See that blue button to the right with a dog on it? Scroll down a bit - yep, there it is!
It's because I'm currently taking part in something called IComLeavWe - or International Comment Leaving Week organised by Melissa who writes the blog Stirrup Queens. I signed up earlier in the month to say that for January (it actually runs each month) I would leave a minimum of 5 comments and reply to someone else's (so at least 6) from a list compiled of all the blogs also signed up for the week. Am I making sense? I sure Melissa's explanation is probably much easier to understand.
I decided to do this because I saw a post on BlogHer about leaving comments and IComLeavWe and thought it was a nice idea. Plus I've always had trouble picking up the confidence to comment on blogs, I always feel like I might be intruding, like the the blog might be written for a person's family and friends and the wouldn't want a complete stranger sticking her nose in. So this would give me the chance to have a go at commenting on blogs where bloggers were actively encouraging it!
So the day before the week was due to start (it's 21st-28th for January) we all got an email reminding us what we'd signed up to do and a link to the list of 211 participants.
And I checked it out, and was very surprised to see (I'm so dim) that the majority of participants blog about infertility and IVF. I know very little about this world. Although I did miscarry my first baby and took 5 years to become pregnant with my youngest, I know I am incredibly lucky that I've never had to deal with some of the things I'm reading about on fellow IComLeavWe'ers blogs.
I'm finding it both hard and enlightening. As I say, I really don't know much at all about infertility or IVF etc and a lot of the blog posts I'm reading are so full of medical terms and abbreviations that to be honest, at the moment, lots of it is lost on me (don't get me wrong, in no-way should they not be written like this, I just need to learn a bit of the lingo).
The other thing that worried me at first was that I have kids. I know from my very minor experience after miscarriage how I used to find it painful reading happy tales of friends and their babies and seeing jolly family photos. My blog is full of my kids... I suddenly felt awful that fellow bloggers might be clicking onto my blog and might be upset by my posts. I would hate to upset anyone. So for a day or two I felt incredibly guilty that I'd strayed into territory that perhaps I shouldn't have...
I also felt awful reading some of the posts on other IComLeaveWe blogs. There are lots of heart-wrenching stories that I couldn't read without crying for the pain people were going through. I wanted to leave a comment, a hug, a touch of the hand but I didn't know what to say, I didn't know if I had the right to say anything.
My instinct was to tell myself I'd wandered into territory I shouldn't really be in, I had no right to be there...to forget about IComLeavWe and find blogs elsewhere on topics I did have experience of to comment on.
But then I thought, nope - perhaps there's a reason I got here - perhaps it would do me good to find out more. So I've been reading as many of the 211, well 210 as I'm one, blogs as possible and trying to learn more. Sometimes I have no idea what I could possibly say so I say nothing but I carry on reading.
And I am learning great stuff. I'm from the UK, and SERIOUSLY we have no idea how lucky we have it over there. IVF treatment is available on the NHS and adoption rules seem to be totally different too. Reading the IComLeavWe blogs has been a real eye opener and I hope that perhaps they will help me learn what to say and what I can do in the future to help others affected by infertility, dealing with IVF, coping with miscarriage, organising adoptions. I hope so.
Ohh and I almost forgot - I found a link to this video by Keiko Zoll called What IF? A Portrait of Infertility on someone's blog (sorry I forget whose, I've been clicking from one to another so much). I'd have never found that and possibly wouldn't have watched it worrying I'd find it too sad if it hadn't been for IComLeavWe...so thank you everyone. And if I leave a comment that sounds crass or ignorant - please let me know so I can make amends.
Edit: working more through the list, I've found that the video is actually by ICLW participant no. 57 Keiko who writes Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed...so I'm of to read more of her posts!