Recently, someone posted a link to a New York Times article about "The Decline of the Online Message Board." That prompted a discussion on our Promp-ly writing group around the question of whether message boards were still relevant & who still frequents them.
It was, as I noted on the group (which, ironically, is really a message board itself) a timely discussion for me. Blogs weren't around when I was going through ttc, stillbirth and infertility treatment -- but listservs and message boards were, and they were (and remain) an enormous source of support for me.
Ten years ago today, on July 18, 2001, I made my very first post on an iVillage Childless Living message board, for women who were childless not by choice. I had been lurking on the board for several days & while I hadn't had much experience with message boards, I decided to take a leap of faith, put myself out there publicly and join in the conversation. Not only was this one of the first message boards I had ever posted on, period, but -- after a long struggle with stillbirth and infertility treatment -- I was, essentially, admitting to myself and to the cybersphere that our ttc journey truly had come to an end, that we were not going to have children after all.
I've written about the board and what it's meant to me before -- most notably here, two years ago, and here, three years ago, when the board finally (sadly) disappeared from the cyberspace. Some people have drifted away over the years, for whatever reasons, but I'm still in touch with half a dozen of those women, on another (private) message board we set up, and on Facebook, and I've met two of them "in real life."
Admittedly, we don't post as often as we once did and, as time has blunted the sharp edges of grief, we write less and less often about childless living specifically. But on the days when an "anniversary" has us feeling emotional, when someone lobs an unkind or unthinking comment about our childlessness that cuts one of us to the bone, when something happens to remind us about the life we thought we'd once have and the experiences we are missing out on, we come to the board to vent our hurt and frustrations, and to give each other the cyberhugs and support that we can only get from each other -- from other women who have been there, done that, and truly understand what it's like to walk a mile or 10 in our shoes.
I simply couldn't let this milestone day go by without paying tribute once again to the board that brought me together with these women, and to the huge role they have played in my life these last 10 years. I can't imagine how I would have gotten through it all without them.