Sneetches, PAIL and What Now?

“Now, the Star-Bell Sneetches had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.
Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small.
You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.

But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches
Would brag, ‘We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.’
With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they’d snort
‘We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!’
And, whenever they met some, when they were out walking,
They’d hike right on past them without even talking.”

The Sneetches, Dr. Seuss

In the epic, divisive and frankly disturbing conversation in the comments over at Stirrup Queens, it’s clear that there is a lot of trouble brewing in ALI-land. The trigger is PAIL.

This is worth saying many times: Mel has put her heart and soul into building an incredibly inclusive and powerful community. She created a place for anyone in the Adoption/Loss/Infertility community to gather and make their voice heard. Not enough is said about her technical skills: LFCA is a very cool application that is incredibly easy to use. She built a huge blogroll from scratch and maintains it. She created and hosts a monthly event, International Comment Leaving Week, that is incredibly popular. She creates the buttons and the banners for all of these things. She hosts a yearly event, the Creme de la Creme awards, where bloggers pull their best posts of the year out. Finally is the Blog Round-up, hosted every week and curated by Mel, in which the best posts as picked by readers and Mel.

In addition to all that, she reads thousands of ALI blogs. And runs Prompt(ly), a blogging prompt service for our community. Plus, she also is an editor at BlogHer, manages NaBloPoMo for them and writes bestselling novels. She’s also an exemplary mother to twins and does much volunteer work. And she blogs so, so well, daily.

Writing all that down makes me feel like I waste a lot of time 😉

She has also been a good friend to me. She worked tirelessly to help me get my blog back up. Mel is one of the kindest people on the planet. I admire her tremendously. I wish I could BE her. Seriously.

Mel mentioned “Sneetches” in her post, and I had to look it up because my experience with Dr. Seuss is limited to “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham.” She worried that the formation of PAIL is a “Sneetches” moment.

“When the Star-Belly children went out to play ball,
Could a Plain Belly get in the game? Not at all.
You only could play if your bellies had stars
And the Plain-Belly children had none upon thars.

When the Star Belly Sneetches had frankfurter roasts
Or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts,
They never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches
They left them out cold, in the dark of the beaches.
They kept them away. Never let them come near.
And that’s how they treated them year after year.”

Elphaba and I are also friends. I admire her a lot: one of her posts, about the Facebook meme, went viral amongst the world at large, and gained her a general audience. Outside influence is a big key to educating the world at large about ALI. Because we know the mainstream media sure as hell isn’t doing that, right MacLeans?!? Elphaba has also been a tremendous source of support for her ALI friends both publicly and privately. Seeing such negative remarks about her in the comments of Mel’s post is hurtful to me.

Here’s where it gets super complicated. It was maybe this post which caused Elphaba to really get motivated to form PAIL.

In it, I tried to answer the question, brought up by MoJo Working, is there an expiration date on an ALI blog? And what the heck is my blog? My passion is “Faces of ALI”: my next post is being written, and I apologize it’s taking so long. I hope that I bring a journalistic slant to the table, and I try to educate people about ALI so we don’t have to all feel so misunderstood.

“Then ONE day, it seems while the Plain-Belly Sneetches
Were moping and doping alone on the beaches,
Just sitting there wishing their bellies had stars,
A stranger zipped up in the strangest of cars!

‘My friends’, he announced in a voice clear and clean,
‘My name is Sylvester McMonkey McBean.
And I’ve heard of Your troubles. I’ve heard you’re unhappy.
But I can fix that, I’m the Fix-It-Up Chappie.’ “

Elphaba’s response reminded me that deep down, I do want to talk about parenting after IF, sometimes. The challenges of it. The feeling of parenting under a cliff that may fall on you at any time, because you have known and seen loss and, frankly, you are traumatized by the time you spent in the trenches trying to get pregnant. The use of wartime analogies is, according to a therapist I saw, appropriate. We have seen the “war” of infertility and loss. A lot of us have PTSD, from the NICU, from our miscarriages and losses. I would love to see a support group for us to navigate our way through this uncertain land. And that’s what I thought PAIL ultimately was: an additional tool in the ALI community. A robust group that would help me when I need it, just like LFCA and ICLW help me when I need it. I was thinking that I would pop in and out of discussion there, and title any posts “PAIL” so people could skip those posts if they chose.

To be honest, I thought of PAIL as a group similar to the “Open Adoption Roundtables” I often see written about on some blogs I read.

I assumed it was cool with everyone. I was wrong. Mel was very upset and hurt. And this is painful to see. Stirrup Queens is the hub of ALI land, the Grand Central Station, if you will. I don’t want that to change. I didn’t expect that to change. I assumed that would never change.

Mel is upset because she thinks PAIL used her ideas to create a universe where some members of ALI are excluded. She called it a “Sneetches moment”, because she already had created a blogroll of parenting after IF blogs. And she doesn’t want anyone to be excluded.

“Changing their stars every minute or two. They kept paying money.
They kept running through until the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
Whether this one was that one or that one was this one. Or which one
Was what one or what one was who.

Then, when every last cent of their money was spent,
The Fix-It-Up Chappie packed up. And he went.
And he laughed as he drove In his car up the beach,
‘They never will learn. No. You can’t Teach a Sneetch!’

But McBean was quite wrong. I’m quite happy to say.
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day.
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches.
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether
They had one, or not, upon thars.”

What’s become clear is that those in the parenting after IF community FEEL excluded. People are afraid of losing readers by talking about parenting, or else they say they have lost members because they talk about parenting.

My own personal take is I don’t want to have to trade in my ALI citizenship. I really don’t. I’d like to be able to visit PAIL, though: a community where I can talk about parenting. I might not reside there all the time or even most of the time, but it would really, really hurt to have to choose. I am a Sneetch after all.

What do you think?


UPDATED: I feel the need to add that so many of us (me included) are worried about Mel being upset. But the truth is we are ALL upset: somehow this has triggered feelings of exclusion amongst almost every group on the ALI spectrum. These feelings must have been below the surface, waiting for something to blow. I feel like that is what is ultimately being expressed in the comments: people are worried of what their place is: whether it’s TTC, whether you are single, married, gay, TTC after parenting, adopting, parenting after infertility, going through cycles, going through loss, living childless/childfree after loss and or infertility, or surrogacy. I’m sure I’m leaving someone out and that’s the point: Mel includes everyone, at the hub. The problem is: how do we convince others that while we may need additional help from time to time among peers we would NEVER exclude anyone? That seems VERY clear: from even the harshest comments on there, NO ONE wants to exclude anyone. We are all Sneetches. So how can this be resolved? I have no fucking clue. Please. If you have any ideas, jot them down below.

All excerpts from The Sneetches copyrighted by Dr. Seuss.



Filed under Infertility, Parenting After IF

59 responses to “Sneetches, PAIL and What Now?

  1. I have been mulling this issue over for DAYS, feeling completely and totally incapable of putting my thoughts into words. It kills me to see the mud being slung. I can honestly say that I see both sides of the issue, both how this came about and how Mel’s feelings were hurt in the process. It makes perfect sense when looking at it from an outsider’s perspective, and I want so badly for there to be a happy, easy solution.

    As someone who has not found success after IF, I can honestly say that no part of me at all was hurt by the creation of P.A.I.L. I have several friends parenting or pregnant after IF, and from conversations with them – I completely get where something like this could be helpful. I can also honestly admit that I had never really bothered to look much through Mel’s parenting section on her blogroll. Seeing this start, it never occurred to me that it would step on toes. I just thought it was a nice way for those who made it to the other side to be able to acknowledge where THEY are at now, while still owning the fact that they have scars left from IF. After seeing Mel’s, take, I completely get where she is coming from too, but more than anything… it just all seems like such a giant misunderstanding to me. I said it somewhere else, but Mel is the beacon in a dark dark tunnel for so many of us. She is a hero to many. I look up to her and admire her more than I can even express. And I completely understand where, if I were in her shoes, I would be hurt. But some of the comments there? They absolutely tear me apart. It was only a few weeks ago there were similar comments being made about me across the ALI world because of something I had written with absolutely zero ill intent at all, and it was PAINFUL. It broke my heart to see some of what was being said about me, without any attempt at all to understand that my intent had never been to be hurtful. I keep looking at the intent behind P.A.I.L. and I can’t help but recognize that the intent there was never to hurt anyone. Yet so many of the comments seem to want to ignore that, and it pains me to see. These are PEOPLE we are talking about. People with real feelings and a real desire to actually try to HELP those within this community. At what point to we step back and recognize that? Acknowledge intent and realize that no one was ever meant to be hurt?

    I don’t know… I just know that some of the behavior I’ve now seen in response to this is not that of a community I would ever actually want to be a part of. And that sucks, because that really shouldn’t be what the ALI community is about at all. We are ALL here, struggling, fighting, and striving to heal from the scars of IF. We all need to do that in different ways, and I’m sure it is inevitable at some point that toes will be stepped on. But more than anything, I think it is so important for us all to learn to reflect upon intent. There was no ill intent here on the part of the original posters behind P.A.I.L., nor was there any ill intent behind Mel expressing her hurt and concern over that. But the intent behind some of those comments? The level of ill intent there is borderline disturbing in some cases, and it really has to make you wonder… what are we trying to accomplish here if there are those so ready and willing to tear some within our ranks apart?

    Yep… my thoughts are still complicated and disjointed and lacking any real sense at all. The main point: This whole thing makes me sad, and I don’t like it one bit.

    • I really agree with how unsettling it has been to see mean words spoken. I have not forgotten that you had to deal with that too and I’m sorry 😦 I like to think our community is so warm and fuzzy, so to see this has been upsetting…

      • Absolutely… I tend to want to lift everyone up, and I like to think the same of most within this community. There seems to be an almost bulldog mentality going on right now though, and I have to wonder what exactly that has been borne from? I just don’t get this at all… Some of the comments going both ways just have me scratching my head. When did this become an “Us vs. Them” thing, and is that really what any of us want it to be?

  2. It’s the silence on one end of the conversation that’s just been left hanging our in the blogosphere that’s bothering me the most right now.

  3. Wow. I read through the comments over at Mel’s and it’s nothing short of heartbreaking. I think that many people were just feeling defensive after seeing that Mel was hurt by this, which is understandable. But the very reason that Mel is so amazing (OK, one reason, you do a nice job of pointing that the list of reasons is long) is because of all of the work that she does to bring this community together.

  4. This is a thoughtful, intelligent. You’ve really done a great job of tying together both sides.

    My first reaction to PAIL was to wonder where people with secondary infertility would fit, or what would happen to people who survive loss. Would they feel the need to hop back and forth? Would they feel like they didn’t belong in either camp?

    But not having been pregnant or had children, I clearly didn’t understand that there is a group within the IF community that feels that they aren’t getting the support that they need. That is a problem.

    I wonder, has there been a discussion within the IF community on what we can do to better support pregnant and parenting IF survivors, and also those who decide to live without children?

  5. It’s been a very interesting thing for me to watch unfold. I admit when I first saw the posts about PAIL my immediate response was jealousy. Jealousy because I was not able to be a part of the group. There was definitely that feeling of not being able to part of the cool kids group at school.

    But at the same time I know that was not the intention. I do not know Elphaba aside from a few comments back and forth on our blogs. I know she is a good person and would never intentionally make people feel like they could not be included. She even mentioned that they would not exclude anyone from joining, those who are still TTC can still be a part of the club, but I know personally I wouldn’t be comfortable with that. It would be like attending a party where I was the only one dressed in a costume. I’d stick out like a sore thumb and not feel like I was one of them.

    I can understand Mel’s frustration. She has created an amazing community and I’m sure it is frustrating on her part to feel like it is being copied. But that being said, I do think that PAIL is a great resource. I know that at time when using Mel’s blog roll I’ve seemed to come across more inactive or deleted blogs than active ones. Not that I blame Mel for that. She keeps that blogroll up herself and her own time. That is a huge task to keep up. So PAIL is a great resource for those who need a place to belong and to find those who are on the same path at the same time.

    It makes me sad to see this community so divided and to be honest a lot of the comments upset me. They were not comments of support and understanding, they were accusatory and in some instances just plain mean. This is not what I expect out of this group and I’m pretty disappointed.

    • “ be honest a lot of the comments upset me. They were not comments of support and understanding, they were accusatory and in some instances just plain mean. This is not what I expect out of this group and I’m pretty disappointed.”

      Me too 😦

  6. While I *get* that no one meant to hurt anyone, and the PAIL people were just looking for like-minded support, how many of those who were feeling excluded, marginalized or like they were on the edge of this community because they got their babies actually spent any time exploring the “Parenting After” room on Mel’s blogroll? There are HUNDREDS of blogs in that room. HUNDREDS. How sad to be overwhelmed by the options.

    There are 22 blogs in the “Child Free After” room. I feel sick.

    • Sarah

      Two of my blogger buddies are now living child-free, and I, too, feel like they are alone in a sea of “mommies”. I wish there were more bloggers they could connect with, but I wonder how many of those living child-free decide to stop blogging in order to move on from infertility?

    • I’m so sorry… 😦

      Loribeth’s blog, “The Road Less Traveled”, is a great resource for Child Free After:

      I know she’s on Mel’s list…

      Abiding with you.

  7. Sarah

    I didn’t sign up for PAIL. For some reason, when it came up it didn’t seem to include adoptive parents. I don’t know why, but I’m not the only adoptive mama who got that impression. I also wondered about duplicate blogrolls – wasn’t Mel already bringing people together in such a fantastic way? I thought maybe these (some of them newer) bloggers just didn’t know about Mel and her blogroll. I just kinda shrugged it off and clicked away.
    Also, I’ve never really felt comfortable with anything that has the label “after infertility”. Maybe some people feel they have moved past infertility because they achieved pregnancy, and are finished with their family building. I will never achieve pregnancy (okay, I know you should never say never, but after almost 8 years…yeah, probably never) and I will always be infertile. We want more kids, so infertility will play a huge role in our lives as we continue to build our family through adoption.
    Lastly, I didn’t sign up because I just didn’t see the need to draw more people to my blog. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but I think one of the reasons I’ve never had a serious lag in commenters after bringing Isaac home is because I really stepped up commenting on others’ blogs. I made an effort to reach out to other bloggers who were parenting, as well as my regular readers. I had already been following quite a few parenting bloggers as so many of my blogroll had had successful pregnancies (that’ll happen when you’ve blogged for a few years, I guess), so there was an easier transition to “mommy blogger” than I would have assumed.
    I’m really feeling bad for Mel here, and because I’m one of those middle children, the mediator types, I wish there was something I could do to fix things so we could all go back to our happy, shiny, kumbaya existence in ALI world :(.

    • Some really interesting points here: especially about reaching out to commenters…

      Also this:

      “I’m really feeling bad for Mel here, and because I’m one of those middle children, the mediator types, I wish there was something I could do to fix things so we could all go back to our happy, shiny, kumbaya existence in ALI world.”

      I totally get this 😦

    • Sarah

      I should have added that I don’t think these personal attacks on Elphaba are kosher at all. Very uncool.

  8. This has really upset me too. I signed up for PAIL because it arose right when my daughter arrived and I was excited to think about blogging about parenting. It never occurred to me that Mel would be hurt, and I guess that makes me a jerk. But to me, it was just another blogroll – I’ve joined several – adoption ones, miscarriage ones, etc. Now I feel defensive about it, especially due to the comment castigating those who joined (and the attacks on Elphie, who had her heart in the right place).

  9. I am feeling sad & sick about this as well. I e-mailed Mel privately (was up all the previous night & wasn’t sure I was being too coherent to post publicly!). I think I read one post (Esperanza’s?| about PAIL before this & didn’t give it too much thought (obviously, my main interests lie elsewhere, although I DO read some parenting blogs). I’m sure the organizers had only the best intentions, but it’s understandable why she might be hurt.

    It’s only natural for like to seek like, and the more specific the likeness the better, it seems (and the blogroll facilitates that). I myself recently separated out the childless/free not by choice blogs I read from the others into a separate list to make it easier for others to find them — and I regularly hang out on blogs/communities such as Silent Sorority & Life Without Baby. But bringing people together has always been what Stirrup Queens is all about.

    It’s interesting to see how many commenters on Mel’s blog admit they didn’t realize there was a parenting after loss or IF section of the blogroll, or that they hadn’t visited the blogroll in awhile (I’m guilty on that count too) or that they didn’t even know about the blogroll, period. Perhaps one good thing to come out of this conversation will be that reminder about the blogroll and all the different categories within it. Maybe we’ve come to take Mel & her blogroll a little for granted, & we need a reminder now & then that it’s there for us and what a wonderful resource it is. Yes, it’s not perfect — but really, it’s an amazing thing. : )

    And thank you to the commenters above who mentioned those of us on the childless/free path. : )

    • Just saw your shout-out above, Jjiraffe — thank you. I should mention that I think i’m on Mel’s blogroll in the stillbirth category. I go back & forth on whether I should ask to be switched. I’d like for stillbirth moms who find my blog via Mel’s blogroll to know that my life is a good one even though I haven’t had another child since Katie. At the same time, there are so few CF bloggers out there, I feel like I owe it to them to be listed there. This is where being able to be listed in multiple categories would be a great thing. But I recognize it would be a heck of a lot more work for Mel.

    • I just recommended your blog to Slackie O. You are such an amazing writer and resource for the childless/child free after loss and infertility community.

      I totally have to admit that I haven’t been to the Blogroll since I signed up for it and I then kinda forgot about it. When I originally went there, a bunch of the blogs I clicked on hadn’t updated their blogs in a while. I have been more into the more active communities of SQ, like LFCA and the Blog round-up. It’s a really great site, and Mel is incredible.

  10. SRB

    So, I was going to leave this until the morning but I just can’t. I too, feel sick. I was, quite literally, not in a place where I could deal with this this morning. I left a long comment on Mel’s post (#116), but here is the short version:
    I honestly had *NO IDEA* that SQ was the ‘hub’, that the amazingly long blogroll even existed, or that ICLW was unique to the ALI community in general and SQ specifically. I have visited SQ here and there, but didn’t realize it was what it is. Because PAIL popped up on my radar I felt enough courage to start reaching out and speaking out, whereas before I was always a lurker and extremely rare commenter. For the last week or so I’ve been excited and gathering steam. That’s been knocked out me. I was traumatized “IRL” by my IF/loss experience and how I was/am treated. I’m most certainly not past it. I reached out like I did, made the suggestion that I did because I need help, understanding, and support. I can’t get myself out of this, and I thought it was finally time to start making some connections with women in the same place as me.
    Now I’ve been ‘schooled’, and how. I can handle a shitty comment or an ugly email. That’s not what I’m upset about. What I can’t handle is all the awful, divisive things I saw in the comments. Tonight I’m left wondering if I was better off suffering in silence after all.

    • OMG: just read your comment. WTF?!

      Please know that this is not the way I have seen the ALI communty operate in the past and in general.

      I understand how you feel! But there are so many of us who are nice and supportive. I hope you stay!

      • SRB

        Thanks. Truly. I’m just feeling…Deflated is a good word I suppose.

        Like I said, I can handle some shitty comments thrown my way about what is, in my view, an epic misunderstanding. But what has transpired in the comments over there is astonishing, heartbreaking, and just plain gross in some cases. Ultimately, I reached out because there are wounds that are just not closing. I’ve already had all the salt I can take.

    • I am with you – I had NO idea that Mel started ICLW, LFCA, etc. I went to her blogroll a couple years ago, found it overwhelming (yet impressive), and was confused. I didn’t understand the different rooms, and even wondered why my favorite blogger wasn’t on the IF list. That would be because she was in the “Parenting after IF” room – a room I didn’t know about. I didn’t understand the rooms! Call me an idiot if you’d like, but it’s true.

      There have been suggestions in the comments that everyone in the ALI community knows what Mel started, etc. Well – not everyone – because I didn’t. I’ve known about our infertility now for 4 years and I did not know about Mel’s building up of the community. I just knew about the community by linking to blogs on others’ pages, etc.

      I have read every comment and I do think that people are taking snip-its from the ones they don’t like and making a federal case out of them. It’s much like how the media handles a proper press release. They take maybe 5 words out of a 20-word sentence, and misconstrue it into something totally different from what the real intent and message was. I read so many comments about prior comments, thinking to myself, ‘that’s not what she said.’ It’s a shame – emotions have definitely taken over. I don’t think it’s possible right now for there to be a rational conversation on this topic.

      I am a new blogger and I’m thinking of just cutting my losses. This drama is worse than Facebook drama – and that’s a pity!

      • As a former PR person, this struck me:

        “It’s much like how the media handles a proper press release. They take maybe 5 words out of a 20-word sentence, and misconstrue it into something totally different from what the real intent and message was. I read so many comments about prior comments, thinking to myself, ‘that’s not what she said.’ It’s a shame – emotions have definitely taken over.”

        That totally used to happen. And, sadly, I think that is happening now.

        It IS drama: I’ve been in the ALI world two years now, almost exactly, and I have NEVER seen the likes of this. I’m sorry you’re joining in now. I feel like it’s not representational of what I’ve seen in general. At. ALL.

      • I’m with you here. I’ve been an active blogger for over 2 years and while I knew about the ALI community in concept, I never really understood it. There (to my knowledge) isn’t a ALI 101 training manual handed out when a new IF blogger joins the world of blogging. And so I never spent much time looking through the site.

        I also didn’t follow SQ much (just recently added it to my blogroll) because it often talked about parenting after IF… and I really wasn’t in a place that I wanted to read those types of blogs while I was in the trenches of IVF treatments and failures.

        You make some other really great points in your comment!

        This drama has been extremely disheartening. But Cortney, it is not representative of the community at large. I hope you stick it out… or at least come back in a couple of weeks when hopefully this will have died down.

  11. Sigh. You know how I feel but I keep working this issue over in my mind. I have nothing but utmost respect for Mel and all that she does, and I’m also bothered by her silence after her updates.

    I’m going to be honest. I believe that Mel’s ALI community is big enough to encompass what comes after, be it pregnancy, parenting or child free. In reality, I don’t think the community wants to acknowledge those categories exist. Yes, they are the goal but for those in the trenches, they aren’t able to consider them rationally or that we have needs too.

    I strongly reiterate that IF is a permanent state of mind or wound that doesn’t heal regardless of how many children you have. We deserve support too for our unique needs. I do not think the main community is prepared for that and that’s why I joined PAIL. I wanted to find others who had children through whatever means…because honestly, I identify in many ways with an adoptive parent as with someone parenting a bio child. I wanted an active community that didn’t feel ashamed to exist or the need to make apologies.

    The sucky part is that our godmother was hurt. I don’t know what the answer is but I refuse to have the ALI community to revoke or negate my membership because I have a child. I am still as infertile as I was 7 years ago when we started. I can provide support if I’m allowed, but I get the sense it isn’t.

    It is hard to be a member of a group that is simultaneously revered as the goal and reviled.

    • I hope the parenting people aren’t reviled 😦 Although, the comments. Oy, the comments.

      The “active community around parenting after IF” is definitely what attracted me to PAIL. I don’t want to have to leave the ALI community for that though, and I wish that didn’t have to be a choice 😦

  12. Tracy

    “My own personal take is I don’t want to have to trade in my ALI citizenship. I really don’t. I’d like to be able to visit PAIL, though: a community where I can talk about parenting.”

    This is exactly how I feel. Well thought out and heartfelt post. I’ve been struggling just this past month after adopting our baby (after ttc, after RPL, after a medical stillbirth) and have found myself turning away from my blog and feeling like I can’t write about parenting because of hurting some of my readers feelings. Am I still part of the ALI community? I think so. But I’m a mom now (finally – after being beaten up for years) and I’d love to connect with moms parenting after going through loss, struggles, or just moms who can relate to me being grumpy because I only slept two hours last night without hurting a blog friend’s feelings who has been there with me through the past year blogging about struggling with *becoming* a parent.

    I’m sad that Mel’s feelings are hurt. Her blogroll has been like the ultimate White Pages for me. I’ve found tons of information, blogs, links and help during my darkest moments from her blog. She’s been a lifesaver.

    Ultimately, I know I’m going to write about what I want and I think that should be the case for everyone. I remember not wanting to read about successful pregnancies and stopped following a ton of blogs because of it during that time in my life BUT that’s my choice and I don’t get why losing readers is such a big deal to those who write just for sanity like myself. People will come and go on blogs like real friendships…the ones that last will always be there. I’m not going to put disclaimers up on my posts so as to not hurt feelings when I want to complain or brag about my baby. I’m going to hope that as adults we choose where we visit during our days online and that the support I got while going through the toughest days of my life will continue as I venture into this new phase of my life.

    ALI is a part of me. Parenting is now too. I’m happy to have blogroll connections to help me find blogs that share similarities that I’m going through in my life today.

    Thank you for writing this post.

    • “I’m sad that Mel’s feelings are hurt. Her blogroll has been like the ultimate White Pages for me. I’ve found tons of information, blogs, links and help during my darkest moments from her blog. She’s been a lifesaver.”

      I think we all feel this way 😦

  13. Thank you. Just thank you for writing this. Seriously, it so needed to be said and you said it so eloquently and sensitively and with style and grace and compassion. I want to write more here but I have so, so much to say. I have to admit, it’s hard to say anything when we’re not sure how Mel is feeling. I will say that it’s been really, really hard seeing all the accusations flying, seeing people’s true colors come out. Being referred to as “those people” and even Sneetches is hard to handle. I feel hurt and upset and full of regret.

    I have to admit, I wasn’t all that excited about PAIL when I first read about it. I’m still not sure it’s a place I will want to call home. Having said that I joined and I hope to check it out without feeling like I’m betraying someone else I care about in the process. I would love to find some kind of community there, just like I have other communities elsewhere. Like you said, I doubt I would hang out their exclusively (I highly doubt it) but I don’t want to feel like it’s off limits either. I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem fair.

    Again, I have so much more to say but am not sure how to say it. Maybe I should write my own post. 😉

    Thanks again for writing this. THANK YOU!

  14. Boy am I glad I’ve been barely keeping up lately. As someone who has recently crossed to the other side and is now parenting, I’m struggling with a shifting blog purpose as well as how to stay involved. I can see the need to find a niche within the overall ALI community, and I’m personally working on mine by joining other blogrolls that are more closely aligned with my experience. Ok, one other specific blogroll that has pre-and post-adoptive parents, birthparents and adoptees intermingling. On the other hand I can see where the frustration comes in for Mel because I think it gets murky when talking about infertility because SQ is largely infertility/loss driven. (before anyone goes all angry villager on my ass, it’s a fact that statistically, not many people adopt, and as such it is a smaller community). It is kind of a mess and I’m disheartened by the comments I’ve read on Mel’s blog. It’s the same type of comments that we continually rail against when people outside the ALI community comment on IVF or adoption articles. Where’s the unity now?

    • Angry villager! LOL.

      “It is kind of a mess and I’m disheartened by the comments I’ve read on Mel’s blog. It’s the same type of comments that we continually rail against when people outside the ALI community comment on IVF or adoption articles. Where’s the unity now?”

      This is true. SIgh.

  15. Pingback: Villagers with Pitchforks « Stumbling Gracefully

  16. Overall I am just confused.

    Confused that people have taken it personally, confused by the comments and confused why we can’t have another blogroll.

    All I wanted was to still celebrate being a part of the infertile community and to be allowed to write with freedom on the subjects of pregnancy and eventually parenting. To meet and mingle with other parents that have gone through infertility.

    As far as I knew PAIL was never going to be a new club but it was a place for other people that are infertile and now pregnant or parenting to get together and have discussions about parenting. I had some wonderful comments when I joined PAIL from those still TTC and the negative comments I got were more about my issues of people who stop blogging after they become parents BECAUSE they don’t feel like they belong.

    The awful thing is that by being part of PAIL it feels like I have to take sides when in fact it was never about that. And some of the comments were just ridiculous. They acted as if we were evil people plotting Mel’s downfall (ok tad exaggerated there).

    It was awful to hear that a whole blogroll could disappear because someone else started a new blogroll that was in additiion to the community we already have. Now even more I feel like great you can be pregnant and blog but you just can’t be part of ALI anymore which is how we were all feeling anyway!

    I think SRB said it perfectly for me as feeling deflated. Sums it up perfectly. Like a child on xmas day that got a new toy that broke.

  17. Polly

    I have not had the time to read all the above comments. I will, but for now I am just throwing in my two cents.
    I have a feeling that there might be a misunderstanding as to why PAIL came to be which is now causing the rift.
    From reading the comments over at Mel’s and from your post here I get tthe following impression:
    What I gather you are saying Jjiraffe (please correct me if I am wrong), is that PAIL is a home, where you can talk freely about being a different kind of parent, a parent who has been through a lot more than your average mum. The way you put it, a big focus of PAIL is actually to address the issues that come with maybe not being quite the lucky go happy parent we might have been had we had it easier.
    Somehow this does not seem to come across well though (don’t know why, just my impression). A lot of people seem to view PAIL as an exclusive club where women who are now on the “other side” basically want to “forget” they are/were (?) infertile. Somewhere someone (I can not remember who nor can I find the entry) claimed that a PAIL member had said that they do not consider themselves infertile anymore.
    I do not know if this calim was actually made, and if it was I do not know this person’s diagnosis or history but I reckon that most women in the IFworld, even after having given birth, are technically still as infertile as they were before.
    Maybe it is this kind of notion that rubs some people the wrong way and that is viewed as distancing yourself from the community?
    Again, I have to say that I did not come across the alleged “I do not consider mysself infertile anymore” quote myself and it may well be that this was never said.

  18. I don’t really have anything to say that hasn’t already been said – just glad you put this out there into the ether. Thoughtful, empathetic, reasonable, and kind. Good stuff, lady.

  19. Tio

    I too feel bad for both Elphaba and Mel. I, personally, don’t feel the need to join PAIL. I’m happy on Mel’s blogroll and when I post these days (rarely!) I post because I want to, without thought to losing readers because I blog about parenting. If people don’t want to read about parenting then that’s cool with me.
    I have to admit, the formation of PAIL does feel a little exclusionary to me, BUT I have no problem with others joining it if they feel it is right for them. What I certainly don’t want is to lose my place on Mel’s blogroll as a result.
    And I truly don’t want Elphaba to be vilified. She does not deserve that.

  20. First of all, thank you for writing this post in such a balanced way. I know this is hard for you.

    I just have to say though.. of course the PAIL blogroll and community is exclusive. It’s for those who are pregnant or parenting. No-one else. That’s the title. That’s the purpose. After thinking about it I guess a simple solution is the ones that wants to go over and play there, do that. Why should anyone even have the right to try and stop you? Shouldn’t be such a big deal right!

    But if it takes away the pregnancy/parenting room from Mel’s blogroll, something is seriously wrong. Because I would like to stay there, through healing from loss, treatments, pregnancy, parenting or whatnot in the future. And I hate to see so many hurt and confused by this. Myself included.

  21. I’m really getting frustrated at how many are attributing (unintentional) malice or smugness into the creation of PAIL. The bottom line is that every group we are a member of is by default exclusive because everyone is not a member. The ALI community and Mel’s amazing efforts at community building could be seen as exclusive and divisive by those who do not suffer from ALI. Why does it exist? Because we feel excluded, hurt and misunderstood by the fertile world. The many bloggers I see bonded by going through PPD/PPA could be seen as exclusive by those who haven’t. The slap in the face to those members of the ALI community who are still in the trenches is self-inflicted: PAIL members are not congratulating ourselves over being parents or almost being parents. All we want is an ACTIVE community where can once again find the validation and support we ONCE had.

    Post coming later on what it’s like parenting as a member of the ALI community.

  22. Polly

    Hi there, me again. Jjiraffe, I was wondering about what PAILers do, when they are say, parenting Kid No1 after Infertility and wish to try for another baby whilst still being infertile. The focus of their thoughts, emotions and posts might shift once again. What I mean is that they would be parenting but infertility would still/again play a big role in their lives as concieving might be a struggle once again for some while others will find it easier. Would someone in that position be moving elsewhere or could you see PAIL still being their haven?
    Thanks for clarifying in advance, as this is something I really think about much with regards to PAIL.

    • Amanda

      It’s my impression that PAIL would be the ideal haven for those ttc #2 after infertility/loss. There would be others in the same situation whereas you might not quite fit in with those ttc #1 or with parents who haven’t gone through infertility/loss. It’s one of the topics I am looking most forward to reading about.

      • Agreed – as someone who is parenting #1 and worried about TTC #2 someday, PAIL seems like an ideal place for me. The others get it that I can’t just plan my next child’s birth month…and at the same time, they’re providing support with the day-to-day questions I have about raising my baby.

  23. I guess I just don’t understand, really. I didn’t attribute any malice to Elphaba, nor did I really even think that it would bother Mel, either. I always considered this PAIL thing a subset of Mel’s list; a more active list where I could find a blog sister who is back in the trenches of IF like me.

    Honestly, I’d LIKE to embrace a world where there aren’t any Sneetches.

    Fact? I lost a lot of readers/commenters when I had Lucky. I don’t blame anyone, in fact I totally understand what it’s like to feel Left Behind. I was okay with just having a parenting blog. But now, with all the fail of trying for mythical #2? I miss the community and support. I wanted to get some of that back.

    So yes. You’ve totally validated how I feel here too. I feel the exact same way. I don’t want to trade in my ALI card because I’m a parent now. But I also want to visit PAIL because there are times when I need to talk about parenting and how hard it can be, too.

    I guess I just don’t understand why this can’t exist also under Mel’s SQ umbrella. She has worked so hard to be inclusive of everyone, why can’t this fit in within that inclusivity?


  24. Kir

    Oh. OH. Wow. I wish I could put into words how I feel. I have known Mel since I started blogging and she became “Mel” in front of my eyes, her blog and the blogroll grew just as she did.

    I read your words and I thought do I fit in PAIL? After all this it is where I belong, becuase I cannot actively TTC , I am 42 and I have twins…but then I thought it doesn’t bother me to talk to women still TTC and it doesn’t bother me to talk to women who are on the other side..what I always loved about the ALI community was the fact that we all had each other, even on shitty days.

    You know 8 years later and two kids later I am still infertile. I always will be. Earlier this year I thought about changing my tagline and making it about high heels and cupcakes, try on “writer” in the words as I grew my “fiction wings” but after a week + of mulling it over I didn’t want to…my blog and my life will always be about Infertility’s simply always going to be a part of who I am and one I won’t deny or put away because I had my babies. That is what cemented the thought that I don’t need to be a part of PAIL because where I am sitting right now is always enough for me, for 8 yeas it has been. I always hope that if someone reads me and needs to connect with “someone like me” they know they can.

    Thanks for taking this your blog. My own post is brewing.

  25. I’ve read this post several times now because it is so smart and eloquent. We are all sneetches! I agree that we need to find a way to move forward that is truly inclusive and that allows people to find the support they need when and how they need it.

  26. Thank you for writing this post, it’s frustrating to feel like we have to choose. I still have not joined any pregnancy blogrolls and probably won’t until I enter the second trimester and gain some confidence but I would hate to feel like I had to choose. I would never discount anything Mel has done, she is the hub of this community. However, I also don’t think it’s fair to shun someone else stepping up and trying to create community where so many feel it is lacking. I can’t know for sure, but if I wasn’t pregnant I don’t think PAIL would bother me. Sure, I’d certainly be jealous because what IFer wouldn’t be wanting to be able to get there… but I’ve always had compassion for those parenting/pregnant after infertility and loss… it’s an awkward spot to be in. I don’t remember if I ever commented on your post about infertility blogs having expiration dates but it made me think a lot about what happens to our blogs once we get to the other side. Then what? This is the first time I’ve felt like there was a place for that….

  27. Thank you for writing this post.

    I’ve been following this on both sides. I read Elphie’s posts as well as Mel’s, I enjoy their posts and didn’t really think much of PAIL because on first glance, it didn’t affect me. But when this came out, I tried to write a comment for Mel’s post but couldn’t commit to it. I would write it, consider it for a few minutes, walk away, just to come back and remove what I typed and start again. I just couldn’t make myself hit publish on my comment.

    I understood both sides. I knew PAIL was innocent in its intent, but it was also a wake up call for me. If PAIL is needed then our community may not be as effective as we all assumed it was. But I also understood Mel’s frustration. I’m sure her feelings may have matched my own, only on a greater scale. The comments beneath the post is what bugged me. Sure some people were mean, and they exist in any large group. But what bugged me the most was that it came back to people feeling left out. Where we had watched the community as a whole, just weeks ago, show support for one of our own when Mo and her husband lost Nadav, to people coming out and saying “I feel left out because I got pregnant.” I will say, I am one who sometimes has trouble reading pregnancy blogs, even IF pregnancy blogs, I simply step back for a bit. We all have to back away when things get emotional. But that being said, when I participate in the events, I pick and choose blogs that I can relate to. And I assumed that those pregnancy blogs and parenting after IF blogs did the same.

    I’ve always taken this community as something that is equal give and take. That being said, you have to give into the community to get anything out of it. Yes some people talk about losing their readership, but I also ask if those people are dealing with their own survivors guilt and what they have done to build that readership back up? It’s not blame or personal attack but rather a curiosity because I’ve never been pregnant/miscarried/parent after IF. Where there are so many faucets to the ALI world, I can’t help but wonder if people are looking to keep their original readership or transition into a new readership. Just as you change over the years, so does your blog and its readership. And honestly, PAIL answered that in some ways. It was the trigger that started a conversation that needs to happen. If people do not feel comfortable, then something is clearly not working. I honestly just hate knowing that there are hurt feelings, because I don’t think it was the intent of the ALI blogging world as a whole.

    I’m sorry if this comment is a little disjointed, like many, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the entire situation and organize my own personal thoughts on it.

  28. Jo

    Wowza. First of all, thanks for the mention in your post. I wrote that on a particularly frustrated day, and I can totally empathize (or is it sympathize? I always mix those up) with the parenting after IF blogs in that, depending on your perspective, it can still feel really lonely out there. When you are seeking something different and don’t feel like you “fit,” it’s hard. That being said, I don’t think we need to subdivide into “TTC #1, Parenting, TTC#2,” etc. I think we are ALL valuable and have things to add to the overall community.

    MY impression, which seems to have been lost in the commenting wars, was that Mel felt mostly angry that her ideas were being stolen. And that is a fair, legitimate complaint. She should own some sort of copyright for all that she’s done! From reading and re-reading her posts a few days ago and again today, I don’t think she is anti-other-blogrolls, but she is (rightfully) anti-taking her hard work and running with it.

    I don’t read E.’s blog, though I did click over to read her take on this. I don’t “qualify” for PAIL and so won’t be joining. I wish that, as a community, we did a better job so that something like this wasn’t necessary. If anything, it’s made me want to reach out and be a better bloggy friend — to give that support that I seek.

    Thank you for a thoughtful, delicate, and balanced view of this debate.

  29. I wonder if one of the things that could be done is a mentoring kind of arrangement … where people could sign up to be mentors to others still in the trenches? It’s yet another list, and people could do that work just by reading Mel’s parenting list themselves if they wanted to find a mentor, but maybe it would be a way to focus our energies on building bridges instead of identifying with one “camp” or another … I don’t know …

    All I know is that I feel heartsick when I read these posts, and the vitriol in some of the comments. 😦

  30. I like the way you overlaid the Sneetch tale on the situation.

    I wish I could think of something helpful to say…

  31. chhandita

    so i come back to this mess.after months of dealing with anxiety (u know d kind where u cant sleep or eat bcoz u fear tht ur child is gonna die).going into therapy, coming back to find ur email hacked and ur memories ur blog deleted by some jackass. now i wonder shud i blog agn? This community which was my lifeline seems to be falling apart. Dont we have enough shit to deal wijh already?

  32. Thanks for writing such a nice post on this! I just feel bad for everyone – it’s obvious there are hurt feelings on both sides. I agree that it seems like this was something brewing below the surface, and it had to be, considering recent events. I didn’t realize, and I think I must just follow a different group of bloggers (like Sarah, above – I loved reading her blog before she was a parent, and I still love it, even though I don’t comment often). I’ve really been stunned to see some of the comments in reaction to PAIL (from both “sides”) and am just saddened by it.

    For me, as someone who is starting treatments (again) and has no idea if I ever will be a parent, I was not upset by the creation of PAIL. I didn’t anticipate Mel’s reaction, but once she posted, I could understand why she was upset. It’s obvious there’s a need, but I feel like the whole thing could have been handled differently. I keep wondering…what if it hadn’t been posted to LFCA or mentioned ICLW? I’m not blaming anyone, but I can’t help but wonder. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered? I will say, though, that I cringe when I see that people are critical of Mel’s reaction to the creation of PAIL…mainly because she has just done so much for this community and given such an incredible amount of her time and energy. Her work is such an incredible resource to so many, and it freaks me out a little to imagine that not being there for people.

  33. Pingback: 25 week midwife visit, Pail thoughts, camp and other news... | Survive and Thrive

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