. It’s okay for everyone to have their own unique SL experiences, and their own unique RL ones.
After all, don’t you?
Some of the cuteness I have on can be found at the new edition of Collabor88, so if you love autumn, be sure to hop on over. I took these pics at the gorgeous sim that is home to Little Closet, and if you want a lovely autumnal place to hang out and take pics, definitely check it out. My hair is new from Truth for The Season Story event, which is full of wonderful fall goodness, too!
Skin: Belleza – Leila – Pale – 03 (Collabor88)
Eyes: IKON – Perspective – Glass (coming soon)
Hair: Truth – Junpier – Reds (The Season Story)
Dress: Geometry – Love Maternity Dress – Ivory 3rd trimester
Jacket: coldLogic – Plume – Earth (part of a dress)
Hands: SLink – mesh -Casual
Boots: League – Lauren – Taupe (Collabor88)
Poses: Embody – Mother MegaPack