Thursday, July 24, 2008

Building bridges

Mel's BlogHer column this week dealt with issues arising from last weekend's BlogHer conference, including the matter of building bridges between mommybloggers & those of us in the infertility community. She posed five questions to us on this topic. Here are my answers:

We are all complex human beings with multiple interests. I could just as easily ended up with a vegetarian blog or a twin-parenting blog or a Jewish blog. Why did I end up with an infertility blog? What is the overriding theme of your blog and why? This question, of course, can be answered by any type of blogger in order to start this conversation.

My blog is about living childless/free after stillbirth and infertility.

Why did I wind up with this kind of blog (vs another topic)? Infertility & loss have cast a huge shadow over my life over the past 10 years and continue to be an issue. Even though my dh & I are no longer ttc, we still continue to deal with the fallout, & with the struggle to live without children in a pronatalist world.

What do you hope to achieve personally and externally with your blog?

My blog is first & foremost for me. I've always found writing to be cathartic, & I started blogging to help me work out some of the memories & feelings as I have as I approach the 10-year "anniversary" of my daughter's stillbirth, and the ongoing difficulty of living without children in a world gone mad for pregnant women & babies (at least, that's how it seems…!). I also wanted to take part in Mel's online book club! : )

I also noticed, when I went looking for blogs written by other women who are childless but not by choice, that there's not a lot of us out there (or resources of any kind for this group, for that matter). I'm happy to add my voice to strengthen the choir. : ) Cultivating an audience is not among my specific goals or priorities -- but if my blog happens to touch or speak to other women dealing with the same life issues as I have/am, & promote dialogue on the issues arising from childless/free living, that can only be a good thing.

Do you think a bridge needs to be built between communities in the larger blogosphere in order to foster understanding (in other words, between infertility blogger and mommy bloggers or two other groups)?

I do. But I wonder, if you asked a typical (non-infertile) parent this question, what their response would be. I doubt they have given the topic very much thought, unless someone close to them has been dealing with infertility (& perhaps not even then).

How do you go about building these bridges? If we build bridges, will people cross them?

I'm not sure. I guess that first (as above), we need to demonstrate that there is a chasm. Some people might have to be led there. : ) As I said before, I'm not sure it's occurred to some fertile people that a problem exists.

Then they need to hear the "what's in it for me?" angle -- why it's in their interest/how it will benefit them & their families to help build & cross the bridge. I do think that, once people become aware that there is an issue, most of them will give us a respectful hearing.

What do you think is gained and lost by opening up a community (making it more accessible, inviting outsiders to comment, explaining the shorthand abbreviations)? If you aren't a member of a community, would you feel comfortable crossing a bridge that was placed in front of you?

What is gained: hopefully a greater understanding and awareness of what our lives are like and the issues we face as infertile women, and greater sensitivity to our them.

What is lost: building bridges opens us up to the possibility of greater understanding & awareness -- but also to the greater possibility of being hurt, whether intentionally or unintentionally, from people who don't understand our perspective and judge our decisions without having walked a mile in our moccasins.


  1. Great insights here, Lori! Thank you so much for sharing them...

  2. This is interesting. I guess my question is, if the community wants more understanding from the "moms of living children" world, how is that interaction going to make the childless feel?
    I hope to try again soon and come home with a live baby. Are you still going to want to hear from me? Will I have anything to offer you? Do I have anything to offer you now, or do I annoy you?

    I don't read alot of "infertile" blogs, but I follow you, Loribeth, because I was always inspired but the things you write and how you've managed to go on in life. Since my tragedy, and follow that of others, I hope I will be more "sensitive" to those whose lot does not include children. But what does that really mean? If I know someone in real life, I guess I will be true to them, and ask them what they want and what helps them, and if they would like to help me (ie with the kid, playing etc, if they would like a "zoo" day or something). But what about online?
    For me now, I really am truly happy when another baby is born. That doesn't mean I want to hear a whole lot tho.

    ok. sorry, I took over your comments again. But I would like to hear your thoughts on this at some point.

  3. I think it's a very good point that the non-infertile might not see the need for a bridge, or even appreciate the chasm that the bridge is meant to span. I have no clue what to do about that.

  4. I don't have any real insights into the building bridges question - I'm just thankful that you are writing this blog. Like you said, there are so few resources for those of us that are living without children after infertility. Thank you for giving voice to us!

  5. I agree that the average fertile person does need to hear "what's in it for me?" I think of it is a minority community reaching out to the majority -- these are our needs, and this is why you should care or take notice.

  6. I love your point about dealing with the fallout. That it's not that you chose this path and everything simply stopped--that now you're in the next stage.

  7. "I'm not sure it's occurred to some fertile people that a problem exists."

    This, as well as the "What's in it for me?" part, are at the crux of it.

    What IS in it for a fertile person? Why would s/he want to build a bridge?

    Very thought-provoking answers.

  8. You bring up some excellent speedbumps in the bridge-building. Some of us have been hit with a double-whammy so to speak, and I often wonder why on earth someone completely untouched by any of it would bother with me or my problems? I think some problems seem "reachable" -- perhaps miscarriage -- but then you start piling on that IF and infant loss and suddenly people are staring in horror.

    This should be interesting.