Random header image... Refresh for more!

Create the World You Wish to Inhabit

Updated at the bottom.

I am back.  I needed to step back from blogging for a bit and reassess how I felt about being online as part of a community vs. existing as an individual blogger.  They really are two very different things.

It was echoed many times in the comment section that people hoped that this wouldn’t be damaging to the community, and while I can’t speak for the community, I can say without doubt that it was damaging for me.  It gave me great insight into the difference between words and actions, how carefully we hold a friend’s feelings, and the empathy of others.  I mean that in both a good and bad way.  But regardless, it changed the way I view community and the way I view people — again in a multitude of ways that offshoot in a multitude of directions.  Maybe damage isn’t the best word to describe it, but “change” doesn’t really sum up the way I view the experience.

People also said countless times that they didn’t know that PAIL would end up being divisive, and I believe that.  But then we find out that it is.  Now that we know that, what happens next?  I’m sure the decision will be different for each individual.  Again, I learned a lot about people from this.

People also pointed out that many smaller blogrolls and projects exist, and no other one is described as divisive, and perhaps that is because membership to those is based on situation vs. what you achieve.  What was done was take the prize we are all seeking and create a club for all who achieve it.  With talk about how supportive the new club is and wonderful… and you can join it too.  Just as soon as those treatments work or that adoption goes through.  People will hopefully become parents after infertility; that is the goal.  But I see a big difference in comportment between when your single friends become brides and remain committed to supporting you find your partner while simultaneously planning their wedding and being excited for that change in life vs. going onto a singles group to advertise a wedding expo for all the brides, a big fun event for everyone who has met their partner (amongst all the people who are seeking partners).

I’m sure PAIL is wonderful, in the same way that anything exclusive feels wonderful to its members.  And to those on the outside or those who do not like exclusivity, it doesn’t feel wonderful at all.  Not everyone will reach parenthood.  There will be those who are forced or choose to live childfree after infertility.  There will be those who give birth only to lose their child soon after.  Maybe that is why I found the creation of the group disheartening.  Because it’s a club that not everyone will be able to join.  Does that mean it shouldn’t exist?  No — it can certainly exist.  But it shouldn’t utilize something like the LFCA (which, like as in the analogy to a singles group, is read by both those still in the trenches and those on the other side, but everyone with the same situation at heart: they want to build their family and they can’t) in trying to build its membership.  When it does that, it becomes a divisive element.

I think the heart of this starts with a question: why a separate space.  Is it needed?  Some people say it is needed, they don’t feel welcome in the ALI community.  Some people say that it isn’t, that the creation of it is divisive inandof itself.  I can only speak to my personal experience as a blogger who technically fits the description of parenting after IF.  I do not need a separate space.  I have been able to blog about parenting after IF right here with this very diverse ALI community for the past six years.  Which leads to another question: how have I been able to write about parenting after IF and not feel ostracized as they describe?

The only answer I can come up with is that it’s not about what you are writing.  It’s about how and why you are writing.


I am a firm believer in creating the world you wish to inhabit.  One of the thoughts echoed — one that has come up countless times in the six years I have been part of the ALI community — is that it’s hard to see parenting blogs when you are still in the trenches.  It is equally hard to have the community desert you once you are parenting.  I hear people when they say both these statements — both sides can come with their own emotional pitfalls, deep hurts.  Knowing this, I hope then that people are careful that they don’t do to others what they didn’t want done unto them once a situation changed.

For me, there is no before or after — there is simply acting the way you want to act regardless of where you are or what you get out of it.  Someone once wrote a gorgeous post about why they send thank you notes even if they don’t get them in return (was it you, Miss E’s Musings?).  Thank you notes are part of who she is, and that has always stuck with me.  I try hard to emulate that.  When I was in the trenches before the twins, I wanted support from those who came before me as well as those in the trenches with me.  Once I had the twins, I continued to do what felt right to do, reaching backwards to continue to support.  When we returned to treatments, I continued to be in this community.  And when we left treatments again, I continued to be in this community.  My situation has changed over and over again, but I guess I stay because of the Melissa who was back in the trenches in 2001 who just wanted her questions answered, for someone to tell her “me too” every once in a while.

I don’t know if I’ll always be here, but I needed a soft denouement vs. a hard drop-off in order to be true to who I am.  This is where I need to be.  Other people do not feel this way and this is not where they need to be.  And that is okay too.  I think the only problem is when people think they can have it all — the support without the giving, the straddling without really being a part of anything fully.  Some people needed to trade their support this week, and I can always support a trade even if I am sad with the goodbye on my end.

But it’s also clear that there needs to be a very honest discussion about those in the trenches vs. those parenting after IF.  There are clearly very hurt feelings, especially when people consider them not two parts of a continuous whole, but two separate entities.


My six years of blogging has been about building bridges.  In fact, for those of you who have been around for a while, you know that we used to have a group blog called Bridges which brought together 20+ niches of the blogosphere.  Addiction bloggers mixed with ALI’ers.  Depression bloggers mixed with breast cancer bloggers.  We called ourselves the Consortium of Compassionate Bloggers; it was an idea that came about during an early BlogHer conference, when so many of us were first finding people outside of our niche.  I’ve always thought it important to read stories unlike my own to better understand another person’s world.

And maybe that is another divide: how I view blogging.  For me, blogging is about writing or images.  It isn’t about numbers or what opportunities I get.  Do I want people to read my words?  Of course, but I trust that people will read them if I put something worthwhile out there.  I also trust that if I set my words down and then exit my blog to travel to everyone else’s, by the time I return, there will be people who visited my offering.  I think of it a bit like leaving a bowl of candy outside for Halloween, trusting that everyone will get their sweets if we keep moving from house to house.  The alternative is to stand on my door step and scream at passerbys: “come to my house!  Come here right now!  I have candy!”

With that analogy, I not only stray from the natural way people move from house to house by forcing consumption, but I miss out on sweetness myself.

Blog reading is the other side of it, the candy collecting.  For me, the comments brought a lot of clarity as to why people read.  Some people complained that the blogroll contains blogs that haven’t been updated recently.  This was a purposeful decision to leave those blogs on the blogroll that came about five years ago or so.  After all, old books have just as much use as new books.  Defunct blogs have just as much use as current ones: they contain a person’s story and give you insight into a life you’re not living.

It suddenly dawned on me that a big reason why people don’t want to read defunct blogs is why they are reading blogs — it isn’t to learn another person’s story or find answers to your questions, it’s to get something back.  A person not blogging anymore isn’t going to interact and follow you back.  This comment is not a judgment or meant to make people squirm — if that is why you read blogs, it makes perfect sense.  It isn’t why I read blogs, so perhaps it’s a sentiment I never fully understood until now.

As I say in the letter each month, IComLeavWe is not about gaining new readers any more than NaBloPoMo is about gaining new readers, and if that is the sole reason you’re doing either project, you are bound to be disappointed.  In both cases, it is about honing your own writing skills — commentwise or postwise.  The idea of meeting people through the list is a bonus, and some people report making a lot of connections and some people report making none.  But once again, I believe that a lot of that goes back to creating the world you wish to inhabit.  The reason behind why you give.

I personally believe that we get back what we give, though it doesn’t always look exactly as we want it to look.  Until this week, I have never felt a lack of support from this community.  I’ve never seen a big readership drop even though my situation has changed countless times.  I didn’t see an uptick of people when I started treatments again, and I didn’t see a drop when I stopped treatments.  And perhaps that evenness is an accident, or perhaps it is part of creating a circle that has the space for ebb and flow.  Do I know exactly how I’ve done that, no.  If I did, I’d tell you so you can do it too if you wanted.  I think some of it is that I maintain balance in terms of topic, I attempt to be sensitive to what I discern to be a general reader while still remaining true to my own feelings, and I put a lot into the community.  And those three things have buffered me — I believe — from experiencing what other people describe as the surge and fall of readership depending on the situation in life.

Some people in the community have experienced surges and others have not, which again, raises another question: why the difference in experience?


When I first read about the new blogroll when the creator submitted it to the LFCA, I was taken aback but didn’t feel much more than an eyebrow raise.  Certainly multiple blogrolls can and should exist, though this one went against things I believe in.  When I read a post the next morning about how the person was uncomfortable with the idea of this new blogroll and then read her comment section, I became cranky when I read that “nothing like this exists” — written by people who had added themselves to my blogroll.  Yes, something like this already existed, but my thoughts as I drove home from yoga were, “how can I pass along the upkeep of the blogroll or at least a section of the blogroll.”  I saw it as a possibility to get some help.

But when I read how one of the plans of this new group was to take my idea of IComLeavWe and create it solely for those parenting after IF, I was pissed.  It took something I hold sacred — community and bridge building — and turned it into the gate around a smaller group.  It was taking my ideas, something I am proud of, and using it in a way that is counter to its intent.  It would be hard to find a way to honour me less.

It would be like having the peace song I wrote taken and used in a car commercial.  It’s not that capitalism is diametrically opposed to peace marches, but certainly, there is discordance.  If someone had asked me if they could start their own IComLeavWe with my blessing, the answer would have been no because the whole point is to create bridges, not create individual, unconnected pools.  But I wasn’t asked, and beyond that, I can only express my feelings.  It’s up to other people to decide how they want to comport themselves once they hear my feelings.

The point of IComLeavWe is to build bridges; to read blogs you may not have found otherwise, to hone your commenting skills.  If you do it for those reasons, you are usually not disappointed.  But it sounds like a lot of people join that project not under the spirit with which it was created but to get something different; something that may or may not come from the project.  So while I hear your disappointment, I also think that the intentions you bring will either limit you or propel you.

Actually, if I had to boil down all the thoughts I had over the last few days, it would be that your intentions either limit you or propel you.  If you don’t have the forward motion you crave, check your intentions.

I needed this break to really cogitate on this idea that what you put out there can be taken and used in a way you find distasteful.  To wrap my mind around the idea that people can say they want cohesiveness and then participate in something divisive.  To think about all the individual selves that make up the greater whole of community, and how some will have their needs met and others will not, and why is that the case?  It can’t be a simple equation of blog changes equals support or lack of support or we would all feel this.  And some of us haven’t.

The only explanation I can come up with is that I live in the world I created.  I keep living here, despite any other life change.  And sometimes that means my world is comfortable and sometimes that means my world is uncomfortable for the time being in order to ensure that it is better later on.  But I keep living here, day after day after day.

That’s what I thought about while I stepped away from blog reading and blog writing (and frankly, email reading or responding too) in order to think.  I don’t have clear answers on where to go from here.  But I thought I’d still put down what I’ve been thinking about.


I do want to take a moment to thank the people who did reach out to me with not only kind words or supportive words, but the sort of words that brought me back.  I am grateful to all of you, and I will be emailing back once I dig out from the hole.  I am grateful to the people who take my words or thoughts and bring them further.  Keiko is an example who comes to mind, but there are so many more of you out there.  I am always touched to not only have someone say, “I get you” but to see them run with an idea or a way of viewing the world and take it to new places.  Thank you to everyone who volunteered to help with the blogroll clean-up; one that will include pruning dead links and moving people into new categories, but will not include removing defunct blogs or those parenting after IF.  I — for one — am at peace knowing that people want the blogroll to remain whole.  For those who lent their thoughts to the discussion in the comment section — even the people who told me that I had it all wrong — thank you for speaking up.  I hope everyone left the discussion okay with living in the world they create, and if they are not okay, will take the steps to bring themselves peace of heart.


I wholly agree that there needs to be a focused discussion.  There were hurt feelings all around.  Damage has been done, and the point is not to leave things in pieces, but to hopefully move to a place where people don’t feel as raw.  I’ve spent the morning combing through the comment section, looking for trends or questions that need answers; ideas that popped up multiple times.  I’ve constructed the points I heard people raising and will post them soon.  If you have a question to pose to the whole community, please email it to me directly so I can include it.  If you do send one, please let me know if you’re comfortable with me including that you’re the source of that particular question with a link to your blog when applicable.


1 serenity { 03.07.12 at 8:23 am }

Thanks for this. Lots to think about, at least for me. Probably today’s post.


2 SRB { 03.07.12 at 8:23 am }

I try very hard to live with this in mind: if you hurt someone unintentionally, and they tell you they are hurting, it is an opportunity for discussion. Moreover, if you see the hurt, be compassionate and apologize. Mel – I am sorry. Truly, and deeply. I take full responsibility for making the ICLW suggestion on a PAIL post. To the best of my knowledge, it was not the purpose of PAIL as a whole to co-opt that, but a suggestion I made out of sheer excitement. I meant no harm, but I see that it has caused harm. I honestly had *NO IDEA* that SQ was the ‘hub’, that the amazingly long blogroll even existed, or that ICLW was unique to the ALI community in general and SQ specifically. I (wrongly – and fully admit I did not check before I fired off a comment) thought that ICLW was part of the larger blogosphere. I have visited SQ here and there, but didn’t realize it was what it is, and how important it is. I know I am not the only one who didn’t realize this. I have had the opportunity to learn so much more about the structure, depth and breadth of the ALI community in the last 24 hours, and for that I am grateful.

Because PAIL popped up on my radar I felt enough courage to start reaching out and speaking out, whereas before I was always a lurker and extremely rare commenter. I don’t blog about my IF/RPL – I’m not brave enough. But I read, and felt safe in identifying now. For the last week or so I’ve been excited and gathering steam. That’s been knocked out me. I was traumatized “IRL” by my IF/loss experience and how I was/am treated. I’m most certainly not past it. I reached out like I did, made the suggestion that I did because I need help, understanding, and support. I can’t get myself out of this, and I thought it was finally time to start making some connections with women in the same place as me.
Now I’ve been ‘schooled’, and how. I can handle a shitty comment or an ugly email. That’s not what I’m upset about. What I can’t handle is all the awful, divisive things I saw in the comments on your last post. That I will NOT take responsibility for. As I mentioned elsewhere, I’m left wondering if I was better off suffering in silence after all.

3 Mina { 03.07.12 at 8:44 am }

I loved this post.

I learned a lot of things from your blog and this community, even when the info was conflicting with my own thoughts, the perspective always helped me balance things out. One of the best things I learned eversince I came to your blog and this community is that people DO have the right to feel what they feel, even though often I do not understand why or think they overreact or some other judgment from my part that diminishes how they feel. It is what they are feeling and feelings are often the impulse behind our actions and I should not try to change that or make them see that I feel they are wrong (and that I am right, of course :-)). I still have problems understanding people, but I am more accepting of them. And this is the best thing that I gained from this community. Another would be that misery loves company, and boosts readership and comments, while mundane happiness is rather boring. You’re the exception, but then, except from writing well about stuff in general, you tend to have exceptional things happen to you on a regular basis (um, meeting the president anyone? Or the giant cricket?!).

Of course, one might say that I and my opinions are silly, and chances are high they are. Then again, as someone once told me, I only had one miscarriage, who am I to say anything about IF or ALI. The point is, when it comes to feelings, one can be both right and wrong.

I am very happy you only need this pause to clear your head and get back to blogging. Even though I do not comment always, I always read what you write. I am not sucking up to you, nor declaring my loyalty, just stating my reading preferences. And pleasure to read you again.

One of my friends had a favourite line to get out of an awkward situation. After pausing a bit, as if carefuly pondering the words of the other persons, she would look up and ask serenly: So, how long since you’ve been to the circus? Every time, I swear, EVERY time, people were so puzzled they remained speechless long enough for her to make herself scarce. So, how long since you’ve been to the circus? 🙂

4 sharah { 03.07.12 at 8:51 am }

“Be the change you want to see.”

I was thinking yesterday that when I first started blogging, there was no Stirrup Queens blogroll — there was the one over at Julie’s. And I remember the post where she passed the “honor” of keeping the master list to you. Geez, that was a long time ago.

I was thinking too about something Gwen Bell wrote the other day, that “you can’t meet someone else’s needs, they have to meet them themselves.” Paraphrased, but that’s the gist. You, Mel, provide a huge amount of resources to this community with all the efort you put into the lfca, iclw, bridges, etc. But it really is up to individual people to take advantage of them. You cannot meet their needs for inclusion and support, and anyone who expects you to do so is going to be sorely disappointed. Each of us has to participate and work on building the relationships that we desire to meet our needs ourself.

I’m rambling on. Thank you Mel, for all you do to build this community.

5 gwinne { 03.07.12 at 8:55 am }

After all the hubbaloo of yesterday, I’m glad to read this. I think you hit on something key here. One of the major issues that cropped up again and again among the heartiest PAIL supporters is that they lost readers/commenters once they got pregnant/had kids. And, yeah, makes total sense that folks who want different things out of blog writing/reading would go about it differently. I certainly like getting comments, but I don’t expect them, never did ICLW (mostly because I can’t commit to commenting on a regular basis but would rather commenting be something I do spontaneously) but always read LFCA and leave comments/find new blogs that way. I’m sure I did lose readers when I got pregnant and had Tiny Boy, but I’ve also gained new ones. I’ve also come back to reading blogs by folks I really like who got pregnant when I was in my darkest places and I couldn’t keep up with them. For me it goes in waves.

Like you, I see more of a continuum than a divide. Infertility/pregnancy loss is such a vital part of who I am that I think about it daily. And I can’t (yet?) imagine a time that I’m not a part of this community as a result.

I don’t think I said it yesterday, but thank you.

6 loribeth { 03.07.12 at 9:06 am }

So glad to see you back.

I totally agree with Sharah, above.

There were two repeated themes that struck me as I read through the comments on your previous post, and a few other related posts on other blogs. One was how many people talked about “the ALI community” and “the PAIL community” & other communities, and belong to one or the other and leaving one or the other, etc. — like you had to choose, like they were separate, formal things.

But we are ALL members of the ALI “community” — whether we think of ourselves as part of a formal community or in relation to your blog & those of us who have you & your blog in common, or not. Yes, our stories and experiences and situations can be quite different, and sometimes it’s nice to connect with people whose story closely matches your own (& the blogroll can help you do that). Our reasons for blogging and commenting, as you’ve noted, can be quite different.

But the common theme is that family building has not come easily to us. For most of us, it takes a lot of time, money, serious thinking, heartache & sometimes drugs to achieve the family we dreamed about. Sometimes we have to compromise on the original dream; sometimes we decide to seek new dreams instead. And the thing that I and so many others love about you and Stirrup Queens is that you recognize and emphasize those common themes and what brings us together, as opposed to what differentiates us.

I also found it interesting to see how many commenters admitted they didn’t realize there were parenting sections of the blogroll — or that they hadn’t visited the blogroll in awhile (I’m guilty on that count too) — or that they didn’t even know about the blogroll, period. The ALI-related blogosphere has gotten so big (as evidenced by the growth of the blogroll) — perhaps we’ve lost sight of some of the great resources that we already have, as opposed to reinventing the wheel. Perhaps one good thing to come out of this conversation will be that reminder about the blogroll and all the different categories within it. Maybe we’ve come to take you & Stirrup Queens and the blogroll a little for granted — we need a reminder now & then that it’s there for us and what a wonderful resource it is. Yes, it’s not perfect — but really, it’s an amazing thing that you’ve built there. : )

Much love to you.

7 April { 03.07.12 at 9:07 am }

This community, both those of us still in the trenches and those who have crossed over have been a source of hope and inspiration to me. I cannot see a time when I won’t be a part of the ALI community because I will always be infertile. I appreciate everything you do here and I thank you again for being here for this community.

So thank you Mel. Thank you for all that you do for the ALI community, both for us in the trenches and those who have crossed over.

8 Esperanza { 03.07.12 at 9:42 am }

Mel, Thank you for writing this. I know a lot of people, including myself, were really worried about you yesterday and wondering how you were doing after all that happened.

I want to reiterate how much I respect you and as we’ve discussed in emails, I do consider you a friend. You have created something here that I honestly did not think to associate with one person when I started blogging. I literally thought your blog was maintained by a group of people and that all the resources on it where the sole point of the blog. I will humbly confess that I didn’t even realize you posted content for the first year, I thought your site was just the hub that it is, and in my early blogging naivete I didn’t even pause to ask how it had been created or who or by whom. I didn’t realize that it was a special thing, unique to this community, that nothing like it existed anywhere in the internet (at least not that I know of). I had no idea that all the resources and events were thought of and created by you and then maintained by you month after month, year after year. It is truly a mind boggling thing and I think you heard many times before how much we appreciate it, even if we’re remiss in saying so as much as we should.

Having said that, or perhaps because of having said that, I can’t really understand how you can honestly ask some of the questions in your post about why your experience is different from everyone else’s. I mean, you are you. You are grand central station. You have created all these things that bring people together, you the the person that everyone was waiting to hear from for the last 48 hours. How can you possibly compare your blogging experience to my own? You get dozens and dozens of comments on every post. I’m lucky to get ten. You have thousands of people read your blog, the most I’ve ever had in a day is 400. And I probably get more traffic that some people who commented yesterday. My point is not that blogs are defined by their traffic but to ask why your experience is different from anyone else’s is like asking why more people read Dooce or Pioneer Woman than me. They are just in completely different strata than I, or most people, are. And the reason for some of that is that they started earlier, like you did, and no amount of me giving without expecting anything back is ever going to get me to where you are.

You may ask why we don’t do all the things you do to create community and that is a good question. I think most would answer it’s time, or a lack of creativity or innovation or maybe just not knowing how to do it. I remember marveling that Elphie was able to create that “enter the PAIL list” page in less than 24 hours, I wouldn’t know the first step in doing that. There are dozens of reason why everyone isn’t doing all the things, or different-but-also-community-building things, to create community that you do. Dozens.

And honestly, this situation makes it feel to me like innovations like those might not be all that accepted or embraced. I’m not throwing that at you but at the community in general. I don’t know, maybe I’m misreading the situation, but PAIL seemed like a situation where people were trying to fill a need and build a community and it has been deemed divisive and copying. And while I get now that ICLW was your thing that you created (and I must admit, the reasons you stated for creating it above where not the reasons I realized it was created and maintained) I honestly don’t see why another group can’t have some kind of commenting event. I know PAIL isn’t doing one out of respect and while I totally agree with not doing an ICLW type event I’m disappointed they will be doing nothing.

I know it sounds like I’m very pro PAIL here. I’m not. I haven’t done ONE THING on that list since I joined it, except, interestingly enough, write a post about how I thought it might be seen as exclusive and might make people feel bad and maybe we should talk about this only to have no one read it or care about it or comment on it, except to tell me I was wrong. And honestly, I doubt I’ll use it much as I think it will end up being more mommy-centric that I would like. I don’t write much about my daughter but my daughter and motherhood color a lot of what I write, just like my loss and my relationship and our economic struggles do. So yeah, I don’t even think I’ll be over there that much, but I’m sad that now I worry about having my name associated with it lest people think I’m a Sneetch.

I know that PAIL can be considered exclusive. I get that. I wrote a post about it back when no one cared. But I also get that it fills a need and honestly, I don’t think that need was being filled. If it really were it wouldn’t have gotten 100 entries in the first week. I know there is your blog roll with a parenting room but you yourself mentioned that the big difference between them is a purposeful one, that you keep archived blogs there for a reason and the whole point of PAIL is that it is an ACTIVE group of bloggers looking to find a community, to reach out and give back, to build bridges with other people in similar situations. And I know it sucks that not everyone will feel they have something to contribute to that community, but the truth is, the ones who feel they don’t belong don’t have anything to contribute to the PAIL members anyway. At least most don’t feel they do and act accordingly. That is why woman who are parenting after IF or loss sit around feeling ignored and looked past, because we are, at least by most (I know there are exceptions and I know I hav readers who are living without children or who are still TTC, but I have very, very few. And for the record I also read those blogs, quite a bit.). Even when we don’t write about motherhood much, like me or some of my friends, if someone (not everyone but I would venture to guess the majority) in the trenches knows we have kids they don’t want to read us. And they might still read you but that is because you do allt hat you do. And we can’t all do that. So where does that leave us?

You’re right that you give what you get back, but if you want what you get to look the most like what you give, you need to give in a certain way. I have spent weeks on ICLW giving and giving to people who needed support but in the end I got none for myself. And while it feels good to just give, I have to admit, I give too much of myself without getting anything back in the real world, here I want a little more in return for my efforts. Maybe that makes me selfish or maybe it means I’m blogging for the wrong reasons. Like you said, if that’s the case, I will inherently be disappointed.

I’m sure this comment is going to anger a lot of people. It probably angers you. I hope you know that is not my intent. I’m sure I’m not presenting this as eloquently as I could. But I feel it needs to be said. The last two days were hurtful days, not just for you but for others as well. I have never seen the community like this. I have never felt like I couldn’t say what I wanted to say lest I be vilified or black balled. I do feel like that now, and I’m sure as soon as I press publish on this I’ll regret doing so. But I do think things need to be said. It’s not as black and white as we’d like to admit. And I hope that I can still respect you as a person and as a blogger, and care about this community and say these things. Maybe I can’t. Maybe they are mutually exclusive. I don’t know.

In my post last night I said that I shouldn’t say anything unless I had a purpose and was able to accept the consequences. I guess my purpose is that I want to be understood, I want all the people who joined PAIL to be understood. I want it known that it wasn’t a big, conspiratorial thing. That people joined for different reasons and that some of us even worried about joining and tried to work through our misgivings (but were ignored). I want it understood that not everyone can have what you have but that doesn’t mean we’re wrong for wanting more than we currently have – more support, more community where we feel accepting and valued, more interaction with other bloggers. And I want it to be known that just because we want to participate, sometimes and in some ways, on PAIL, it doesn’t mean we won’t still be reading and commenting on the blogs of those who are childless or still TTC or going through IVF or using donor eggs or pregnant or enduring a loss. We are some of those people too. And we need support just like all of those groups do, and just because we have one or two kids already doesn’t mean we don’t deserve it.

And now I guess, comes the part where I accept the consequences.

9 amy { 03.07.12 at 10:12 am }

Mel, I am glad to have you back! I hope you find peace in all of this soon.

10 EmHart { 03.07.12 at 10:21 am }

I am still so new to all of this and still very green. All I know is that finding this community is the best thing that has happened to me since beginning this journey and I want to thank you for your part in holding it all together. I am glad you are back.

11 Christina { 03.07.12 at 10:35 am }

I’m glad to hear the blogroll will stay whole. I have kept myself back and out of most of this the last few days as I wasn’t sure what I could say that would not hurt any others or that would make anything better. I’m a memeber of PAIL but view it more as an opportunity to follow people that are at the exact same point I’m in right now. I still keep up with all my other blogs I follow. In fact I read and comment on those more often than I post. I thought to be part of both the ALI and PAIL blogrolls as a way to get my story out to as many as possible, in the hopes that it might help someone else out there. The more lines you put out, the more fish you catch, so to speak.

I wholly agree that you are what you make yourself and your world is too. If you go into something with selfish expectations, you are likely to be let down. If you instead want nothing in return for your good deed, you are apt to be surprised and rewarded. My blog following and commenting dropped a bit when I got and stayed pregnant, but those that were frequent commenters and those I frequently commented on, stayed around. I blog for me, but at the same time, I hope to put something useful and non-hurtful out to the rest of the community.

I hope your time of reflection accomplishes what you need it to for you. I look forward to reading your blog and input to the community when you make your “return”. Wishing you peace and clarity.

12 Kat { 03.07.12 at 10:51 am }

Even though I voiced my concerns about the size of your blogroll, I actually agree with you about keeping the links to older blogs so the story is still out there and I really love that. And I stand by my offer to help out with your blog roll and have some ideas I’d love to run by you (eg, tags instead of rooms?, just a thought).

Wow. I agree with so much of what you wrote. I stumbled through a post about all this on my own blog and didn’t come across as eloquent or clear as I wish I had. Also, I had a totally different experience with SQ than some of the other folks. I found you and followed you as a blogger before realizing that ICLW and CDLC were things I could jump into.

I plan on going into this more on an upcoming post on my blog but I really wish parenting bloggers didn’t censor themselves because of their readers who aren’t there yet. I haven’t been able to figure it all out yet but the fact that folks are doing that just stings. I appreciate sensitivity, but how would a whole new moms-only club hurt less than posts about pregnancy and babies? We’re all big girls here.

I don’t mean to rehash the arguments from the past couple days but many of us seem to want to have these discussions about parenting after IF and I don’t know what else to do with these feelings.

Especially because I’m on the cusp of a possible pregnancy myself (day 7 of stimming for my first ivf).

Overall I’m sad and a little scared in general. I don’t know if this comment is doing more harm than good, so I guess I’ll just end by saying Mel, I love your blog, I love iclw and cdlc, I love your blogroll, and I love this post you just wrote. I believe somehow a lot of good will come out of this brewhaha. The community is bound to change because statistically, a lot of us will go on to parent, and historically blogs are still kind of a new thing in the world. Guess we can only see where it will go from here, and hope that in the end its good.

13 a { 03.07.12 at 10:53 am }

Glad you’re back. Sorry this became a big can of worms.

14 Meredith { 03.07.12 at 10:57 am }

Mel, you’re one of the most giving, inclusive, caring, and loyal people I’ve ever known. Thank you for being a great example to me.

15 mrsgreengrass { 03.07.12 at 11:05 am }

Mel, I really appreciate everything you do. I have slowly become more and more involved in the community since I started blogging last September, but you have really helped to bring this community together in a “place.”

I would love to help clean up the blogroll if you need me.

I also have a suggestion for the older blogs. Can there just be an icon or star or word that denotes an active blog? That way people will be able to choose based on what they are looking for at that particular time.

16 EC { 03.07.12 at 11:10 am }

I almost commented yesterday, but I held off because I was having a hard time organizing my thoughts. I can imagine it is difficult to deal with the transition from infertility to parenthood, and I agree that maybe a greater discussion needs to take place. I think there are other issues here, though, in addition to that.

What I started to write yesterday is exactly what you posted above. These two sentences – “The only answer I can come up with is that it’s not about what you are writing. It’s about how and why you are writing” and “It suddenly dawned on me …why {some people} are reading blogs — it isn’t to learn another person’s story or find answers to your questions, it’s to get something back” – are exactly what I was trying to say.

What you provide to this community is so valuable and meaningful, and even though I am not a particularly active blogger, I have found that there was a place here for me in each part of my journey – from initially dealing with infertility, taking a break, planning to live childfree, looking into adoption, and now, pursuing fertility treatments. I write because I like to write and feel it’s a good outlet for my thoughts and feelings. I could just write a private journal, but I blog and asked to be listed on your blogroll because of the sense of community, and because my blog might be of value to someone else. I should comment more, and I am working on that, but it’s driven by my intent to be more supportive – and not because I hope that I’ll get more comments in return.

When I was reading through the comments yesterday and the comments that sparked the original discussion about PAIL, I realized that maybe my needs are different – that my purpose for writing and reading blogs is not the same as some others. I started thinking about it when you had a post related to comments and whether people expected responses to the comments they leave on blogs a few weeks (months?) ago. I started to realize it then, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing – just different than my reasons for doing it.

I’m glad you are back and just want to thank you again for all you do. I’m sure that for all the comments you’ve gotten over the past few days, there are so many more people out there at various stages in their lives dealing with infertility and loss who have benefited from your hard work.

17 Trinity { 03.07.12 at 11:20 am }

This sat in my belly like a stone over these last couple of days. I kept coming back to this post, reading the new comments, and turning it all over in my head. I hope we, as a community, can engage in continued, respectful discourse about this. It is so complicated, nothing any of us can adequately address in our comments here. We *need* to keep talking about this. I don’t know where we go from here, but we have to do something productive with this.

I think describing the fallout as “damage” is wholly appropriate. I do feel like our community has been damaged. And sullied, frankly. I am so dissappointed and heartbroken by the tenor of the comments in your last post. I suppose I just expect so much more from this community. I expect civility and compassion. We’ve set the Civility and Compassion Bar high here in the ALI community, and OH how we have failed each other. Seriously. Just fucking failed.

When I read SRB’s comment above about wondering if she would have been better off just suffering in silence? I cannot believe that we have made someone feel that way here! That is UNACCEPTABLE. I know this is an intense subject, and that feelings of exclusion are precisely what landed us in our blog world. I get it. But, holy shit, y’all.

Let’s move through this. Let’s figure it out. This is an opportunity on so many levels, and let’s not squander it. This is a place we all come to for refuge, and we owe more to each other than we’ve given each other over these last few days.

18 Mic @ IFCrossroads { 03.07.12 at 11:20 am }

I had no idea that this was the intent of PAIL . I joined because Stumbling Gracefully joined and it sounded like a new group that I felt I would fit in.
I wish I could take it all back and un-join.
I get you, Mel.
Thank you. For everything.

19 Curly Sue { 03.07.12 at 11:22 am }

I hate that this whole mess has turn the community upside down over the past 48 hours. I don’t think, as someone in the trenches, that I have a right to pass judgement on PAIL – for all I know, if I become a parent, I will want an active community like that. But I can’t shake the feeling that just a little forethought could have avoided this whole…situation. The PAIL creator said she worried how her parenting blog could hurt others who are in their dark place, but no one asked us. An open dialog among ALL the ALI community, not just the parenting side, would have been beneficial to everyone. That’s why openness, bridge building, etc. are best.

I don’t judge PAIL and I certainly won’t avoid its members.

I’m just thankful, Mel, that you are back and I hope everyone can move forward in a positive way from here.

20 JustHeather { 03.07.12 at 11:29 am }

“The only answer I can come up with is that it’s not about what you are writing. It’s about how and why you are writing.”
Yes! yes! yes! That is what keeps me coming back to the blogs I do read.

21 d { 03.07.12 at 11:38 am }

Wow, we are still talking about this. I think PAIL will not succeed but mostly because of the guilt this blog has interjected. You are better than this. Please get back to what you do best.

22 Jay { 03.07.12 at 11:42 am }

I doubt anybody was acting out of anything other than good intentions. I’m somebody on the outside– I’m still TTCing, and when I first heard of PAIL, my first thought was, that is a good idea.

I have a lot of women who have transitioned to parenting on my blogroll- I just don’t usually give them the sort of attention I give to IF blogs, and they should be able to have a place where they can find each other easily get that from each other.

People who are now parenting can support people who have gone through IF because they have been there. But it is not very possible in the opposite.

Everybody comes to the table with unique thought processes, and they should all be respected. For my part, I do not see PAIL as being part of an exclusive club— I just see it as a space where people can easily find people who are in the same stage of the journey as themselves, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Mel, I think you have done anybody going through IF an invaluable service. I am so very glad I starting blogging and the reason this cohesive universe exists is, to a large part, because of you. I am so very sorry this situation has unfolded.

I think PAIL is a good project, and I’ll continue to think so even if I never get to the promised land of having children. I hope all the negative feelings can be forgotten, and we can all move on from this, because the bottom line is, everybody comes to this table with good intentions. We should not lose sight of that. Everything else is incidental, IMO. As somebody said in the comments to the last post, I hope that there can be collaborations in the future.

23 erica { 03.07.12 at 11:59 am }

I think PAIL is a good idea, it fills a void.

24 missohkay { 03.07.12 at 12:02 pm }

I agree with Trinity a thousand times over. The dialog here has profoundly shaken how I see this community and how I feel within it. And it wasn’t the creation of PAIL that did that – it was the comments here. The ALI community I’ve been a member of isn’t always perfect but it’s been respectful and thoughtful. We don’t castigate people who have a difference of opinion. We don’t declare that something is right and the other is wrong and start drawing lines. I’ve been parenting after loss for 10 whole days now, so I can’t comment on the perceived need for PAIL. But many felt it filled a hole in their online experiences and so they sought to fill it. Could there have been a different or better way? Sure. But why demonize the creator and those who joined? Why exploit the group’s growing pains in hopes that everyone will be convinced of its necessary demise? Why talk in terms of “achievement” of parenthood as though everyone else has failed – that makes the group sound divisive in a way that was never intended. To me, parenthood after IF is just as situational… you just finally ended up on the lucky side and are looking around to get your bearings in a new world. I think PAIL’s existence shined a light on a place in our community where there were already cracks. How we act now is what matters.

25 Liana { 03.07.12 at 12:31 pm }

Mel, this post is so wonderfully you. You always do an amazingly thoughtful job of explaining why you feel the way you do. How you view the world and how you try to live in it is inspiring to so many of us.

There have been so many comments that are divisive, catty, even nasty. But some also that have been fair and just as thoughtful as anything you’ve ever posted. I’ve added several new blogs to my list because of those kinds of comments, even as I’ve had to remove a couple because of the other kind of comments.

I believe that PAIL was put together without much thought but with much good intention. I do not know if it will prove to be a good, bad or inconsequential thing for the community. I hope that the ensuing madness in various comments sections will lead many to take a step back and consider addressing things with more consideration and more acceptance of where others are coming from on all sides of it, and there are many more than two sides to this thing.

I think we could all spend the next couple weeks blogging about all the different issues brought up and it still wouldn’t cover them all.

26 Courtney { 03.07.12 at 12:40 pm }

This is not going to be a popular comment, but I need to say it.

Something is still bothering me. Please do not take this as an attack – it is just a question. You stated that you were upset that Elphaba didn’t reach out to you and ask permission to do an ICLW activity for PAIL. I understand that completely. But why, then, didn’t you reach out to her to discuss this whole thing rather than post your anger (your own words – not mine) which then caused such an ugly conversation? I really think this all could have been handled so much better, and much more positively, if you had just done what you wish she had done in the first place. What happened yesterday with your post was not “creating the world you wish to inhabit.”

I am a new blogger who feels NO need for followers or commenters. If I have them – great – but I certainly didn’t start blogging to get the attention or comments of others. I have always been a very active commenter to all the blogs I read. I didn’t join PAIL to gain readers – I joined it simply because it gave me the courage to start blogging. It’s that simple. Now – I am left not wanting anything to do with this community after the sh*t storm that was created yesterday with your post.

I just wish you’d have done what you say Elphaba should had done – and reached out to her before starting something.

None of this needed to occur in such an ugly way.

27 KH99 { 03.07.12 at 12:43 pm }

I’m confused. I always refer to this community as a, well, community which implies a shared space of which building relationships is a part. Are you saying that if we are blogging to build relationships, that is a bad thing? I sort of thought that for most of us, that was why we blog. To find someone who could validate your experiences and feelings, to offer support, to commiserate, to challenge you when you aren’t thinking clearly. I don’t blog because I want to be a super star. I blog to get things out of my head but also to meet people, to experience different points of view. Yes, I want to improve my writing, but I want to be part of an active community, but now I feel like that is a bad thing or a less noble thing.

I agree a lot with what Esperanza wrote. I think PAIL is an attempt to be the change we want to see and it was criticized harshly. What message are we to take from that?

I’m glad you are back. I didn’t email you, but I was worried about you. You are so very admired for all you do and what you have created.

28 S.I.F. { 03.07.12 at 1:00 pm }

This whole thing has me so torn up; I can’t even really explain my thought process in it all. I went to comment 1000 times yesterday, but everything I wrote was so all over the place and long winded that I held back. I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say.

I will admit that my faith too has been shaken in this community. Some of the comments I saw yesterday on BOTH sides were beyond the point of divisive – they were just down right insensitive and borderline disturbing. I was sick to my stomach reading what some within this community felt the need to “share” in relation to this situation. I really don’t get it at all, and it makes me very sad.

I have to admit that when I first heard about P.A.I.L. – I didn’t think a whole lot about it. It just didn’t sting me the way it seems to have some others. Maybe that’s because I have friends who were excited by it, or maybe it’s because I’m at a different point of healing in my journey. I’m not sure, but I really didn’t see the backlash coming. Even in all the time I have spent strolling your blogroll, I just… I didn’t think about the implications of this at all.

That said, when I first read your post on the subject – I understood everything you were seeing and agreed with where you were coming from. Entirely. I can see the hurt, and understand it. I just… I didn’t see it coming. And I have to wonder if I (as someone still very much hurt by infertility and all that has been lost in terms of my dreams of building a family) didn’t see it coming, if maybe the same can’t be said to be true for those behind the original idea.

I think there have been such valid points made on all ends, and even in reading this post now – I found myself nodding my head in agreement to almost everything you were saying. Especially this:

“And maybe that is another divide: how I view blogging. For me, blogging is about writing or images. It isn’t about numbers or what opportunities I get. Do I want people to read my words? Of course, but I trust that people will read them if I put something worthwhile out there. I also trust that if I set my words down and then exit my blog to travel to everyone else’s, by the time I return, there will be people who visited my offering. I think of it a bit like leaving a bowl of candy outside for Halloween, trusting that everyone will get their sweets if we keep moving from house to house. The alternative is to stand on my door step and scream at passerbys: “come to my house! Come here right now! I have candy!””

In reading some of the comments in defense of P.A.I.L. yesterday, I was surprised how many seemed to feel entitled to the comments and followers they had gathered along the way. I don’t think that was the intention behind the original creators at all, but over and over again I kept seeing in the comments “When I got pregnant, I stopped getting as many comments!” It just honestly left me confused and wondering if that was all those making these comments were blogging for – a constant need for validation. I don’t know… it kind of just made me roll my eyes. I understood the original intent behind P.A.I.L. and saw how it could be extremely beneficial for some, but to see others complaining about how they stopped getting as many comments when they got pregnant? It just kind of felt superficial. I really liked one of the comments made yesterday about viewing this all as a marathon where those who finish first stay on the sidelines to continue cheering on those still trying. Shouldn’t THAT be what this really is all about? If you’re only in this for followers and commenters and instant gratification, of course you are going to be sorely disappointed. I tend to look at “followers” the same way I do friendships – I would take quality over quantity any day. I really believe that if you actually work to form those relationships and bonds, rather than just haphazardly commenting all over the place in an attempt to build your own readership – you will get far more benefit out of all of this. If comments and followers are all you’re in it for though, you will eventually be disappointed no matter which blogroll you sign yourself up on.

Blah… Like I said, my thoughts are all over the place. I just really liked your analogy there, and couldn’t agree more.

Still, the anger in some of the comments yesterday from both directions had me extremely disheartened. It STILL does. I feel like so much of this went down without an intention to hurt anyone, and now that it’s blown up… it seems that so many are in fact injured. So, what now? I guess I don’t really know. I wish that all involved would take a second to really assess the situation from the other side and recognize the justifiable hurt feelings on all ends, but maybe that is asking too much.

All I know for sure is that you Mel, have been my beacon on more than one occasion. I have stumbled so many times on this journey of mine that it wasn’t even funny, but you were always there as a guiding light. I appreciate you and everything you do. I admire you, aspire to be more like you, and am thankful for you in more ways that I can truly express. I really hope you know how valued you are in this community. And I am so incredibly sorry that you were hurt in all of this.

I hate that anyone was hurt in this at all.

29 KH99 { 03.07.12 at 1:13 pm }

@S.I.F I don’t think anyone feels entitled to comments. I think they mentioned it as an indication that they saw the support system, the community that they thought they had built, eroding. It’s not about quantity. It’s the difference between shouting into the wind and hearing nothing vs a “I’m here too.”

30 Josey { 03.07.12 at 1:41 pm }

Personally, it hurts the people are insinuating that people like me joined PAIL b/c I had a need for self-validation or more readers or more comments. I joined PAIL because I need support navigating the land of parenting after IF just as much as I needed support during my TTC journey (which honestly, could quite possibly not be over, as who knows how #2 will go someday). It’s not like I wanted to LEAVE the ALI community – I just wanted help finding others who whose posts I could comb through for similar experiences and advice.

I think SQ is an amazing resource for those who are TTC, and I’d like to think that even as someone who is now parenting, I try to constantly “give back” and be there for so many of my IF friends who are still in the trenches of TTC. In no way am I no longer standing on the sidelines, cheering them on.

That being said, why is it a bad thing to be trying to find a community of women who can also help cheer ME on and give me advice for the issues I face now? It’s not that I want comments to make me feel cool – those comments are the HELP and advice that I’m searching for. THAT was at the heart of why I was excited about the prospect of a blogroll like PAIL. I was never thinking of leaving the ALI community – once and IFer, always an IFer in my opinion. BUT, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t still wanting more – more help, more advice, and more understanding for my current situation.

I’m just confused why both of these blogrolls can’t co-exist, and I was honestly surprised that people got so up in arms about it all. It’s sad, the angry words that have been flung around these past 48 hours. It makes me sad for our ALI community, and sad for me, because I no longer feel comfortable commenting here in fear of rude words being slung back at me.

31 An { 03.07.12 at 1:46 pm }

I’m not a blogger but I follow a lot of the blogs that are part of this community and I just feel a need to say that this community needs to do some healing.
I have been reading many of the blogs on this roll for many years and I have developed a lot of respect for many of the bloggers. I am disheartened by this whole conversation.
Mel, I wrote a comment yesterday about how much your blogroll has helped me. And, I have a lot of respect for you and your effort.
I do want to say, however, that while I understand your anger about not being consulted about PAIL, your comments and this new post are fanning the flames of divisiveness. You seem to be constructing an SQ vs. PAIL dichotomy that’s not helpful. For instance, you state as a fact that PAIL is divisive and seem to imply that all those who are peace loving should be unjoining. That’s not fair.
As a result of your post yesterday and out of respect and love for you, people have felt a need to justify their joining PAIL and those reasons have been varied and nuanced. In articulating those reasons, it’s become apparent that many people were feeling alienated from the ALI community. People have also indicated that they found the size of the blogroll too long to navigate. And, for those seeking an active ‘parenting after IF’ community, the inclusion of the inactive blogs has made it harder for them to build the community they are seeking through that section on your blogroll.
To my mind, all of those are valid points. Criticism is always hard to hear. And, especially so, when you have put your heart and soul into this community. Every single one of these commenters acknowleged how important you are to the community and it must have been hard for them to say anything critical.
But, I think it’s unfair for your feelings to silence the community. For instance, you have articulated your (IMO, very valid) reasons for leaving the inactive blogs up, but everyone doesn’t have to agree with that rationale.
What I was hoping for today was to hear that you had taken the time to reflect on the comments and that you were thinking of creative ways to take people up on their offers to help and find ways to ensure that the space was serving its purpose.
Instead, in explaining your feelings you seem to be very judgemental about those who joined. It’s almost like you are saying that you blog for altruistic reasons but are now realising that others blog for validation or ego. That’s not fair.
I hear that you’re hurt. And, I don’t want to seem to disregard that but I wanted to be honest about how I view your recent posts.
I wish that everyone were happy with SQ, but they are not. That’s fine. Don’t make people choose. Don’t make people have to justify themselves to you or feel that they can’t follow their conscience for fear of hurting you. That’s really unfair.
One of the things I find frustrating about the blog community, is that people don’t say the hard truths. It’s all about validation even when it’s validating a problematic post. Sometimes when someone posts something problematic the number of comments drops and I always think it’s because the code seems to be ‘if you don’t agree, say nothing”. So, all the blogger gets are the few people out there who agree and noone pulls them aside.
I hope that you will take this comment in that vein. I would hate for you to only receive comments from the people who agree with you on this post. I think it is divisive and I’m willing to bet that many others feel that too. My concern is that because you seem to be taking this so personally (which is understandable), those who blog and are scared of catching the wrath of your ‘supporters’ won’t be able to say it.
This community is better than this and Mel, I hope with reflection, you’ll also get to a different place on this. If the goal is to support women, why not let them choose to get the support in the way they feel most comfortable. You can’t mandate that everyone get it from the means you have designed. That’s not community or inclusivity. That’s territorial.
I don’t blog but you’ll have my email address and you’re welcome to connect with me i.e. I am not hiding under the cover of anonymity.

32 stephanie { 03.07.12 at 1:53 pm }

Ugh. My time and mind is so scattered as it is. And now to have an offshoot site to look at on top of the other ones that is probably more fitting for me (PAIL) but requires more effort on my part? It feels like too much. But then, I blog not to connect as much as to document. So maybe I don’t have a soldier in this particular battle. My preference is to keep everything here, where it always has been, since I don’t see the need to be exiled now that I have children.

33 Patty { 03.07.12 at 1:54 pm }

I wholeheartedly agree with all you said. Frankly, I thought I was alone on my reaction to the P.A.I.L. phenomenon. Somehow I missed all the hubbub around it in the last week. I’m glad I’m not alone. I’m also glad you were able to explain how it can be hurtful w/o being hurtful yourself. Excellent job. Thank you

34 mrsgreengrass { 03.07.12 at 2:05 pm }
35 S.I.F. { 03.07.12 at 2:08 pm }

@Josey and @KH99, for the record – that wasn’t the impression I got from ANY of the original postings about P.A.I.L. at all. It was some of the comments made yesterday that actually made me feel that way, and yes – even roll my eyes a bit. I understand how P.A.I.L. came to be, and get that it could be helpful to many post IF mommies. I think it is 100% fair to be able to acknowledge all the pieces of mommyhood after infertility that make up the whole. I really do get how this happened, and the purpose it could serve separate from the original blogroll.

But I think we all have encountered those in the blogging world who go around leaving comments at random in an attempt to build their own readership. The “Great post!” or “Follow me!” with no real depth to indicate they’ve even read anything at all. We’ve all seen it, and I think most of us recognize that those doing it have a different purpose for being here than simply looking for support. It’s cool…. different people have different driving forces. But seeing some of the comments made yesterday definitely reminded me of that, as though there was a sense of entitlement by some to retain those followers and comments without understanding that for those who hadn’t formed a real bond beyond the occasional comment here and there – returning to a pregnant or parenting blog may not be something they want to do.

I personally have maybe 5 blogs I am able to keep up with regularly. Some are pregnant or parenting, and some are still fighting, but they are all bloggers I bonded with enough to want to keep up with every post they make. It’s only a handful that I’m able to do that with though. That is it. I just don’t have the time to regularly read much more. All the rest I tend to drop into from time to time, but those 5 or so – those are women I feel connected to BEYOND where they are in this infertility journey. And I think there is something to be said for that. For the bonds that form and the connections that are made beyond just “hey, I’m in the same place you are – let’s be friends!” I personally think there is something to be said for nurturing THAT, without being too concerned about the numbers beyond that. And in some of the comments yesterday, there seemed to be an inability to understand or see that. A desire for “more more more” without a real care or concern for connection, support, and friendship. Again, this was NOT something I got at all from any of the original posts about P.A.I.L., nor is it something I think is indicative of most of those who joined P.A.I.L., but it was something I saw in the comments yesterday that kind of had me scratching my head.

At the end of the day though, I think the hurt feelings are evident and justifiable all around. I personally wasn’t hurt at all when I saw the creation of P.A.I.L. (OK, there was the initial pang of jealousy because I wish I was there too, but overall – I wasn’t super affected by it). But obviously there were others that were, and I think it’s fair to acknowledge that. Those hurt feelings come from somewhere, and with so many apparently feeling the same way – perhaps there is a reason for that which should be acknowledged and addressed rather than swept under the rug as being the ridiculousness of overly sensitive infertiles – lest we forget that we have ALL been overly sensitive infertiles at one point or another. I think the same can be said for the reverse though. A need for acknowledgement that P.A.I.L. did not come about to hurt anyone, and that the intentions there seem more or less to have been pure. The mudslinging and inability to see the other side of this really is what blows my mind the most from standing on the sidelines. There seems to be a stubborn resolve to be “right” and to own that hurt and injury on BOTH ends without recognizing how personal words and actions may have contributed to the same on the opposite side.

I guess I keep hoping for a little personal responsibility and compassion on all ends, rather than a continued “Well they hurt me! No, they hurt me!” Us vs. Them mentality.

36 Trisha { 03.07.12 at 2:34 pm }

Still trying to organize my thoughts on the whole thing but I do have one suggestion…I understand about not removing defunct blogs from the blogroll but is it possible to maybe just mark them in some way saying they are no longer being updated? I know I am more interested in reading blogs that are currently being posted on so it can be frustrating to have to wade through all the old blogs.

37 Peg { 03.07.12 at 2:35 pm }

1. I read your blog because I like your writing. Sometimes touching, sometimes funny, always well done.

2. I have not suffered through infertility. Our third son took longer to conceive than planned but we are very blessed to have three wonderful boys. My sister, however, a suffered and gone through more than one should to have her family. Because of your blog and others I was able to understand what she was going through, understand the process and know how to help her. For that I am completely grateful.

3. I continue to read your story and those from others in the community because I think that there are common themes (or bridges) that resonate with human experience and loss is one of them. But I also get inspiration and hope from seeing other woman go through difficult times and come out okay or at least able to express it so we all don’t feel so alone.

I don’t have a bone in this fight (discussion) but I think anything that compartmentalizes or divides within a community is damaging. I don’t come here or other blogs to be put in a category. I come to read, share and find others to not feel so alone.

38 HereWeGoAJen { 03.07.12 at 2:59 pm }

I had no idea that this had become such a big thing. It is like that UTERUS situation all over again, with all the awfulness and hurt feelings. We got through that one and it is only a matter of time before this will be a distant memory too.

I was wondering what you were wondering too. I’ve been around this community for almost five years now and I’ve never felt like I didn’t fit in or like I am alienating others. I know when I became a parent, I lost a few readers, but I actually gained a lot more. I think it is what you said, about why and how we blog. I find blogs of people that I like, not at all based on the situation they are currently in. My relationships in blogging are far too important to me for me to let them be that fluid. I wonder if that is part of the reason I’ve never felt this parenting alienation that everyone is mentioning.

Anyway, Mel, I love you and what you do. I’ve been around for five years and I am not going anywhere. You know you can count on me for whatever needs to be done.

39 Chickenpig { 03.07.12 at 3:14 pm }

We should work to create the world we want to inhabit.

I love the ALI community. I have always felt like I belong here. I want to cheer others one, I want my blog to be there on the ALI blogroll as a reference…or a light in the darkness. BUT and it is a big BUT….community is more than a list. I’ve been on the parenting after infertility list since I started blogging, and I felt like I was out in space. I wrote a post and I could hear crickets chirping. It’s fine and dandy to be a person on the sidelines of a marathon cheering people on, but there was never anyone there talking back to me. I AM a bridge. I parent after infertility…a LONG bout of infertility for anyone judging those of us who signed up for PAIL in the ‘pain olympics’ …and I am also still trying to conceive. I have had three pregnancy losses, one of them two days before Christmas last year. I NEED a community, not just a list to belong to. I want people who aren’t just parenting right now, but trying to conceive right now. I joined PAIL because it was an active community. This doesn’t mean I feel like I have achieved something, I feel more like I LOST something these days, so I sought out people who have that part of their parenting experience more fresh in their minds right now.

This community is a wonderful place. I try to reach out to as many people as I can. I don’t think it is too much to want to put my blog out there somewhere where someone might actually show up and comment, not just look at me as some kind of example. I write for me, but I also write because I’m hoping for some kumbayaness. If that makes any sense at all.

Anyway, I’m a living example of how you can be ttc and parenting after IF and loss all at the same time. We can all exist together, sometimes even in the same body 😉

40 Kristen { 03.07.12 at 3:43 pm }

I have spent a lot of time reading the comments and reflecting on this issue the past few days. To help understand my perspective, I was unable to conceive naturally, underwent a year and half of treatments and ultimately ended up adopting 2 children. I started my blog in 2007 after adopting our oldest child and found this community shortly after that. Last year, for a number of reasons, I stopped writing my blog. I continue to read and comment on numerous blogs though.

I often participated in ICLW. My reasons for doing so were 1)support others who were struggling with IF and 2)connect with others who were parenting after IF/parenting adopted children. ICLW always enabled me to meet that 1st goal of providing support to others and I continue to follow many blogs that I 1st found through ICLW b/c I want them to know I still care and “get it”.

For me, I did not find my second goal – connecting with others parenting after IF/parenting adopted children – to be met that way. Let me be clear: THIS IS NOT A CRITICISM OF ICLW IN ANY WAY. I am simply stating that for me, it wasn’t the best way to meet my need for a specific type of parenting community…and that is why if I was still blogging, I would join PAIL.

There were many, many times I would comment on a blog during ICLW or a blog from the RoundUp or the blogroll and I would receive a response saying something along the lines of “Thanks for stopping by my blog. I appreciate your comment, but I won’t be visiting your blog b/c it’s painful for me to read about your parenting experiences”. I COMPLETELY understand that some people TTC need to distance themselves from parenting blogs. That makes sense to me and I do not find that offensive or selfish. I think everyone needs to do what is best to protect themselves and stay in a healthy mental space. I continued to comment on many of those blogs b/c I wanted to be supportive. However, I wasn’t receiving the same amount of support in return. Again, I am not faulting anyone TTC who felt they weren’t mentally in a place to read my blog. I am simply explaining that one of the reasons I started blogging, as opposed to writing in my journal, was to connect with others and receive support from them.

A place where those parenting after IF can find each other and receive the types of support some of those TTC aren’t able to provide seems like a great addition to our community. We’ve all experienced the lonely and isolating experiences that come w/IF and I think it would be sad to villify those who have joined PAIL simply for looking for a place to find the kind of support and understanding we are all searching for in online communities. I think any website, blogroll or group that can help people connect with each other is a positive. I don’t think the majority of people who joined PAIL plan to simply cut off the rest of the ALI community, I think they are just looking for another outlet for giving and receiving support. There is nothing better than finding people who “get it” and I think PAIL can help people experince that. I for one, hope they aren’t villified for seeking that out and guilted into missing that experience.

Mel, I think that you are an invaluable asset to this community and have so much respect for you. I can understand your frustration that someone basically took your idea and recreated it as her own, but I think the ethics of that is a separate issue from whether or not PAIL is inherently hurtful and offensive to the ALI community. The impression I have is that PAIL was not created as a criticism of your space or an attempt to capitalize on your hard work, but as a way to help a segment of this community meet their needs. I don’t know enough of the specifics of online copyright laws to say whether PAIL unfairly steals your ideas, if it does, that is 100% not okay and it should be closed immediately.

Whatever the future of PAIL, I think it has exposed that some in our community are not finding the supportive, active community they need. I hope that is something that can be addressed and that no one is made to feel guilty for seeking that out and participating in any forum that provides what they need.

41 Ana { 03.07.12 at 3:53 pm }

I will reiterate what was said so many times above: you are amazing, you are loved & admired by more people than you even know, and the thought that you were hurt…no, worse…damaged by something I have even a small part in really pains me.

Esperanza summed up part of what I want to say, regarding the difference between your blog and some of ours. Apples and oranges. Or gigantic summer watermelons and teeny tiny off-season blueberries, more like. Just different stratospheres. You are an incredibly talented professional writer who has put her heart & soul into building and creating community, publishing content, and forming relationships over the past several years; you have 100s if not 1000s of readers who will follow you loyally regardless of where you are in your journey. Others (like myself) who are newer at blogging, less incredible at writing, or are devoting less of their time to blogging/commenting/etc.. will not have that kind of following; a few readers dropping off makes a huge impact in the feeling of community if you only have 10 readers ever.

Which brings me to my next point: is it wrong to expect to build connections through blogging? Because that is one of my main purposes. Yes, just putting my thoughts out there is gratifying but when I got my first “Me too!” comment it was… well, as you say, like a hug. Not that I want comments that just agree with me, I would be happy to be challenged, corrected, or steered right if I’m veering off course. So, yes, I want readers. Not for “support” per se, but for interaction. For community.

And that is why I joined PAIL. I saw it as a potentially active and lively community, joined by many of the bloggers I read and admire. An alternative to the vast and frankly, frightening, world of “mainstream mommy blogs” that I don’t really think I fit into. An “in-between” from the ALI world and the mommy-blog world. Because I don’t really think I fit in the ALI blog world either.

So here is my question to you: Do you think bloggers like me, who started their blogs AFTER their children were born have anything to offer the ALI community through our blogs? (I say “through our blogs” to differentiate the support we can certainly offer through comments on others’ blogs) I rarely mention IF or our diagnoses, I don’t have an IF “sidebar” going over my treatments, I have no archived posts about the treatments I did or the feelings I had during my IF struggles. If I decide for another child, it’ll be my 3rd—regardless of outcome, I’m sure I won’t even place in the “pain olympics”; I already feel a little out of place amongst bloggers who are desperately trying for #2. Yet, despite the lack of obvious IF-related content, I do find my parenting experience colored by my IF struggles and I relate more easily to others that have been through it than I do to other mommy-bloggers. I thought PAIL was the perfect answer to this quandary but I’m getting the sense that many do not agree—so where DO I belong?

42 jana { 03.07.12 at 4:33 pm }

I certainly got updated on blogs at a very intense time in cyberspace. 🙂 From this post I understand more about why your were hurt and your thought processes. Thank you for sharing those. I can also see how members of PAIL were hurt. I hope SRB and others will feel welcome in the ALI community and bridges can be rebuilt to do so.

One thought, perhaps many forgot about or didn’t feel like there was a place for them as parents since we refer to this community as the ALI community. In some ways, with the lack of the P, it is a bit exclusive towards them (at least I can see how they may have felt that). Just saying.

Hope you and everyone who has been hurt can feel better.

In some ways, this has kind of made me miss blogging…

43 Jem { 03.07.12 at 4:40 pm }


I’m not interested in commenting on this situation or engaging in any drama, as I’m two months away from my due date.

I do want to express my appreciation to you and all my bloggy friends in the ALI community for active and passive support of just being here. I wouldn’t be where I am today, expecting a baby, without the love, support and help of both my blog and IRL IF comrades.

I love you all.


44 SRB { 03.07.12 at 4:43 pm }

In addition to the comments made above, and in light of the comments on your last post and on other posts elsewhere in the ALI community in the last few days, there is another very clear and important issue that this discussion has brought out. And it’s this:

We need to take a long, hard look at how it is we talk to, around, and about each other.

The other day jjiraffe asked in a post: What’s the Most Hurtful Thing Someone Has Said To You About Infertility or Loss? I listed the few awful ones that came to mind, glad to get them off my chest and moved on.

And then all this happened, and I have done nothing BUT think about it. In the last few years, and the last few days, the worst things said to me about IF and loss have come from other IFers. And that shit ain’t cool.

45 anon { 03.07.12 at 4:46 pm }

This post and the last are really hurting our group. What was the point of this Mel? If you had a problem, take it up with the PAIL creator. Now we are all divided and feeling hurt. Are you sure your mission is always INCLUSION? You have disjointed a group that needs each other’s support. A lot of people are thinking this but not saying it.

46 chon { 03.07.12 at 5:21 pm }

Other people have spoken much more eloquently than I on this subject and I wasn’t going to say anything but unfortunately that is not in my nature.

– First of all, this whole thing has been blown way WAY out of proportion
– if this is just about the blogroll then lets be frank with one another, one blogroll whilst amazing and a source of reference is a static and now outdated blogroll the other one is active, a list of names that once a month are going to talk about parenting. It is mainly a list of names of relatively new parents or pregnant bloggers that still strongly identify with being infertile. It is not about reinventing the wheel.
– I am a member of ALI and I am also a member of PAIL, I don’t see the two as being mutually exclusive
– we are acting as if parenting / pregnancy after IF is all of a sudden a new phenomenon or a current trend when it patently obvious it has always been an issue. I have been blogging for two years and every blogger that gets a BFP utters the phrase “I don’t know where I belong any more, I don’t know what to write without hurting anyone else”. Talking about it as if we need a round table discussion is redundant. If it is such a big deal it should have been spoken about from the start. Why are we attacking a few people that have taken the initiative to do something different?
– why are we all TTC? To get pregnant. Why is it when we get pregnant we feel like we don’t belong. We don’t belong to normal mummy blogging groups, we can’t blithely announce our pregnancy on FB, we can’t ignore the pain we have been through to get here. Yet, we as an IF community dismiss those that have gotten pregnant. We stop reading blogs, we no longer comment and we avoid. We do a great deal to celebrate IF and do a lot to ensure recognition of our issues but we really do not do anything once we get pregnant. We act as if we have gone to the dark side. When the fact is, we haven’t graduated anywhere. And for those that are saying that PAIL is celebrating an achievement, well actually IT IS celebrating an achievement. An achievement of finally becoming pregnant which was our goal in the first place. It was about celebrating it with dignity and recognising that we were and always will be infertile. I want to be pregnant and still maintain my place in the IF world, I don’t think that is a bad thing.
– Mel: I don’t follow your blog and I don’t use all of your resources but I do follow LFCA which I find to be the greatest source of reference for me personally. This is how I find new blogs and this is where I know who needs support at times. Every single person here has commended you on that and we all stand in awe of the things you have done. But using your immense resources and blogging prowess to pour cold water on somebody else’s initiative and idea is really disappointing. I didn’t realise that the ALI community was NOT a democracy where people were free to explore and investigate new ideas. Having your huge contingent of followers scare of anybody for even thinking about PAIL (which again, really is not that a big of a deal) is hurtful. Having people say “oh it will blow over” treats everyone that joined PAIL as if we are a group of fools. There has been no celebration of inclusion only a feeling that if you are a member of PAIL you are a bad person, that is so unbelievably disappointing.

47 jjiraffe { 03.07.12 at 5:24 pm }

First and foremost, I am glad you are back! Those 48 hours were LONG. I think most of us think of you as our general (and maybe that is too much to expect), and to be leaderless and left behind felt disturbing.

I wrote a long treatise, here, which explains how I feel, heavy on your Sneetches reference and Dr. Seuss. http://jjiraffe.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/sneetches-pail-and-what-now/

The feeling of exclusion, from so many different parties in the ALI community, is what I am taking away from all of this. And the need for support.

First off, I guess I am most confused about what ICLW is all about. From your site:

“Welcome to IComLeavWe. It stands for International Comment Leaving Week, but if you say it aloud, doesn’t it sounds like “I come; [but] leave [as a] we”? And that’s sort of the point. Blogging is a conversation and comments are honoured and encouraged. I like to say that comments are the new hug–a way of saying hello, giving comfort, leaving congratulations.”

Is it a commenting event? Or has it evolved into an event more about blogging regularly and admiring writing from afar, like what I think NaBloPoMo is? I genuinely want to know. I think maybe managing expectations of what people are doing when they join ICLW is up at the top of the list of why so many have felt hurt when they participate. They want to leave with friends and support, after reaching out to others. Maybe that’s not a realistic goal?

I also have to bring up the bridal story. I think this is a good analogy from another angle: when I was a planning my wedding and I hung out with single friends, I didn’t talk about the plans or the dress or anything unless I was asked, because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I think this is why a lot of parenting after IF blogs fade into the ether and become inactive: they don’t want to offend their friends by talking about things that would hurt their feelings.

The problem about parenting after IF, I find, and I know I’m not alone here, is it’s NOT the (mostly) fun process that planning a wedding was. It’s scary, it’s filled with PTSD from when my son was in the NICU, it’s often painful, and it would be great to have a support group to speak to people about this stuff. I really do mean a “support group”, too. How do I manage my extreme anxiety about something bad happening? Why do some parenting books just don’t work for me?That’s what I see PAIL is. I don’t have the money for the therapy 😉

Cyclesista and the Open Adoption Roundtable fill needs too. And maybe other support groups should pop up for others. Not to replace this community, never to replace the overall umbrella here. But to supplement it.

Also, I think this is an honest question I think we as a community need to answer: when people achieve the “brass ring”, how should they be treated? And again, I am genuinely asking the question.

48 Tee { 03.07.12 at 7:50 pm }

This is short and sweet. I suffer SIF, I am still in the trenches at 3yrs ttc next month. I don’t qualify for PAIL, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it should not exist. I don’t feel excluded. Doesn’t apply to me so it doesn’t bother me. Those preg or mums after IF still support me.
Even though PAIL members won the battle, they still haven’t won the war. We are still on the same side..xx

49 slowmamma { 03.07.12 at 7:55 pm }

Somebody made a comment yesterday about how identity within the ALI community is a fluid entity. Many move between ttc to pregnant to parenting (ideally) or may experience loss or decide to quit or pursue adoption and then ttc#2, and onward…. This is why I love your decision to organize your mega-list into rooms, encouraging visitors to walk from one to another or to stay awhile if they choose. The message is that the entire house is open to everyone.

Of course, visiting a room is only the first step to participating in what can be an active and amazing community. Each room consists of a large group bloggers who inhabit their own metaphorical corners and one can visit individually in search of connection. Certainly, this has worked for the vast majority of us very well. Add to that your wonderful community building efforts (ICLW, Creme de la creme, etc) and inhabitants have the opportunity to attend some good house parties. I think, however, that what PAIL hoped to accomplish was to set up a regular format of open discussions (in this case, within the parenting room). I like this idea and I think that it would be lovely to develop such a format in every room – open to anyone who wants to stop in for that days topic. Of course, it’s likely that the bulk of participation in each room will come from those who feel most like “members”. Identity, fluid though it may be, is also a powerful driver, but I believe that we are capable of meeting the stated desire for greater interaction without feeling the need to start putting up any doors.

50 luna { 03.07.12 at 8:29 pm }

look what happens when I stay away for days at a time.
life goes on.

no words of wisdom, just much appreciation and gratitude for all you do, and deep respect for your pure intention. xo

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
The contents of this website are protected by applicable copyright laws. All rights are reserved by the author