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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featured post: you blissed-out moms are ruining futures

I used to volunteer with a youth group. And occasionally I would just be hanging out with the young women of this group and I would feel the need to lay some truth down. One day these young ladies were discussing another teenager who had a baby, and how cute the baby was and that they wanted to go buy this baby a cute outfit.

And after the danger of aneurysm had passed, I emphatically told these young ladies the following truths:

  • Babies will ruin your life
  • Babies may appear cute, but they are not
  • Babies will ruin your life

After this particular rant, talk, the teens seem rather shocked. Probably because I was the mother to an adorable 9-month old who I had raised since she was 5 days old in the NICU. She was my foster child, but she was my child in every other way. I loved her like nothing else in this world.

And yet I could honestly tell these young women those truths listed above. Because they are true. I further explained to my shocked teens that to really understand what it means to be a parent you have to imagine your current life ending. Over, done, no more. Not in the death sense, but in that nothing ever of your old life will remain the same. Certain elements may appear the same, but they are now seen through the lens of parenthood.

I also wanted to impart to them that yes I love my child, but that yes, it is okay to admit that being a parent can really suck sometimes. It’s not all kittens and rainbows and special Instagram photos. It’s diapers and crying and puking, good lord the puking! It’s days when you are convinced that your kid is a grade-A jerk.

And you know what makes being a mom even harder? Other Moms. Other Mom’s who feel the same way but don’t talk about it, like a comment Janelle, of Renegade Mothering, got from a reader:

“Lots of mum’s think this but no one actually says it.”

This is dangerous writes Janelle, in response to this comment:

Though many mothers experience the struggles you talk about, think and feel the same way, they have internalized the societal expectation that they SILENCE themselves for the good of their children…But check this out, my friend: How is dishonesty and lying and the perpetuation of misogynistic expectations GOOD for my kids?

Now throw in the ALI (Adoption/Loss/Infertility) lens. After struggling to have a child for so long how many of you are afraid to ever voice frustration, concern, disappointment, or even anger about your children? Because we, of ALL people, we should just be SO GRATEFUL to finally have our child that nothing else matters. And society enforces this expectation.

I remember when Stella was a few months old I was just SO exhausted. We were still having to nurse every two hours due to her weight gain issues and unbeknownst to me at that time I was suffering from hypothyroidism, low thyroid function. I felt like walking death. I made a comment about it on Facebook, how I just needed the baby to sleep so I could sleep. And I got two comments from friends basically amounting to I should just be grateful after finally getting my miracle child.

What if I was PPD (postpartum depression)? What if that was my one way of reaching out for help? We live in an ever digitized and segmented society. Often our internet interactions are our only way of reaching out, venting, blowing off steam. And two “friends” just told me to choke it down and shut up. What if someone had instead said ‘hey, I know new Moms are always exhausted, but this seems like more than just that, have you checked in with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy?’ I don’t know if that would have helped me get my thyroid issues diagnosed faster, but it would have helped me feel better. To know that I wasn’t alone, and that someone cared about my well-being, not just my baby’s.

This trend is dangerous, we need to talk as Moms. I would say especially ALI Moms because it has been proven that ALI Moms have a much higher risk of PPD or PAD (post adoption depression). And we need to talk to show our kids that life isn’t always unicorns and lucky charms. That creates kids who don’t know what reality is, that don’t know how to handle sadness and anger and disappointment. And it creates daughters who grow up thinking they can’t talk about it, who become Moms. And that is terrifying.

Stella will always know how much I love her, how much I wanted her. But she will also hear the stories of how tired I was, how she wouldn’t nap except on me or her Dad for a month straight, how sometimes I was so tired I would just lay on the floor where she was playing and talk to her, and she would mimic me by laying down too (which is hilarious).

Infertility and Motherhood do not mean we cease to exist. Check out Janelle’s honest and inspiring post, there is so much more that she writes that is spot on and needed to be said:

You Blissed-Out Moms Are Ruining Futures

Comments here are closed so you can join in the conversation at Janelle’s blog, Renegade Mothering.

*Janelle, of Renegade Mother, retains all rights to her original content material. None of her material may be copied or otherwise transferred without her express permission.

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pail mmm 8-20-12 (2)Chandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra grew up in the Northeast but she and her husband are raising their daughter in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana. She has 3 chickens that drive her crazy, a huge garden, and a penchant for bacon. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her blog, MetholicBlog. She also shares embarrassing stories about her husband and unicorns.

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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featured post: “my pregnancy & my truths” by bohemian transplant

This is the first post I read by Brittany at Bohemian Transplant. I “met” her last week on Twitter and became acquainted with her story through this post. She was hesitant to post it, and after reading it I could see why. Many bloggers struggle with the fine balance of trying to be sensitive to their friends “in the trenches” and celebrating their own joys. It hurts when people move on and you are left behind. It hurts when others get what you want. And it hurts when others lash out at you because of it.

Brittany’s post touches on a lot of things I struggle with in the ALI community. The desire to be as sensitive as possible to those still in the throes of TTC. The need to be true to yourself and your feelings. The guilt that you were successful and those you care about haven’t been yet. The way we censor ourselves trying not to be insensitive or inadvertently hurtful. The way some folks lash out at others, using their own pain as an excuse or justification.

Recently, Brittany announced that she is currently expecting her second child:

We are incredibly excited, although a little nervous about having two children (just one babe in there, we checked!) but excited none the less. The post has since been removed because, well, it was kind of depressing. As excited as we are, it was a tough pill to swallow, knowing that I have hurt some people that I love who are still very much in the trenches of infertility.

And then I got no response. Not even one congrats. Which, you know, is fine. It’s not about that. But I poured my heart out in that post as well, about the guilt I was feeling, and I didn’t even receive any thoughts on that, either.

When I broke the news on twitter, as gently as I could, it was mostly positive responses. But there were a few. Some harsh words were spoken. Words that hurt. Words, honestly, I can’t get past. They are in the throws. The very ugly throws of infertility. They hurt. They are in pain. I understand this. But it sucks, mostly, when I have been so supportive of others, through good news and bad, no matter how hard it has been to me in the past, to not receive that support in return.

What really struck me about this, was how heartbreaking it is when this happens. I think we can all agree that a BFP, no matter who it is from, can hurt like a bitch. But I would wish we could all agree that it is not okay to be an asshole about it. If you need to step away, step away. But if you need to say something shitty, step away.

Brittany’s post, however, spoke to me on another level. She makes some astute and insightful points about the give and take of support, URL to IRL friendship, how our circumstances change, and the conditional nature of support:

Whether some like it or not, there is this mentality in the infertility community (not among everybody, but among some) that your struggle does not count if it is not the same as their struggle. Many seem to forget that pain is pain, no matter what form it comes in, but if it’s not the same level of pain, if you haven’t gone through the same treatments, then sympathy or support is not required. It’s expected to be received, but not given. It’s also unfortunate.

And as somebody on the bottom rung of the infertility treatment, I fall often into the category of having to give, but never receive. As somebody who has gone out of my way to send love, strength, hope, care packages, gifts, cards, words of encouragement and all the hugs the virtual world can offer (and sometimes in real life) sometimes I want that back when I am feeling down.

These are tough things to write, to read, to acknowledge, and to work on. This post stirred up a lot of my irritation and discomfort with the “just be grateful” attitude in this community, but it also reminded me that I can always be doing better to be supportive. It is a reminder to us all that support, sensitivity, and understanding are needed on every step of the journey. To give what you can, when you can. To treat each other as we would wish to be treated.

I’m still thinking a lot about this post. If I am being honest, I have a lot of things I am thinking and feeling about the points Brittany is making, but I find myself afraid to say them too. Maybe that is the point. That we shouldn’t be afraid. And as much as I say “just keep talking” I keep mum on things too. Let’s keep working on that, one post at a time.

Please head over to Bohemian Transplant to read Brittany’s post “My Pregnancy & My Truths” and leave your thoughts with her.

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Brittany in her own words:

I am 31 years old and a born and raised Seattle girl, although currently living in Fayetteville, North Carolina. I work in the public relations field to pay the bills, while moonlighting as an aspiring photographer, designer and wanna be chef to help keep my creativity afloat. On top of that, I am a full-time mom to a baby boy and three awesome pooches, a military wife to a loving husband and a woman who is continually trying to find her place in this world… But then we started trying to have a baby, a process that turned out to be not so easy for us. After a miscarriage in January of 2009, just two months into my husbands second year-long deployment, suddenly talking about sperm counts and ovulation didn’t seem so appropriate for all the people that I knew in my real life. Our miscarriage was followed by another year of trying to on our own before starting fertility treatments, we were blessed with our extremely handsome baby boy via IUI. Our infertility journey was simple compared to most, something that we are incredibly grateful for.

Ironically enough, I have been on two sides to the infertility journey. In 2004, I donated my eggs to a family member who was unable to conceive on her own, resulting in two beautiful twin girls that just started first grade. The irony comes from us having our own struggles years down the road, but we are still blessed with what we have. I love my infertility community and will do what I can to help promote the amazing things that comes from it.

*****

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tending the garden

***It’s our ONE YEAR blogiversary!!!***

On June 1, 2012, we hit “publish” on our first post here at PAIL Bloggers. We are so pleased and so proud of what this space has become since launching it one year ago today. In the last year, the blogosphere has started talking, really talking, about what “the other side” looks and feels like. A conversation is being had in this space and in yours. For that, we are beyond grateful and so proud of everyone who not only just kept talking, but kept listening.

From the seed that was planted last spring, the five of us have worked at tending the garden to help this seedling grow. One year, 271 posts, 2608 comments, and literally thousands of emails later, we are ready to see this space grow and bloom into what we know it can be. And so, for our 1st blogiversary, we’d like to give you a very untraditional 1st anniversary gift – garden tools. (Stay with me…)

It is time to plant more seeds in the garden, with more gardeners. More tools, more knowledge, more varieties of plants as it were. Each and every one of us has a different story to tell, and we would like to make this space more of a true community allotment garden. Over the past year, we have been thrilled with our occasional guest posts and would like to see more of these. We love the emails we get from you about posts to feature or news items to highlight, but we know there is so much more.

So the question is, do you have a green thumb?

Here is what we are looking for (and we welcome your suggestions and ideas here as well):

  • Featured posts: You find it, you write it! (Similar to our current format – what struck you about the post? What stood out to you?)
  • Cross-posting: If you have a post you would like to share in its entirety here at PAIL (with comments closed here) in addition to your own blog, let us know.
  • News items: You find it, you write it! We welcome commentary on the news that strikes a chord with you.
  • Expert knowledge: Do you have some expertise in a specific area that our readers might be interested in? (i.e. pharmacy, mental health, education, birthing, etc.)
  • Guest posting: Have something to say on a current ALI and/or parenting topic? Want to share your story with the blogroll?
  • Blog hopping events: Do you have an idea for a blogroll “mixer” event such as our Vlog Challenge or Twenty Questions?
  • Monthly theme post hosting: Do you have a topic in mind? Be our host!
  • Book club: We are always looking for suggestions and book club hosts.

If any of the above sounds like something you would be interested in, please let us know! Fill out the form below with your details and what you would be interested in writing. We will then contact you regarding assignment type and deadlines, unless of course, you contact us with an idea first.

 *If we publish one of your posts, we will also contact you for a thumbnail image to run next to your blurb. If you aren’t sure what to write right now, just wing it! You can always tighten it up later. Feel free to add links to your blog and social media outlets. We reserve the right to final editorial decisions on all content not created by the site owners.

Should you have any questions, please email us or ask in the comments below.

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On a personal note, the five of us would like to thank you all profusely for everything this space has become in the last year. For every comment, every theme post, and every email. For every tweet, every ‘like’, and each and every word you write in this space and in yours.

Thank you.

XO

Josey, Jules, Chandra, SRB, and Traathy 

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