PAIL September Monthly theme post: Write to life.

This post is part of the PAIL monthly theme posts (Pregnancy After Infertility and Loss), and September’s theme is Why we blog. . Other posts from the members are here.

I started blogging in February of 2011 as a space to record my journey as we tried to conceive. I’d spent so long trying not to get pregnant, it was just weird to be on the other bus!!! I needed somewhere to clarify how I felt about it, and I’ve always done that with writing. Private Blogging was just an evolution of my existing emotional processes.

Six months later, I began thinking we may have a problem, reading infertility blogs, trying to get my head around what was next. On my fortieth birthday I was sitting in an IVF clinic waiting room with a wad of Internet research and an armload of questions, PCOS for me and a couple of low sperm counts for hub-in-boots. The thoughts had to go somewhere.

Trying to conceive is inherently funny. IVF is inherently funny. The things you have to do to help science make a baby are madness. Absolute madness! Counting follicles like you have an egg carton in a supermarket, injecting yourself, wandering around secretly carrying ovaries that look and feel like bunches of lead grapes. Jerking off in strange rooms with bar fridges and porn…it ain’t your normal journey.

I also felt writing about it here would allow hub-in-boots to see my emotional journey in his own space and time, if and when he wanted to read about it, not by my leaning on him too heavily (at least at first). I thought it would help us communicate, with more space and reflection. I think it definitely achieved this, and our journey through IVF and bedrest were, I’m sure, much more harmonious and mutually supportive as a result.

Plus, once you’re out about IVF, you can get tired answering the same questions, talking about it all the time. I blogged so I didn’t have to spend my life talking about it. Everyone knew where we were at, so we could start conversations from a place of shared info. People didnt have to ask me how it worked, I wrote it out for them.

The decision to be “out” about IVF was a very personal and practical one. I had depression years ago. I suffered very very badly, before I knew what was happening. I remember thinking if I really knew what it was, what it felt like before hand, I would’ve recognised it, and got help sooner. When I got better. I swore I would be out about depression. I would always tell people, I would talk about it, if it was relevant. Just in case it helped just one person.

And so it was with infertility. Another taboo, another outspoken Jo. Another hope to suffer with a purpose. And with humour.

You would think that pregnancy would end an infertility blog, but the fact is, a pregnant “infertile” feels differently about being pregnant. It is a whole other category of complicated. Add that to pregnant infertile, with a sub chorionic haematoma of grave proportions with a complicated pregnancy on extended bedrest, hell yeah I still needed to blog. I was living in liminal space, on the threshold of everything, but nowhere.

I needed to blog my child into existence.
I needed to write him alive.
I needed to distance myself from the spectre of loss that sat beside us, waiting for tragedy.

And when jman arrived, I needed to blog myself into being a Mum. I needed to blog his first days, as a gift to him. I needed to blog away that spectre of loss that haunted us, to blog away the pregnancy trauma, (because waiting and hoping 24/7 it is traumatic).

As jman hit nine weeks old, my nephew, 22, committed suicide. No warning. Simon, originally himself a very premi baby with months in NICU, would have been twenty three on Monday.

I felt like the spectre of loss had just moved somewhere else in the family, that it was still here. I felt that our making it through somehow contributed to Simon not making it. I understand this is completely illogical, nonsense, but emotions can speak other truths from logic. My anxiety skyrocketed. I had nightmares about the ‘inquest at jensen’s death’ if he slept through more than a couple of hours. I dreamt of my nephew. I dreamt of losing Jensen, as in physically leaving him places. I didn’t always directly write about these things, but I tried to blog myself to a more positive mindset, to record each day, to see how real and alive he was, and to see how safe we were, even as my mummy radar shifted into overdrive.

On a more prosaic and joyful level, I wanted to share the joy of this special boy who we’d worked so hard for. I wanted to celebrate his life, with both those who loved us in real life, and those who had joined us in our journey, online, and rooted for us, and cheered for us, and cried for us, and helped to bring him here. They all pushed us another step forward.

It does annoy me a bit, people that condemn Internet over sharing about their children. I get the safety thing, I get it, but what they miss is how enmeshed you are at first as a mum, how their life is your life for a long time. I will end this blog at some point, when I feel it is taking from jman rather than recording for him. I’m his mother, I trust I can make that judgement, like I make a thousand other judgements for him, every single day.

I thought about transitioning to another space when he arrived, but it is all part of our journey. It is all part of the one continuum, and I don’t care who knows the gory details. I don’t care if it doesn’t have tidy easy to tag cookie cutter blogger edges. It is our life. It is messy and multi faceted. It is worth sharing.

Right now, with a fourteen month old tear away on the loose, blogging is sometimes another nagging chore, but mostly it is a perspective changer. It can be hard when you’re picking up books for the sixteenth time that day, have just been hit in the head with a yoghurt covered spoon, and you’re wondering why you bothered with two degrees and whatever happened to your brain? Because I might blog about them, because I have a problem with perfectionism and at times negative thinking, blogging, particularly humourous posts, make me stop and reframe the moment, from “what a disaster!” to”what a hilarious post!”.

When I travelled solo, or dated idiots, I’d always think how Would I Tell the Story; as I got stuck in carriage full of smugglers having lost my passport on a Bulgarian night train on the border, faced with an Alsatian with bad breath, the thought of the dinner party story it would become made me stop and reassess, and not panic. And so it is with the parenting trip. I think in stories, in words, in connecting my story with other stories. I always have. A blog is simply a logical next step.

The value in blogging after, after infertility and insurmountable odds, is firstly to show it is possible to those still in the trenches. Secondly it is to celebrate the joy of a little person becoming a person, growing, developing, and thirdly to acknowledge that how I parent requires everything I have been until now, and more.

Lastly, and this is something I only thought about after I first drafted this post, when you become a mum it is a time of personal upheaval. You lose who you were. You lose your edges. You get to be someone else, but eventually I think you need to try and recognise which parts of yourself are lost, and to an extent mourn them, which parts are new and worth celebrating, and integrate those disparate selves into a whole. This, I think, is how you avoid becoming “just a mum”, how you avoid resenting your partner or child through the upheaval, how you find a way to parent well, and how you find a new normal by selecting from the smorgasbord of selves to create a new plate of you. I’m laying out my dishes in these pages, I’m looking at what is there, I’m thinking which parts I want a second helping of. That’s why I blog.

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4 thoughts on “PAIL September Monthly theme post: Write to life.

  1. Frances

    Jo, I LOVE this blog. Sometimes I see the girl I knew at 5 years of age (yes you!) and many times I see myself now, with my own 14 month old. Your story was both different and similar to mine and I’ve really looked forward to reading it. I just wanted you to know.

    1. Yay!!! Nice to know who’s “out there”, and I think it’s so important on this parenting roller coaster to not feel alone…it’s so much more complicated than it was for our mums, because we know more, we expect more and we have more choices. Which gives us many things, but also more of a struggle, I think. Glad you enjoy coming along for the ride.

  2. I love this post. Love it. I just nodded and nodded and nodded. Until you KILLED ME with this: “I needed to write him alive.” *tears*

    I read your last paragraph over and over. It’s wonderful, and true, and heartbreaking, and true, and necessary, and true. Inspiring. And true.

    1. Thank you…there were tears at your post too and mine actually distilled in my head after reading it…just haven’t got around to commenting! I have thought about the “I also ran” thing a lot since I read it…an important thing to remember for a perfectionist. It is nice when the very act of writing (and reading) allows you to clarify what you feel.

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