Last weekend, at the BogHer 2010 in conference in New York, I had the chance to attend a panel about blogging grief, loss and tragedy on the internet. One of the panelists was Cecily Kellogg, who blogs as Uppercase Woman and is a noted infertility blogger. Cecily was on the panel to share her experiences after she developed preeclampsia and was forced to terminate her twin pregnancy at 23.5 weeks to save her own life. The stories of all of the panelists, including Cecily’s, were heartbreaking, but they were hopeful as well.
Many people are uncomfortable hearing or even reading about someone’s grief. As people undergoing infertility treatments or with the infertility diagnosis, we are all acutely aware of this. We’ve all suffered through those uncomfortable moments where well meaning family and friends joke about how you’re not getting any younger and you’d better think about having kids before your ovaries shrivel up. If you explain that you’ve been trying for several years and start mentioning ovarian reserve testing and male factor infertility, people just don’t know how to react.
Despite the inability of onlookers to process open grief, everyone on the panel indicated that blogging and the online community they’d found, saved them in many ways. Listening to the women on the panel discuss their grief and loss openly was refreshing. You see, when my husband and I were struggling to have our first child, I wasn’t blogging yet. I kept a diary and it helped to write about it, but we weren’t really sharing our experiences with anyone we knew. The very first time I got pregnant, we told everyone. After I lost the baby, we decided we weren’t going to be in that position again, openly grieving in front of everyone.
I retreated to an online help forum for women trying to conceive after a miscarriage. Later, I also joined a community for woman diagnosed with infertility. Only after my second child was born, in 2006, did I start to write about what I’d experienced trying to have a baby. But I never considered myself an infertility blogger. I had no right to do so. After all, I had two children; I had my heir and a spare.
The funny thing is, the legacy of infertility lingers.
Even after having two children, I’ve had problems with depression and there have been lasting effects on my marriage. It’s difficult to just get over so many miscarriages and, frankly, the loss of hope. The beginning of a pregnancy for most people trying to have a baby means joy and hope. For me, it meant tests, worry and, inevitably, loss. Suppressing my natural feelings for so long changed me irrevocably. I am not the person I once was.
Only after time, therapy and learning a lot about ourselves and how to communicate when things get rough, are my husband and I able to try again. This time, we know going into it that it won’t be easy and a baby won’t necessarily be the outcome.
So why write about all of this? Why share when we don’t know what the outcome will be?
It’s not that I think the infertility and infertility blogging community will save me. I don’t. I don’t even think that sharing this much about my life and my medical history is a good idea for everyone else. But for me, blogging about infertility is a way to acknowledge that, yes, there is a problem and no, it might not be OK.
Jacqui wrote a few weeks ago about this very subject “ how much should you share about your infertility? Jacqui writes about her experiences because she knows that it can help others in her situation. I wish I could say my reasons are as altruistic, but they aren’t. I write about my infertility because not writing about it didn’t work very well for me. Keeping my feelings of hope and fear inside was unhealthy for me and my marriage.
In a strange way, writing cynically about my own fertility allows me to be more optimistic in other areas of my life. So I’ll keep sharing too much information and I’ll have friends and family who don’t know what to say. But that’s OK. The infertility community here on Attain Fertility is really all about you and me. Who cares what anyone else thinks!