This question is being asked a lot lately. And I’m glad it has been asked, because it has made me think. I’m going to be a bit more specific - Why do I blog on this blog? Because as some of you know, I’ve been blogging for over five years now. But it was only in November 2010 that I started an infertility blog, and only a year ago that I came out – on my regular blog – that this one existed. And I still don’t link my regular blog to my infertility blog. I’m not really anonymous on my regular blog, but I am on this. Well, sort of!
I blog on my regular blog because I love writing. I started blogging with the x365 project, blogging every day about a person in my life, in 44 words (because I was 44) exactly, no more and no less. It was a daily discipline, and I loved it. I also met a small but wonderful group of bloggers doing the same. Some of them comment here, and I love that they do.
So why, just over seven years after I learned I would never have children, did I start this blog? I felt I needed a space for thoughts on my no kidding lifestyle, the good and the bad, remembering what was lost, and celebrating what I have. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, in my early infertility and loss days I visited a small (at the time) message board, where I met some wonderful people. Gradually we’ve moved on. Some of us are in touch via FB and email, and I’ve even been lucky enough to visit them. Some like me live a no kidding lifestyle, others have adopted, or had children of their own, or haven’t been able to add to their families. But we remember being “in the trenches” (to use a popular recent phrase) together, and it has been important to us. There were only a few of us who didn’t go on to have children or adopt.
We continued to speak on the message board, but in those years it grew tremendously, and eventually separated into individual forums. The women who went on to get pregnant, and then to parent, after their ectopics had their own forums within the overall site. They needed to be able to voice openly their feelings about pregnancy – the good, the bad and the ugly - without being told to be grateful and shut up by those who were desperately seeking their BFPs. The women who were parenting needed to be able to admit it was hard, or to seek advice from those who had been through ectopics too, who remembered the fear, who shared that legacy. Or to talk about the joys, without feeling they were rubbing it in our faces. Sound familiar?
Then there were those of us who didn’t go on to have children. And we became very conscious that we were a scary presence on those boards. We weren't ostracised as such. But we were rarely acknowledged. Much like our presence in the IF blogging community. Those who had had ectopics and were still petrified it might happen again, or that they might never have children, were terrified they might end up like us. Those who were struggling to conceive after their ectopics were equally terrified they might end up in our situation, but also looked to us to see how we were coping. And so I stayed on those boards to let them know that life can still be good. I felt the need to be a role model. To give them hope that life wasn't over if they couldn't have children.
They talked about success stories – meaning those who had “crossed over” to be parents. But I resented the implication that we were failures. And so I also talked about success stories. Those of us who – through choice or not – were living life with no kids, and were living it well. We were – I felt – the more courageous success stories. It is easier to do what everyone else is doing, and do what you had planned on doing, be who you had planned to be, even if you don't always feel you fully belong amongst the fertile parents and pregnant women. It isn't as easy to feel you're on the edges of society. And so I felt it was important to say, “hey, even if the worst happens, it’s still okay.” But they didn’t always want to hear that. Acceptance can be terrifying. And we’re their worst nightmare. When you feel as if you’re fighting for your life, you don’t want to see your biggest fear face to face.
And so those of us on our No Kids board felt isolated, and numbers and discussions dwindled. Gradually my friends and I ran out of things to say in the public forums, and whinged to each other – or celebrated – in private. We wanted to live our lives, not in regret, but looking forward. And so these days we rarely post there anymore.
But it didn’t mean I stopped thinking about my situation daily, that I no longer had new insights, or no longer needed someone who understood to say “I get it. You’re doing okay.” Over the years on the message board, I had become accustomed to thinking out loud through writing. And I missed having that outlet. And so I started this blog, in search of a new outlet.
So why do I blog here? As I write this, I see there are several reasons:
- I do it because I like writing (although I wish my discipline of brevity in my x365 project had stuck around!). Thinking out loud in the written word often helps me understand my own thoughts and opinions. I like that.
- I blog because I want to be part of a community who understands, and I don’t want to feel alone. I want to be able to rant occasionally, and know I’m heard. So comments are important to me, though I have no desire to build up to a huge readership. A small personal readership is in many ways more important, because together we can talk through issues, and learn from each other. I want to learn from others – I know I still have a lot to learn.
- I blog because I want people to know what it is like to live a life without kids, when you couldn’t have them, in a society where the majority of people have children and think having them is normal.
- Finally, I blog because I think I’ve learned a lot. Over years, through many tears and much laughter, through anger and shame and bitterness and joy, and through much reflection, I think I’ve learned some things about this life that might be useful to others who are just setting out on their no kidding life. Others, very important women, helped me get here. And I want to be able – even in a tiny way – to help others get here too.