Greetings and welcome to this stop on the Life from Scratch book tour!
This is my second time participating in a book tour. My first experience was with Eat, Pray, Love.
For those of you not familiar with book tours, they are essentially online book clubs. On a given date the tour leader, in this case Lori from Write Mind Open Heart, collects one or more questions from each reader. Soon after that we all receive a list of questions (that were posed by our fellow book club members, each participant submits at least one question) from which we are to choose three to answer on our blog in a post, such as this. For this tour there are three groups (A, B & C). From what I understand for this tour there were at least two, if not three different lists of questions that were given to members of the three groups. Group A posted their answers on their blogs Tuesday, Group B on Wednesday and Group C (of which I am a part of this time) on Thursday.
I am so excited to be a part of this book tour for Life from Scratch, as it was written by a friend of mine (and many of yours) Melissa Ford!
Being that my “post day” is today (Day 3), I have really enjoyed reading so many of the other participants’ blog entries about Life from Scratch over the past two days and look forward to reading even more today, as well as the author’s book tour post on Saturday! I especially found it interesting to see some of the questions that were on the other list(s) and for those who got the same list that I did, which questions you chose to answer. Since the question I posed was on another list (then the one I received), I was also couldn’t wait to see who chose it and what they said in their answers.
As someone who is happily married and not that into cooking, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a book about a woman who is newly divorced and decides to devote a year of her life to learning to cook. However, having read Mellisa’s (a.k.a. Mel’s) non-fiction book about navigating infertility and following her blog for years, I knew that I really like her writing style and was willing to give her novel a chance. I am so glad that I did, as I really enjoyed it!
In her review for Life from Scratch on Amazon, our book tour host Lori talked about how if you have experienced setbacks or heartache in your life that you will likely relate to the theme of “journey to self” in this book. I really agree with that and I ended up feeling much more of a connection to Rachel (the main character) than I expected. Overall, the characters were well developed and I found myself day dreaming about them when I wasn’t reading. I couldn’t wait to get back to find out where their stories would take them.
I like the creative way Mel intertwined the main character’s fictional blog posts with her own storytelling. I also appreciated that though parts of the plot were predictable, there were definitely some surprises along the way that I didn’t see coming. I highly recommend Life from Scratch. I found it to be a quick and easy read that was fun, but also made me think. It left me wondering about the characters long after I was done and I am eager to read the sequel.
I was so inspired by Mel and her new novel that I decided to write a little something for Lori’s Limerick Chick Contest about our dear Rachel:
And now, without further ado, here are the three questions I chose to consider and my answers to them (please feel free to comment and share your thoughts about the questions and/or my answers):
Question 1: Blogging plays a key role for Rachel in the growth she experiences throughout the novel. How has blogging affected who you are and/or how you see the world?
I have been blogging for almost four years now and my experience in doing so has definitely affected who I am and how I see the world. When I started blogging I was doing it to keep some of our close family and friends updated on how our fertility treatments were going, as well as to journal about my experience. However, it didn’t take too long for me to discover that there was a wonderful community of Adoption, Loss and Infertility (ALI) bloggers out there to interact with and I was overwhelmed (in a good way). Eventually blogging for me was as much about communicating with and supporting other bloggers as it was for me to share my “online journal.”
Also when I began my blog I knew very few people “in real life” that were struggling with infertility (secondary infertility in my case) or loss (pregnancy and eventually neonatal for me). Blogging definitely opened up a whole new world for me in which I was able to connect with others who “get it.”
Last month I wrote two blog entries that address in more depth some of my thoughts about and my experiences with blogging over the past 4 years:
One of the posts (which I also shared on my Facebook profile as a note and on our CarePage in an update) is called Crossing Over in which I “came out” about my blog to many of my friends and extended family members that did not know about it’s existence. I shared why and how I started my blog when I did, as well as why, after all these years, I was ready to invite more people to read it that otherwise might not have come across it.
The other post, I wrote in conjunction with the beginning of IComLeavWe for February, is called Gratitude: It’s Never too Late to Say Thank You.
Question 2: Rachel’s blog gets very popular when she wins a blogging award and she starts averaging about one hundred thousand hits per day. Would you want your blog to become that popular or would you prefer to stay smaller?
I debated whether to answer this question, as it deals with my ego, which I find difficult to talk about. However, being uncomfortable discussing a subject has not stopped me from writing about it before here on my blog and that is one of the reasons I liked this question and chose to answer it. I believe that it can be good for us to explore the very things that make us uneasy at times.
I think it is natural as a blogger to fantasize about our blogs becoming very popular and all that might come along with that fame. Not unlike when were were younger and many of us imagined being a television or movie star or at least dating one. As recently as this past Sunday, while watching the Academy Awards red carpet coverage and the Oscars telecast, I found myself wondering once again “who I would be wearing” if and when I ever got to attend an awards show and walk a red carpet.
Towards the end of my pregnancy with my daughter Molly, who was born and died in April 2008 of a rare, severe and fatal combination of congenital heart defects, I connected with another blogger briefly, who had a similar experience losing a child. This woman lost a baby girl soon after her birth only 10 days before I did and she also knew before her daughter was born that she was not expected to live long.
I found it helpful and validating to follow this woman’s blog posts as we both grieved and processed the short lives and deaths of our daughters. We exchanged emails a few times and she was very open and kind. However eventually I didn’t feel as much of a connection to her, this was in part because her blog ended up becoming extremely popular (one factor may have been because her husband was already a somewhat well known musician before this happened to them) and she started receiving hundreds of comments on many of her posts.
Another reason that I eventually stopped regularly following her blog was that she chooses to blog a lot about her faith and Christianity, in a sort of “Evangelical” way. Though I consider myself a Christian/Catholic and believe that I have a strong faith, sharing about my religious beliefs is not the main purpose of my blog or why I choose to write on a regular basis, nor is it a priority for me when I am looking to connect with other bloggers.
When this woman’s blog became very popular, I felt like if I took the time to leave a comment on one of her posts that it might get lost in the masses and I often wondered if it was even worth the trouble to try to touch base with her anymore. At least once after she started receiving so much traffic and so many comments on her blog, I tried to email her directly again and got an automated response saying that though she appreciates me (and others) reaching out to her, that she could no longer keep up with replying to each individual email she got and that she hoped we would all understand.
I tried to put myself in her place and did my best to empathize with her situation. I realized that she could not, nor should she try to answer every email she received at that point, as she could probably spend all day every day doing so and never get anything else done, including being a mother to her living children. Not long after that I found out that she had been approached to write a book about her experience and recently I learned that it has been published.
I had mixed feelings at the time about how her blog had taken off. I was happy for her that she has been able to turn this tragic experience in her life into a ministry that has clearly helped a lot of other people who have also experienced loss in their lives. However, there was also a part of me that was jealous. Why did she “get to” have all these people who looked to her for direction and support after what she had been through? Why did she “get to” write a book about her experience without having to go through the traditional process writing a proposal, finding an agent, etc. (at least to my knowledge)? Why her, and most of all, why not me?!
Some of you may know of the blogger that I am referring to and my intention is not to disparage her. I truly am happy that she has been able to make so much good come from her experience losing her baby girl. However, for some reason contemplating this question led me to reflect on the differences in the experiences this woman and I have had, especially with our blogs, since both of our baby girls were born and died in April 2008.
One of the up sides, as I see it, to not having such a big blog following is that I am able to form more personal relationships with other bloggers. I would imagine that the more followers you have, the harder it is to connect with them one on one. Thus though you may be able to reach more people through your writing and hopefully be a source of hope, strength and inspiration, you may or may not have the time to try to keep in touch with very many. It is these personal connections, which for me (and I know for a lot of people) is one of the things that I find so rewarding about blogging and following other people’s blogs.
So for now I am content to remain smaller and if for some reason my blog were to ever become very popular, I would hope that I would still be able to maintain personal relationships with some of those who chose to follow my blog, as well as to prioritize following and commenting on other’s blogs.
Question 3: Rachel talks about the kinship of marriage, and being on the “crazy ride” together is better than waiting outside in line. Do we rush to/stay in marriage because the alternative is too isolating to think about?
I thought this was a very interesting question too. Though Bob and I met and started dating during our senior year in college, we didn’t get married right away after we graduated. We wanted to take some time to live in the real world and be sure that we were ready to commit to spending the rest of our lives together. For years, before meeting Bob, I had a very romantic vision of what relationships and marriage should be like and it was hard for me to eventually come to the realization that all relationships, especially marriage, take a lot of work. I finally moved away from the idea that you “fall in love” with someone and towards the concept that you “choose to love” someone. That distinction was a very significant one for me in terms of how I was then able to approach the rest of my life with Bob.
Bob and I have been married for 10 ½ years now and together 14 ½ years. During that time we have definitely experienced some very “crazy rides” and had challenging times in our relationship. Though Bob and I have never seriously considered separation or divorce during our marriage, that doesn’t mean we haven’t had some very heated arguments and disagreements over the years. Especially at the height of our struggle with secondary infertility and pregnancy loss we had some times where we were not as in touch or in sync with each other’s feelings and emotions as we had been prior to that and have been since then. Bob, as well as many of my friends and family members, I felt were tired of hearing me talk about how much I wanted to have another child and how hard it was for me that it was not happening in the time frame that I had hoped, dreamed and expected it would.
It was then that I hit my “bottom” and realized that I needed some help for my own sanity and for the good of the relationships with those I cared about most, especially my husband. I knew how much Bob loved and cared about me, but I also understood that we were, and still are, wired differently and thus he did not feel the need or the desire to talk about what we were going through trying to expand our family nearly as often I did.
In realizing that, we determined that it made sense for me to get professional help and I started seeing a therapist short term to help me get through that difficult and uncertain time in our life. It was then that I also began regularly attending the perinatal bereavement support group at our local hospital. I had received information about it after the surgery to remove the interstitial ectopic pregnancy we had in November 2005, however it was not something that I thought I “needed” or would benefit from at the time.
Starting weekly therapy sessions with someone who specialized in infertility, as well as attending the support group monthly were two huge steps in me being able to find some balance in my life and emotional well being as it related to our quest (and at the time my obsession) with wanting more children. It also helped Bob and I to get to a better place in our marriage at that time in our life.
My therapist suggested I get a copy of Dr. Alice Domar’s book Conquering Infertility and used that, along with teaching me Therapeutic Yoga also known as “Yoga for Relaxation” or “Yin Yoga” as tools to help me cope with our situation. One of the things I learned from Dr. Domar’s book and my therapist was the idea that you prioritize a certain amount of time daily or weekly where you and your spouse will discuss your infertility issues. They emphasized the importance of doing this and both parties actively participating in the discussion, both speaking and really listening to the other person. However, they also said that there should be a time limit and that it should be enforced, as not to allow the conversation to go on endlessly. I thought this was great and though we did not stick to this approach all the time, we did find it helpful when I wanted to talk about all things related to trying to have another child and Bob needed a break. This allowed us to find a happy medium.
I also found practicing therapeutic yoga each day to be very beneficial for my peace of mind. After Sean (who was 3 at the time) would go down for his afternoon nap, I would spend the first 20 minutes holding various poses for 3 – 5 minutes at a time, while remaining silent and trying to clear my mind. The days when I would do this, I found it easier to “deal with” my thoughts and emotions related to our journey trying to expand our family and thus wouldn’t take my frustrations out as much on Bob when he would get home from work at the end of the day. I stopped doing this kind of yoga awhile back. But in reflecting on how much it helped me back then, I am realizing it might be good for me to practice again with some of the stressors in my life now.
So to answer this question more directly, I stay in my marriage year after year “through good times and in bad” because I love my husband (in the active sense, not in the fantasy sense) and I chose to work at our relationship so that we want to stay together. It is not because I am afraid of the alternative or being alone.
Bob and I have a number of people in our lives that we are close to who ended up in marriages that were dysfunctional for a variety of reasons. One or both parties in each case worked hard to try to save their relationships, but in the end they (and we) understood that it was better for everyone involved to move on. So though I don’t ever see this happening with Bob and me, I respect and appreciate that there are times when it is better for couples to get divorced, as opposed to staying in their marriages for the wrong reasons.
To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at Write Mind Open Heart.
Thank you for reading my thoughts on Life from Scratch and my answers to the questions I chose to answer for the book tour. I look forward to your comments. I also can’t wait to find out what happens with Rachel next when I read the sequel (and participate in that book tour) after Mel completes it/it is published!
Lastly, if you enjoyed this book tour experience and would like to participate in another soon, I am hosting one later this month here on Four of a Kind (with author and contributor participation). The book is called A Gift of Time: Continuing Your Pregnancy When Your Baby’s Life is Expected to Be Brief by Amy Kuebelbeck and Dr. Deborah L. Davis. You can read more about it and find out how to sign up in this post . If you or a loved one is experiencing or has experienced a pregnancy where a prenatal diagnosis was made and a prognosis was given that the baby is/was not expected to live long before or after their birth, please consider reading the book and participating in our discussion. Also, if you are a doctor, nurse, chaplain or care giver that deals with perinatal hospice situations, please consider joining the tour, as I believe that it is a wonderful resource for you and we would greatly appreciate having your perspective in our discussion.