Hello, gentle readers and visitors. As you may or may not know, there’s some processing afoot in the ALI blogosphere. For background, see these posts of Mel‘s: 1, 2, 3. Mel has suggested a sort of diffused salon, with other bloggers hosting discussions of elements of the large, unwieldy issue in question. This is my attempt to help a bit. A list of all the blogs involved in the Healing Salon will be on LFCA. At the end of the week, those of us hosting these discussions will summarize what has come up in our blogs’ comments and all of that will go somewhere.
By way of introduction to those visiting here because of the salon: Welcome (really!) to Bionic Mamas. I’m Bionic; my wife, Sugar, posts here, too, but not as often. I started this blog when we decided to TTC, thinking at the time that the biggest questions were how to get sperm and whether my rather extraordinary reproductive anatomy would cause problems. The blogger formerly known as Smart One Kym submitted the blog to the LFCA list, and I was surprised and increasingly grateful to be included in Mel’s world. (Being a subfertile lesbian means being subtly left out of a lot of groups.) Endometriosis ended up being more of a problem than extra lady bits were; support from the ALI community (and others) has been crucial to my relative mental health as we pursued IVF, as fretted our way through pregnancy, and as we panic and love our way through raising our now one-year-old son.
Now. Down to business.
One of the issues that has come up in the comments on Mel’s posts is that many people feel that becoming pregnant or beginning to parent lost them blog readers and commenters, presumably because many of their readers who were still not pregnant/parenting found it too painful to read their stories. Some report feeling censured on their own blogs, because they fear alienating their readers or because people have actually made “how dare you complain when you know how lucky you are to be pregnant”-style comments. This got me to thinking about how this blog has and has not changed since I got pregnant and the Bean was born, and also about blogs that I have and have not stopped reading or commenting on much. I know that I have gained and lost readers at various points, but I also know that some of my most stalwart commenters stayed here through it all, including many who were not yet pregnant when I was, some of whom are pregnant/parenting now and some who are not yet. [I’m mostly thinking here about commenters coming from the TTC/parenting worlds, but Urban (is that a euphemism?), I stand ready to buy you a silver baby spoon….] Likewise, there are blogs I stopped reading or commenting on much when their authors became pregnant or parents, and some I stuck with. (And lots and lots — probably yours — that I still read even though I have become a lousy commenter.)
So here is a question for you to think about and discuss in the comments: What influences your decision to keep reading or commenting on a blog when the author gets pregnant or becomes a parent? For that matter, what influences your decision to start reading a blog written by someone in a different place, reproductively speaking, from yours, whether that means someone pregnant/parenting when you are TTC or TTC when you are parenting? I think this question may apply even to those who are parenting, or at least it does for me. Discuss.
(It goes without saying that said discussion should be civil and even kind, right? Right. Sorry to even mention it.)
* * * * *
Here is what I have been thinking about, meant not as What Everyone Should Think, just as what I think.
In the more hectic environment that is my life with a baby (this is not a complaint), I don’t read as many blogs as regularly as I used to. When I think about the blogs that I most eagerly keep up with (whether or not I manage to comment much — please don’t think you aren’t in one of these categories just because I am having a tough time getting alone time with my keyboard), I see that they fall into three rough categories. Some of them fall into more than one, but they all are in at least one:
- People I just feel a special connection to. This is obviously highly idiosyncratic and not of much use as something to think about when writing: “how can I write this post so that people just LIKE me?”
- People who write about larger issues or questions that I have something to say about. Mel does this kind of writing a lot; another great example is First Time, Second Time.
- People who mostly write personal stories but who, regardless of what “stage” of TTC/parenting they are in, still ask for support.
Group 3 is, to me, the most interesting in context of this discussion, in part because it most contradicts the apparent conventional wisdom about blogging post-pregnancy. There is a tendency in the ALI world to apologize and/or be defensive about “complaining” about anything to do with pregnancy or parenting, lest we appear ungrateful to those who would love to have our complaints. I have certainly felt this way, though I’ve rarely let it get in the way of a good whinge. Sometimes I’ve thought of my refusal to stop complaining as a personal weakness. But I never feel that way about the same on others’ blogs.
In fact, I feel the opposite. The blogs I am least likely to read (and the posts I am least likely to comment on, even on blogs I read) are those whose authors stop asking for support after getting pregnant or becoming parents. People who are TTC I understand how to support even if a particular post isn’t asking for it outright; the whole process is a mindfuck, no matter how quick or “easy” it is, and I figure anyone who’s taken the time to start a blog about it could use some buoying. But even though I know my pregnancy and parenting have and do require support, when a blogger only shares good news, I find myself at a loss.
It’s not that I think bloggers somehow “shouldn’t” write about their lives going well, only that if that becomes the primary thing happening, I cease to feel particularly necessary as a participant and tend to direct my energy elsewhere. Similarly, I find I have less desire, even on blogs I like a great deal, to comment on posts like the “Letter to Baby at X Months” that many people write. Those posts don’t seem like they need anything from me; they are, after all, written to the baby. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be written — it’s your blog! do your thing! — but that is why I don’t write them myself. I like comments (probably too much) and I admit that I do think about what kinds of posts might make a reader feel more like chiming in.
I get that, “Baby X is so cute/smart/good at international diplomacy!” usually doesn’t go amiss, comment-wise, and I certainly don’t want to discourage any of you from saying so about the Bean if you are so moved. It’s just that saying that when it’s the only response that seems possible starts to make me feel like I’m lying (even if I’m not), or commenting just so links to my blog will populate the blogosphere, so I don’t. I’d rather comment on posts where my comment seems likely to be of some help, either concrete or abstractly supportive, which means that I, for one, think that ceasing to ask for support for fear of seeming ungrateful is a self-defeating kind of self-censorship.
What say you?