I know it's sort of a meme in the blogging culture (note to sociologists: I'm sure there are already quite a few dissertations out there on this, but as a new initiate to blogdom, it becomes immediately obvious that there is a culture, etiquette, social structure. Y'all ought to look into this!) to look back at notable blogging milestones, and personal milestones, such as anniversaries, and reflect. So I could well say something trite or vapid here, but that would be no different than any other post I've written, so what's the harm?
I remember starting this blog. At the time I thought that I had a unique perspective to offer the IF blogosphere (writing about just being infertile, the fact of being someone who can't seem to get pregnant, rather than about the more active process of being in treatment, with its possibility of a life-changing outcome). I had no idea how big the IF blogosphere was, and how many perspectives were already out there - that I had nothing to say that hadn't been said, other than what I ate for breakfast today. Which is essentially what I blog about, as it turns out. Far more humble than my initial aspirations. I also remember thinking of starting a blog as a huge step. It seems small in retrospect, but I think that's because this blog has become such a fixture in my life. Meaning that I was right - it was a huge step.
I remember thinking that maybe having the blog would help me. To get ideas off my chest, to do something good, to learn something, maybe how to cope, but knowing that one day of blogging wouldn't accomplish all that, nor a week - I would have to wait to see the benefits over time. Time passes like a freight train, people. It's been a year. I still feel like a new blogger. (Actually, I think I still am!)
There were things I was not expecting. I learned early on from IF blogging giants like Mel the Stirrup Queen and Yaya that "comments are the new hug" and a good blogger follows her commenters, and comments on their posts. That would not have occurred to me off the top of my head. For a while I tried to read every post on my blogroll and comment on everything. At some point I trimmed that to not commenting if my Blackberry was being obstructionist, or I had nothing good to say. There have been some pregnancy posts for which I had no reply. There have been several bashing the Catholic Church (usually because of the blogger's factual errors about Catholic teaching, and attendant refusal to check her bad information; sometimes just because the Church is the default enemy when someone is unhappy and sex is in any way involved), or the humanity of the unborn (yes, by infertiles), for which I had no reply.
One of the tenets of ifosphere etiquette is that there shall be no negative comments. There are times I've had an opportunity to witness to the truth or explain an error, and I've realized I can't do that and be "nice" enough, and I've just deleted the blog from my list. I'm sorry your baby died (truly), but suggesting that the Church's teaching that you cannot baptize the dead (not don't want to, cannot) is somehow an attack on your child is - well, let's say it's not a sufficient excuse for saying nasty things about someone else's faith. (I will also note that I've never been concerned that people I deleted would read anything I later said here. I don't know whether these people ever read my blog, but the evidence indicates that when I stopped commenting, they stopped reading instantly and permanently. That's not how or why I follow other blogs, and I confess I don't understand it.)
And sometimes the only rational comments have already been made by others and my brain offers nothing else worth reading. But I think I read most of the posts of people on my blogroll, and comment on more than 50% of the total. I do know that there are people who follow me whose blogs I have not yet tracked down and added, and it's time for me to do that. I want to follow along with all of the awesome people out there, especially those who've been generous enough to spend some of their time reading what I've written here.
Anyway, all this is to say that I didn't foresee that by blogging I would make friends. I would never have expected to meet some of the bloggers in real life, and have an opportunity to see even more clearly what fabulous, fantastic women they are. I would guess everyone else who's had an opportunity to do this would agree with me that broken and inadequate as IF may make us all feel, to see another woman whose words have told you she's walked that same road and realize concretely that she's beautiful, and self-confident, and brilliant, and vibrantly human, is a real eye-opener.
As I said, when I started, I wanted to write about the fact that nobody (even those who deal with infertiles professionally) seems to register the fact that we have to exist, in the lives that we have. It's not all a treatment process. First of all, nobody should live for a period of years with all of what they are focused laser-like on conceiving a child. It will destroy you. Most of us end up living at least some period that way anyway, but it's not good. And for some people that will be a very long time.
I have tried to explain to people that, while they may have heard of someone who conceived after twelve years when all hope appeared to be lost, if I spend twelve years waiting for that day, I will be up in a clocktower with a high-powered rifle before the time is up. Hope has to be imbibed in moderation, too. And I think every infertile who gets to that point needs to have permission to move on from hoping - permission to give every well-meaning acquaintance, coworker, and grocery checker, who wants to tell you that it could still happen, the once proverbial "talk to the hand" (or finger, if strictly necessary). I even got this from a priest in confession recently, and it's too much. LISTEN TO ME, FATHER: SOMETIMES "GOD'S TIME" IS NEVER. GET USED TO IT - BECAUSE I HAVE TO.
So anywho, another thing that kind of surprised me after I started blogging was that I went back into treatment. Surprise! And had more tests done, and another surgery. Surprise! And had not one but TWO male OB/GYNs, despite the fact that never having a male OB/GYN was one of my life goals. I guess it still is; I've just already failed. Surprise! What may have surprised me more was that my pouting-in-the-corner (but also emotionally necessary) break from treatment did not, in fact, represent peace with the idea of never getting pregnant. I actually was just pouting. But in the process of getting more testing, and drugs and whatnot, I actually did start to find the beginnings of peace with "never." BIG surprise!
Technically, there's medical hope for me. I haven't had at least half of the totally standard early testing done. I've taken only one drug. We haven't even done an SA, for heaven's sake. (We might still.) And while I have stage IV endo (and my doctor says my odds of conceiving ever are in the 30% range) and we've been ttc for going on five years, I'm only 27, and as a matter of practical fact, if I were absolutely determined to treat this and get pregnant, there's no reason I couldn't get aggressive and settle in for a long battle. But here's something I learned, and am learning, about myself. I'm just not interested in that. Not just currently annoyed with the idea, but permanently not interested. God can orchestrate anything He wants and I'll be open to life (although I'm still contemplating a hysterectomy if the endo can't be managed otherwise), but I'm not making fertility treatment a 20-to-40-hour-a-week job. I would rather do almost anything, or nothing at all. This is meant as no disparagement of those who have worked heroically to find diagnosis and treatment. I salute you. I exploit your knowledge all the time, and let me tell you, I truly appreciate it. But I know I'm not going to be able to follow you. That's just how it is.
So looking back on this past year, I would say it should go in the nonexistent book of the history of my life as The Year of Becoming Not Psychotic About Infertility. It's pretty fair to say that I started out psycho on the subject. And that I'm not the picture of mental health now. However: not psychotic any more. I attribute that healing - seriously, this was my avenue for surprise graces from the heavens - to blogging. To getting to share what I was going through, and having wonderful loving people read along, and to reading the daring and tragic and triumphant and wonderful adventures of other people fighting in the same battle. I can't attribute all this to prayer (well, OK, not my prayers), because I haven't gotten my spiritual life in order, heaven knows. That's still on the list. But looking back, I can tell that I've secured something I just didn't have a year ago. Once a ticking infertile time bomb, now I am merely defective.
Which brings us to the coming year. I've outlined my goofy 2010 resolutions and I will try to stick to them. In terms of more progress with infertility specifically, I'm hoping that this will be the Year of Achieving Some Modicum of Abiding Peace with Infertility, and maybe also the Year of Beginning to Discern and Live Joyfully What (Rather than Children) Will Be the Focus of My Adult Life.
I've actually made some progress in the last week that I have to share here. All last year, when I could drag myself to the gym or outside to run, I had two things in mind. One: I keep getting heavier. This is appalling. I have to run. Two: I can't be this tired. I'm not old enough yet. I should be able to run three miles, so that's what I'm going to do. All this worked pretty abysmally. So this week at the gym some inspiration struck. I have to start where I really am, regardless of where I'd like to be. So I didn't tell myself I would run three miles on the treadmill. (I always feel exhausted and I simply fail to finish.) And I didn't tell myself that I can, too, run a ten-minute mile, and that's the pace I'll do. I set the treadmill for a twelve-minute mile and I started at one mile. The last tenth, I ran at ten-minute-mile speed. I didn't get tired. I felt good.
The other thing I decided to do, since I feel like so many things I'd like to fix (fitness-wise, health-wise) are out of my control, is push really hard where I realize I can actually make progress. So the next day, I moved it up to 1.5, and did that for two days. I felt good. Next week, I am doing 2 miles. I think I can move up every 2-3 exercise days at this rate. I'll be running five miles in no time. Seriously, I think that will really work. And I'll take as long as I need to between moves, to make sure my energy level is really keeping up with what I'm doing. Meanwhile, I've been doing 30 pounds on the lat pull-down for months. (I could only do 20 when I started last year. It was so sad.) I tried 40 last week, and I could barely move it. Then the next day, I realized I could do three sets of ten reps at 40. Weird. So I tried 50, and I could barely move it. The next day, I tried 50 again, and I just barely managed one set of ten reps. I think I can start on 60 by the end of next week. Conceivably, I could move up ten pounds every week or two for a couple of months. I had no idea all last year that that was possible. The fact that I can actually make progress feels unbelievably amazing. Plus, I think that if I successfully build endurance and muscle mass, my energy levels will improve, even though the entire medical community is COMPLETELY USELESS on this point. And even more interesting - if I can get to running five miles at a clip and do so regularly, I might also get back into shape! Bonus.
I guess that's my summary for one year of blogging: I don't know that I'll ever have children, and that might be just fine. But if I'm humble and patient, I think I can move a mountain, one pebble at a time.