Why I Blog

Why do I blog? I think this past week shows why. Even though it’s been several days since my last blog post, blogging is about so much more than writing posts. It’s about being part of a community. Connecting with people.  Realizing that there is a commonality among people of all different stripes.So even though I only had a few posts last week, it is the new blogs that I found and the connections I made that keep me blogging.

Last week was my first time participating in ICLW in a long time–probably since adopting my son over 18 months ago. And it seems like there is a whole new crop of people that I had the chance to get to know through their blogs. I first began blogging back in 2009. At that time, we were just at the beginning of our infertility journey–still hoping to get pregnant on our own. Like most people, I turned to “Dr Google” thinking I would get strictly medical advice, but my searches turned up an entire community of people going through the same thing. And I as read your stories, I not only saw myself and felt a connection, but read the comments and saw the thriving community that was there. These were not random trolling comments that you might see at the end of an online news article, but a real community that continued the conversation in the comments, on their own blogs, and even in person. So, truth be told, I started blogging because I wanted to get those comments and be part of that supportive community. The writing of the posts was secondary (I’ve never been one to keep a journal or feel the need to write for writing’s sake). Blogging, to me, has been about the connection to others.

And you guys did not disappoint! I feel like I’ve made some real friends through the blogs and online forums–even if I haven’t met you in person. Some of  you have been on this journey with me almost from the start. Others have come and gone as our journeys have converged or diverged. For example, I think moving towards adoption has led to losing some connections who weren’t ready to follow me there, even as I’ve made new connections with other adoptive mamas.

I stopped blogging a few months after my son joined our family. This was right around the time he started “waking up” and it coincided with my return to work, both of which drastically reduced my time to blog. But even more I think was that it was also right around when I got a smartphone. When I transitioned from reading online to reading on my phone, it became much harder to comment. I was still reading all of your blogs, but was feeling more distant from the community since it was less convenient to participate in the community through commenting and continuing the conversation on my own blog.

Now that my son is a full-blown toddler, I am finding it easier to go back to somewhat of a “normal” life–even if that normal is completely different. Last fall, for example, finding time to take care of the fall gardening tasks and the baby was a real struggle. But we had a quite pleasant morning raking up leaves while the kid played in the backyard.  In the same way, I’m finding more time for blogging again. And I wanted to re-connect with friends and make new ones. Rather than re-start at my old blog, I wanted a fresh start. There were several reasons for that, one of which is that (and I realize I may be risking losing part of my audience) is that I don’t think of infertility much these days. I do think about adoption and we are still trying to grow our family right now. But in terms of working through our infertility, I am in a very different place now and my old blog didn’t quite feel right anymore.

So, that’s why I blog. I look forward to hearing from others participating in the PAIL monthly theme about why they blog. I would also love to hear from others how they keep up with commenting and blogging with phones. Or do you still rely on your computer?

Making new friends

One of the things I love about ICLW (besides all the comments!) is finding new blogs to read. Even though the new blogs I stumble upon may be a different stage than me, it is amazing how just reading one or two posts from someone you’ve never met can get your brain moving and wanting to respond. That’s how I felt when I read Megs’ post on being a friend.

You see, I already had a post floating around in my head about making new friends. My husband and I are major introverts and find it hard to make friends. We are the type who are fiercely loyal to old friends and stay in contact with friends going all the back to middle school. In fact, I just had a recent girls weekend with my two best friends from high school. But since we’ve moved around a lot and our friends are scattered in cities other than where we now live, it’s been hard to make friends here.

I’ve been thinking a lot about why it has been so hard for us to make friends in our current city and I think it comes down to the fact that we haven’t had a ready made cohort in the form of being thrown together in a dorm or going through a undergrad/grad school experience with. Now, my husband did get a graduate degree in this city, but the program was geared towards part-timers who were working full-time, so it didn’t create the fishbowl life of a typical college experience.

What drew me to Megs’ post was the focus on how intense struggles can create friends–much like how Ron and Harry became friends with Ginny after battling a troll together. I have plenty of friends from college or grad school that I would characterize in that way. Even though we are great friends, it was kinda random that we became friends and due to the need to battle the mountain troll that was grad school. And now having moved to a new city and started a new job–there hasn’t been a similar troll to battle with a designated cohort of people. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been here for 6 years now and certainly have plenty of people that we are friendly with. But few actual friends. For example, I have plenty of “work friends” and enjoy hanging out with many of my colleagues. But perhaps because we are different stages of our lives or whatever the reason, there’s really only two people from my work that have broken through the “work friend” barrier to become, simply, a friend. And one of those is someone who I have become close to because we’ve shared our infertility journey together. So, in a way, we battled a troll together.

But in the past few months, our friend circle has expanded much more rapidly. And it’s all due to our son. Just as the journey of infertility can be a mountain troll, so is the journey of parenthood. And we need to find all the help we can get! Plus it helps immensely that I can tell our son is going to be a social butterfly. He makes friends with all the other toddlers on the playground and that allows me to make friends with the parents. And now we find our social calendar filling up pretty quickly!

Welcome ICLW

Welcome to everyone visiting from ICLW!

It has been quite a while since I’ve participated in ICLW and this is my first since switching over to my new place last month. I am satisfied that I’ve been able to post at least once a week since re-starting my blog here. Major improvement in my mind!

A little about me: After several years of infertility and many different treatments, my husband and I decided to grow our family through adoption. We have the most adorable little 18 month old (hence why it had been so hard for me to blog for the last 18 months). He’s a pure bundle of energy and very social. Even now when he gets very shy and clingy around people other than his parents. It is so cute that as soon as the other person turns to leave, he finds his social energy and is “hey, bye-bye, it was great talking to you!” And then he wants to follow them to wherever they are going.

He also absolutely adores his older cousins. He is always asking about them. Or at least some of them. My older sister has four kids and he asks for three of them all the time. Then he gets this little confused look when I mention the fourth, like he has no clue who that interloper is. This morning he was asking for my younger sister’s daughter, so maybe we need to Skype with them soon.

Anyway, I’m happy to be participating in ICLW again. I want to refresh my blog reading and find some new friends. And a little distraction this week would be terrific with some craziness at work and a rainy weekend keeping us indoors.

And we’re off! Again!

I’ve been pretty slammed at work and so haven’t had much time to focus on anything else. And so I hardly even noticed when the email from our social worker slipped into my inbox today. But now here we are, home study approved again! I’ve been  waiting for this to come. I mistakenly thought get our home study updated for a second child would be less intense then the first go around, but that was not the case. We’ve been frustrated by several new steps the agency has added to the process now. And yet now that we are approved, I’m worried…hesitant…anxious.

How do I begin putting together a profile that captures who we are as a family of three? And who we might be as a family of four? It seems like our son is changing so fast…and that our life with him is changing so fast. I actually started updating our profile book several months when we were first updating the home study, thinking that the home study wouldn’t take so long. But I look at it now and it seems so out of date. Did I really put a picture of him in a high chair? He won’t go in one now! A stroller? He prefers to walk (OK, run) everywhere.

Defining our life as a family of three and putting it out there for a potential birthmother to see somehow seems way more high stakes than painting a picture of just M and I as a couple. Then my ideas of who I would be as a mother were just in the abstract. But it’s here now. It’s our reality. And I am overwhelmed by how to begin capturing it in a few pages.

The perils of public parenting

One thing about having my child in daycare is that I feel my parenting is very much a public act. I guess in many ways it is always a public act, since much of what I describe can happen anywhere–grocery store parking lot, friend’s house, etc. But with the daycare providers also being so very familiar with my son, the public nature of parenting is encountered on a more daily basis.  I first realized this on one of my many visits to his class. He always had trouble going down for a nap in daycare and many days I went to visit him and found him overdue for a nap. Of course I felt the pressure to perform my motherly duties and get him to sleep. And of course he almost never complied. And I would leave feeling like I failed some parenting test.

Now my son has become a champion sleeper. But the perils of public parenting at daycare continue. And now it’s extending to the parking lot. Which is even worse for me since his daycare is at my work. Yeah, I am beyond grateful for my employer subsidized and on-site daycare. Talk about a major perk of working there. Except when my son throws a temper tantrum when I’m trying to put him in his carseat. Given the size of my employer, I don’t work directly with (or at all) with most of the parents that I see through the daycare.

But my closest colleagues are all walking through the parking lot. And I imagine all of them watching us (and judging me) every time he screams. And he’s a toddler, so that’s just about all the time I put him in the car. I’m sure it is just in my head. I rarely actually see anyone else in the parking lot when I’m trying to get him in the car. But still it feels like all eyes are on me. This is not unique to daycare mamas; having a toddler tantrum in the grocery store seems pretty normal for any parent. But since it is happening at my place of employment, it mixes up the professional and personal aspects of my life even more. It’s hard to maintain that professional demeanor when my toddler is screaming about getting into the carseat.

Red hair

I’m a redhead. My hair color is my one physical feature that never fails to draw a compliment. I don’t say that to start a pity party about my looks, but let’s face it—I’m no supermodel. Yet my natural hair color is unique and a source of admiration by others. So I like to flaunt it.

As my husband and I were in the nadir of our struggle with infertility and trying to figure out what to do, we attended a mind-body workshop meant for couples with infertility. At one point during this weekend, the conversation turned to adoption. One gentleman revealed his hesitancy at not being able to pass on his genes or his family’s genes. The counselor’s advice was pretty much, “get over it-your family’s genes aren’t so special.” You can imagine why that wasn’t such a terribly helpful thing to say. We had already been thinking about adoption, but this gentleman’s response made me realize my own source of hesitancy.

I’ve always pictured myself with a redheaded baby. Sharing a biological link to my child or passing on my genes didn’t really matter to me in the abstract. But giving up all hope of having a redhead? That made it real. Now the rational side of me would point out that merging my genes with my husband’s would put some constraints on that plan to have a redheaded baby, but there was that sliver of Irish blood in him…there was still hope, right?

Obviously we did decide that adoption was the right path for us. And not only adoption, but transracial adoption. In the grand scheme of things, red hair is not that important. So now our adorable little brown-skinned and black-haired little boy is part of our family. And really, how can you get cuter than him?

Except he is a redhead! At least if you count having one red hair as being a redhead. I don’t have an explanation for it, but he has one strand of red hair (copper, really) on the top, right side of his head. When I was combing his hair one day, I first thought it was paint. But, no, it’s real. And it’s been independently verified by someone who isn’t biased about redheads (i.e., my husband). I’m not really one to talk about my son being “destined” to be with me because his birthmother had a hard decision to make. But at times like this, yes, he is definitely my son.

Why this blog?

I hope everyone from my old blog was able to follow me over here! I truly appreciate all the friends I’ve made through my first blogging experience and I don’t want to lose you. And I wanted to explain why I felt the need to start a new blog. You see, my old blog (which I am not linking to on purpose—this is where the action is now!) was about my journey to parenthood. And like so many other infertility blogs, once I crossed over to being a mom, I felt stuck. I didn’t want to write about the cuteness that is my son because my readers might still be battling their own infertility. Yet, pretending that I was still in that same mental place felt disingenuous. I don’t think infertility (or really any big challenge) is something that you “get over” as every experience shapes you and leaves a lasting impression. But at the same time it is not something that I think about all that much anymore.

Which leads me to another reason I felt stuck in the old blog. The ideas I felt compelled to write about were based in some type of conflict or frustration. If you think about it, all good writing contains some conflict. Who wants to read about how perfectly perfect life is? The reason we read books or watch movies is to enjoy hearing a story rooted in a conflict and seeing how it is resolved. So I wrote about my son’s eating difficulties or trying to get him to sleep. But, complaining about lack of sleep due to my toddler’s sleep schedule after so many years of desperately trying to have a baby seemed out of place.

And so like many new parents, I realized I needed more space. Instead of buying a bigger house, I am opening up more writing space to make room for my new experiences as a mother. Because, you see, this blog is about me. And with the old blog focused on getting to my son, it was really his story. And I no longer feel comfortable telling his story to the world. His story belongs to him. This is my story. He may make some cameo appearances, but this space belongs to me.