Building Bridges: Infertility and BlogHer '08

BlogHer Original Post

Definitely less controversial and politically driven than a discussion on when life begins, the topic of when a woman becomes a mother was one of the underlying questions posed at the BlogHer panel on infertility, adoption, and loss. When you consider the multitude of ways a woman becomes a mother, it can become a slippery discussion. If it occurs with pregnancy, when does it happen for a woman pursing adoption? If it occurs after viability, what happens in the case of stillbirth or neonatal death? If it is only after you are holding your child, how do we explain the intense impulses that guide our decision-making prior to ever knowing our children? That mothering instinct?

Lifeslurper inadvertently explored this topic in the gorgeous letter she wrote her not-yet child in a post on BlogHer this week. She wrote:

Years were flashing by and I was not brave enough to claim you on my own. You were moving further away from me and I could do nothing but watch. Then something wonderful happened; I met your father. Suddenly you were in reach. The world was an ideal place and there was enough love, time and devotion to bring you into this life.

For Lifeslurper, and for many infertile women, the identity of mother forms much earlier than conception and certainly long before the child is in her arms. Hence why the infertility panel was part of the mommyblogging track at BlogHer this year.

To continue the discussion that began back in San Francisco, I'll pose the main questions asked at the panel to the greater BlogHer community (consider it a little gift from San Francisco, brought right to your living room. 5-days-delayed live blogging?).

  1. We are all complex human beings with multiple interests. I could just as easily ended up with a vegetarian blog or a twin-parenting blog or a Jewish blog. Why did I end up with an infertility blog? What is the overriding theme of your blog and why? This question, of course, can be answered by any type of blogger in order to start this conversation.
  2. What do you hope to achieve personally and externally with your blog?
  3. Do you think a bridge needs to be built between communities in the larger blogosphere in order to foster understanding (in other words, between infertility blogger and mommy bloggers or two other groups)?
  4. How do you go about building these bridges? If we build bridges, will people cross them?
  5. What do you think is gained and lost by opening up a community (making it more accessible, inviting outsiders to comment, explaining the shorthand abbreviations)? If you aren't a member of a community, would you feel comfortable crossing a bridge that was placed in front of you?

Uppercase Woman, who live blogged the event, kicked off her post with why she chose to attend the panel over other discussions offered in the same time slot: "I decided that I needed to be here. After all, if it wasn't for infertility I wouldn't be blogging."

Coming2Terms also blogged about the conference itself, addressing the question about building bridges at the opening ice breaker game:

How to start? What to say? I immediately wished I could impersonate a travel blogger, a tech blogger, even a sex blogger -- all of whom were among those who introduced themselves to me. Talk about a caffeine buzz kill at 9:30 in the morning when you're among the former group and you come upon me. "Hi, I'm Pamela and I write about issues associated with infertility." I understood completely when they smiled kindly and quickly moved on. Infertility is just not a topic that lends itself to this type of format.

Before the video and audio versions of the panel go live, I would love to gather your answers to the five questions above and whether bridge building is feasible and necessary between two communities. And, of course, where infertility blogging falls on the mommyblogger spectrum.

Melissa is the author of the infertility and pregnancy loss blog, Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters. She keeps a categorized blogroll of over 1400 infertility blogs and writes the daily Lost and Found and Connections Abound, a news source for the infertility blogosphere. Her infertility book, The Land of If, is forthcoming from Seal Press in Spring 2009. Sign up is currently open to everyone (yes, everyone!) for the latest selection of the infertility online book club: Eat, Pray, Love (you'll need to join the discussion to see how this book relates).

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