Recapping the #ALIMomSalon This Week

What a week!

I can’t even begin to describe how awesome this week has been. Thank you to everyone who commented ad shared in these important discussions. And a hearty thank you to Pamela at Silent Sorority for pushing my boundaries, challenging me to think outside the box, and ultimately – for making me a better writer and advocate for this community in the process.

We talked about so many incredible topics this week, from guilt to empowerment, from imagining alternative universes to taking apart cultural stereotypes for what they are. It’s been incredible to read your comments, both here and over at Pamela’s blog, and on your blogs as well.

These were not easy conversations this week – far from it, in fact. But they are necessary.

I hope you share similar feelings that this salon allowed us as a community to clear the air on some things we’ve been keeping close to our chests, afraid to post for fear of hurting another. I hope you had as much a cathartic experience reading these posts as Pamela and I did writing them.

And I hope you’ll keep the dialogue going.

If you missed today’s AMAZING #ALIMomSalon Twitter chat, I’ve recapped it at the very bottom of the Storify story below. And, if you’re just tuning into this whole crazy shebang, get caught up with my complete “To Mom or Not to Mom” recap below.


"To Mom or Not to Mom"

An open salon on infertility, transition, parenthood and life beyond parenting. Hosted by @KeikoZoll of The Infertility Voice & @PamelaJeanne of Silent Sorority.

Storified by Keiko Zoll · Fri, Oct 26 2012 11:58:47

Writers Keiko Zoll and Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos came up with a crazy idea: to finally talk about infertility and the culture of motherhood in an open forum, no holds barred. So they came up with “To Mom or Not to Mom,” a five-day open salon between their blogs. They opened it up to the adoption/loss/infertility/childfree community – and the response was incredible.

“To Mom or Not to Mom” – An Overview of the Conversation

To Mom or Not to Mom: A 5-Day Open Salon on Infertility, Motherhood and the Silent Sorority:We created this open salon to discuss both sides of the motherhood debate from our unique perspectives (Keio as newly pregnant after donor egg IVF, Pamela as one of the leading childfree authors out there) in a responsorial fashion between our two blogs. 
Over the next five days and culminating in an open Twitter discussion #ALIMomSalon this Friday, 10/26 at 12:30pm EDT, we seek to parse out the concerns and vulnerabilities of transition within the ALI community without tripping over political correctness and delicate sensibilities.

Monday: Exploring New Paradigms in Life After Infertility

Keiko began with a piece exploring survivor’s guilt and her shifting identity as blogger:
The Infertility Voice | To "Mom" or Not to "Mom"To Mom or Not to Mom: A 5-Day Open Salon on Infertility, Motherhood and the Silent Sorority Welcome to our open salon, hosted by yours tr…
Pamela shared her own unique perspective about life in in the perpetual motherhood waiting room:
To Mom or Not to MomWelcome to an open salon hosted by yours truly and Keiko of The Infertility Voice . We created this dialogue to discuss both sides of the…

Tuesday: Trading Places & Considering Alternative Outcomes

Keiko envisions what her life would have been like had her first cycle of IVF not worked:
The Infertility Voice | The Other Keiko: Motherhood’s Alternate UniverseWelcome to Day 2 of our open salon, hosted by yours truly and Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, author of Silent Sorority. We created this dialog…
Pamela wonders how motherhood and nurturing can still come to the non-mom:
Trading Places: My (M)other LifeIt’s Day Two of the open salon hosted by yours truly and Keiko of The Infertility Voice . We created this dialogue to discuss both sides …
Other bloggers on both sides of infertility began to join in the salon, imagining what their lives might look like had things turned out differently:
To Mom or Not to Mom, Day 2: Trading PlacesIt’s Day 2 of The Infertility Voice and Silent Sorority’s 5-Day Open Salon " To Mom or Not to Mom: Infertility, Motherhood and the Silent…
~*The Cass Family*~TTC #2*~: Trading PlacesThis week Keiko of The Infertility Voice and Pamela of The Silent Sorority are running: To Mom or Not to Mom: A 5 Day Open Salon on Infer…
Misconceptions About Conception: Trading PlacesBecause our journey to using DE IVF was a long and winding one, I have actually contemplated some of these questions before. There were p…

Wednesday: The Culture of Motherhood 

Keiko full owns that she buys into the “Queendom of Mommyhood” and claims her crown:
The Infertility Voice | The Queendom of Mommyhood: In Which I Claim My CrownWelcome to Day 3 of the "To Mom or Not to Mom" Open Salon with yours truly and Pamela of Silent Sorority. We created this dialogue to dis…
Pamela cautions against putting moms on pedestals and creating a culture that limits the choices of girls as they grow up:
The Unintended Consequences of Placing Moms on PedestalsIt’s Day Three of the open salon hosted by yours truly and Keiko of The Infertility Voice . We created this dialogue to discuss both side…
Folks in the ALI blogosphere had a lot to say about this topic!
The Cult of MotherhoodNora Heyson It came to me this morning during an interesting discussion on Twitter about being a mother. I have storified it, so you can …
to mum or not to mumThis week I realise I have a lot I want to write about. There have been some interesting topics being thrown around with PAIL asking abou…
"to mom or not to mom" – day 3: the queendom of mommyhoodIt’s Day 3 of the "To Mom or Not to Mom" Open Salon hosted by Keiko of The Infertility Voice and Pamela of Silent Sorority.
Obsessed with Motherhood?PAIL’s monthly theme post coincides with a blogging salon on what is, in my mind, a related topic. Today in the salon, Pamela of Silent S…
Blogger Esperanza gets to the heart of the entire “To Mom or Not to Mom” salon in her post:
“These are discussions we need to be having. It benefits no one to assume women will be mothers, that motherhood is the only way women can lead a fulfilling, meaningful life. There are so many ways for women to be nurturing, creative, loving, contributing members of society. In a world where costs soar and resources dwindle, having children should not be a forgone conclusion. 
We need to have more resources, more role models, more positive examples for young girls becoming women. We need to talk about how hard motherhood can be, we need to dispel the myth that all women are biologically inclined to have children, we need to make clear that there is happiness to be found on both sides of the divide, so that we can bridge that divide or possibly even, one day, fill it. 
We need to start seeing each other as women, not as mothers and non-mothers, but as sources of divine femininity. Because all women are divine, whether they mother or not.”
To Mom or Not to MomThat is the question? Sadly, for a lot of us, that is the question but it is not a choice. Instead it is a possibility that is thrust upo…

Thursday: On Infertility & “Passing”

Keiko explores what it means to “pass” in infertility and laments about “infertility amnesia”:
The Infertility Voice | The Invisibleness of Infertility: To Pass or Not to Pass?Welcome to Day 4 of the "To Mom or Not to Mom" Open Salon with yours truly and Pamela of Silent Sorority. We created this dialogue to dis…
Pamela discusses why she speaks up about her infertility journey and what it means to the childfree community:
The Invisibleness of Infertility: To Pass or Not to Pass?It’s Day Four of the open salon hosted by yours truly and Keiko of The Infertility Voice . We created this dialogue to discuss both sides…
Other bloggers in the ALI blogosphere responded to this concept of “passing”:
Not to PassThe ALI community sure has been busy this week taking part in the "To Mom or Not to Mom" Open Salon hosted by Keiko and Pamela. I am not …
"to mom or not to mom" day 4 – the invisibleness of infertility: to pass or not to pass?It’s Day 4 of the "To Mom or Not to Mom" Open Salon hosted by Keiko of The Infertility Voice and Pamela of Silent Sorority. Today’s topic…
~*The Cass Family*~TTC #2*~: To Pass or to Disclose?Wow two posts in one week, this is a record for me lately! I’ve been slacking on posting, and more on my regular daily life next week, bu…

Friday: #ALIMomSalon Twitter Chat

To round out the week, Pamela & Keiko hosted a Twitter chat talking about many of the issues raised over the past five days. Twitterers from around the globe joined in this discussion.

Topic 1: Cultural Messaging Around Motherhood

T1: Cultural messaging: What has shaped your attitudes & ideas about motherhood? How have they changed in your life? #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
A1: I think TV & what I saw growing up in a small town influenced my initial ideas. Now, books, blogs, personal experiences #ALIMomSalonKeAnne
T1) My parents made the biggest impact on me. I saw where they came from, admired them, and wanted to carry that on. #AliMomSalonCourtney N.
T1) (con’t) Now? I still look to my mom. But I also found, thru IF, my own voice by taking as much in as I could from others. #AliMomSalonCourtney N.
Motherhood has shifted from the act of mothering to the importance of the role itself creating haves and have nots in society #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
T1: We think that’s what makes an infertility Dx so hard – it flies in the face of ppl’s expectations about creating families #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
T1: Part of what we do is about changing those expectations about what family can mean & look like for people. #ALIMomSalonRESOLVE New England

Topic 2: Changing Attitudes

T2: Changing Attitudes: How do we manage the ignorance about women who are childless by chance, circumstance or infertility? #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
T2) By not being afraid to educate those who say the wrong thing. We can’t expect them to just "know." #AliMomSalonCourtney N.
T2: Education is key! We have a session "Childfree Living: Possibility for a Loving Marriage and a Satisfying Life" … #ALIMomSalonRESOLVE New England
T2 (cont) at our 2012 Annual Fertility & Adoption Conference: http://bit.ly/VNmlBF (Quick plug: register today!) #ALIMomSalonRESOLVE New England
T2: using every opportunity to raise awareness among our closest circles first, that motherhood is not a given. #alimomsalonluna_sea
T2) Yes to education. It’s hard when the feelings are raw and emotions are tender, but people won’t change without help. #ALIMomSalonChance to Hope
@LaBeletteRouge has some snappy (and helpful) childless not by choice comebacks here: http://ow.ly/eNqK2 #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
T2: Be an advocate for the infertility community: http://goo.gl/9t3jw #alimomsalonresolveorg
T2: I use the cancer patient/paraplegic example. Not every1 survives. Not every1 walks. Not everyone parents. AND IT’S OKAY. #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
T2: In this radio interview therapist Stephanie Baffone & I discuss adjusting to life w/o children: http://ow.ly/eNo9F #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
T2: ignorance is often hard to counter. I still encountered the unrealistic and offensive myth that if only I’d just XYZ… #alimomsalonluna_sea
@KeikoZoll Sometimes ppl need to be uncomfortable in order to realize the depth of something. #AliMomSalonCourtney N.

Topic 3: Survivor’s Guilt

T3: Survivor’s Guilt: Have you had it? What moments of guilt have stuck out for you? How did you cope/move past it? #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
The survivor’s guilt is huge. HUGE. And something I was TOTALLY not prepared for in the last few weeks. #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
T3: Pregnancy after infertility brings with it a lot of mixed emotions: http://goo.gl/d6OKb #alimomsalonresolveorg
T3: Walking thru wtg room in my clinic after our u/s yest. Called it my Walk of Shame. Even tho I should be happy, felt bad #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
T3: Maybe a little but using "extreme" measures made me feel less guilt #ALIMomSalon #surrogacyKeAnne
@KeikoZoll The 1 time husband had to bring our 7 yr old to our clinic because he was home sick. Felt horrible. Ashamed even. #alimomsalonAttainFertility
T3) Yes. When I was pg with my son, I had all of the IF emotions on top of new ones and I had no clue how to deal with it all. #AliMomSalonCourtney N.
@KeikoZoll …definitely sometimes. I am getting better with coping & making peace I don’t have the answers to why. #alimomsalontahnie
T3: Survivor’s guilt is huge. We hear about it a lot in our Pregnancy After Infertility Support Groups: http://bit.ly/VNmLYB #ALIMomSalonRESOLVE New England
T3: There’s guilt even when fertility treatment doesn’t succeed. When we stop we need support not pushing for more treatment #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
T3 I remember sitting in waiting room crying at all the pg bellies bec I was waiting for my ‘wtf’ apt of our failed IVF. 1/2 #alimomsalonMetholic (Chandra J)
T3: 2ndary infertility here. When I had latest miscarriage was hard to ask for support from ALI community. Hurts just as much. #alimomsalonAttainFertility
T3) Secondary IF seems to bring a new type of survivor’s guilt. "Who am I to ask for support?" #ALIMomSalonChance to Hope
As mom, feel pressure to be "perfect" & never admit bad days. Feel even guiltier as IF survivor #ALIMomSalonKeAnne
@KeikoZoll I remember feeling judged for ending treatments. as if we didn’t want it badly enough. cc @pamelajeanne #alimomsalonluna_sea
@KeikoZoll everyone has limits, and no one has the right to judge how others build their family (except for octomom. I jest). #alimomsalonluna_sea

Topic 4: Coping with Loss

T4: How do we help each other cope w/losses? There’s definitely a pain olympics w/infertility e.g. my loss is bigger than yours #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
Support/compassion = so important when dealing with losses, be they physical like pg loss, or grieving your parenting fantasies #ALIMomSalonRESOLVE New England
T4) We see each other in the IF community struggle to become parents and when they have it and lose it? It breaks us all. #AliMomSalonCourtney N.
comparing loss is futile. grief is grief and everyone experiences it differently. judgment is ignorant. #alimomsalonluna_sea
Disenfranchised grief. is hard. We all heal differently.That’s why I wrote Silent Sorority: http://www.silentsorority.com #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
There are so many levels and layers of grief in the infertility experience that most people don’t realize #ALIMomSalonRESOLVE New England
T4) Loss includes so much: m/c, infant loss, deciding when enough is enough, etc. Sometimes ppl just want to feel validated. #ALIMomSalonChance to Hope
T4: Acknowledging loss is 1st step. My loss may seem small to you but huge to me #alimomsalonKeAnne
support requires acknowledgment that suffering is real. it means no judgment. loss is loss. #alimomsalonluna_sea
Joseph Cambell quote: We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
T4: Listening without judgement and supporting each other can help the grieving process. #alimomsalonresolveorg
@KeAnne that’s exactly it. loss is momentous to the person experiencing it. this requires EMPATHY. #alimomsalonluna_sea
T4: One tear shed for another’s loss has miraculous healing powers. Seeing that our grief is real gives us permission to grieve #alimomsalonJody Day

Topic 5: Transitions to Life Beyond Infertility

T5: Transitions: Whether you do/don’t parent, what resources/support have you found in your moments of transition? #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
T5 (part 2): Pls share any links if you have them for these resources too! #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
Be open about infertility transitions. Tell your story. The hardest for me: http://www.sacandco.net/story.aspx?storyid=72660 #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
T5: So grateful for @PamelaJeanne & her Silent Sorority book & website for those who move beyond parenting, too! #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
T5) We have found a very positive response over at our Bloggers for Hope site. Diff. views/resources. http://bloggersforhope.com #ALIMomSalonChance to Hope
T5: We offer support for every step of the journey. Live in New England? Check us out! http://bit.ly/RESOLVENE #ALIMomSalonRESOLVE New England
Find communities that can help: In UK @GatewayWomen: http://www.gateway-women.com #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
@KeikoZoll T5: corrected link: http://www.pailbloggers.com"Pregnancy/Parenting through Adoption, Infertility, Loss" #alimomsalon @pailbloggersMetholic (Chandra J)
T5: Join @resolveorg’s online support group called Living After Infertility Resolution http://goo.gl/MRMj9 #alimomsalonresolveorg
Find supportive online communites: @LifeWithoutBaby; I manage a blog focused on Reinvention: http://blog.silentsorority.com #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
T5) For me, personally, I’ve found that it’s still important to support others. I continue to learn from them. #AliMomSalonCourtney N.
T5) I have kept involved in the IF community, and formed strong friendships with others who’ve become parents post-IF. #AliMomSalonCourtney N.
T5 my best support has been connecting thru the blogosphere and with families built in a similar way who understand the path #alimomsalonluna_sea
T5 also I think it’s important to give yourself permission to let go of whatever in your life is NOT supportive #alimomsalonluna_sea
@luna_sea If someone can’t support you or drags you down emotionally, cut the ties & drop that negativity. #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
@luna_sea @KeikoZoll: Yes! Give yourself room to heal. Step away from people or situations that don’t offer support #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos

Topic 6: Reinvention

T6 (part 1): Let’s talk about reinvention. If you parent post-infertility, what does this mean to you? #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
T6 (part 2): If you don’t parent, how do you embrace a life that doesn’t conform with today’s pro-natal society? #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
T6: First recognize Infertility has more than one ending. It helps to know 1 in 5 women are not mothers http://ow.ly/eNsU3 #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
T6) I made a conscious decision that my child(ren) will know about educating themselves on a subject before judging. #AliMomSalonCourtney N.
T6) My child will also be aware of IF as a disease and learning to offer support even when you don’t understand the pain. #AliMomSalonCourtney N.
T6 this life, parenting after infertility, is one I never thought I’d live; means gratitude, compassion, challenge and change #alimomsalonluna_sea
T6 (part 2): By doing work that rocks your boat and makes a difference. All that love has to go somewhere or you feel like shit #alimomsalonJody Day
T6: First recognize Infertility has more than one ending. It helps to know 1 in 5 women are not mothers http://ow.ly/eNsU3 #ALIMomSalonChance to Hope
T6: Empathy – you don’t know what anyone else is going through. Also a bit more ruthless, grateful, thankful. Put up w/ less BS #AliMomSalonKeAnne
T6: Celebrate and include all women in the converation regardless of whatever path they may be on. #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
@pamelajeanne, I think you are such a needed voice about fulfillment & abundance in life, of being in the moment. #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
T6. To recognize and support all women and men wherever they may be on the infertility journey. #alimomsalonresolveorg

Final Thoughts & Parting Words of Wisdom

Your infertility story matters. The journey sucks. Find supportive people to walk with you. Own your story, your journey. #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
Parting thoughts: Empathy, forgiveness, acceptance. They’re all free and best yet they reward all of us. #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos
Women supporting women is the way forward – whatever the issue. Individually we’re great. Together, we are awesome! #alimomsalonJody Day
Sharing your stories no matter the outcome – it helps others feel less alone! Keep a listening ear open all the time. #alimomsalonFran Meadows
Get what you need to say off your chest. Read more about today’s open adoption/loss/infertility salon: http://ow.ly/eNIam #alimomsalonLane Fertility
Thank you for inviting us to be part of this great discussion today. For more info about @resolveorg – http://www.resolve.org #alimomsalonresolveorg
Thanks for hosting this chat! We’re glad we could join. To learn more about our org & our work, visit http://bit.ly/RESOLVENE #ALIMomSalonRESOLVE New England
We are so glad to have been a part of this! Inspiring and encouraging. We will continue the support at http://www.chancetohope.org #ALIMomSalonChance to Hope
I want to give a HUGE public THANK YOU! to Miss @PamelaJeanne for being her badass self for our salon this week :) #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
And thank you to everyone who joined us today! I would thank you all by name but that would take forever. I <3 you all :) #alimomsalonKeiko Zoll
@KeikoZoll: And thank you for a great convo; couldn’t have done this TweetChat without your considerable social media skills. #alimomsalonPamela M Tsigdinos

For more information and to keep the dialogue going, please visit Keiko at The Infertility Voice:

The Infertility Voice | Your infertility story matters.For two years, I’ve been driving around with a box of pregnancy tests in the glove compartment of my car. Back when I was on the Board fo…

And Pamela at Silent Sorority:

Award-Winning Memoir by Pamela M. TsigdinosCheck out http://silentsorority.com! Silent Sorority is an award-winning memoir about living with infertility in a mommy-centric society….
Thanks for reading, sharing your opinions and helping to create more open community online!

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Comments

  1. says

    Well done Keiko and Pam! You covered a lot of ground so thoughtfully this week and I hope the discussion will continue. Thanks and kudos to you both!

  2. says

    What a wonderful and thought-provoking project! Ironically (?) it was my mandatory “volunteer” day at the kids school so I couldn’t participate in the Twitterstream but I’m so grateful you provided this storify summation. (Cool tool!) Thanks again to you and Pamela for running this very worthy project. Kudos!

  3. says

    Thanks again for doing this. I appreciate the opportunity to share my news because I was feeling a bit anxious wondering where I fit into the ALI community and life in general.

  4. says

    Thank you both for a week of fabulous & thought-provoking reading!! I am kind of sorry to see it all end. Maybe a return engagement somewhere down the road??