september 2013 – monthly theme post listing – why we blog

Here are the submissions for this month’s theme: Why We Blog. Each post had a variety of reasons listed for why the author blogged, but the main thread through each of them was for connection. We couldn’t agree more.

The past few months have had us reflecting on why we blog here at PAIL. Ultimately, it was like you, for connection. Each of us is undergoing a major shift in our lives, and the focus of PAIL Bloggers will be shifting along with it. Our ultimate goal has always been to connect folks crossing over to “the other side” for the next leg of the journey. As such, we will be returning to our roots going forward, with the focus being primarily on monthly theme posts and connecting you all with each other. We will continue to welcome bloggers to the blogroll and update you on new arrivals each month. See you in October!

Suggested Writing Prompts

  • Did you start blogging before, during, or after your journey though infertility/loss/adoption? 
  • Why did you start blogging? What has kept you blogging?
  • When you became a parent did you transition your blog or start a new space? What were your reasons for doing so? How do you feel about your decision now?
  • Have you ever felt pressure to blog about certain things and not others? What influences your writing, if anything?
  • What did you hope to achieve by blogging? Do you feel that you have done this?
  • Why is blogging important to you NOW?
  • What value do you see in blogging the “after”? 

Contributing PAIL Bloggers

  1. Sarah at Mommyhood After Fertility Frustration writes “For 3 years, I’ve been spewing my crazy thoughts, feelings and experiences into the universe for sanity and hoping at least one person gets a little something out of my ramblings.” in her post Oops I Did It Again.
  2. Kasey at Powersfullife.com has written a “A three part series about why I blog and how finding the IF community has inspired me to change how I blog (even if I haven’t made the change quite yet).”
  3. S from Misconceptions About Conceptions has written “Why I blog: to maintain my sanity and reassure myself that I’m not alone.
  4. Sara-Lynn from Home Grown Love says “For me, blogging is about connecting, providing hope, and giving my thoughts a space of their own.” in her post What Blogging Means to Me.
  5. Josey from My Cheap Version of Therapy tells us that “Things change over the years, but my goal is that my space will continue to evolve with me and continue to be “my cheap version of therapy.”
  6. Courtney at All the Sun For You discusses “Finding connections through shared experiences and blogging” in her post Real Connections.
  7. SRB from Little Chicken Nuggets reflects on “taking many, many steps forward and one giant step back” in her post I Didn’t Make It Into the Newspaper.
  8. No Baby Ruth says “From keg parties to dinner parties, I blog because it makes me feel less alone” in BYOB.
  9. Elizabeth from Bébé Suisse says “I was headed this way anyway, but this month’s theme really made me think about why I blog … and why I won’t.” in her post Not really alone, revisited: why I blog(ged).
  10. Mrs T (formerly known as miss oh kay) from A Plus Effort shares her thoughts and recycles a past post from her 3rd blogiversary called “Thinking Things.”
  11. Ozifrog (jo) from Maybe baby, J-man and the adventures of Hub-in-boots tells us “Why I’m “out” about IVF, Infertility, parenting in all it’s highs and lows, and creating a new me from the smorgasbord of selves. In short, why I blog.” in her post Write to life.
  12. Emma from Emma in Mommyland is “Figuring out what I want out of blogging and where my blog stands in Blog World.” in her post What Am I Doing Here?
  13. Esperanza from Stumbling Gracefully tells us that “On the eve of my second child’s birth I’m once again rethinking why I blog.”
  14. This Foxy Mama returned to blogging at a new location after a short hiatus and answers the question “Why do i blog?
  15. asterisk mama from Mama Asterisk* is also newly blogging at a new location and contributed her thoughts with “Why I Blog.
  16. Better late than never(!), Wifey at Punch Today In The Face contributed her two cents with PAIL: Why I Blog.

If you are still writing your post, or these posts inspire you, link up in the comments. Additional posts will be added through the end of the week, so check back in to see if any new posts pop up, and feel free to leave some general comments on the topic below.

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september 2013 monthly theme – why we blog

When I started my blog, it was a place to post pictures and hilarious anecdotes about my kid because I had quit Facebook.  I had been secretly reading IF blogs when I was pregnant with him, hoping to find someone mirroring the difficult emotions I was feeling not only being pregnant after experiencing infertility and miscarriages, but also how to cope when you are pregnant and your infertile friend is not. I found a few people that today I call my friends. These people saved my life.

And then… then I starting to write about my journey on my very public, very NOT anonymous blog. I needed to get some of that agonizing weight off my chest. I needed the people in my life to see it. I needed to be recognized. I needed to come out of the shadows. When the PAIL blogroll was first started, I added the button so quickly you would think my life had depended on it. Which honestly, at the time, it did. Even through all of the difficulty in getting this niche space together, I felt very strongly that this space had VALUE. I still do. I always will.

Each of us here at PAIL has a different interpretation of our mission statement. Mine has always been “Just keep talking.” Just keep talking. Or don’t. Or just listen. Or close up shop and move on in a different way. Every path to resolution is valid, as is every path we take with our blogs. You need to do what you need to do to process, to move forward, to heal from this. When I say “just keep talking” I suppose what I mean is that I think it is a disservice to the community as a whole to not talk about what it feels like, IS like, when the baby comes home.  We need to be able to find people further down the path to follow, to lead us through the tough spots, to hold our hands, to cheer us on, to understand.

I am not one to blog about blogging. To be honest, I usually skip posts about it. Ah, but then I entered Blog Identity Crisis #187346 and started to really, genuinely think about my space and what I want to do with it now that I am (99%) sure that family building is behind me. It’s a tricky place to be in, when you feel resolved in your heart, but you aren’t sure how to let go. But I’ll write more about that on my own blog in my submission for this month’s theme.

Suggested Writing Prompts

  • Did you start blogging before, during, or after your journey though infertility/loss/adoption? 
  • Why did you start blogging? What has kept you blogging?
  • When you became a parent did you transition your blog or start a new space? What were your reasons for doing so? How do you feel about your decision now?
  • Have you ever felt pressure to blog about certain things and not others? What influences your writing, if anything?
  • What did you hope to achieve by blogging? Do you feel that you have done this?
  • Why is blogging important to you NOW?
  • What value do you see in blogging the “after”? 

As always, these questions are just a guide. Please feel free to write anything and everything you would like to on this topic in whichever way suits you best. If you have previously written on this topic, feel free to link away in your post, or submit any previous post on the topic as you see fit. And of course, if you do not have a blog of your own, we are happy to hear your thoughts in the comments and will link to your comment in the full post list for all to read.

Entries for this month’s theme are due Thursday, September 26th at midnight, EST. The full list of links will go live on Friday, September 27th.

Please submit your posts using this form:

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questions from the blogroll: books to a good home!

Hey folks!

The other day AL from Mellow in the Midwest mentioned that she had some books about infertility, loss, and adoption to give away. She would love these books to be passed on to a good home in our community. Here is what is up for grabs:

If you are interested in any of these, please contact AL at mellowblogger (at) gmail (dot) com to make arrangements.

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If you are struggling with something or have something to share, bring us your questions – the blogroll is there to help! Submit here! Check out our resources (which would we love to keep building with your help)!

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news item: canadian author explains how babies are made without sex or gender

On Monday (Canada Day, as it were) I found this news story in a roundabout sort of way. The short version is that I was reading a new blog called Tiny Human(s) for Two Queers and saw the book mentioned. In the comments, I saw that April recommended sending it to us here at PAIL. I decided to check it out before she emailed (and sorry to beat you to the punch April!) My first thought, was YES! And then I went to read the article, which more or less had me at “Hello”:

Not every baby comes from a mommy and daddy who fell in love. Sometimes, kids have two moms, or a single dad, or they were adopted. Some babies are conceived through in vitro fertilization or with the help of a surrogate mom.

This article discusses the book What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth.

What sets this book apart from its predecessors is that it doesn’t refer to moms and dads, nor does it mention gender – there are no blue, tuxedo-donning sperm or pink, girly eggs.

It’s vague on purpose. Silverberg said he describes the rudimentary factors in how his little readers were created. But it’s up to parents to tell them the rest.

“I explain the basics that are true about every child, but I let the parents fill in the details about how (the kids) were made – and it can be as much or as little as they want,” he said.

I still have VIVID memories of the book I was handed to explain where babies come from. It was the usual “When a mummy and daddy love each other very much they give each other a special hug” kind of story with random, graphic details that I can still quote word for word.

Here is the quote from the author that I loved the most:

“We’re just starting to get the notion that a family is a group of people who love each other but just look different.”

I read through this article several times and watched the YouTube video. I have since read (and ordered) the book and suffice it to say that it gave me EMOTIONS. I had serious doubts that this story could be told without sex or gender and was glad to be proven wrong. In my opinion, a resource like this is sorely needed, ALI or not. While waiting approximately 11 minutes for April to email, I started having a vague memory that Josey had mentioned this book before during our “Where Do Babies Come From?” monthly theme back in January. Sure enough, Josey was a contributor to the Kickstarter to get this book going. I chatted with her about it and here’s what she had to say:

When I first heard about this book in February 2012 through the Kickstarter program, I knew that I wanted to give a few dollars to show my support of a project that acknowledged that families are built and babies join them in a multitude of different ways. What Makes a Baby is written in such a way that it’s incredibly open ended – when you are ready to delve into the deeper issues that surrounded your family building journey, this book will be there for you.
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In the forward written by Cory Silverberg, he states “[This book] doesn’t include information about sexual intercourse, donor insemination, fertility treatments, surrogacy, or adoption. But it creates a space for you to share as few or as many of those details as you’d like.” He also includes a free downloadable reader’s guide to help parents feel more comfortable about broaching all of these subjects – http://www.what-makes-a-baby.com/readers-guide/.
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Bottom line – I highly recommend this book to everyone, whether or not you traveled an ALI journey while creating your family. This book will help to explain and normalize the fact that while all families are built differently and that is something to be celebrated, we all share a common humanity, and that is pretty awesome too.
Stella!

Stella!

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Do have this book, or one like it?

Do you think telling this story, in this way, is useful for your family and how it was built?

Do you have any resources of a similar nature to share? Link up in the comments.

Many PAIL Bloggers shared their detailed thoughts on this subject HERE – worth a re-read! It is never to late to leave a comment!

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the very bad time – my struggle with PPD after infertility and loss

This post was originally published on my personal blog Little Chicken Nuggets – please check back there to read the comments from other women who went through this or offered their kind words. This post is about my struggle with postpartum depression (PPD) after the birth of my first son. Postpartum depression (and anxiety) is a very real mental health condition and is more than “just the baby blues”. It is something that is not widely discussed in society in general and in the ALI community specifically (at least, it seems that way to me*). I am cross-posting here at PAIL in the hopes that maybe you or someone you know can benefit. I appreciate your sensitivity and understanding.

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I have alluded to The Very Bad Time here and there, but so far have not really discussed it “publicly” beyond saying that it happened. I am not sure why I am ready to talk about it now, but I am. Maybe it will help someone to recognize that they need to ask for some help, and that it is OKAY to do so. Maybe it is because I am having such a different experience this time. The difference between that postpartum period and this one is like night and day. That was a very dark, and lonely time. This one is not. Beyond the usual frustrations and exhaustion, I am fine. Yes, I am sure.

I am.

I know what to look for and so does BJB. I am not afraid to ask for support or talk about my feelings. This time. Last time was very different indeed. On top of what I was feeling (which I will talk about below) I felt a paralyzing SHAME and incredibly crushing GUILT. I finally had the baby I had fought (and lost) for. He was born healthy and beautiful after a textbook pregnancy. What kind of terrible, horrible, ungrateful, undeserving person was I? At least I HAD a baby.

And so, because platitudes are not helpful, I said nothing. To anybody.

After about 4 months, my husband realized that I wasn’t sleeping, eating, or taking care of myself. I had repeated graphic visions of terrible things happening to my baby, and eventually stopped leaving the house as a result. I wouldn’t even go out front to the mailbox.  My emotions were extreme. I was no longer able to function. My husband took me to the emergency room.

I recently wrote an article for PAIL
 discussing a study related to genetic markers for PPD. While I was writing, I went searching for a link to a list of symptoms of PPD in “plain mama English” fromPostpartum Progress to include in the post. I gave them a quick scan and then had myself a good cry. I saw the person that I was in that list, and it made me sad for her. And for me. I’m going to go through their list with you (all italics below – emphasis mine) and tell you what it was like for me. Maybe it was, or is, like that for you or someone you know. But before I start, we’re going to have a Good Will Hunting moment here where I tell you this:

It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

This is what is was like (keeping in mind that everybody has these thoughts from time to time, but with PPD they are relentless, for more than 2 weeks and significantly impair your ability to function normally):

You feel overwhelmed.  Not like “hey, this new mom thing is hard.”  More like “I can’t do this and I’m never going to be able to do this.”  You feel like you just can’t handle being a mother.  In fact, you may be wondering whether you should have become a mother in the first place.

YES. With a side of “maybe I went through infertility and had those miscarriages for a reason.” Maybe I don’t deserve to have children because I obviously do not have what it takes. The universe was trying to tell me what a shitty mother I would be, but I used science to do it anyway and now I was being punished. I thought that my colicky, high needs infant cried so much because I was the worst mother a child could have.

You feel guilty because you believe you should be handling new motherhood better than this.  You feel like your baby deserves better.  You worry whether your baby can tell that you feel so bad, or that you are crying so much, or that you don’t feel the happiness or connection that you thought you would.  You may wonder whether your baby would be better off without you.

You don’t feel bonded to your baby.  You’re not having that mythical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines. Not everyone with PPD feels this way, but many do.

I kept waiting for that “as soon as you see your baby, you’ll feel a love you never knew existed” feeling and it didn’t come. I LOVED my baby, but I didn’t the The Feeling you are “supposed” to get.  I would have walked through fire for him, but at the same time, I felt nothing. Nothing. The absence of feeling. I worry to this day that I’ve screwed up our bond for LIFE because of this. I work very, very hard to form and maintain a special connection to HGB. I love him with everything I have, but it didn’t come “naturally.”

You feel irritated or angry. You have no patience. Everything annoys you.  You feel resentment toward your baby, or your partner, or your friends who don’t have babies. You feel out-of-control rage.

You feel nothing. Emptiness and numbness. You are just going through the motions.

You feel sadness to the depths of your soul. You can’t stop crying, even when there’s no real reason to be crying.

You feel hopeless, like this situation will never ever get better. You feel weak and defective, like a failure.

When I read the four points above last week, I felt punched in the gut. This was *exactly* my experience.  The RAGE. The SADNESS. The NOTHING. The eternity of each and every moment because it would be like this FOREVER.

You can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, nor can you sleep at any other time. Or maybe you can fall asleep, but you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep no matter how tired you are.  Or maybe all you can do is sleep and you can’t seem to stay awake to get the most basic things done.  Whichever it is, your sleeping is completely screwed up and it’s not just because you have a newborn.

You can’t concentrate. You can’t focus. You can’t think of the words you want to say. You can’t remember what you were supposed to do. You can’t make a decision. You feel like you’re in a fog.

I think that at one point, I hadn’t been asleep for the better part of three weeks. I was only eating because I had to feed the baby.  I think that this physical manifestation is when BJB really started to believe that something was wrong. That this wasn’t normal new mother/new life stuff. My thoughts we both muddled and racing such that I would just trail off when I was talking.

You might be having thoughts of running away and leaving your family behind. Or you’ve thought of driving off the road, or taking too many pills, or finding some other way to end this misery.

In my case, I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. To be very clear, I did not want to die, I just wanted to sleep. I wanted to crawl into my bed and close my eyes and just do that forever. I wanted silence.

You know something is wrong. You may not know you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right. You think you’ve “gone crazy”.

You are afraid that if you reach out for help people will judge you. Or that your baby will be taken away.

I knew I was in a bad way, but I also thought I deserved it. I thought that I deserved to feel this way because I felt shitty after getting what I wanted. I felt as though I couldn’t say anything because “At least (I) have a baby!” and “But you have a beautiful baby!” and “Just be grateful!” and “It’s just the baby blues.” I felt an overwhelming fear that my baby would cry in public and they would know what a terrible mother I am. If I told anyone how I was feeling, they would come and take my child away.

Rationally, cognitively, I knew the above things were not true. But when you are suffering from a mental illness, you are not rational. You need help.

I am profoundly grateful that the doctor I saw the hospital took me seriously. Our family health team swooped in right away and got me the help I needed. Within 24 hours I had a social worker, a psychiatrist, and a mental health nurse. There were detailed discussions (that actually included me) about medications that would allow me to continue breastfeeding, but were a necessity in my case. I went to a support group for 4 hours every Wednesday morning for 3 months. I saw the social worker every week. The nurse came to my house every few days for a few weeks until I got my feet back under me. But still, I was ashamed. Horribly, irrationally ashamed. I admitted some things to some people, but everything to nobody. Not even BJB. If I didn’t tell you, it is because I was ashamed. Regardless of what it should have been, I felt so much shame, I couldn’t tell you.

This isn’t all of it. There are some things I don’t think I want to discuss because there are some places that are too painful to revisit. And mercifully, there are many things I can remember only with the faintest of reality. I am myself again, but believe me when I tell you that I was broken. Believe me when I tell you that I am whole again.

If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the above, or in this list of symptoms of postpartum depression/anxiety/OCD, please, ask for help. You need it. You deserve it. You will get it. You will get better.

It’s not your fault.

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*Recently, I have come across the following posts or had them shared with me as a result of writing the above post. I know there is more out there and I wish I could have found it when I desperately needed it. If you have written about PPD, post adoption depression syndrome (PADS) or prenatal depression and would like to share, please link up in the comments below.

When PPD Strikes – Bohemian Transplant (also check out her posts on prenatal depression “Floundering” and “Turning Over a New Leaf“)

PADS – From IF to When

The Dark, Dirty Secret of Prenatal Depression – The Infertility Voice

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