9.30.2013

What is My Responsibility?

Updated to add: Hebrews posted a companion piece to this "from the other side" so to speak. Please go read it too :).

Ever since I started reading blogs about infertility (long before I knew I would someday join in), I noticed that often when a once-infertile gal becomes a mommy she disappears for a bit. There are some very practical reasons for this, while I can't speak from experience, I'm thinking being sleep deprived and having a new person rely on you for all of their needs while not always able to communicate those needs might just be part of the reason. Yes, I do think so.

However, so many of you have written how, in addition to sleep-deprivation and a whole new way of living, it is also hard for you to blog post-IF or childlessness (because we all know adoption cures the latter, not the former.) Often, (and I'm generalizing and simplifying I realize this), the reason for this difficulty is out of a concern to not want to hurt others with your posts and pictures of life with a child(ren).

I've written before about Why I Need Your Stories. And Thelma's words here echoed that sentiment.

In light of Alison's started series (and a few emails we exchanged coupled with other conversations I've had), I've been doing a lot of reflecting on this whole relationship between all of us infertile gals. Those who still wait, those who will never have children, those who adopt, those who give birth. While our roads are all different - from our treatment choices to outcomes to impact on marriages to more - they feel most different when we are trying to bridge that gap between being a mother and not.

What I've noticed, from both those who still wait and those who are now mothers, is that the pressure all seems to fall on the shoulders of those with children. That it is up to those who were once infertile/childless to be sensitive to those of us who still are. That, somehow, we who still wait have nothing in this. Yet, I ask is it really reasonable to expect someone whose life changed drastically in the blink of an eye when that second pink line appeared or the phone rang to not share about said change?

Will what a new mom shares sometimes stir feelings of pain for those of us who want nothing more to be a new mom? Yes. Will what is shared sometimes be hard to read? Yes.

But isn't it the same for those of us who still share about infertility? Don't our posts still stir feelings of pain in others? Are our posts never hard to read? The feelings are not exactly the same, but the answer, for me anyway, is still "yes."

This leads me, finally, to the title of this post. To the question I've asked myself and I am encouraging you to ask yourself.

What is my responsibility?

I've written before about how I realized that so often what I was blaming someone else for was really about my pain. I still have to remind myself daily that this is the case. That what I'm reading, or hearing, or seeing is usually not what is actually causing the pain, but rather it is reminding me of the pain. Whether a pregnant woman walks into Subway or not (to use Alison's example :)), I'm still sad and hurt that I'm not pregnant. Sure, I might have forgotten for a nano-second that I'm sad and hurt and her presence reminds me, but that is a very different thing than to say it causes the sadness or the hurt.

With blogging, about a year and a half ago I could barely log in to my blog or visit anyone else's. It seemed I was assaulted with BFPs and bumps and babies from every direction. But I knew that I needed to blog for my own sanity, so I had to figure out a way to do it. What I found out was that by separating my blogs into two groups (I need simple), one group of blogs by women who are not yet mothers and one group of everyone else. I changed my side bar to include titles only from those who are not yet mothers, and just blog titles of everyone else. I also carried these same groups into my reader (I now use Feedly) and I set my default "landing page" for my reader to the group of not yet mothers. When I'm not up for reading about pregnancy, or seeing adorable pictures of kiddos, I just don't check in on the other group. I know the feeling will pass and I'll wonder how my friends are doing, but by making it my choice to check in rather than just scrolling through and being caught off-guard by a ton of photos or "cutest sayings ever" (and they are - I mean that sincerely :)), I am choosing to check in for them.

With Facebook, well, it's a little more challenging, and I frequently have to remind myself that "it's about my pain." And, if I'm honest with myself, the only reason I keep my FB account is because I want "my turn." I'm waiting for the day I get to post my ultrasound picture. It seems as much a rite of passage these days as anything. If I know I'm having a bad day or rough time, I just don't log in to FB, or if I do, I quickly click in the IF group without acknowledging anything in my newsfeed.

Also, on days I'm feeling good, I make a point to catch up on "everyone else." To seek out the pictures, to post comments of love and support, to check in on my friends. I may not read posts as quickly or comment as often, but I do read them all and I pray for you every day.

Finally, I am quick to move someone from one group to the next when it's appropriate. As soon as the BFP or phone call is announced, I log in and make the change. If someone I'm reading and is listed under "everyone else" has never mentioned IF and does, I log in and make the change. Sometimes it's sad how short the list in the "still waiting" group gets, but I try to remind myself that is proof of miracles and to be grateful for it. I long for the day that list is completely empty.

I don't mean to sound like I have all the answers. I don't pretend to. This is what has worked for me (and if you aren't sure how to separate things into groups or turn off titles, let me know, I can walk you through it - it's pretty easy :)) and I hope it helps you, if you are still waiting, to figure out what works for you too.

And again, to those of you who are "on the other side" and are trying to figure out how to blog as a mommy after infertility, please keep posting (really, sleep is overrated ;)). Please remind us that motherhood is as wonderful and as hard and as rewarding and as humbling as we dream it is. Without your reminders, we start to wonder if it's all in our heads. Also, we, as you know, have lots to offer up for you.  Finally, be patient with us if it takes us a while to comment, or if we don't comment as often. Please remember it's not that we don't still love you and pray for you, it is about our pain. We'll catch up when we can, and in the meantime, if you'll offer up your struggles as a mom for us, we will feel the prayers and know the love of Christ. If this bloggy community has taught us nothing it is that our prayers are powerful and the Body of Christ is beautiful.

Updated to add: Hebrews posted a companion piece to this "from the other side" so to speak. Please go read it too :).

22 comments:

  1. From experience, I just didn't know what to day. I was embarrassed that mothering was so hard as was nursing. It was a big blow to our marriage and that was hard, too. Also, it was difficult to fit into the new world of mothering and still cling to those authentic relationships I had with those with IF. It was all hard. Especially because I thought the suffering would end. The shock that it didn't, I just couldn't articulate. But good post, R!!

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    1. E, reading these words bring tears to my eyes. I hope everyone reads your comment because, while I can't know, I suspect many others who are now mommies feel/felt the same about the suffering and to know they are not alone. I also wonder how many of us of those who wait are expecting the suffering to end with that BFP or phone call or birth-day and need to hear that it may not (for lots of reasons) - whether we realize it consciously or not. Thank-you for sharing so honestly!

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  2. Separating those of us still waiting and others is a good idea for the very reasons you gave. It gives you more control of what you are encountering, it's a filter. I just keep everyone on the same blogger dashboard but on the days I am not doing too good I just don't log into blogger and I try to use that extra time to pray or spend time with my DH. It is very easy for me to get sucked into the online world so on my bad days I just stay away. I also hope that the list of those still waiting gets smaller and smaller.

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  3. I so admire your strength and thoughtfulness!

    I have such a hard time with the blogs sometimes. I want to be happy for those who have crossed over (and deep down inside, I am), but it is so hard for me not be be overwhelmed with jealousy. Especially since I am still waiting on a spouse, let alone hoping for children. (And, getting another year older...)

    But, that is my fault, not theirs and I would never want someone to feel like they shouldn't be able to share the good and bad of life once prayers have been answered. I just hope they don't get hurt by my not being able to comment on (or even look at) their blogs/fb posts for chunks of time.

    Oh, and I have made FB as "safe" as I possibly can. Basically I have made it so that anyone with kids doesn't show up on my feed. (You can easily do this, too. While on your feed, click on the arrow on the right hand side of each post. That will give you options to "hide" that person's posts from your feed.) When I am feeling strong, I look and comment and "ooh and ahh" at adorable babies and loving husbands.

    And, I've learned to forgive myself for knowing that sometimes I am just not strong enough and all it will do is remind me of what I don't, and may never have.

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    1. I always forget about the "hiding" option for FB - great suggestion!

      Please know of my prayers for you as you wait for your husband.

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  4. Ack, I loved that you posted this. I do think that's what made it so difficult to "cross over"...I was horrible about this. It takes such discipline to do what you've done and separate and control yourself, well, I've always battled impulsiveness to the extreme. No excuses, it will just forever be my personal battle. ...and I needed the kick in the pants to finish my posts! And I liked your last note too..good for people with my love language to remember ;)

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  5. This is such a great post. And honestly, talking to you last weekend helped me so much - to continue blogging, that is.

    "I long for the day that list is completely empty." Me too, me too. Not a day goes by when I am not praying for those of you still waiting.

    Hugs, friend! Love you!!

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  6. Thanks for inspiring (and linking to) me! I loved our dialogue on this and I agree that it's so important. We all need each other, and not just for IF-related reasons! Hardly a day goes by that I don't text a blogger pal about something. :) This is one special community of gals!

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  7. I've been blogging for a long time...and I have tried to keep putting comments on some new mommy blogs and that blogger who used to comment on my blog stopped after the baby was born. I do the same thing with other bloggers...if there is no correspondence, then there is no cyber friendship...in my humble opinion. It does go both ways. This blog is not about making me feel bad. If I start reading something that doesn't sit well with me...I'm done. I have control. It's my heart I need to care about, right?

    I will say that there are some mommie bloggers out there that make parenting sound like it's all gumdrops and kisses...really? C'mom..I work with kids. I know better.

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  8. Thanks for this post. I've been invited to a baby shower and two more of my friends are newly married and newly pregnant (like clockwork), and I just really needed regain my perspective.

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  9. Luv your suggestion about separating blogs into two categories. This is something I struggle with too (even with reading adoption blogs, because we are waiting to adopt). However I *need* these blogs to remind me of the joy and beauty of adoption/motherhood and also to give me a reality check on its challenges. Its soooooo good to remember that its "my pain" and not someone else who is causing it, never thought of it quite that way before..

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  10. Thank you for this post. You always seem to take a bunch of jumbled thoughts I have in my head and turn them into something real and understandable and relateable.You have a gift!

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  11. Rebecca...this post is so honest. As an infertile adoptive mom I don't know where I belong in this blogging community. But after reading your post and Hebrew's post I am starting to understand. We all need other for so many reasons. I have gained so much strength from this faith filled community and have used that strength not only in dealing with IF but also in day to day struggles and for that I will be forever grateful. You are in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  12. Just... thank you. I think you know I needed that.

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  13. Love this post! I agree with you on the importance of remembering that something is "my pain" and to not get upset about others' happiness. It can be hard sometimes, but you have some great ideas for how to deal with it. I will have to keep that in mind :)

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  14. Love this! You are one smart cookie:-).

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  15. Thank for you starting/continuing this conversation. I definitely have inappropriately "blamed" others for my pain, including an occasional IF blogger who becomes a mom (not all of them though). I guess I have high (probably too high) expectations that a former-IF blogger should know how to be sensitive to those still IF--moreso than any of my IRL fertile friends--because they've walked in our shoes and know what it's like to be on the receiving end of certain types of comments. I am usually impressed at those who do continue to blog after becoming a mother that they are able to write about motherhood while still being sensitive to IF readers, so I know it can be done. So when it is not done, it hurts, but maybe I need to think more about the title of your post, because, after all, it is still my pain.

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  16. Once again, huge kudos.

    It has seemed to me that if a pain is *caused* by a reminder of another person's joy, then it isn't really that serious of a pain. For the deepest suffering exists without reminders or interactions with others. But sometimes being mature and remembering reality is so very challenging, so I am in awe of how you've sorted things out for yourself.

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  17. I feel like I post the exact same thing every time I read one of your posts, but I love this! For a long time, I couldn't handle anything, ever, that was from people that were "on the other side", but most especially if they had never been on this side of waiting. But now that I am gradually moving to a different place (a place that still desperately wants to get married and have kids, but is finding more and more freedom to live this moment to the fullest and worry less about when or if that moment ever comes), I am often able to read even just regular old mommy blogs, and not only to read but enjoy them, and to finally recognize the pain and struggle and breaking that happens even in the midst of the joys of that big family that we all want. I love E's comment, because I think we absolutely need that reminder. That long awaited child (and/or spouse) is so beyond worth it, but also it is still real life and we still need to support each other in it the best we can because every single one of us is struggling to get through.

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  18. You wrote such a powerful post! I've "hidden" a bit as I'm not sure what to post that isn't about Luke - but so much of my life revolves around him and I'm so proud of every little thing he does. But I've realized that even when being IF and waiting to adopt, I did love to read posts of other women who had crossed over via pregnancy or adoption ... when I could ... and definitely splitting up the posts into groups helped. I'm trying to get back in the swing of things on blogging and reading and praying for everyone in this wonderful community of women!

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