Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bye bye board :(

I'm very sad today. I just found out that the childless living message board I used to frequent is closing by the end of this month. (I don't want to name names, but it's one of the ones listed in my sidebar links.)

I found this board almost exactly 7 years ago, in June 2001, & started posting in July, after lurking for awhile. My dh & I had just made the painful decision to stop infertility treatments, & I was looking for other women in the same boat who could relate to the pain & confusion I was feeling, & tell me I was going to be OK. I had belonged to a private e-mail list for pregnancy loss & subsequent pregnancy, so I knew the power of the Internet to create healing communities, but this was the first public board that I had gathered up the courage to post on.

I found a home there. We had a wonderful, active, supportive group of women here for several years -- until some format/technical changes were made that made it difficult for many members (including me) to access the board for a long time (which sent me into a total panic!). Eventually, I was able to access the board again -- but by then, many of our former members had drifted away, and it's never been quite the same. I have stayed in touch with several past members (mostly through a private board that one of them set up for us, when we weren't able to access the old board where we'd all met), but often wonder about what's happened to some of the others.

Some, like me, were survivors of pregnancy loss & infertility, who had finally had enough of riding the rollercoaster. Some had husbands who promised them children -- then changed their minds. Some had husbands who had children from previous marriages and didn't want more -- or had had vasectomies, and later reversals did not work. Whatever the reasons, all of us had assumed we'd be mothers someday, and all of us were facing a much different reality. I know of one former member who is going through adoption right now, but the others I've stayed in touch with have remained childless.

The board hasn't been very active in recent years (I've found very few such boards that ARE active)(& I'm guilty of not posting there much lately), but a handful of oldtimers like me have stuck around to welcome any newcomers & answer their questions. Many of the threads have hundreds of views, which tells me someone is reading out there, even if they're not actively participating. Childlessness is such a painful topic -- it is very hard to put yourself out there & acknowledge that parenthood is not going to happen for you. (Just look at how the recent New York Times coverage featuring Pamela Jeanne had childless/free after infertility women coming out of the woodwork, on her blog & in the Times Well blog comments section, to share their stories.) There are so few resources out there for childless-not-by-choice women. I hate to see one of them disappear.

The thing that REALLY irked me was the suggestion from the powers-that-be that we could post on the childfree by choice board instead (!!!). I lurk on that board from time to time, and they're a pretty good bunch of women. We do have some things in common -- they have a lot to teach us about the good things about living without children, and I think both of our groups are often badly misunderstood & misjudged by parents.

But we are coming at living without children from very different places. They don't want to be called "childLESS" any more than some of us like being called "childFREE." This is a choice that most of them have embraced enthusiastically (some childfree people don't even like children very much), when most women in my shoes don't feel we really had much of a choice. At the very least, it was a choice we arrived at after a lot of heartache. And to have someone from outside our little community (& no doubt a parent) say that we can just go over to their house & play with them from now on tells me that our feelings & needs are not being heard or understood. :(

Someone once said that childless women were "the black sheep of the infertility community." That's certainly how I'm feeling today. :(


  1. I'm sorry. Mr. Spit and I have drawn such courage from reading your blog, remembering that we could have a happy life, even if it was a life that did not include children.

  2. Your blog will now be the one women go to for support, encouragement and sometimes just the push they need to get through the day or the strength to face monumental decisions.

  3. Loribeth-
    you're not a black sheep to me. I find hope in your story, in your marriage, in the fact that you can now type out your daughter's story, after so long. I don't know why, but I do. I still hope to be able to try again, but I don't feel different from you. I will hope for something else if I can;t have children; I think that is what i see on your blog.
    May I suggest that you open up a blog like the Baby Loss Directory (on the top of my blog roll) for childless blogs?
    I've read on some blogs about blogging that blogs have kinda taken over in popularity from forums. For what it is worth.

  4. I am sorry to hear the board won't be operating after this month. Very sorry that they've decided to take this forum away from you. I hope these women, the ones you have stuck around that board to welcome and support, can find their way to you here, Loribeth.

  5. Oh, that's too bad. : ( I completely understand why you wouldn't want to go to the childfree by choice boards. I lurked on both types of boards last year and really felt uncomfortable with the "by choice" crowd.

  6. I think Ya Chun is right in that blogs have now become the new community. You could even start a yahoo group or something. Don't be discouraged - start something new!

  7. LoriBeth, I'm sorry for this loss. Could you move the board? Granted new members wouldn't be able to join. :(.

    And ironically - I'm sitting here going they have boards for that? In other words for me?

  8. By the way, I've always like black sheeps :). Thinking the color suits me.

  9. Thanks, girls. I actually belong to a private Yahoo group that some former members of this board started... long story, the board we had all originally joined was having technical issues & people couldn't access it for awhile (panic!!). Eventually, I was able to access it again, but many people gave up after awhile, & the board has never really recovered.

    The private Yahoo board is actually the one I post on most, but a few of us continued to post on the old board. It's part of a larger, multi-board (mostly parent-focused) site, & we felt strongly that it should be there for people who were looking for support.

    Dianne -- scroll down my blog & on the right hand side about midway down, there is a section with childless/free board & site links (including one to the board that's closing). Unfortunately, most of the boards are not very active... the most active one has a strong Christian tone, which you may or may not be comfortable with.

  10. I'm sorry you are losing the board.
    I agree with the black sheep statement - we're a reminder that it doesn't always work out and nobody spinning the IF wheel wants to be reminded that there isn't always a lovely parting gift after playing the game. I hope you know that your blog is a source of inspiration and strength for other lambless ewes trying to find a greener pasture.
    hmmm, I think I carried the sheep thing a little too far there, didn't I?


  11. Can you contact them to do anything about it? It seems like such a shame...for any of us who might find ourselves in that situation down the road, I'm sure we would need as many resources as possible.

  12. It's hard enough to lose our support systems when those we've come to know cross over into successful pregnancy and deliveries...but you can be sure a few of us stalwarts will remain blogging away...hugs to you my friend!

  13. so sorry you are losing that support, loribeth. before I discovered the blogosphere, I was on a late term loss board that served as my lifeline. I eventually left, but I remain close with 3 women and we email regularly. sadly, I'm the only one without children left...

    you're definitely not the blacksheep. you're a bright beacon in the darkness.

  14. I'm sad that such a great source of support would close down. That's wrong isn't it?

    Is there anything that can be done about keeping it up or taking it over? Should we start a petition?

    I don't like either term, especially not the free version. I am always being told how lucky I am to have my "freedom" . . . meanwhile I can't wait to give that freedom away!

    I consider myself involuntarily childless until something comes along to change that.

  15. It is so sad that a place of support is closing down. Can you send along this post and these comments as proof of the need for this space?