My dear friend "Bzzgrrl," whom I know by another more vowelly name in real life, has begun musing on her blog (www.citymousecountry.blogspot.com) about privacy and chronicling one's life on the Internet. Her thoughts and my web-surfing have made me think a lot about what I'm putting out here, and why.
When you start looking, the Internet is full of people sharing their stories about wanting babies. I can't imagine how many blogs and websites there must be out there overall, because the number on this topic alone is staggering. My friend Ashley inspired me with her own blog, www.planetdavila.blogspot.com, which was designed to both update her friends and family on their treatment status, and to address the things that people did and didn't know about infertility. The benefit of the blog format is that you can aim your comments at individuals, but couch them in a "for everyone's information" tone.
Ashley encouraged me to create a blog of my own, and it has been tremendously therapeutic for me. It has both brought me out of my isolation, and allowed me to share the interesting details with people I love. I have really come to think of this as a fascinating trip, with amazing pieces and counterintuitivities that I think anyone would like to know. Treating the topic as "fascinating" or even just funny lets me not think of it as a cross to bear.
The public aspect of the blogosphere is a nice addition to the idea of just communicating with people I already know and love. I find myself writing for people that I don't know, just as much as I write for my intimates. When you open yourself up to dialogue with strangers, you tap into a wonderful world. Putting links on blogs makes that happen very easily. One can follow the links of these chains and find like-minded (and dislike-minded) people one would never find in real life. That has opened my eyes to the very broad spectrum of infertility and reproductive technology more than I ever expected.
When I got several comments from a woman who calls herself "Laughing4Heir," I Google-searched her and found her new blog: www.outfromunder.wordpress.com. Her story deals with miscarriages and makes me realize that my goal, conceiving a baby, is just the start. Another woman writes on her website, the Fortune Cookie Follies, at the address http://LuckBeABaby.wordpress.com. Do you recognize "Luck be a Baby"? A play on a "Guys and Dolls" song. MY GOD: she combines a show tune AND a pun (!) and unfortunately, the you-wouldn't-have-thought-it difficulties she's been going through as she tries to adopt. A blog at http://maybebaby.ctwfeatures.com/ has -- gasp -- a man's perspective! Meanwhile, www.waitingwomb.blogspot.com has a very long list of links to infertility blogs. To my delight, the author has categorized them by which of their authors have now become pregnant, which have their much-awaited babies now, and which are still waiting.
So what do we have there? We have a lot of information about infertility in general, and how one deals with different aspects of it. These blogs are intensely personal in that they splay the authors' hearts across the screen. They allow others to learn and empathize and put their own problems in perspective. Sometimes they lead to actual connections between actual people. Sometimes they just lead to a sense of community, which I can tell you is very valuable.
Granted, most people don't use their real names on their blogs, but some do. I do, you'll notice. I had already set myself up with a blogging account for my business (www.fiberofherbeing.com and www.fiberofherbeing.blogspot.com), and those used my real name. I guess I didn't create a separate anonymous account because I wasn't shy enough. To date, I haven't put anything online here that I wouldn't say at a conference of a thousand people. (In fact, if you know of any speaking gigs, you know I'd love that!) Maybe that's one reason I am not concerned about the privacy aspect of putting this stuff online. If someone wants to egg my house, well, that would be too bad. (And to the moms out there, remember that our address is unlisted). But if someone wants to talk to me about the ethics of IVF, even in person, don't you know I'd go bounding up to them like a golden retriever, panting with anticipation of making another connection.
I discussed this with my co-worker yesterday and wondered aloud why I wasn't worried about Internet/real life privacy. She said, "Maybe it's because you haven't written anything you're ashamed of." Huh. What do you know. Me? Shameless?