As more and more of the people I’ve followed for many, many years stop writing, I’ve been searching this community for more blogs to read. I click through to the author’s of comments, I email myself posts from the Round Up that especially resonate, I always follow the blogs of women who comment on my own. I add new titles to my reader and then I wait to see what I think of the new blog. Slowly but surely, as the posts filter in, I get to know the new author. I become familiar with her voice and her story. I become enthralled in her journey and I want to know more. Sometimes I go back and comb through her archives. Sometimes I just read her About Page and then pick up with the post where I “met” her.
I’m noticing that most of the new blogs I find are by people still in the trenches. Those are the women who write the most. Those are the women who need their blog in a very real, almost visceral way. Those are the writers whose posts inspire dozens of comments of support, from people trudging through the same heart breaking, gut wrenching muck of failure and grief.
I realize, reading these posts, that I haven’t followed someone in the real throes of infertility in a long time. I haven’t watched from afar as a woman cycles over and over again, as the hope of having children slips further and further from her grasp. I haven’t kept track of the minutiae of a cycle, held my breath at the beginning of each updated post, felt the disappointment or relief wash over me as I get to the end and know if the embryo survived or the transfer was cancelled.
I haven’t felt that acute elation of a positive pregnancy test or the devastating despair of a BFN. I haven’t wondered if I should comment, or if they don’t want to hear words of support from someone like me, someone with both feet firmly planted on the other side.
It’s strange to read women that I know would never read me. I think that is because with most blogs I read I participate in a dialogue of sorts, and reading a blog where I know I won’t do that feels strange. It’s a different feeling to read something you know you won’t interact with. It’s odd to follow a person that doesn’t even know you exist. (And it’s not that I think they should read me–actually I firmly believe they shouldn’t. I don’t necessarily think it’s a good idea for a woman in the throes of infertility and loss to read a blog like mine, especially since I never had to undergo ART to build my family. I know that was NOT what I needed when I was struggling so I guess I assume it’s not what anyone else needs either (though I know some women find comfort and hope in reading the blogs of those who have crossed over, and all the more power to them). So I read these blogs and I rarely comment, and if I do it’s only to add a few cursory words of support, with the hopes that they won’t click through to see who I am.
So many of the women I’ve read for a prolonged period of time have crossed over and are now parents. Many of them have two children like me, and some are even done with their family building, like I am. Even if we did not walk similar paths to get where we are, our current paths are parallel and heading in the same direction. There is a comfort in that, a feeling of belonging, and I wonder if it has made me complacent. I wonder if it has let me forget, forget how painful it was, how insufferable the longing, how immeasurable the depth of the despair. Reading about it can make me uncomfortable. Sometimes I get breathless and squirm in my seat. Sometimes I feel guilty, not just for having the children I have or how little I struggled to get them, but for inserting myself into this community, when so many people need support more than me.
I guess what it comes down to is, infertility fucking sucks. I hate that it exists. I hate that it terrorizes so many people. I hate that it destroys huge portions of people’s lives. I hate that it leaves so much pain, misery and suffering in its wake. I hate that is misunderstood by the people who aren’t touched by it. I hate that we our powerless against it. I hate everything about it. And I guess I had moved far enough away from it in the last year that I almost forgot how all-consumingly awful it is on a day to day basis, and reading about all these women who are still living it every second of every day, reminds me.
When I sit down to write a post now I ask myself, What is your intention? What do you hope to accomplish in writing this post? Sometimes I want to provide resources for others. Sometimes I want to make sure people know they are not alone. And sometimes I want to work something out for myself. This is one of those posts. I’ve been sitting with this feeling for a few weeks now, trying to understand its significance. I hoped in writing this post I would have a better understanding of how reading these blogs makes me feel, but I’m not sure it does. It’s a messy thing, moving on from struggling to build your family. It can be complicated to stay and write in a community where so many who make it to the other side stop writing. It’s difficult to know if our support is needed, or even wanted. Sometimes I feel like I’m intruding on the spaces of those still in the trenches, it feels disingenuous to read their story when I know my own story would cause them pain. In the end I guess I’m just not sure where I belong here. I never have. And that is as much a function of the ease with which I conceived as it is the fact that I have two children. In my own little community I feel safe, and I know my place. When I venture out of my little bubble my footing feels less secure and I’m unsure who I am and where I belong in relation to this community. Those old feelings of guilt and powerlessness surface and they make me want to run away, back to the little corner of the internet I know so well. Except it might not always be there for me to run back to. And then where will I go? Who will I follow?
So I end this post in a tangled mess, not quite sure what I was trying to say or if I said it. A sorry way to start a Monday, and I apologize for that.
Do you follow many people still in the trenches? How does it make you feel? Do you ever worry that everyone you read will stop writing, and you won’t have anyone to follow?