Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

Healing Salon (Doing My Bit)

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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:

  1. 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?”
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

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21 thoughts on “Healing Salon (Doing My Bit)

  1. Yes, yes, yes to the last three paragraphs. Me too.

    And, fwiw, yours is one of my #1s. I love your writing. 🙂

  2. These days, I find myself commenting less on blogs of people who are currently pregnant, and almost not at all on those who are TTC. It hasn’t been a choice, I’ve just found myself part of a cohort of people who got pregnant around the same time-ish, and I tend to stick to those blogs. I find the sheer number of blogs overwhelming. I’ve had a few commenters join my blog and comment regularly in the past few months but I haven’t reciprocated just because their blogs don’t grab me. I feel sort of bad about this, but not bad enough to waste time commenting on things in which I’m not interested.

    I, too, like a good request for advice. Those are about the only posts I comment on anymore from people who are currently TTC. I know I have a rainbows and unicorns type blog these days, but I’ll come up with a good whine soon– I’ve got plenty. I do try to keep things upbeat and positive because I have the most spectacular and adorable daughter ever, no question, and I am so, so lucky. Also, the precocious and darling (1 year old!) Bean is no slouch himself.

  3. I totally agree with everything you’ve written. Very few, if any, of my blog-reading decisions have ever been based on situational grounds (i.e., ttc, vs. treatments, adoption, pregnant, parenting, smc, lesbian, etc.), but rather either based on straight-up interest, concern (if someone is having a hard time), or a sense of there being a role for me as a commenter (which, phrased differently, might be put as a sense of “connection” with the writer, in that there is a connection between what they need and what I can give).

    I also agree that I do tend to eventually stop reading parenting blogs when they become simply a diary of the child’s life (your example of “letters to the child” is apt). Obviously anybody has a right to turn their blog into a faithful catalog of the daily events in their child’s life, and I absolutely support their right to do so. I just happen not to be interested in reading 10-15 of those posts every night! The fact that I don’t want to read it doesn’t mean that I don’t support parents. I’m a parent too!

    The things that attract me to a blog, honestly, are usually a) the funny, b) the funny, c) the funny, and d) the thought-provoking. People in any ALI situation can make it in under any of these criteria.

  4. The question you pose is one I’ve been batting around these past few days as well. I know my blog reading habits have changed as I’ve moved from being an SMC trying for her second, a woman with recurrent pregnancy loss and diminished ovarian reserve, and, finally, a donor egg mama. I tend to find blogs for situational reasons; I started reading a lot about RPL when I was dealing with it, for example, and I’ve more recently started reading blogs by fellow travelers in the world of egg donation. But I don’t stick around for situational reasons; I keep reading because I like the voice, because it’s a person I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with. Interestingly, even though I am a parent (times two) the only parenting blogs I read are those I found somewhere along the way–women, like Sprogblogger, who was dealing with the same crap I was dealing with a few years ago, and I’ve kept reading. I don’t read so-called “mommy blogs” and hope that mine doesn’t really become one, even as I do write about motherhood, along with other things. More recently heavier on the new mommyhood, I’ll admit.

    Anyway…thanks for hosting! I hope to come back again sometime.

  5. Pretty much what I read blog-wise is based on my love of watching a story unfold. I started out with blogs of people who were cycling at the same time and there are a few that I not only bonded with but met. We all came about our journeys differently, some have had kid(s), some have had divorces…but we stick together and we have formed a community for support. Other blogs I read to support through the Lost & Found…I read them for a while, support them…and usually, once they are not in need of support–I go away. Interesting/humorous writing will keep me. I really don’t like the typical “mommy” bloggers–but frankly, most of the ALI community (whether parents or not) are not as much into narcissism as those blogs.

  6. My blog-reading tends to centre around ones I can relate to for whatever reason. I don’t necessarily mean those where the writer is at the same ‘stage’ as me – I still read blogs by people TTC, those who are pregnant, and those whose babies are all grown up. I want to feel that I’m not alone in being scared by the whole parent thing, that no one is out to judge me because of the choices I make in regards to Bub and that maybe it’s ok to have a life outside of running around after my little crawler.

    The blogs I stopped reading after giving birth were by people like me – with a brand new baby, often their first – who would giive ‘lecture posts’ about how they did such-and-such and how that was the only right way to raise a child. I can’t relate to that certainty, and the part of me which skipped classes at school still doesn’t respond well to being told what to do.

    I guess at the end of the day that blog writing is just like any other kind of writing – it’s all subjective. I know these people didn’t write what they did to upset me – they just expressed their opinions/feelings in a less sensitive way than I would have liked.

    Also, happy birthday Bean! 😀

  7. Well, I have noticed that Bean is particulary adept at inter-cultural communication and foreign policy, but I didn’t want to make you blush.
    I think your points are mostly spot-on. I like to read if I can relate to the people, if they have interesting stories (either the full arc of their journey or individual updates), or if they want my excellent and as-of-yet wholly untested parenting advice. I find that I drift away from commenting when people are pregnant (or force myself to keep at it because I know I’ll want to come back later and I feel sad when no one comments on my posts so I don’t want them dropping their blogs right when the story is about to get good) and coming back again for new parental challenges. But then, yes, I am more engaged if the posts feel like conversations between friends and less like messageboards for family, if that makes any sense. I want to hear about your trip to the zoo and what you thought about and how your kid is interacting with the world and what makes them tick and how you feel about that. I don’t care so much that the baby loved the lions! and the pandas! and then we had ice cream! Once in a while that’s lovely–but on the whole I prefer some reflection. With mine at the moment, though, I realize that i’m in a boring position. Not much is happening (though we’re getting closer) and it’s hard to turn my focus outward. I hope that I am able to have the more reflective thoughts that I like to read soon so I can live up to my own damn standards.

  8. I don’t read a ton of blogs, and didn’t even when I had more time (i.e., pre-E.). The blogs that I first followed were generally those of women in the same situation as I was (ttcing). Nearly all of them became pregnancy/parenting blogs while I was still stuck in the trenches trying to get pregnant. I kept reading because I felt these women had become friends, and I wouldn’t turn my back on them just because they were pregnant and I wasn’t (although the time two other bloggers and I did IVF cycles at the same time and they both got pregnant and I got a bfn definitely sucked). A significant number of these blogs stopped being updated once the baby arrived- they never transitioned to parenting blogs.

    When pregnant I picked up a couple more blogs written by women who were due at about the same time as I was (give or take a couple of months). It was nice to have some online friends who were experiencing what I was, and it has proved to be enormously helpful to have bloggers whose babies are similar in age to E.

    I don’t really read ttc blogs anymore, although I would gladly offer support if someone found my blog and asked questions. I also don’t read ‘mummy’ blogs that aren’t from the ALI community. I don’t stop reading very many blogs- it is more likely that the blog itself stopped being updated (although I tend to keep them on the reader just in case they break radio silence, which a couple have since they’ve started ttcing for #2). I used to find blogs on LFCA sometimes, but generally I come to blogs if they find me first- I’ll always try to go back across to reciprocate a comment and have a read. I stick with blogs where I feel a connection with the blogger- where I can imagine sitting down with her over tea and having a good, long natter.

    I blog partly because I need support as a mum, just as I did when I was ttcing, but also because my blog acts as my journal. Knowing other people are out there reading (even if not commenting) provides the impetus to get things down (like my monthly letters to E.) that I would never write in a paper journal, despite my good intentions. And I know that these posts are going to be so precious to me in the years to come when all specific memories of E’s babyhood fade. So I blog for myself, mostly, but my readers keep me blogging. If that makes sense.
    T.

  9. Basically, what you said. I read people who feel like kindred spirits in one way or another, because for me it’s become about PEOPLE. But in the beginning, I could only bear to read people who were right where I was. And when I did get pregnant, I happened to read a few posts from blogs I’d been following where the writer was lashing out at being left behind, and hating on the pregnant (post IF) ladies, and it hurt, particularly because I already felt so guilty. And my latest weird baby hoarding experience has certainly brought all that back up–just feeling guilty and self conscious…and there are a couple of blogs where I read every post but never comment, because I feel like a pariah because the writer is going through such hell… ANYWAY, for me this community is just like any other community–full of complicated relationships. But the idea of needing a separate safe space seems weird to me. Seems like all you gotta do is offend the fuck out of the people who are keeping you from being you and they’ll go away SNAP! Safe space.

  10. 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?

    The writing style, especially humor, is what attracts me to a blog and is what keeps me there through changes. I’ve never unfollowed a blog, I just don’t click on some posts because of titles, especially if I’m not in a good place right then. I don’t as often start reading a parenting blog, because I feel like I can’t relate, so the only parenting blogs I follow that were parenting when I started reading them are ones I came across on ICLW and liked the writing style.

  11. If I like the writing, I keep on reading. I did so even before I was pregnant. Commenting started slower than the reading, because I am a fertile who miscarried, and while I have no problem with that (being fertile, I mean), apparently many have. Rightly so, considering the majority of shit fertile people spew, but then again, the majority of people have no filter and do not think before speaking.

    Long story short, I got my circle of friends without explicitly looking for that. I thought blogging was a solitary thing and I did that for a long time without expecting comments. I still get all tickled pink when I get comments. I have blogs I comment on without having the blogger ever commenting on my blog. I have blogs I read without commenting. I have bloggers friends with whom I keep in touch via comments and/or emails. I did not feel the need to join PAIL, because my blogging social needs were fulfilled. I did not exactly change my writing style after getting pregnant or having my son or getting pregnant again. The censorship I apply to my writing is that of common sense, what I use in real life as well, and is not aimed at protecting some possible readers (whomever considers my blog unreadable or my persona unpleasant won’t read me anyway, no matter what I do). As you say, a whingefest is too appealing sometimes. And honestly now, parenting is not all rainbows and unicorn dust, all your limits are tested by a little social apprentice, from the physical ones (sleep deprivation anyone?) to any other limit you might have (tantrums, hitting, exploring the dangers, yada, yada). And perhaps this is why people idealize this goal of parenting, especially when it is hard to achieve, and when they cross over, the overwhelming of the experience is even more daunting. I think.

    I also agree with your “letters to the baby” exception, and with what frankiesoup said about preaching mummies. They are not particularly inciting me to comment. As for the “all happy now” posts, yeah, I can’t say they inspire me to comment much either. That is not to say that I envy their happiness or that I am not happy myself, but it is a fact that happiness does not sell and it is pretty much the same, all over the earth, not even in blogosphere, and, perspective being firmly kept, we all have something to whinge about. A story which has no downs is boring, to tell the truth. And from the downs we learn the most, don’t we. even if it is only how to prevent them.

    And now I forgot what the question was and I have started rambling.

    Thank you for hosting, sorry for typos, I hope I managed to get my (confused) message across.

  12. Well, I’m deeply honored you included us in category 2. We’re a few years “ahead” of you, and one thing that I find challenging in terms of reading/posting/writing, is finding community of parents still writing when their kids are 4/5/6/7+. Much of what we write is in some sense partially directed to people (particularly queer people) before they’ve even started down the parenting road, sort of messages from a potential future, things we wish we could have read way back then.

    But since we grow farther from that phase of life every day, and participate less in TTC or pregnancy communities, we move farther from some of the folks we want to reach or connect with, and haven’t really found a solid writing community of queer families with somewhat older kids. Judging by the number of blogs that disappear by school age, I doubt we are alone in this experience. I do miss it. (but still love all the babies…)

  13. “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.”

    So well put. I’ve got a waking baby so not much time to go into detail, but you definitely just articulated some thoughts I haven’t been able to pin down myself.

  14. When I first started blogging–writing my own and reading others’–I pointedly sought out a very diverse catalog of blogs to read. I had no idea how idea how our family building efforts would unfold, and I wanted to see how other people were resolving their infertility. So, I had several international/domestic adoption blogs, donor gamete blogs, a couple of childfree blogs (one of which evolved into an adoption blog), and smattering of people all going through various types/stages of treatment. When I first started, none of these bloggers had kids. Murgdan (@ Conceive This!) was the first blogger I followed to become pregnant out of those I was reading in the beginning, and I kept on following her because she was funny and relatable. I can only think of two instances in which I actively and altogether stopped following a pregnant blogger, and one was when her blog became an unengaging weekly posting of a meme about her pregnancy. The second blog I stopped following simply because the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy unsettled me. But those have been the exceptions. I have had to take some small breaks with certain blogs, but mostly because of my own baggage–perhaps a pregnancy was announced at a particularly raw time for me. BUT, I feel as though I have connections with those bloggers, and I eventually return, full speed ahead, no probs. So, it has everything to do with the sense of friendship I have with those blogs I read–and less to do with the particular pregnancy/parenting outcome.

    P.S. Thanks for hosting a salon. 🙂

  15. The thing is, I agree with you. ‘Self-censored’ parenting-after-IF blogs put me off. If I followed someone all through their TTC days, and their pregnancy or adoption wait, and rejoiced when their child was finally in their arms, well, then, I’m invested in the blogger’s actual story, and a blog full of sunshine-rainbows-unicorns is, well, what is it? It isn’t their story any more. I’m not an idiot, I have dozens of much younger siblings and nieces and nephews, and I KNOW baby-wrangling isn’t like that. It just isn’t. It’s hard. It may be the most joyful, wonderful thing the person has ever done EVER, but that doesn’t stop it being hard. I feel I’m being shut out of their story now, after all that time I invested in following it. Also, I’d like, if I ever have a child of my own, to be AWARE that this is going to be HARD with a capital FREAKIN’ HELL. I have a friend IRL who had seriously bad PPD, and all she could say, was having a baby was nothing like she expected, and what she had expected was nappy-advert giggles and coos, and what she got was colic and difficulty breastfeeding and sleep deprivation and explosive diarrhoea and not being able to put the baby down for ten motherlovin’ minutes so she could shower. All the warning in the world cannot adequately prepare you for it, I know, but at least they can let you know HARD is the NORM, so be brave, get help, and don’t freak out (if at all possible). She wasted months beating herself up for being a bad mother when really she was an excellent mother, and society had lied to her about babyhood.

    And, you know, I actually am interested in babies. That’s why I want one.

    Anyway, I also STOP reading pretty damn sharpish if the blogger starts throwing statements around like ‘you don’t know [about whatever it is, from politics to burgers] unless you’re a mother’, or, ‘you don’t know what love is until you’re a mother’, or (painfully), ‘parenting is harder than infertility’, meaning, not ‘I am finding parenting harder than infertility’, which I could have sympathised with, but, blanketly, ‘you can’t complain about infertility because PARENTING IS HARDER SO THERE’, which is bollocks, and offensive bollocks at that. I feel instantly excluded, unwelcome, and judged, so I instantly stop reading. End of. The blogger needn’t even be a parent for this to happen. I have dropped several TTC blogs because the writers were judgy and smug about their religious faith, or were insisting only people doing IVF were ‘real infertiles’ (that hurt), or were unpleasantly judgemental (beyond the standard bitter I want a baby too! thing) about single mothers or people with large families etc.

    I read blogs that I like, in that I like the personality of the writer, I am amused, or emotionally and intellectually engaged, by their writing, I like the honesty, I admire the courage, I feel for them, I appreciate their point of view even when I don’t necessarily agree. And I like compassionate blogs, where a person can say ‘this is my story AND I am aware of other people’s stories AND I care for other’s feelings AND this is still my story’. I read blogs by those still in the trenches, trying to get pregnant for the first time, or suffering RPL, I read secondary infertility blogs, I read all-done-family-building blogs, I read living-without-children blogs, hell, I even read some parenting blogs by people who merely gave their spouse a doe-eyed look and thwop! pregnant! and never had to think about IF at all. And I read them because these people are funny and/or interesting and/or thought-provoking and/or the sort of person I would totally have coffee with. When I get a blog that is all of the above (like yours, Bionic), I will follow it as long as I have internet access and they are posting.

  16. I wrote about this on PJ’s blog, and thought I’d put it here too since it answers your question:

    So I looked at my Reader and found… zero themes. I mean, the majority of my personal Google Reader are blogs found on the ALI blogroll, but beyond that, they are a mix of child-free after IF bloggers, adoption bloggers, treatment bloggers, GLBT bloggers, parenting bloggers, loss bloggers, surrogacy bloggers… there was literally people from every single room of the blogroll. While I enjoy reading blogs from Jewish vegetarians parenting twins after IF, it would be boring to only read reflections of my own life, even if the person had their own unique experiences. It would be like traveling… to NJ. I prefer to travel to India — to see someplace different from my own neck of the woods. And hopefully learn something by being there.

    Great question — and thank you so much for hosting.

  17. Can I suggest that your questions also meant to include women who have stopped TTC but are living life without children? Because there are more of us than those those who are ttc, and those who are pregnant/parenting after infertility in this community.

    Otherwise, these were really good questions. It is very simple for me. I want to read a variety of blogs. I read a group of blogs from women who have no children – I think we all want to read about those in similar situations, and to have them read us. But I also read blogs of those still ttc, and those who are pregnant, or parenting. It very much depends on their voice, whether I like them, whether they make me laugh, or whether I think they have somethiing different to say, something that makes me think about my world view. (Like Mel’s India/NJ analogy – though NJ would be quite exotic for me as I’m from NZ!) I’m not going to read a blog that simply lists their child’s achievements that day, or includes endless photos of the child. Other mothers can do that, and probably love it, but I personally don’t get anything from it, and I can’t give anything to them either. Giving is important to me in blogging, as is learning. (I wrote about why I blog here a few days ago- http://nokiddinginnz.blogspot.co.nz/2012/03/why-i-blog.html.) So I’m agreeing very much with your last paragraph here, and I’m keen to read more of your blog now.

    I think pregnant women and mothers should be able to both shout the joys of their situation, and complain too. Just because she’s been infertile doesn’t mean she’s not able to join the throngs of all pregnant women or new mothers, and complain about parts of their life, or shout the joys of feeling the first movement, or baby’s smile, or express their fears that won’t go away – the legacy of infertility. Just as I am allowed to complain about not being a mother, talk about my feeling of being ignored on the edges of society (which often happens in the ALI community too), and at the same time celebrate the vacations I can take when my friends’ kids are in school, or that I can sleep in all day on Saturday! Vive la difference!

    (Sorry, I’ve taken a long time to write what Mel did in a paragraph.)

    Thanks for hosting!

  18. i don’t follow SQ (mostly because the community she has created is not the one i’m looking for–it’s big and broad while i look for the niches), but when you made this post, i followed the links, and i just don’t get what all the fuss was about. this is probably because i am one of those people who looks for blogs in the same space as me. it’s not about exclusivity. it’s about shared experiences.

    first of all, almost all the blogs i follow are lesbian TTC/mommy blogs. i have wonderful non-lesbian TTC and mommy friends in real life. i don’t need to turn the internet to build those connections. there is only so much time in a day. the handful of mommy blogs i followed when i first started TTC were bloggers who i could relate to on some other level. they were in inter-racial relationships or lived in urban areas or happened to be teachers. or maybe they just wrote in a way that captured my attention and made me feel connected to them.

    of course, as i was going through the TTC process, a lot of the trying blogs i read became mommy blogs. i kept reading them because i already felt connected to them. i have a friend who has a child with cancer and she blogs about and reads blogs about parents of children with the same type of cancer. while her son was in remission, a child of one of the bloggers died. it was really hard for her. another friend of hers told her to stop reading the blogs, but of course she couldn’t. once you build a community, you can’t step out of it when things get hard. the key, though, is that the connections have to already be there. in blogging, i think the connections are generally built up through a mutual commenting relationship.

    i have stopped reading some blogs because the writers have offended me through their posts and comments, but this is rare. i also purged my reader while i was pregnant simply because i couldn’t keep up anymore (and still can’t with half the blogs). a lot of the blogs i removed were just people i couldn’t relate to, no matter what stage of the journey they were on. they didn’t think like me. they didn’t blog like me. i couldn’t find enough common ground to make the time to keep reading.

    at one point, when i was in IVF/FET hell, i was attracting non-lesbian readers going through the same process. i tried following their blogs, but i just wasn’t interested. at this point, most of the blogs i still read are lesbian mommy blogs. the handful of TTC blogs i follow are the ones who either have been around for a while and who i’ve already built a connection with or who, again, sparked a connection on a level that went beyond just being a lesbian TTC.

    i don’t comment on letter-to-my-child posts, but i do read them. i actually love reading about the development of other people’s children. i also love well done photo posts and will always comment on them. i’m probably one of the few, i know. beyond that, i’m like everyone else. i comment on posts that spark my attention, that i can relate to, or that ask for advice i am able to offer. i would follow your blog, bionic, even if i didn’t consider you a friend (which i do) because you are a great writer and super witty/funny. others hold my attention because they are just beautiful people and gifted writers. some people i respect and admire because i believe they hold this lesbian TTC community together. some are just friends now.

    it has always bothered me when i have been involved in the work of creating safe space or community and others have lashed out at that as exclusivity. for me, PAIL makes sense. i wouldn’t participate because being a lesbian is a more important part of my blogging identity than being sub-fertile, but i understand the urge to look for people with a shared experience. i read mostly lesbian mommy blogs because i relate to them. i would imagine PAIL bloggers would feel the same way. for me, it wouldn’t be about getting more comments. it would be about shared experience and community.

    a lot of this is related to time. there’s only so much of it, esp after you have a child, and you just can’t follow everyone anymore. since bunny was born i’ve only added two blogs to my regular rotation. only one of the two blogs regularly. i wish i could explore more, but i just don’t have the time/space/room to build something new.

    regarding the whole blog-as-digital-record thing. i do that. it’s why i post my monthly photos and record milestones like rolling over/standing/crawling. i’m horrible with that stuff, and i know i’ll hate myself later if i don’t get it recorded. so i put it on the blog. i don’t expect comments, i just need a record.

  19. I touched upon this on another comment thread, but for me it comes down to story. I feel not just that I am following bloggers as people, but I am following the story they’re telling. It makes absolutely no difference to me where a blogger is on their IF journey, if I find their story compelling I will follow it. It’s not about the details, it’s about the heart behind it.

  20. Pingback: Photo Fun | pajamamommas

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