The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The BlogHer Diaries: Wrap Up

This is a loooooooooooooooong post. A long one. But I think (immodestly?) an important one. If you can't stand hearing one more thing about BlogHer, skip to the bottom where you read about the next bloggy thing. But...the reason why you should join for the next bloggy thing may not be clear until you read the rest of the post. Just saying.

The word "emotional" has been overused in all of my posts this weekend. But it's true. BlogHer has been a very emotional experience for me. I had never been to a conference before. Josh would go to conferences and I didn't quite understand what he got from them, why he wanted to go, and why he was sad every time I begged him not to go to a conference. And now I get it. I may still beg him not to go to a conference in a future, but at least I'll know what he is missing out on.

I am now home. After the keynote, I had a tearful goodbye with Lori, Luna, Millie, and Frenchie, and we caught our shuttle to the airport. It was really hard to leave. It was hard to stay and be so far away from the twins, but it was also hard to leave. Yes, they announced that I won the BlogHer hero award at the keynote. Which means a lot to me in light of the compassionate blogging movement I want to help out with that grew from the panel I attended at the conference. Due to the award, I had an interview printed in the Blogging Heroes book at the conference but I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet. I asked them to use a screen-shot of the blogroll. Why the blogroll? Because this community is about us. And we all deserve the recognition because the ALI chickies and man-pies rule.

I use the analogy a lot, but the conference was a lot like taking a trip to Wonderland. It goes by at warp speed. You meet so many fantastic people--those you already read incessantly and those you never knew existed in the blogosphere. And you bond with them intensely but briefly. I wanted to spend hours with each person I met, but you end up having these twitter-like meetings. You bump into someone and chat for a moment and then get dragged off in another direction and you're constantly mindful of the panels and suites and activities that are filling the schedule.

And the ideas--the ideas are shooting past you at lightening speed. I had so many people tell me about so many cool projects and I wanted to be involved in EVERY SINGLE ONE. And I will be involved in every single one. I will somehow make that happen. I feel like going to BlogHer gave me an extra tank of energy. It made me so proud to be involved with the organization and to be part of this incredible group of women. And I always think about my daughter and how I'll tell her about this time in my life. How I'll tell her that I was part of a group of women who made a difference and left their mark on areas of the Internet. And in doing so, they changed off-screen lives as well.

And I cannot write without crying how incredible it was to meet people face-to-face. You know their words, but imagine your computer screen opening and the author climbing into your living room and enveloping you in an actual hug with their arms rather than just their words. Sometimes the chance meetings were funny and I was so star-struck (that's Her Bad Mother in the elevator! Heather Armstrong! Stephanie Klein in the lobby!) and others were emotional. I wanted to hug Cecily through the whole conference. She is such a powerful, amazing woman and she's beautiful and bright-eyed and intelligent. And she rocked the panel with her thoughts on engaging negative commentors to build bridges. I could sniff Chookooloonks all day long--her perfume smells so good--and she had the greatest posture I've ever seen. She is so amazingly kind and thoughtful and beautiful. Seeing WhyMommy--who has changed the off-screen world so tremendously with her breast cancer information campaign--and getting to hug her in the elevator. I got to see Lesbian Dad's son and even hold him for a brief second before stranger danger kicked in and the tears flowed.

Before I go into more people, can I just talk also about something unique about this conference? I've never been to another conference, but I have to assume some of this is unique. On Thursday night, we had a couple hundred women playing Wii boxing (I made it to the third rounds!) and drinking beer. In three inch heels and sassy dresses. Can you imagine that at a male event? We had the movers and shakers of the Internet world all playing Wii in heels. And kids--there was childcare, but people also brought their children to the panels. And as much as it may have annoyed some, I actually thought it created this really beautiful vision of women who were not leaving home behind in order to discuss hard topics and make a change in the world. There was a kibbutzim mentality where I felt comfortable holding anyone's child or stopping them from racing into an open elevator when they toddled off from their mum. I didn't even know their mother, but there was such a feeling of community that it felt like we truly all were pitching in to help each other out. And that women share the load.

Which, also speaks volumes about processing this conference as an infertile woman. It was certainly child-friendly. It was more than child-friendly. It was somewhat child-focused in terms of the sponsorship room and the childcare suite. It was also Christian-centered and was held over Shabbat so anyone observant couldn't attend. It was also omnivorous-centered and the boxed lunches were of the ham-or-turkey variety. The vegetarian options weren't vegan therefore, I had to go out of the building to eat lunch.

And that is fine.


The timing of the conference didn't bother me and the menu of the conference didn't bother me because I also know that it served the majority even if it didn't include me in the minority. It would have been great if the conference could have reached even farther with inclusivity, but I also didn't think it had to because perfection doesn't exist. Get it right for me and it screws it up for someone else. Attending the conference would be a very different experience (from my own) if you were in a wheelchair or single or deaf or a recovering alcoholic. Or any of a number of situations. I just don't think it is humanly possible to make the conference comfortable for everyone.

So, that said, you should know before heading over that the majority of attendees either have children or are not in a place where children bother them. I think of it in the same way as a baby shower. The baby shower should go on and be a big raucous event regardless of me. And I should attend when I can emotionally. And I should be able to tend to my own needs and step back when I need to without offending anyone. If you're in a great space emotionally, you should attend BlogHer and perhaps avoid the Sesame Street suite and the swagaganzas. If you're not in a great space emotionally, the conference may not be the best space for you.

And, that said, I think for me it always boils down to sensitivity or insensitivity in determining my comfort level. And the fine chickies of BlogHer were damn sensitive. They were certainly thoughtful towards the ALI crowd by providing not one but two relevant panels (the IF one and women without children). That goes a long way for me. And it also reasons that it would be an easier event for me because I have my feet in both the parenting world and the infertility world.
Being able to stand on that bridge and look both ways made it a lot easier.

The reason I went to BlogHer was to meet the ALI bloggers face-to-face and I got to meet so many of them. And I will use the term again--that was very emotional for me. There were a lot of tears because I think we were all so overwhelmed to finally be sitting in the same room after reading each other for so long. Frenchie stopped by at the end, Rachel Inbar found us, and Amber came to our panel. I got to see Dramalish twice even though she couldn't come out with us Friday night. She is as sassy and fun as you imagine. And so pretty--did you see her picture? Michell drove up from Sacramento Friday night and I got to spend the whole evening with her. And she is just as warm and friendly and caring as you imagine. Millie came to both the Friday festivities and the conference on Saturday. She not only made me laugh hysterically and reminded me off cool writers past, but she traded baking tips...

And I am crying now.

Bleu drove up with Bliss to catch us before the panel and being with her was so incredibly special. It made me feel like I was home when I was so far away from home. Pamela Jeanne was so poised and confident. It was amazing hearing her thoughts on the panel. Monica was just as fun and vibrant as she is on her blog. I am going to start dragging her to the DC get togethers.

And you know when Dorothy has to leave Oz and it means saying goodbye to the Scarecrow and Lion and Tinman? And even though she wants to be home (because there is no place like home), she can't imagine also saying goodbye to these people who she spent so much time with and who shaped her experience?

I would say there was a big collective scarecrow--every ALI blogger was a piece of straw creating this collective brain that threw so many fantastic ideas in my head (see below). The Lion was definitely Luna. She has such a ferocious and beautiful spirit. The well is deep--she may cry deeply, but she also cares deeply and hugs strongly. She has so much courage and she doesn't even know the depth of what she possesses already in her heart. She is such an amazing woman.

And my tinman...perhaps, more aptly, my tinlady...Lori. She has a heart that is more enormous than her body and it spills love out in all directions. We spent the whole weekend alternating between laughing and crying and teasing each other incessantly. I think I spent equal time talking to her as I did trying to convince her husband all the reasons they need to come to DC. It was not my first time meeting Lori, but she was a large reason why I went to BlogHer. Because I just wanted that time. I wanted that time with everyone hence the idea you're going to see below.

I am not trying to make you jealous if you couldn't go; but perhaps the incessant talking makes you want to get involved. If getting to a conference physically isn't possible, there are still so many ways to get involved from home with the various projects that have come out of the conference. And on that note, I am going to hold off discussing our panel until Thursday when I do so on my BlogHer post. Because there were a lot of great ideas that we should all unpack.

But this is the next bloggy idea:

On October 13th, BlogHer is holding a one-day conference in DC. That's a Monday. It's also Columbus Day weekend (which doesn't affect me but may affect some?). Lindsay and I (and Lori will be dragged into this for suggesting it if we can get her out to DC) would like to invite you to our pre-conference: O.V.A.R.Y.*. It would begin Saturday evening around dinner time and run through Sunday evening (or, if you're going to BlogHer, through the Monday formal BlogHer conference as well). Lindsay and I are waiting to see a number before we start throwing out conference ideas--serious breakout groups based on topic? 24-hours of debauchery?--but would people be interested in attending?

Actually, here are the questions:

(1) would you drive down or up or east to get together with other ALI bloggers (and every single ALI blogger is invited)?

(2) would you be coming to BlogHer and already staying in a hotel or would you need a local blogger to put you up for the night?

(3) what would you want to see in the gathering? Just a social event where you get to meet up with other bloggers or small discussion groups?

(4) *what does O.V.A.R.Y. stand for? I know I'd like to use it to match with U.T.E.R.U.S., but what the hell does it stand for that screams, "this is a party!"

A side note--I would like this to be inclusive, but I apologize in advance that it will not be able to take everyone's needs into account. I think it should be a child-free space, though everyone is welcome: those still building their family, those pregnant after IF/loss, and those parenting after IF/loss. Gay/straight, young/old, single/married, crusty ovaries or problems with the man-pie hardware...every single person is welcome.


Io said...

Lolly! I am so proud of you! You are such a star. I think if I can next year I will have to go! I would try and make it October, but that day is Al's birthday. Figures.

bleu said...

Well you know I couldn't go but let's see.

ms.bri said...

Bri was here and was bursting with jealousy and congratulations for you.

That weekend probably wouldn't work for me but I wish it would. I LOVE meeting Internets in real life. I am grateful for your BlogHer posts because I have been spurred into reading some of the bigtime bloggers I have been ignoring.

IVP is interested in conferences, too. I know we have a slightly different bent but the two overlap in some cases. Check the forum!

annacyclopedia said...

I'm kind of swooning with excitement over your stories in this post, and just feeling a strong yearning to be there. DC is most likely out of the question for me - it's much easier for me to get to the west coast than the east, although I love DC and would be thrilled to go back there, especially if I got to hang out with you and everybody! I have yet to meet any internets in real life so the very thought just makes me so happy and giddy that I probably would have lost my mind at the beginning of BlogHer and never gotten it back. I'm so glad you had a good time and I'm so proud of you and all the other panelists for representing our community with such grace and brilliance.

As for O.V.A.R.Y - what about this:


I thought it was a wee bit better than Our Vaginas Always Require Yogurt.

In Due Time said...

I would love to meet some bloggers face-to-face, but with not having done any treatments, I still feel "not infertile enough".. isn't that horrible?

I'm suppose to be moving from TN to FL two weeks before the Oct date. I would love to go, but don't feel "wounded" enough to count.

We'll see.

In Due Time said...

Oh yeah...


Jess said...

(1) I WOULD LOVE to come to a bloggers meeting, but DC is even too far at THIS time for me to be leaving the babies since they're so young. I am SO JEALOUS though FOR THE RECORD of anyone who gets to go. SO JEALOUS.


(2,3) n/a cause of number one

I love the other poster's idea about yapping and yodeling vaginas. LOVE IT.

Sounds like the conference was awesome!! I'm so glad you had a good time!!

Lori said...

October's not that far away. My parents should be fully recovered from their recent grandparently duties by then.



luna said...

the lion, I love it. you are too kind. but you already know that.

I would really really try to get there for Oct. (more for the un-conference than blogher). and I LOVE all the names so far. what fun.

I had no doubt that you would try to make this happen. go mel and lindsay!

Kristin said...

Please, please tell me you are going to do this again next year. I really want to come but I am already committed to being out of town the first weekend in October and I can't afford to be traipsing off again so soon after.

Wishing 4 One said...

Ah man, i SO WISH I could get to DC in October, maybe I can, we'll see. Lolli you are THE MAN... or short cute little adorable lady in this case. You're a star girl and I think I speak for all of us when I say we are damn proud of you!

Ok heres my gangsta try....


My plain old regular try....


Sassy said...

I love the O.V.A.R.Y. suggestions. Thanks so much for sharing your BlogHer experience. I really really hope I can go one year. It just sounds like a really rejuvenating and inspiring experience.

seriously? said...

Look at you! Fancy. I think the conference sounds like a neat idea. I would love to come, but it would all depend on how much PTO I still have left...

Samantha said...

What a great time you had!

I don't see that I'll be able to attend, given all I have going on this fall. I wonder also, as a pregnant woman (and hopefully still pregnant in October), if I'd be violating that child-free space. I do think it's great to have the chance to meet blogger IRL.

BethH6703 said...

So glad to hear that you - and all of our ALI girls - had such a great time at BlogHer. Makes me a lil weepy that I wasn't able to attend. Maybe some day....

As far as OVARY, I think it's a fan-fucking-tabulous idea. Heartbreaking as it is, there's no way I could do it this year. (pout)

And I love Lori & Wishing4One's ideas for the acronym (are we voting? LOL)

loribeth said...

I feel like breaking into a chorus of "Kumbaya" after reading this. ; ) I want Thursday to hurry up & come now so that I can read your post about the panel.

Tracy said...

I'm so glad you had such a good time, and CONGRATS and well done (and well deserved) on your award.

My DH and I were watching the news over the weekend, and there was a report on a blogger conference that took place in Dallas. He was shocked that there were actually enough bloggers to hold a conference. Naive man. Anyway, thought you'd find that amusing.

Wanted to also let you know that I WOULD love to attend the conference in October in DC, and WOULD, definitely...but, since the twins are due in mid-September it is not possible. This year.

Just wanted you to know that there was interest on my part, however.

Erin said...

It sounds like it was amazing for everyone involved. I wish I could make it to DC for the meeting, but my college doesn't recognize Columbus Day as a holiday and I'll be teaching. Drat!

Vacant Uterus said...

I would love to come if I can swing it! I think it would be more difficult for me now than it would have been in the past but I'll see about making it work. I'd probably drive down for the day on Sunday unless a local blogger could host me overnight; our finances aren't good enough for me to afford a hotel now that I'm no longer working.

Great idea, Snatch!


Dreams Come True said...

Wow... I think I'm definitely going to be keeping up with BlogHer. It sounds like you had a blast, and so did everyone else who attended!

Anonymous said...

We just bought a big huge camper that will be more than ready to go at that point. Can you list lodging (including campgrounds) in the weeks leading up to it? Looks like Mark and I would be able to make it. We could probably put up a couple folks in our 4th wheel.

Anonymous said...

Your post so made me want to attend BlogHer. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Too bad I do not live close to DC, I would be game for October.

Anonymous said...

If ONLY that weekend worked for me, I would TOTALLY go. Unfortunately its an annual family getaway weekend for us.

Completely bummed over here, because this is a spectacular idea, and I am so jazzed about this community after reading your posts about your experience!

Mel - You are a ROCK Star!

Amy said...

I love conferences. I'm a conference junky. In fact, I'll be at a teacher's conference that Monday. Waaaah!

But, I'd love to come down Saturday night and maybe for some of Sunday. What an awesome idea! I feel all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.

Jen said...

I was halfway through your post thinking "we should really have an ALI conference" and then I find out you've already planned one!

emilythehopeless said...

i so wish i lived closer to DC :(

congrats!! sounds like a blast!

Julia said...

It sounds like you had the best time.

October sounds like great fun. But, hopefully, I will have to skip this year. Y'all have loads of fun and drinks for me, please.

Leah said...

I'm too brain dead right now to come up with anything witty for OVARY. :-( Of course I'd be at a Sunday pre-conference gathering, though. Wouldn't miss it for the world!

Jendeis said...

1) So awesome; I definitely want to get in on this.

2) I would stay at home and could put up two bloggers (one on pull out couch; one on regular couch).

3) I think you'd have to set aside time for a social event, but it'd be nice to do some small discussion groups based on FAQs in our world or something like that.

4)OVARY = Obviously Very Attractive Readers/Relaxers Yay! If you are willing to move away from the OVARY designation, you could call it Global TOOTPU.

Lisa said...

I'm getting emotional just reading this post. It must have been such an amazingly powerful experience for you!!

I would LOVE to come down to DC on 10/13, but, having just taken off time for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it will be hard for me to take another day. But, if anything changes in my schedule, I would love to come!

Pamela Jeanne said...

love, Love, LOVE the idea of an ALI confab but I'm going to have to watch and hear this first one via video/podcast because I'm committed in mid-October already with overseas guests staying with us. Let me know if i can help from afar...

Amanda said...

What an incredible seedling from your experience. We didn't meet, but I am so glad you had such a revelatory time!

soapchick said...

Thanks for sharing your BlogHer trip with us. I enjoyed living vicariously through you. Congrats on your award - you are awesome!

Sandy said...

Hey, sounds like the conference was amazing. I was thinking of going next time and your account seals the deal for me!

Meghan said...

All your posts make me want a group hug. I'm both glad and jealous that you had such an amazing time out there. Since I live here, you know I'm in for OVARY. There will hopefully be a 3 week old in my house though so I doubt anyone from out of town would want to stay, although I could put up 2 brave souls.

Amazing idea Mel!

Heather J. said...

Thanks so much for sharing your adventure as with all of us. I so wish I could have been there. That said, I'll DEFINITELY do the weekend event in DC. I can't take off work on that Monday but I'd love to meet some other bloggers over the weekend!

Oh, and will someone please tell "In Due Time" that there's no such thing as "wounded enough"?! :) I don't exactly fit into this IF world anymore (since we're not TTC anymore) but I still feel part of the community.

Shelby said...

Sounds like BlogHer was amazing!

I"m so there for OVARY! Let me know if you need help planning. My inlaws will be staying with us that weekend, otherwise I'd be up for bloggers crashing.

Kristine said...

Beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us.

It is my plan to be there next year!

I would love to go to the DC get together. I can't commit right now. As a post IF'er that is still bf'ing a little one I need to figure that bit out. I can certainly understand the need to keep it child free however.

Barb said...

What a beautiful post! Congrats!

I would love to say I would since that would be AWESOME, DC is my favoritest city ever, AND I have family I could visit and stay with at the same time!

However, that would be up to the money and time off Gods, and both are not smiling on us by the end of these past few mos.

Next year would probably be better for me, but I'll keep it in mind.

Bean said...

Congrats on your award! And thanks for sharing your BlogHer experience with all of us. As for OVARY -- I'd love to say yes to it all, but I'm not sure at this point if we'll be around. If we're in town I'd DEFINITELY want to come for at least some festivities

Magpie said...

Hey - I was really happy to have met you.

There were too many things to do and see, but overall it was a great sense of community.

JamieD said...

How incredibly awesome!!

Thank you so much for sharing your conference experience and for all the pics. It DOES make you proud to be a part of this community and make you want to reach out and do more.

It is funny to read about how 'star-struck' you were when meeting so many different bloggers because that is how I would be if I met you!

Kymberli said...

I wish I could make the trip all the way up to DC. If some other ALI bloggers will be there, I'm considering going to the one in Greensboro, NC or the one in ATL.

As for OVARY:

Voices for
Rallying for
Insight and
Empathy through

The Y was killing me. Besides - in the best case scenario, we have two (preferably functional) ovaries. Two ovaries work in conjunction with the uterus. UTERUS and OVARIES...the two acronyms fit!

Amber said...

Wow. Mel gave me a shout out. Cool! I wish I could haev stayed longer but it was a thrill to meet everyone.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I feel like the nerd who moved from Kentucky to a Beverly Hills High and am sitting alone at lunch with my PB&J. What are ALI bloggers? I'm glad you had such an inspiring time at BlogHer and were able to meet women who you have grown to know and love online. I know how that can be emotional. I have an infertility forum that I started in 2003 and I have met 2 of the women face to face. We actually see each other often as they are in my same state. We have grand plans of some day having a meeting of everyone at one place. When that day actually come to pass, I will have a long post as well; I can promise that.

Her Bad Mother said...

Am blown away that you used my name in a sentence with "heather armstrong." But, yes, I did spend a lot of time in elevators ;)

Wish that I'd had opportunity to share more than just random elevator/drive-by moments with you. Sigh.

Aurelia said...

The baby is older then, so yeah, I can see me going to DC.

Mind you I'll have to figure out how to get a passport by then...should be a challenge. Argghh

HeidiM said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, you are contagiously passionate!

I love Kymberli's suggestion for OVARIES!

Here's my lame-ass attempt -- really I'm just excited to have found a "Y" word.


Where Yoni means "the womb or vulva, or a symbol of it."

Bea said...

Just wanted to say this is an awesome wrap-up post. It does make me want to head over next year. Hm...


Bea said...

Oh, and congrats on the award! Nearly forgot. Well deserved, and love what you did with the screenshot!


Rachel Inbar said...

It was great to finally meet you in person at BlogHer and I really enjoyed the panel. As for observing Shabbat, the only problem I found was that I couldn't go back to my room because I couldn't open the door. In addition, I asked the kitchen for kosher food and they were able to get it for me for every meal - airline dinners, but it was totally fine... Make sure to ask next time, I had the same in Chicago last year (thought there was nothing kosher at first & happened to ask & found out that there was).

Congrats on winning the BlogHer hero :-)