Is There An Expiration Date On An Infertility Blog?

I have often worried about the fact that I write about Adoption/Infertility/Loss and yet…I’m a parent.

How annoying must I be to those who have not yet won the “Golden Ticket”? Or those who have chosen to live without children, after infertility?

I came to blogging late: I struggled to get pregnant for two and a half years, but I didn’t blog during that time. I know that two and a half years is nothing to many. I have two children. So do I need to shut the fuck up?

I’ve tried to do investigative journalism, such as it is with no resources at my disposal other than the internet and interviews, to shine a spotlight on the unfair coverage that goes on in the mainstream media of the ALI community.

I know that when I was on the list for various ICLWs, probably many other participants saw that I was “parenting after infertility” and listed “twins parenting” and I’m sure they rolled their eyes and said: “NAAAAHHHH, won’t be checking THAT blog out.”

I don’t blame anyone for doing that AT ALL. I remember how I didn’t want to be around anyone parenting when I was in the midst of cycling or being told I had premature ovarian failure.

So I write about Faces of ALI and about the New York Times’ crappy coverage of infertility but I also write from the distinctly privileged point of view of someone who has crossed the finish line.

I think this post is a must-read for ALL ALI bloggers.

It brings up the point that no one is an ALI blogger forever. We all go on to either adopt or have a successful treatment or…we don’t.

All blogs evolve.

Dooce went from writing about living single in L.A. to getting married, having kids, going through bad PPD and now she’s separated from her husband. (Which totally makes me sad. I really want them to work it out. Unless, you know, they can’t.)

In the ALI world, the big bloggers take different paths.

Mel writes about the ALI community and does a tremendous amount of invaluable community-building. She’s a parent to twins, like me, and writes about lots of things.
Lori covers Open Adoption with a wonderfully open heart, and is writing a book about the topic.
Pamela Tsigdinos has written a book about women without children after infertility, called Silent Sorority, which has been widely acclaimed.
Keiko raises hell as the advocate we all know and need.
Elphaba, whose witty and persuasive writing about infertility actually gained notice outside of our community (a rare feat, indeed), has settled into being a mommy blogger after the birth of her daughter
Mommy Odyssey, in the midst of a difficult pregnancy, is taking a break from blogging.

So you see, there are many paths.

I won’t always be an ALI blogger. I guess. I mean, the chances of me ever being pregnant again are slim to none, so this won’t be a pregnancy blog. I don’t like writing about parenting much, either.

The truth is, my heart belongs with my fellow sisters in the ALI community. Even if they don’t want me. I can’t really explain why this is, and it perplexes a lot of people in my life who would prefer I rejoin the shinny happy parenting crowd. Where I briefly stayed and felt like a tourist.

What do you think? Is there an expiration date for all ALI blogs? Do you want me to separate my journalism from my memoir-ish musings when they include parenting? Am I a tourist here in this community, too? Do we all need to stick together? Or are we better off in our quadrants? And I really am asking this with an open mind. I want to know what you think. Even if you think it might hurt people’s feelings.

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29 Comments

Filed under Faces of ALI, ICLW, Infertility, Parenting After IF

29 responses to “Is There An Expiration Date On An Infertility Blog?

  1. I don’t think there’s an expiration date for all ALI blogs. All blogs do evolve, because no matter what the subject matter is, one day you run out of things to say, but the spirit can stay the same. Some people will need their blog no matter what happens, and some will move past that, and some will leave and come back. There’s no hard and fast rule.

    I don’t think you should separate anything. I’m a firm believer in the ‘this is your space’ sentiment. Everyone needs somewhere, some way to say all the things that they need to say. And, y’know, I like reading what you have to say.

    I have definitely skipped over blogs for ICLW because the description was not something I could deal with at that point. But the thing for me is, there aren’t a whole lot of ‘parenting after infidelity during infertility’ blogs. I feel like a tourist everywhere. If I stuck to my quadrant, how much interaction would I really have? I need the variety of the ALI community as a whole, if for nothing else than to keep my perspective. I need to know that I’m not the only one who feels left out. I need to know I’m not alone, because even if we haven’t gone through the same things, there’s still a lot that we share.

  2. I think it depends on your blog, is that enough fence sitting! For example MrIvf was clear his was about the getting pregnant process only. Likewise mine will only be about infertility stuff if / when I get pregnant I will probably write a more general blog about life in general.
    If your blog is about your life which includes infertility then it should evolve to include parenting & life post infertility.
    I haven’t got my whole reading blogs sorted in a way I am happy with so at the mo I tend to read by tags and therefore unless its tagged infertility or similar I won’t read it unless it is a blog I follow! As someone else said some days I can’t read patently blogs other days I do because they make me smile & remember why I am spending all my savings on something so unglamourous!
    Offto read your blog now lol

  3. So many good points. So many good questions.

    I don’t think there is an expiration date for ALI blogs. After all, once an infertile, always an infertile, or at least that is how many people feel. I know not all people feel that way, some believe, when they’ve built the family they originally intended, that they are no longer inflicted with infertility, but from what I can tell, those people are the minority. Most people who struggled to build their family carry that struggle with them always, it colors the way they see the world and because of that they always feel a kinship with people who walked, or are currently walking, a similar path.

    Of course, not everyone currently walking the path feels that same kinship with those who have finished walking, or are much farther down the path. No one can blame a person who is still in the trenches for not wanting to read the thoughts of those who have made it to the other side (I, like you, am rarely visited when I participate in ICWL). At it’s most benign, it’s a matter of not having all that much in common. Most people participate in the blogging world to find others who they understand and who understand them. And while those who have walked the path can understand (to a point) what those still walking it are going through, the inverse is not necessarily true. So even if someone doesn’t mind so much reading a parenting after IF blog, they may not find it all that enlightening, as they aren’t dealing with similar issues.

    You ask if we all need to stick together, or if we are better off in quadrants. I think both are equally true. We do all stick together, in that I think most IF bloggers, no matter where they are in their journey, are prepared to be there for another IF blogger is she really needs support. At the same time, I think it’s understandable that for the day in and day out reading/commenting, most of us will stick with that which we know best and gravitate to people who are going through what we are going through. Again, I think that has more to do with the fact that people are drawn to those with similar experience than feeling that someone does or does not belong.

    I don’t believe you are a tourist in this community and I doubt others would argue that you are. You are most definitely a citizen here, for better or worse. You have an infertility and loss passport, stamped with the years of trying, the failed IVFs and the lost pregnancies to prove that you’ve traveled the terrain, that you know this place. You’re familiar with the lingo and are aware of the etiquette. You don’t miss cultural cues or unintentionally say hurtful things because you just didn’t realize. You don’t act like a tourist because you aren’t one, not in this community. You are a native and that is probably why you feel most comfortable here, because the way people carry themselves, they way they think, the way they behave, is familiar to you. It’s your culture. It’s your home.

    I really like this metaphor, that of being a tourist in the community. I think it helps me understand my own place here better than anything else has. I also didn’t start blogging until right before I became pregnant but that isn’t why I don’t feel I belong. I don’t feel I belong here because I don’t have the long years trying or the failed IVF stamps on my passport. I don’t have much of anything stamped there at all. I’m the person born with dual citizenship. My mother was a part of this community and even though I grew up elsewhere I was taught the customs and turns of phrase from an early age. And even though I’m not originally from here I can pass for a native if one doesn’t look too close. I barely even have an accent, but if you listen hard enough, it’s there. And while I respect and cherish this place and it’s culture more than I can say, I know that I don’t really belong and I’m forever hoping people won’t ask to see my credentials, lest they notice my passport is missing all the proper stamps.

    I think I’m going to push my luck and take this metaphor one step further. If infertility is where we’re all from, maybe what happens is that those of us who “cross the divide” and become parents, maybe we do move away from the community in a way. Maybe we do leave our mother country to set up shop elsewhere, but like all foreigners in a foreign land, we cluster together in groups, creating the Chinatowns of infertility out there in the foreign country of parenthood. Maybe that is why we need our passports in the first place, to remind us, and others, of where we’re really from. Maybe that is why us parenting after IF/lossers don’t mingle much with the rest of the parenting community, or feel awkward when we do it. Despite living in close proximity we don’t know the customs or the turns of phrase; we miss the social cues, we make mistakes, we propagate misunderstandings and so we retreat, back to our little communities, hanging out mostly with those who are like us and still feeling very much at home in the mother country where everyone is struggling with that with which we struggled.

    All of this is very interesting to consider. I think the real question is not who is or who is not a real member of this community versus who is a tourist, I think the question is what happens if someone is a member but then, somewhere along the way (probably in the transition to parenthood) starts acting like a tourist. What happens if, instead of relocating to the Infertility Chinatown, an IF blogger sets up shop with the natives of the FertileStates. What if she starts talking like them, and thinking like them, and generally forgetting the IF culture to make space in her life for her new identity? Does that blogger owe anything to her past community members? Does she have a responsibility to the places she is from? Or is how she conducts herself after she’s moved on her prerogative? I suppose, in the end, it’s every blogger for herself, but one can’t blame those who feel more comfortable in the IF community for not following her into that strange new world, where everything feels strange and awkward and out of place. After all, we’re most comfortable with what we know and what we understand and for most of us that is infertility and parenting after infertility. That’s who we are and who we’ll always be.

    • This is a genius analogy, and really fits me personally. When I lived in London, I felt like I didn’t belong: I had a hard time deciphering the various regional accents and slang, and the complex class system was just beyond me. I was polite to all, but really bonded with ex-pats from elsewhere, whether the US, Canada, Bulgaria, India or France. We were all strangers in a strange land. But together, we hung out and were ourselves, and really bonded.

      I think it’s the same thing for me. I feel like a polite fraud in ParentLand so I hang with the ex-pats like you and Bodega. You may be from different countries. But we can all look at each other askance at the crazy, strange, incomprehensible ways of the fertiles. And really, really be friends.

  4. Pingback: Passport please « Stumbling Gracefully

  5. I ended up posting my monstrosity of a comment on my own blog, adding a little bit for good measure. (Because really, is a 1200 word comment even enough?)

    http://esperanzasays.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/passport-please/

    Thanks for such a thought provoking post. Really got me thinking!

  6. Jess

    When I first discovered ALI blogs all the ones I found were people parenting after a long struggle. I found it hugely helpful to realize that people really do come out the other side, that the person grieving after another disappointment could then become the person taking their kids to the park.

    I also really wanted to know what that life was like ‘on the other side’. Clearly having a baby/s does not mean life is happy ever after, and I wanted to make sure I had a realistic view of what I was/am struggling for.

    I guess my point is I am glad that you chose to blog about your life now, and about IF issues from that vantage point. I don’t represent any online community, but I am reading 🙂

  7. circlesbecomeme

    First off.. love the goat photo. Once upon a time (uh 2 years ago), I’d look out my window and see goats. Goats on boxes… on trees.. on tractors.. and on this funny wooden slide they used just like a slide. My current window faces an old city in Italy. There are no goats. I needed a goat fix this morning!
    Which actually leads to my comment… I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I’ve commented in a few places about how relieved I feel when I find a blog close to my own story. That said, some of my fav blogs are by parents who have been touched in some way by IF (in some cases indirectly). But the truth is, the fertility piece just is a filter that brings together a wide range of people and their words and we all write about more than that. Like GOATS! in a photo! Who knew how very much I wanted to see that this morning… the magic to me is that I stumble upon interesting stories and new ways to see the world through the various threads in this part of the blogsphere. Because I also know, regardless of an ALI blogger’s journey, they don’t just assume babies arrive without any soul searching, tears, fears, etc… and sometimes that is all I need…. to be around women who remember the truth that I think most women knew throughout the ages — the path to a healthy child isn’t guaranteed. Regardless of the topic they are writing about, that sense of this truth that bringing children into the world has always had risks of heartache seems to make all their words ring more true. at least to me. And the joy I feel when I see others make the transition to parenthood is all the sweeter when I know they aren’t unawares of the the other realities.

  8. I only started blogging right before my first IVF cycle, and the second one worked, so I have been a (admittedly incredibly slack) parenting after infertility blogger for way longer than being an infertility blogger also. Nonetheless, my blog feed is full of IF blogs, and I still feel that these are my people. I’m dealing with secondary infertility, so I think I have a short-term visa to revisit the land of the struggling, but really, I think that the mark of the struggle will be on me forever. I realized as I was reading your post that all of the closest friends that I’ve made in my “new” life (life after moving back to the USA with a 19-month-old conceived via IVF) have also been through infertility, although all are parents now. We actually rarely talk about it, but it’s still there.

    Great post.

  9. “All blogs evolve” – ain’t that the truth… 🙂
    All blogs evolve, just like all people change (not all evolve, sadly).
    Ad this is not the pain olympics. No one enters ALI because the think it’s cool, everyone here has a reason for being here. Of course, I would not compare my miscarriage to Mo’s 10 years of heartache and loss (God knows where she finds her strength…) But then, I do mind when I am told I had ‘just’ one miscarriage, so I should shut up. My piddly-diddly miscarriage was my own experience, and I am happy I did not go through what my mum went through, losing my brother Andy and needing help to have me (36 years ago in a conformist comunist country that was like wearing a scarlet IF). Does this make me less sensitive or helpful when one of my best friends goes the IUI then IVF route and comes out without the golden ticket? If anyone thinks yes, then this would be similar to the answer some mothers give “You don’t understand anything because you don’t have children”.
    Blogs evolve. The earth turns despite our grief and loss, even though it is mightily unfair. We all look for our own niche where we hang with people with interests similar to ours. It is harder to do this in real life, because no one can be read so easily as posts of a blog.
    To give you my answer, no, I do not believe there is an expiration date on IF blogs. We evolve. We may move on, but this does not deny that pain that changed us some time ago. It may not be throbbing anymore, but this does not mean we forgot all about it. We are who we are now also because of that pain.
    Great post.

  10. Sorry for the typos, the silly tablet is hostile and totally against me, honestly.

  11. I am about to give birth. My struggles with getting pregnant were relatively short (a bit over a year), I KNEW I had a problem (having no periods is an obvious signal, huh?) – but I feel humbled by what others had – and still have – to go through. I cheer with all my heart whenever I read that some other blogger I follow gets pregnant. My heart aches with every “AF again” post.

    Regardless of how “easy” it was for me, I find I am not interested in “normal” pregnancy and parenting blogs. I just don’t feel the connection there. I think even if you manage to get preggo, your attitude will forever be different from those who get pregnant on their own without much struggle.

    So my answer is… I don’t know if it’s still an IF blog, but maybe it’s a community of its own – parenting after IF struggles?

  12. I think we should all stick together. I’m a parent after IF, but I’m still an infertile. We want more and I get stuck with needles daily in hopes of achieving that, only those in the ALI community can really understand what that’s like. I love the commraderie and community of my fellow ALI bloggers!

    FWIW, I like what you write about :).

  13. I don’t think infertility is something that just goes away, even after getting pregnant and having children. We all have the same (unfortunate) shared experience, and for me, it’s comforting to know that the end goal is attainable. Whatever you choose to write about, I’ll keep reading.

  14. This is exactly what I’ve been stewing over, and couldn’t articulate properly. I feel the same way … loving this community, not feeling *exactly* like I belong any more, but not feeling like I belong anywhere else, either. I’m not a food blogger. I’m not a mommy blogger. The undercurrent of everything I write is a survivor of IF and RPL. I guess if you’re a good enough writer (like you are), your followers will stick around. 😉

  15. I don’t think there’s necessarily an expiration date on ALI blogs. People *let* their blogs expire, of course. They become parents and the posts trail off and then stop entirely. Personally, I gravitate toward two types of blogs. 1) people who are currently having experiences like mine and 2) people with a similar history to mine who, even though in different life circumstances, blog about thoughtful, interesting topics that I connect with. My interest in certain blogs might expire but I think it’s more about me as a reader than about the blogger as an author. (And I agree with Justine – good writers’ have readers that will stick around.)

  16. This is a great post w/ amazing comments, and I’m sad I haven’t been able to reply sooner. I don’t think there is an expiration date on ALI blogs. However, that said, I stopped posting on my 100% IF blog once my son was born because it didn’t feel right. I also had a blogging hiatus on my now primary blog mostly due to work/school/newborn stress but also trying to figure out WTF I could possibly say as a parent that would be remotely interesting?

    I also feel like a fraudulent citizen of ParentLand, and that’s so sad. We are parents and we should feel like we belong, but I don’t, especially now that so many are having second, third and more babies. Despite having a son, I am still as infertile now as I was when he was born. We didn’t conquer my infertility. We circumvented my infertility. I wish the title wasn’t “Parenting After Infertility” because I don’t believe that describes me. I’d like to see a “Parenting After Successful Treatments” label. I am trying to find groups with which I identify, but I come back over and over again to my ALI bloggers because you get it. Once you have been there, you are card-carrying member for life in my opinion, and that’s not a bad thing.

    I understand that others who haven’t received the Golden Ticket yet or are still very new to diagnosis and treatment may find the Parenting after IF blogs unrelatable and hurtful, but I hope to provide an example that hey, something crazy like gestational surrogacy can work to build your family. I’m here for you. After all, I never related to the blogs in which the blogger conceived after a Clomid cycle or one IUI – totally not my experience and never will be.

    I think there is space for us all, and I think that those of us who have received the Golden Ticket have earned our right to be members of the ALI blogosphere as well as providing hope that treatments can and do work.

    Like it or not, my IF is a part of me. I am acutely attuned to stories about surrogacy or infertility in general and always will be.

  17. Oops, I became distracted, but no, I don’t want you to separate any of your posts. I think they all – the IF advocacy, the parenting, the other musings — represent YOU, JJiraffe. Compartmentalizing those parts of yourself for your audience seems disingenuous and wrong. You are not a tourist. You are a citizen of the ALI community, like it or not. Wear that citizenship with pride and others, no matter where they are on their journey, should be able to acknowledge that citizenship. A “happy ending” does not negate the journey that came before nor mean that you no longer belong. Keep writing!

  18. If there is, mine expires this Wednesday the 8th of feb. :-/

    I think if your blog is what you make it about. Simple as that. Like you, I will always identify with the If crowd, even though I have never really fit in. We share the same war wounds.

  19. I don’t think blogs necessarily come with expiry dates. They evolve and change, and yes, sometimes, they do expire. I’m obviously interested in blogs written by other women who are living childless/free after loss & infertility, but my blogroll covers a variety of situations — people who are still ttc, ttc after loss, people who have are now pregnant or parenting after infertility & loss, or who have adopted or used donor eggs or surrogates, If you have a baby, that doesn’t automatically mean I stop reading you. If all you do is babble on incessantly about how wonderful motherhood is and how cute your baby is, etc. etc., well, maybe ; ) — but that is not the case with you or many of the other parenting bloggers that I read. I generally put someone on my reader because I’m intrigued by their personal story &/or appreciate their writing, and that’s generally what keeps me reading. : )

  20. Pingback: Living As an Ex-Pat in ParentLand | Too Many Fish to Fry

  21. this is so fascinating. I think you nailed it when you said that blogs just evolve. like our writing, our interest in reading changes too. my reader has evolved over the years as my interests have shifted with my path and I’ve made new blog friends along the way…

    I started my own blog several years after a devastating loss and my inability to conceive again. I knew my days of treatment would be limited and I had no idea what lay ahead: would I get pregnant? would I suffer another loss? would I be forever childless? at the time I read a lot of other women who were cycling. many of them got pregnant, or kept cycling. I didn’t and stopped and couldn’t keep reading. then I sought out writing about other outcomes. I dove further into blogs about loss and persistent infertility, etc. when we shifted to open adoption, I immersed myself in all perspectives. and so on.

    I think it’s completely natural to evolve and change and grow. it’s also natural to NOT want to write about certain topics. so it’s not that blogs expire as much as they no longer INspire. for me, it’s about the journey but it’s also very much about the writing. if a writer is not inspired, it shows.

    aside from a lack of time, I struggle these days with my own writing — i.e., what to say and who am I saying it to. after so many years of major suckage, I ultimately had a rare fairytale type of outcome. I certainly don’t want to gloat about my babies now. I still have plenty to say but struggle in how to say it. and to find the time. then I find I haven’t written in months…

  22. Fantastic post and comments. So much to say…

    First, you definitely should NOT STFU. You have something so say and you say things well. Your Faces of ALI series, for example, is necessary to counter the sensationalism around the topic. And with your journalist background, you are in the perfect position to do the countering.

    Second, I’m thrilled to be mentioned in this post with others whom I respect so much (a list which includes you).

    Third, yes you are a member of the ALI community and you are a blogger but you are not only an ALI blogger. I could draw a Venn diagram about the areas of overlap and you’d see that there is a lot of other stuff you could and should write about.

    I loved what Esperanza says about being an expat — like you, I’ve been an expat and it feels so much the same as parenting post-IF and writing about it feels.

    Mel gave me advice when I faced a similar blogdentity crisis. She said that I’m a writer and that I write about what’s important to me. It was the first time the word “diarist” resonated for me, but it made all the difference.

    You, my friend, are a diarist.

  23. First of all, again with the late commenting, I’m sorry. I’m such a jerk. And second of all, I am seriously upset about Heather and Jon. And I feel so ridiculous about that fact, but I really saw how in love they were and how romantic their life seemed to be, and now I feel like there’s no hope for any of us. And yes, I am taking it that far. I don’t know what my problem is!

    Anyway….I totally agree with aprilvak above. I think that your blog is your space, and no one elses. I think that it should always be written for yourself, but with your readers in mind (because it’s impossible not to do that once you get readers). That being said, I believe that if you are/were a strong voice in this community, that you do have an obligation to still connect every now and again with those still in the trenches. I think that as someone still there, it’s very very difficult to see someone move on and not ever look back. Of course, I can say all of this having never been in their shoes. I have no idea what it will be like if I ever succeed, how I will feel about this community. Because maybe it’s too painful to look back. Maybe you finally got what we all so badly want, that to look back is just too hard. What I think the community provides, no matter if you “turn your back” on it once you succeed or remain by the sides of those still in the trenches, you have what a lot of moms don’t have…compassion for those that experience this pain. If that compassion remains, whether it appears silent or not, is all that really matters in the end.

    So no, I don’t think that ALI blogs have an expiration date. I think they morph with time, just like we do. Who knows what my future will hold, but I hope that I am always connected in someway to this community. Even if it’s helping someone years from now with their first loss, I will be a part of this community.

    • By “you” above when saying “you finally got what we all so badly want,” I meant the generic “you.” Not the you you. Just wanted to make that clear. I wasn’t thinking about you in that statement. You are so obviously still in the trenches for the purpose of support and advocacy, and I admire you so much for that. I can’t even tell you.

  24. Pingback: What’s in an infertility blog? | Yolk: A blog about eggs and sperm

  25. Pingback: Where Do I Fit In? « Where Do We Go From Here?

  26. Pingback: Sneetches, PAIL and What Now? | Too Many Fish to Fry

  27. I love that I re-found this post while looking for a certain one of my posts for someone struggling with infidelity. Especially since I just wrote about this on Friday without a second of remembering anyone’s thoughts on this topic. Ugh, I miss you writing so much!!

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