7 Years – Retrospective

Yesterday was my blogaversary – for 7 years, I’ve been writing here.  Sometimes more, sometimes less; sometimes words, sometimes photos; sometimes a private diary, sometimes  a public response.  In that time, I’ve published 481 posts, received 2,643 comments, worked for 2 companies, bought 1 new car, gotten pregnant 3 times, lived in 1 house, owned 2 dogs and 3 cats, lost 2 grandparents, and attended 9 weddings.

From one perspective it seems so long – but shift, angle ever so slightly around, and it has flown by in a flash.  When I started writing, there were less than a million wordpress blogs – at that time, they told you what number you were when you signed up.  I wish I had written it down, but I was somewhere around 650,000, I think.  The iphone and ipad hadn’t been invented yet.  Facebook and Twitter were babies and MySpace was king of the mountain.  I was one of the “second-wave” of infertility blogs – post A Little Pregnant and GetUpGrrl, but before the mass influx of writers that now populate Mel’s giant blogroll. (Sidebar: I don’t like going into the blogroll any more.  I see so many names and sites that I used to love that have gone silent or gone dark, and I miss them all and it makes me sad.)

I think about who I was seven years ago, and a few memories are still clear, but most of them have been overwritten as I lived and grew into the person I am now.  I’m not that girl anymore – and yet I am her, deep down underneath at the same time.

Before you ask, I’ll tell you – I don’t read my archives.  Unless I’m looking for a specific post, or the details to a specific incident, this space is a pensieve.  Absorbing my memories, holding them in case I ever need to refer to them, but giving me back the space in my head that I need to function.  I’m a writer, a list-taker, a note-maker.  I squirrel away little bits of information that I might need in the future, but I remember it only like a card catalog remembers – the location is indexed, but not necessarily the content.  When I need something, I refer to the index – is it here on ON?  Is it in my 750words account?  Is it in a notebook in the office?  Is it in the bits of paper stuffed in my bedside table?  A file on the laptop?  Cloud storage?  Maybe it’s not so much a pensieve but a horcrux, holding a portion of my soul in case I ever need it again.

So what have I learned after all this time, what wisdom would I pass on?  What would I go back and tell myself, or tell someone else who is now where I was then?

When we were in the depths of infertility, and all I could see was my pain and my emptiness, I wondered how other people made it through.  I would read blogs of parents who had children, trying to decipher the clues of how they transitioned, blogs of the chosen childless trying to find signposts of how and when to move on.  Was it worth it, staying in that place?  Or should I be trying to claw myself out of the black hole and find a different life?

Here, now, on this other side, I can say – yes, it was worth it.  I have two little bodies asleep upstairs and a third squirming around still inside me, and I don’t want to imagine what my life would be like otherwise.

But if I hadn’t had them, hadn’t ended up with children at all?  I think it still would have been worth it.  Infertility brought me to blogging, and blogging brought me more in tune with myself.  I examine my life fairly closely now, with an eye towards who am I and what I think and how that affects other people in a way that I did not before.  There are women in my life, both online and off, that I never would have connected with had I not started writing here.

The biggest thing, the most important thing, I think, would be to assure you that the pain eventually scars over.  I won’t claim that it goes away, or that it ever heals completely.  Hell, as much as I love my kids, I still look at them and remember the fear and the darkness that I went through to get them.  I look at my niece and remember sobbing myself to sleep the night that my SIL announced her pregnancy.  But the pain recedes.  As blinding and all-consuming as it is when you are trying so desperately find your way out, once you are out of the immediate moment – when you see those positive lines, or when you decide that the pain of continuing to try is greater than the pain of stopping trying and following a new path – the fog starts to clear.

There’s no one path to being better, to feeling whole again – parenting, volunteering, moving across country, going back to school, starting a new job, practicing a religious faith, writing a book, leaving the ALI community, starting a different blog, hermitting away, seeing a therapist, 0r any number of coping mechanisms – they all can help more or less depending on who you are and what you seek out in life.  The only constant seems to be that time passing helps soften the memory of the pain once you are not experiencing it on a constant basis.  And that sucks to hear when you’re in the thick of it and can’t find or imagine a way out.  But it is there – and there are guides all through our community, mentors who can help you figure out your path through their examples.

IF is part of who I was, part of who I am now.  There’s no going back to the girl I was seven years ago – too much water has run under that bridge, too many new grey hairs and wrinkles around my eyes.  It doesn’t hurt so much these days, but it hovers at the edge of many of my decisions – what to say, how to react, extra attention paid to the audience.  It’s a scar that has faded to where I can see it, reminding me of the past, but invisible to anyone who doesn’t know my history.  It doesn’t happen all at once, and it certainly didn’t happen as fast as I wanted it to.  But I got here, and someday you will as well.

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