and I'm sure she'll share some of her vodka.
I started blogging sometime in 2004 (incidentally around the same time as Dooce did. But she makes trillions and I get occasional paychecks for my ads that read something like so-and-so measly dollars, so you can see which of us is The Smart One) after my then-boyfriend suggested that I start one. I had a stalker, you see, which sounds far more intriguing than it actually was, and he thought that the Stalker Chronicles would make for great blogging material. They would have, had I started it when he suggested. But no, I was not enough of a writer to imagine that anyone would want to read my drivel so I put it off until a good friend of mine and I started a co-blog. The purpose of that blog was to shock and entertain in a I-Can't-Believe-She's-Saying-That sort of way and it wasn't read anywhere beyond the small circle of bloggers I know (read: about 3.4 people).
But in 2007 my second son, Alex, was born. I'd been laid up most of my pregnancy, sick as a dog, and had somehow stumbled into the land of infertility blogs and mothering-after-infertility blogs and began to read them (I know, you all thought I started reading Mommy Blogs).While I struggled on through Motherhood x 2 with a child who earned the nickname Devil-Baby, my blog was notoriously silent when I'd post about what I'd gone through just to make it through each day. These are the breaks when your readers don't have kids, don't want kids, and don't want to hear how many centimeters dilated you were (also: should they care?). I noticed something shocking, though, among the infertility blogs I read: everyone supported each other. It was the strangest thing to me, because I only tended to garner comments when I would write a funny blog.
So after some hemming and hawing (read: deciding what the hell to call my blog), I had my-former-blog-suggesting-boyfriend-turned-husband The Daver set me up with Blog #2. Mommy Wants Vodka. I became Aunt Becky, wrote daily, filling page after page with the drivel that my readers now know well. I wrote far more than I'd thought I had in me and realized that after all of my science training I am a writer at heart. This was a shocking realization as the time that after years of dying it shades of brown I realized that my hair is indeed black. At first, of course, no one came. It's not like The Internet sends out an email to prospective readers and tells them all about this new-fangled blog and boy, oh boy, should you take a look-see or what? I did what every blogger (and reader) that wants to connect with another blogger does: I commented until my fingers bled.
After a couple of months, I began to see a stray new reader here and there—I'd kept the readers I'd gotten at my first blog, some might say it was because I paid them, a charge I would heartily deny—and I made sure that no matter who it was, once they became a reader of mine, I was a faithful reader of theirs. I'll never forget the first time someone who hadn't ever laid eyes on my cat-hair covered sweatpants linked to me (Niobe from dead baby jokes). I may have shed a tear or two. Someone noticed me (after months of virtually stalking them) and deemed me worth linking to! It sounds so stupid, but I finally felt like I was no longer on the outside looking in.
I met JJ, well, I don't really remember when I met her: I feel like I've always known her, which is entirely possible. We've been blogging about the same amount of time. I was touched when she chose to keep up with me, and sooner than I could have imagined it, I got pregnant again. Knowing how hard it is for my infertile friends to read about pregnancy, I assumed that I'd lose a significant chunk of readers. Somehow, I didn't. JJ got pregnant with her son a couple of weeks after I got pregnant with my daughter and an instant Love Match was made.
My daughter Amelia (O-man's girlfriend, natch) was born first on January 28, and although we hadn't known that she had any problems, we found out while I was delivering her that she had what appeared to be a boggy rotten spot on the back of her head. The adjectives “boggy,” “rotten,” or “spot” aren't really the ones you want to use when referring to your daughter, similar to how you don't want to use the phrase “most recent colonscopy” in reference to yourself. A Cat Scan the following morning showed the worst: some bright spots (apparently not diamonds OR platinum, either of which would have been okay with me) and she was whisked down to the NICU for observation until a pediatric neurosurgeon could assess her.
After much teeth gnashing (me), about 4 trillion doctors appointments (her), and a couple of nervous breakdowns (me), a month almost to the day after she was born, my daughter went in for brain surgery. The pathology confirmed what the neurosurgeon suspected: Amelia had been born with a parietal encephalocele. I'll save you from googling that: when she was an embryo, something happened and the bones to her skull didn't fuse properly and some brain tissue began to grow outside of her skull (again: “brain tissue outside of her skull” is another one of those terms you never want to use). It's a big effing deal, and although she appears to be just fine we're being closely monitored by a number of teams of specialists.
But I'm sitting here, writing this to you and not laying somewhere, melted into a big pile of goo. I've made it through some of my own personal darkest days and nights and although I've noticed an increase in my White Hair Count (could that be from the lack of hair dye? I just don't know), I'm not hugely worse for the wear. Different person, yes I am, but not a worse person.
I've made it through and out the other side with the help and support from my friends in the computer. It sounds trite, I know, especially to someone who isn't part of this community, but each time I'd update my blog, the support pouring in was overwhelming. I'd get emails, phone calls, comments and the prayers of people I didn't even know. The morning of February 26, we had to leave our daughter with the anesthetist—easily the most gut-wrenching thing I've been through—to undergo brain surgery The Internet propped me up. They propped me up, dusted me off, gave me a big hug and told me that they cared.
I can't explain how much that helped without using phrases like “power of prayer” and “on the wings of love” or even maybe “livin' on a prayer” (okay, so not that one). It was often intangible, sometimes very tangible (especially Stef, who sent me vodka and chocolate. Which, awesome), but never failed to remind me that I was not alone. I honestly, in my heart of hearts, don't know how I could have done any of it without my Internet Friends. I really don't.
And to each and every one of you, some of whom I know, some of whom I don't, if I haven't said it before or often enough, let me say it again. Thank you. Just, thank you.
JJ is, of course, one of my favorite Internet Friends and I'm more than honored to be here, guest posting on her blog for her. She's been a friend through my whole journey and I like to think (wishfully? fishfully?) that I've been as good a friend to her too. The one thing that I'm annoyed about and hoping that you over here, JJ's Internet, can help me rectify is this: I didn't think to nominate her for the Best Health Blog in the bloggers choice awards, a title she completely deserves. Thankfully, her husband Mook did. But she's losing to some less-than-worthy blogs.
This, JJ's Internet, is where you come in. She's your friend and she deserves this award. Go vote for her. While I've heard some people whine about it, the registration process is pretty simple.
I live in Chicago where the motto is “vote early, vote often” (also a motto: We Arrest Our Governors), so go make JJ and her Aunt Becky proud.