"You want to be where people see that troubles are all the same. You want to be where everybody knows your name..."
--Cheers theme song.
I read blogs long before I wrote one. I started with Dooce and then jumped to Amalah and a bunch of twin blogs: Child's Play and Sarah and the Goon Squad. At some point, it finally kicked in that there must be infertility blogs out there. I'm not even sure how I found all of you. At the top of my favourites page is A Little Pregnant, Kir's Corner, and Serenity Now! Perhaps it speaks more to the fact that I rarely know about technological advances until most people are onto the next big thing, but a few years ago, the only blogs I knew about were the ones on Baby Center because most people--those who were not writers or chosen by a larger enterprise to be one of their narrative voices--didn't have blogs. I'm not even sure when Blogger came about.
But suddenly, there was a new way to follow someone's story. And this made SUCH a huge difference in a group like infertility where people are blogging, frankly, for support, to vent, and to gather information. At least I am blogging for support, venting, and gathering information so I am attributing those same reasons to everyone else. So there.
Not to sound like an old bat, but back in MY day, if you were wigging out and trying to keep yourself from succumbing to the siren song of the pee stick, you posted a message on a bulletin board (right about now you're thinking, "and Grandma didn't even have cars when she was growing up. She had to walk to school WITH HER OWN FEET."). Which usually got you a "hang in there!" or two. If you had a specific question, you usually got a handful of answers. But the comments were divided based on necessity--questions received more comments than vents. And miscarriages and pregnancies earned equal amounts. Most people wrote their pregnancy congratulations as if they were saying goodbye to the person, perhaps the hope being that if you were pregnant, you would scatter or start putting "pregnancy mentioned" in your subject lines. There were certainly "famous" posters on the board--ones that everyone knew. But their questions didn't receive more answers than someone who was posting for the first time.
Enter this phenomenon that When Eggs Go Bad brings up--that some people receive 70 comments for a single post and some people receive two. And what creates a celebrity blogger? I guess the big ones are the ones who have been around for years, telling their story. They built up their fan base over a long period of time. Most are excellent writers, hence why people enjoy reading their story. It's not that they have something more valid to say, but because they say those thoughts so eloquently. At least, that is why I read them.
This is why I love the blog more than the bulletin board--it becomes an ongoing conversation between you and another person you would have never known about in this lifetime if not for the Internet. On the bulletin board, I knew vaguely a few people's stories, but mostly only in relation to their infertility. With a blog, I know how infertility affects many areas of your life--the family get togethers, the time your car wouldn't start but you had the semen sample tucked between your breasts, the crappy day where you got your BFN and the best day of your life when you got your BFP. It's all there. In one space. And you can read backwards and get to know someone you just met. They don't have to repeat the same stories over and over and over again. All the information is neatly saved. Therefore, a newbie can come onto the scene and quickly know the same things (about another blogger's life) as a veteran. Being in the game for a long time isn't a prerequisite anymore to knowing other people's stories.
And these stories are important for many reasons and it connects to the reason why I comment. Because we depend on one another to pass along information so we know the right questions to ask. We depend on one another to let people know that they're not alone. Infertility breeds seclusion, and blogs allow empathy, sympathy, and a good old-fashioned virtual back pat to seep into the caves we build for ourselves. My point to Persephone on Friday was not "you're doing something wrong" but that "you're not alone. I do this too. And we both need to stop."
So I comment for the same reason. I pass along any information I have. Infertility sometimes feels like throwing everything out and seeing what sticks. Maybe my advice will trigger other thoughts that will lead to a solution. Or maybe my information is the solution. Or maybe you just need to know that you're not alone. Not just inside the bad times, but inside the good times too. And I see pregnancy in a completely different way than the thoughts expressed in the comments on this original post.
I think many people stop reading infertility blogs that turn into pregnancy blogs or stop commenting on them because they think they can't have something to say. But pregnancy after infertility is not a party where balloons and streamers are hanging down from the ceiling for nine months. Not everyone blogs about this, but pregnancy after infertility is like holding your breath for nine months. With small moments where you gasp inside a bit of fresh air. Okay, so not everyone goes through life like this, but those who have too much information do because the worries don't stop once the pink lines show up. You go from worrying about ovulation to worrying about your beta to worrying about the fact that you're not feeling morning sickness to worrying about the amnio to...
Pregnant ladies post infertility need your support too. You may think that if you haven't been there yet it would be impossible to have something to say. But you can and it may even more more detailed than a "hang in there!" I've never had an amnio, but I can imagine lying on that table and seeing that needle and it makes me want to leave a little message in the comments section--thinking about you. Please keep us updated. Let us know how it goes. Anything to let her know that she isn't alone. Because amnios are scary during a normal pregnancy, but...amnios post infertility? Can you imagine sitting around thinking about the miscarriage statistics post amnio? You already struck terrible odds with IF, do you really want to tempt fate? But you want to have information. But would you do anything with that information? It's a cycle that I think most people don't consider if they haven't been through IF. I'm not saying these thoughts don't go through other people's minds, but pregnancy post infertility is unique. And these women need support too. And they're not going to get it from your average pregnancy board. Pregnant women after infertility sort of float in their own space.
And I figured out all of those things about amnio without ever having had one just by reading other blogs. Which is the other way I comment--I pass along something I read. Someone mentioned on their blog that they wanted to know more about unmedicated cycles so I posted that they should go read Jenny from the Infertility Block. Think of it like a bee pulling pollen off of one flower and bringing it to the other. If you read blogs, you have the ability to pass along not only what you've learned from your own life, but from other lives as well. I guess that is the point of the Friday Blog Roundup. I read these cool posts and then I wonder if other people have read them and feel the same way so I throw it up there to point you towards other people who may feel the same way you do.
So...my blog. Which started as a way to connect to other people's stories and collect them for the book has become my venting space as I unpeel all of the things I thought and felt (and think and feel) about infertility. Can you tell that I've been carrying around a shitload of baggage? Still? Originally, I really didn't want this blog to be about me, but to be about infertility in general. But then you come to the computer after crying because it was another 21-day cycle or you start reading things and freaking out about your own body. And suddenly, it became about me. Which is fine. I'm not shy about sharing anything that may help another person. So. I will blog about my appointment on Thursday. As well as any results I receive from the blood work. And I will blog about my wonky cycles and the things I am feeling while I parent post infertility as well as gear up for another round of Let's Make a Baby (or go insane trying!).
But I don't blog about my kids for the most part because (1) I want this blog to be like a virtual Cheers where you can drink heavily after a BFN and everyone knows your name and (2) I don't want it to change. I want there to be one blog that is solely about infertility. Infertility-24/7-all-the-time-never-leaving-you-to-go-be-about-mommyhood. There's a need for that, I think, based on the comments. That there's a sadness and envy that also takes place with the congratulations and the happiness. Because their happiness is your loss--one less story about the trenches and one more about pregnancy when you're still back in the war zone.
I also do not blog anonymously, therefore, I know family and friends read what I write. I can't unring that bell. And if we did ever get pregnant again, I would want to be able to tell them when we were ready. And I would be ready much sooner to discuss it here than I would in real life. So...no pregnancy annoucements from me. Except perhaps in passing. And then back to blogging about infertility. With a few posts peppering the space about pregnancy or parenting after IF because it's important to have the heads up. Skip them, if you choose, but (and this is the beauty of a blog where the information remains day after day) read them when you're ready. I have considered creating a new anonymous blog and adding it to the blogroll. But it would sort of defeat the purpose if I then talked about it on this blog. I don't know--I'm sure there will be people who will be pissed that I'm still talking about IF when/if I actually do become pregnant. But...this blog is not only about fulfilling your needs and putting together things like Operation Heads Up so that people can find quick answers. It's also about my needs. And I need to talk about infertility. It changed the way I view the world and it shifted my focus in life and frankly, I just need to talk about it. For an indefinite amount of time. Can you imagine your children growing up and then suffering from infertility and you'll tell them, "go read that Melissa chickie. She was who we read back in my day." Okay, so perhaps not that indefinitely.
And none of this is a comment on how I feel about pregnancy/parenting after IF blogs. I read them religiously (and I comment!). If a person is telling solely their story, they have to change. Which is why I set up my blog to be different than "just my story." I think we each have a valid space here in the blogosphere.
A long summing up of my thoughts about blogs, their importance, and how we just need to be there for one another.