Monday, July 18, 2011

10 years childless/free

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.


  1. I have to say that the Resolve message board is probably the only support system I have that has gotten me through the TTC journey. I think over the years it has changed a bit and I am not as close to some of the people I have met now as back in the beginning but I have become such good friends with so many people. I just got to meet my first cyber friend in real life the other day and it was wonderful. I hope message boards will stay around as a constant support group whenever you need it!!!! :)

  2. Lori, your post has me in tears. I cannot imagine going through what we have all gone through without you guys at my side. You're my strength on a daily basis, even if our communication is not. I love you.

  3. Happy "anniversary." May the next 10 years of online relationships continue to bring you meaningful connections.

  4. It's amazing that it has been ten years. That is incredibly special -- to still be in touch with some of them.

    I wish I still had my bulletin board friends. Literally the only one I know at all right now is Chickenpig. She was on the Resolve boards with me. I had two women I emailed with daily -- several times daily -- but both got pregnant and left me behind. I think sometimes about writing them, but I don't even know if those email addresses would work anymore.

  5. I'm really glad that you had these women - and still have them. I have a small group like that too. I can't imagine going through stillbirth or ectopic pregnancies or infertility without the kind of anonymous, but very intimate, support we find online.

  6. It's an awesome feeling to meet someone in a time of your life when you need someone else who's walked in your shoes and understands what you're going through. My first message boards were support boards for those involved in Online and Long-Distance Relationships. Since The Hubs and I met online and were on seperate continents, it was important for me to talk to others who were in the same boat. I met a lot of really wonderful women, many of whom I'm still in contact with today. Some of them are no longer with the partners they had met way back then, but we still share a common bond. And that friendship is something that will stay with me always.

  7. Here here with regards to message boards!! They have changed my life...

  8. I used to haunt bulletin boards, Fertility Friend I think, just looking for clues or hope or something. Would study other people's charts to see if they were similar to mine.

    It's funny where we find support, eh? Yet oh, so special, those points of light....A toast to connections, those that faded away, those that are still in our hearts, just to know that you are not alone. a

  9. I haven't known you for 10 years and I wasn't around when you had to make the agonizing decision to be childless, but I'm so glad I know you now. And I plan to know you 10 years from now. For sure.