Archive for the ‘my IF closet’ Category


March 9, 2012

Ok, so it turns out I do have something to say, although it doesn’t directly address this week’s… kerfuffle?

Baby Smiling in the Back Seat asks: Why do you blog?

Because message boards didn’t do it for me. When I first began to realize that we weren’t going to conceive quickly, when I ran out of excuses for why we hadn’t already, when I started charting and temping and realized I had a short luteal phase but didn’t know if something more might be amiss, I started looking online for information and an outlet for my worry-mongering.

Infertility was – and is – hard for me to talk about in real life with those closest to me, because I am profoundly embarrassed about sex (thanks to my evangelical upbringing, even tacitly acknowledging that I have sex with my husband feels like acknowledging that I have a closet drinking problem, or that I steal packs of gum from small children). (Um – for the record, I only do one of those three things.) An anonymous blog seemed to be the perfect place to let it all hang out, as it were, to discuss details like timed intercourse with women who were all going through the same kinds of things and were not ashamed to talk about it.

But message boards were too busy, too full of noisy chatter, and in a way too anonymous. The first infertility blog I found was Thin Pink Line, then My Dear Watson. I liked the blog format for getting a sense of the person and her journey. I think of blogs as little houses. The wallpaper, the fonts, the colors and mastheads and buttons on the sidebar all tell you something about the inhabitant. Sometimes I dislike getting updates through Reader because then I don’t see the visual space that a blogger inhabits, and I miss that sense of the person[a] that you get through the actual web page. I felt through blogs like I was able to make friends.

I stumbled on Stirrup Queens through a Google search, and found a treasure trove of centralized information on all aspects of infertility and loss – something encyclopedic in the making, but not impersonal like an ALI-wiki might be – but also a personal blog that aimed to bring together people – not just information. Through Stirrup Queens I found my blogging community. I especially used the then-monthly Virtual Lushary to “meet” bloggers through the little snippets of what’s-going-on-now that people posted in the comments. I soon built up a blogroll of blogs I visited regularly to read and comment on. And a few people started to comment on mine, too.

I’ve always been the kind of person who is most satisfied with a few close friends rather than knowing tons and tons of people. I don’t mind being a face in the crowd, as long as at some point during the week I can sit down for lunch with someone I really care about, who really knows me, and we can have an interesting conversation. I don’t jump up and join events like ICLW or initiatives like PAIL simply because I’ve already got enough bloggy stuff on my plate. I honestly don’t think I could handle reading more blogs than I do, or responding to very many more comments than I get (thoughtfully and mindfully) in the time that I have. I do have a dissertation to write, after all, and I’m like way behind schedule on that already.

I blog because I enjoy it. I enjoy writing, I enjoy getting feedback on the things I write about, and I enjoy having a little teeny-tiny corner of the Internet to call my own. I also have a public family blog that is primarily for the grandparents and extended family, in lieu of writing actual letters or e-mails. It’s been an awesome way to keep in touch with a lot of relatives and family friends. But I keep this little space apart as well because I do feel like a part of the ALI community. I feel like I have something to offer those in the trenches through sympathy and supportive comments. I’m happy with two or three comments on any given post. I’m astonished if I get more than that. Of course I’m thrilled when I get linked in Mel’s Friday Blog Roundup or some other space and I see my hits go up to like 80 or so for a given post (I think that’s the highest number of hits I’ve ever gotten in a day. My all-time number is around 15,000), but I don’t really expect my readership to grow much. I’m a small-time, small-potatoes blogger and I will never do this commercially. I’m not interested in monetizing anything. You know what thrills me more than a high number of hits or comments? Getting a comment from a specific blogger I’ve been reading, following, and have come to admire either for her personal qualities or her writing style – or both. That makes my day. When YOU comment. YOU. Getting just one comment from YOU means more to me than a dozen drive-by, one-time-only comments from people I don’t feel like I know.

Anyway, shortly after I became pregnant for the first time a family member found my blog, and I immediately went password-protected (after apologizing and explaining to my aunt why I was doing so). And I lost a ton of readers. It was hard to tell how much of that was from the BFP and how much from going PWP. Soon after that I moved to WordPress, deleted the original blog, and without much fanfare, Project Progeny became a Parenting After IF blog.

I wasn’t actually surprised to lose readers. I understood. Before my BFP, I remember being resentful of a fellow IFer who got pregnant. I was happy for her, but I was also bitter and jealous. What I remember is that my feelings were so mixed and jumbled, as they would have been for a RL friend in the same situation. When she lost that pregnancy I felt sooooo guilty for the currents of jealousy and resentment I had felt. I didn’t stop reading or commenting, but at that stage in my journey I wasn’t likely to START reading or following a blog if the blogger was already a parent (Stirrup Queens was an exception because of the afore-mentioned encyclopedic and community-oriented nature of her blog).

But eventually, all but two or three of the women on my blogroll got pregnant and went on to have living babies. And I did too. So now my community is nearly all parenting after infertility and loss.

A couple years ago I volunteered to be a Clicker for the LFCA, and was assigned the Secondary IF category. That’s been an interesting journey in itself as I can’t pick and choose whom to follow based on personal affinity. I admit that there was one blog that I had a hard time reading because the religious point of view raised issues for me from my upbringing. But I’ve enjoyed getting to “know” a whole slew of bloggers through this category that I wouldn’t have otherwise. And being in the Parenting After IF category makes it easier for me to click for this category than someone would who’s still in the trenches, since by definition all these bloggers have living children, and it doesn’t hurt me to read about or see pictures of their kids.

[Aside: There used to be a time when a lot of ALI bloggers would routinely write “Children Mentioned” at the top of a post where children were mentioned. Why don’t we do this anymore?]

Do I edit or censor myself? I try not to, actually. I’ve blogged about conflicts with my husband (one of my most popular posts ever, actually), and I’ve blogged about negative feelings I’ve had about motherhood and parenting. I know it’s a bit taboo when parenting post-IF to say anything negative about your children or about the experience of parenting, but I think in order to keep an authentic voice and to process what I need to process online, I will go ahead and violate that taboo.

Yes, I treasure my children dearly; they are precious human beings and I am stunned with gratitude (and scared shitless that I’m totally screwing it up) for the opportunity to parent them. This whole journey has been immeasurably enriched for me through the experience of blogging. I don’t keep a paper journal anymore. I tried, but it’s not the same as having the opportunity for nearly-instant feedback, for knowing that my words might be seen by eyes scattered across the globe. Even one reader to whom I feel close makes the whole experience worthwhile. For one reader – for you – I will continue blogging.


The perfect opening? (Religion + December + Family + IF = MINEFIELD)

December 3, 2008

So, to follow up on the most recent post about my MIL, I just got this Christmassy forward from her today (and we all know how I feel about Christmas…):

Your December inspirational message from Mennonite Women is both below (in text) and attached (in format)

December 2008   

    •          As Hannah after many years, for Samuel’s birth dedicating him to the Lord.
    •          As Elizabeth, barren for many years when the unexpected happens in the birth of John.
    •          Like Mary after the divine visit from Gabriel announcing the coming birth of Jesus.
What are we waiting for? And how? Impatiently, as children, for time to pass till…? Expectantly for a long- anticipated event? Waiting, perhaps dreading the outcome of the test results? Regina Shands Stoltzfus: “Our culture does not honor the practice of waiting”(Rejoice, Sept.- Nov.,10). Can we modify or resist this influence in our lives?  
Along with the shepherds when the unexpected happens! How to plan for a meaningful Christmas when circumstances dictate a change of venue? Wondering, childlike, expectantly what new and wonderful experiences are in store?

    •          As we light our Advent candles, each Sunday morning before Christmas.
    •          In our Park View Church Christmas Eve service of Lessons and Carols.
Worshiping “the one whose birth we celebrate [who] called his followers to give up all their possessions and to go into ministry” (Byron Rempel-Burkholder, Rejoice, Dec.-Feb., 3). How will that call impact this year’s celebrations?
    — submitted by VK

 Barrenness?!?!?!?!?  Birth!!?!??!?!?!?!  WAITING, for crying out loud?!?!?!??!?!?!  THIS IS ALL ABOUT INFERTILITY!!!!! 

Here is the text of the message she sent with the forward:

“E, I’m forwarding this inspiration message on to you as I thought you
might enjoy these reflections in light of your having recently given birth to
Valerie. D”

Wait – what’s that supposed to mean?  Does she suspect????  Does she know???  Or is she just channeling the pervasive Christmas/pregnancy link?  I feel like I’m being paranoid… but sometimes they really are out to get you…

So… is this the time to open up about our infertility?  I’ve noticed that recently – in the past few weeks or so – I’ve been able to talk about it more frankly with a number of friends here at school.  I know it’s often said that children cure childlessness, not infertility – and it’s true.  But having V. has allowed me to in some measure come to terms with those years of trying.  And, possibly, with future x amount of time we’ll spend trying for #2. 

Am I prepared to deal with what will come through the metaphorical door once I open it to this topic of conversation with her?  I’m still so embarrassed to acknowledge that I have sx with my husband… is there a way to stay in control of the conversation once I admit that we struggled?  To say what I will and won’t talk about? Our relationship to date has been warm, but with a certain formality, a definite self-editing on my part.  I perform what I think is their idea of me.  I’m always just a little bit guarded.  Because I don’t completely trust them.  That’s it, really – at the bottom of it all – I don’t trust my in-laws to love me unconditionally, or to refrain from judging me.  I’m not sure entirely why that is. 

Well, I probably won’t respond to her e-mail until I’ve had a chance to talk with T. about it, because, after all, she’s his mother, and he has a say in this matter as well.  But you could have knocked me over with a slight nudge to the forehead after I read the opening salvo of the forwarded text.

What would ALI bloggers do?

November 19, 2008

So the little one is cutting her first tooth – and I sent an e-mail to the fam to tell them all about it.  I was a bit soppy about it all, really.  My MIL wrote back:

YEAH, for V!! And praise for her parents who embrace all these signs of growing up, even with a tinge of sadness for soon she’ll be out of the nest and off on her own!! If you think you’ll miss this one, you may decide you shouldn’t wait too long to start on the next one. That way you won’t have to learn everything all over again! But wait long enough so that you can enjoy some of these ooohing and ahhhh stages just for V!

Take care. More will soon arrive (teeth, that is).

Would you?  Come out of the IF closet, that is?  Or would you just ignore the e-mail and it’s subtle-as-skywriting subtext?


September 18, 2008

I was looking through my archives today, for no real reason and with a pile of other things I need to do more urgently – but realized the obvious: I used to write a lot more than I do now.  It was kind of cool to see all those words that I put out there, catch an old narrative thread, glimpse the algorhythms of hope and sadness. 

Right now, I can’t think of anything to write about that isn’t a) trite and commonplace, b) totally Critter-centric, or c) complaining.  Although I complained a whole bunch today on my other blog.

Well, here: a couple thoughts wrested from comments I made this week on other people’s blog posts.

1) Mel wrote about how badly the press handles celebribump news , and I wrote a comment in response that was eaten by the WWW and is now forever lost.  Anyway, it was just a rant about the cover story on US weekly a month or two back, on Brangelina – “IT WAS IVF!”  What bothered me most in the reporting was the quotes from an unnamed source “close to the couple,” saying that they had done IVF because it was “easier” than TTC naturally.  They were impatient and wanted to “knock it out.”  First of all, how in the world is IVF either easy or convenient?  I didn’t check out the success rates they cited, but really.  I was more or less incensed.  It made it seem like people who do IVF are selfish and impatient.

2) I applauded Dr. Grumbles on speaking out about IF etc. to her students.  It’s still really hard for me to cop to our struggles to conceive.  Even when someone else opens the door to a confessional by talking about their own struggles.  The other day I had little V. with me at a meeting, and while we were hanging out waiting for the formal part to begin another woman started talking about conceiving her first.  She reminisced that she’d had a couple drinks with a friend for the first time in two years, and found out later she was pg at the time.  The second was conceived easily.  I forced myself to mention that it had taken us a while to conceive as well.  We exchanged one glance of mutual understanding before our professor/mentor chimed in that isn’t that just how it goes, when you least expect it/stop trying/relax is when you conceive.


I didn’t correct her. 

We conceived on the cycle that we tried the hardest.

So, I wasn’t going to complain, but there you have it.  On a happier note, I recently survived another weekend with my in-laws, and this time I didn’t once experience the acute desire to jump out of the moving car or drive a knitting needle through my eye.  Progress!  🙂


August 8, 2008

It seems like becoming a grandmother has made my MIL more conscious of her mortality.  By the third week she was musing that she’d not likely live to see little V. get married: “when she turns 20, I’ll be 88…” – much less live to see her great-grandchildren.  But really, how many of us have had the opportunity to meet our great-grandparents?  I met one great-grandmother, Rosa, a Quechua woman who wore her hair in two long braids, along with the traditional Andean skirt.  But I barely remember the meeting; it could even be that what I actually remember is the photograph of her.  I must have been 3 or 4 years old.  And how many of my grandparents made it to my wedding?  Zero.  How many of T’s?  One. 

The thing is, MIL’s older sister, who is still active and mentally acute, has any number of great-grandchildren.  I think that for all these years it has really rankled MIL to have to ooh and ah over her sister’s multiplying descendants.  Now it’s her turn, and she wants it all…

A couple times she asked in quick succession, how old was I when T and I got married?  And how long have we been married?  And how old am I now?  In my hypersensitivity, I interpret this line of questions to be about “why did you wait so long to have kids?”  (We are in the closet about our struggles to conceive).  T, on the other hand, takes it as her wondering whether there might be more where this one came from. 

It’s made me think a lot about what it means to be a grandparent. 

My ILs are away for two weeks and DAMN I miss the help.  I really really should not complain about them so much.  This here blog, though, is kind of the one spacewhere I do.

The JLo story

March 28, 2008

This is probably a waste of cyber-space, but I was thinking about what I would do if I were in the public eye, like a certain 38yo new mother of twins whom we all suspect of lying her ass off about not using ART to conceive. I feel like I can’t throw stones, mainly because I have been pretty private about our infertility – not even my in-laws know – and I can’t help but think that I might very well do the same thing. Maybe not LIE, outright, but maybe just not tell all.

At the same time, what bothers me about the interview in People (yes, I did read it) – besides the ridiculously ostentatious display of wealth, which always turns me off – was the repeated use of the word natural. Why is it so much more important that conception have been “natural” than birth and feeding? She is quite comfortable discussing her scheduled C-section and decision not to breastfeed, without any intimation that there could be a philosophical contradiction somewhere in there.

I know that I too am susceptible to the glorification of all things “natural,” but the thing is – it’s not that clear-cut.

Thinking Forwards and Backwards

March 1, 2008

Rachel’s post about her baby dedication got me thinking. I haven’t been to church regularly for probably almost two years now; my participation was already waning previous to that, but when I started grad school again in the fall of ’06 I made a definite decision that I would not go to church again until I really wanted to. Forcing myself to go was mostly making me feel resentful.

For the first time in a long time, this week I started feeling like I kind of want to. I’m thinking of checking out the Quaker meeting on campus. I’m not sure how much of the desire comes from being pg, vs. meeting the parents of a Quaker friend here and really connecting (especially along the lines of their peace/justice commitments).

Meanwhile, I’ve been mulling over the baby dedication question. Not so much whether, but how. Specifically – does a conversation about IF come into it? Our church in VA seems to kind of ignore the whole realm of IF/pregnancy loss. Recently I came across an old Christmas newsletter from the three pastors and each piece of it was like a stab and twist of the knife, as the meditations focused exclusively on birth and parenting. I think there is zero awareness of how painful that could be for some people. I think it’s also an issue in the larger congregation, this taboo, because out of 400 members, a 12.5% statistic would suggest that around 50 people there have had their lives affected by infertility or loss. Or have those 50 people just stopped attending?

In all fairness, my issues with the church predate my difficulties conceiving; it’s possible if I had been in a better place faith-wise to begin with I wouldn’t have become so alienated. But what does it mean that we’re in a small group with our pastor and I haven’t felt able to talk about it even there?

I have a tendency to take on Causes. Part of me wants to make a potential baby dedication a platform for opening conversations in the church about infertility. But I’m also a pretty private person – we haven’t told our in-laws about our struggles, not even a hint. They attend the same church, so obviously if I shared some of our story in church this would be a big Reveal to them too. The thing is, I really don’t want to have that conversation with them at all – I don’t want to be subjected to a lot of personal questions, judgements, “why didn’t you”s, or the hurt they would feel knowing that we hadn’t told them, and being made to feel guilty about that.

So who knows. It feels like a long time in the future yet, anyway. But there’s still this niggling desire to want to educate people about IF.

Miscellaneous updates

November 10, 2007

Docu-drama: So I had tea with A. on Tuesday; perhaps the most significant aspect of it was the lack of drama. When I saw him last year, my hands were shaking the whole time. This time? Eh. I felt as though I’ve been innoculated against the charm. The glamour, in the old-fashioned sense of the word, was gone. Thank you, MFG; once again, thank you.

I didn’t end up saying much at all in class re kinship studies, as the conversation went elsewhere. I actually didn’t end up saying much at all since I hadn’t finished the reading and so had little to say.

Happiness challenge: this is a little belated, but October was meditation month. I started out doing well – October 2 was the day I got the bfp, so there was a particular emotional intensity to those first few weeks. After that it tapered off but I did keep doing the sun salutations more regularly, so that has been a good effect.

Niobe suggested I set up a site feed – complete with instructions! – but I still can’t seem to figure it out. The thingy was already set to “full.” What else might I need to do?

10w3d. I seem to have entered the random crying fits phase of symptoms. I took two naps today and I’m still so tired. While meeting with a student in my office this afternoon I knocked over a cup of hot chocolate and it spilled all over my cold-weather paraphenelia – hat, gloves, scarf – I had to rinse them out in the bathroom sink and my office took on an odd mix of wet wool and hot chocolate smells. Someone told me clumsiness comes with the territory. Anyway, I got a ride home with a friend so did not suffer the cold unduly. I still wonder daily whether the critter is still alive. But I try to assume all is well unless indicated otherwise.


November 8, 2007

Historically, kinship studies have played a major role in anthropology (although not so much anymore). Since I’m taking a seminar in the history or development of “anthropological thought,” the amount of material on kinship is exceeded only by that on exchange. It’s really starting to get to me. Tonight, I slammed the book shut on yet one more description of the excruciating importance of fertility within a social system.

I wanted to write my paper for this course on infertility and ART but the professor nixed that idea because it’s actually competely unrelated to my proclaimed research interests. Bummer. There was a fascinating debate within anthropological circles in the 1960s on folk theories of reproduction, called the “virgin birth debate,” which pitted those who thought “primitive” people had no concept of biological paternity against those who thought they did.

So I was wondering what would happen in class tomorrow if I mentioned, in light of it being infertility awareness week, that my history of infertility has rendered many of these readings somewhat traumatic for me. I don’t imagine I will actually say anything.

North Star and Southern Cross

October 20, 2007

Sara S-P’s recent post about miscarriage and menstruation reminded me of a conversation I had with Tara some time ago that I’ve been meaning to blog about, til I got distracted with current events. (Scroll down on Tara’s blog to the post from August 24, titled “Random Thoughts.” I can’t get blogger to link to it directly.) I thought I had saved a transript of the online chat but can’t find it right now. Anyway, we were talking about how difficult it is to talk about miscarriage in certain social spaces (our church being one of them), but how helpful it is when you do find people who’ve shared the journey in some way. They become your north star, your point of orientation, and without them you feel lost.

Part of why I delayed going pwp for so long was because I didn’t want to lose any of you readers. You are all points of orientation. In the southern hemisphere where I grew up, we couldn’t see the north star (obviously) but we could see the Big Dipper, and we could see the Southern Cross. My dad majored briefly in astronomy in college so has always enjoyed pointing out constellations to me and my sister as we were growing up. I remember when I went to college in the US, the first time I saw Orion, how excited I was – everything else seemed upside down and disorienting, but Orion was completely familiar and dearly loved.

Recognition of your own journey in someone else’s experience is so reassuring. This makes me think that I should be more public about my IF journey, but it’s hard.