My Tin Heart: On Ten Years of Blogging

tin heart art by Mariposa Fuerte from Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/90296840/colorful-sacred-heart-silver-mexican-tin

“So last night was PLANET MELTDOWN at my house. I lost my shit and had a total tantrum. It started because my husband was wanting to have sex and I soooooo didn’t– and went on from there. I ended my fest by slamming the bedroom door, falling on the bed weeping, and hurling my prenatal vitamins at the door (they didn’t break, more’s the pity), all the while wondering why my husband wasn’t coming into the room to comfort his violent and psycho wife. And this month I’m not even taking any fertility hormones.”

Those were the first words I wrote on this blog a decade ago, on March 22nd, 2004. This blog began as a way to chronicle our struggles with infertility. At the time I worked full time for a local women’s art college, running a retail art gallery that was half a store and half a marketing and public relations effort. I was younger, fitter, and active, spending 45 days of the year sleeping outside camping, and I hiked several times a week. I was deeply involved with my sobriety, I went to sober dances, I had too many cats, and I lived in the city. I was happy, but I couldn’t get pregnant.

This last decade has brought me my greatest joy, my greatest grief, my greatest failures, and my greatest successes. It’s hard to believe that I’ve packed so much in ten short years, but I have. Tori is my daily joy, while the loss of our sons is a solemn undercurrent of every breath I take. We nearly lost everything in 2009 during the economic crash, but we are still here.

It’s been a hell of a decade.

……….

My blog was called, back then, “And I Wasted All That Birth Control” but the url was a mess: it was zia.blogs.com, because I didn’t know what I was doing. Hardly anyone I knew had a domain name back then. We all just blogged on platforms that automatically created a url for us. I chose “zia” in there because Typepad let me choose an element, and I was from New Mexico, and I had a zia tattoo. My blog was ugly back then, too, because hardly anyone made their blogs pretty in the early days either.

Hardly anyone read my blog, and I was pseudo anonymous back then; I never said my last name, and I never mentioned exactly where I lived: I just said, “east coast.” I’m sure someone could have found me if they’d really tried, but no one did. There was a small group of us infertility bloggers, maybe a dozen at first, and then eventually about 25 of us, all sharing our struggles, complaining about the injections, the dildo cam, and that damned Hope Addict that reared her head each month as we all tracked every twinge in our bodies trying to determine if they were symptoms of pregnancy. Living in infertility hell is weird and sad and obsessive and tragic and hard. It’s one of those things where you just don’t get it unless you’ve lived through it, and having other people to connect with online that were going through it was a complete and utter miracle; I didn’t know anyone in my “real” life going through it, and these amazing women online saved my sanity every single day.

In those early days of blogging there was absolutely no way to promote your blog. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no blog hops, no Google+, no SEO, nothing. Zip. Nada. There were no feed readers either. We all read each other’s blogs and then we put our favorite blogs in a blogroll on our sidebar. It wasn’t a tool for anything other than self-expression. Almost everyone I knew in the early days, even the professional writers, kept their blogs separate from their professional lives. It was a private joy. I only told a handful of my closest friends; I didn’t tell my mother until I’d been blogging for several years.

The only way people found my blog was through random searches, and by clicking over from comments I left on other blogs. We were an insulated community, in a way, which seems like a strange thing to say given that everything we wrote and published was public.

……….

Things began to change, of course. I first remember hearing inklings of something, a gathering of women bloggers, a conference called BlogHer. I didn’t pay much attention, at first. I was too deeply mired in my infertility struggle, and then the loss of my boys, and then my best friend’s wedding, and then my next pregnancy and the birth of my daughter, Tori.

But I was changing too. I realized I loved writing, more than any other work I’d done, and that I was good at it and people liked it. My readership grew substantially. I also realized I hated being at my job, as wonderful as it was, because it meant I was away from my daughter. I began putting out feelers and telling people I was looking for writing work, and like a gift an offer came from an online friend’s husband. In 2007, I quit my job, and began writing articles to pay the bills.

And in 2008, I attended my first BlogHer. It was there I made the switch, in my head: I became a professional blogger. I rebranded my blog to Uppercase Woman, I decided to stop being anonymous, and I claimed my internet space.

As social media grew, and Facebook and Twitter and all the myriad other options appeared, I began pursuing involvement with professional organizations related to online media, and I’ve been on the board of my local Social Media Club for over five years now. I began writing for sites like Type-A Mom, Silicon Valley Moms, and eventually Babble.

What started as a hobby that helped me survive a time of crises became my full time career.

……….

There’s much that’s changed about blogging in the last decade that is challenging. Today there tens of millions of women blogging, and there’s money to be made. It’s been interesting watching each transition; I remember the gasps of dismay when bloggers began putting ads on their sites – but then all of us eagerly signed up for BlogHer’s ads once they launched (and wow, the checks were substantial back then too). Then came sponsored content, which resulted in another round of pearl clutching, and then reviews and giveaways and brand trips and more. Blogging is a competitive enterprise these days – like any other job or industry.

With money comes dissent, of course, and I could write pages about the fine art of trolling, but I’m no longer renting space in my brain to that negativity. It’s part and parcel of the web now, and it is what it is. Sometimes it’s made blogging really hard, but not enough for me to throw in the towel.

And after all, this post is supposed to be a celebration, so let’s not dwell on the bad side of things.

……….

So, finally, nearly 1200 words later, I come to this: you. You amazing, beautiful, fabulous, spectacular, generous, and loving people. For ten years now, you’ve read my words. You’ve listened to my stories. You’ve taught me how to grow up, how to be a better person, and how to open up my heart and my mind. You have been the most amazing gift anyone could ever receive – well, you know, other than Tori. And Charlie.

I will never forget that day in 2004 when I lay in the hospital, near death and grieving the boys, when Sarah printed out pages and pages of comments you all had left me on my blog (no hospital wifi in 2004). She read them to me in my darkened hospital room, and I could feel your love and support.

I felt it again when Tori was finally born, when you all saw her face for the first time.

Again when I quit my job and you encouraged me to succeed.

And again, when times grew dark, and many of you clicked on that tip jar on my blog and made it possible for us to pay our bills when we thought we’d lose it all.

And now, today, you are here with me, watching Tori grow up, watching my career grow, and still cheering me on.

You are one of the greatest lights of my life.

……….

I know not everyone that read in the beginning still reads today, although a few of you do. I know that many question the path I’ve taken. But I am here, today, because of this blog. Because ten years ago I hurled a bottle of prenatal vitamins at a closed door in a pique of rage, and I needed to tell someone about it. So I did.

The traditional gift on a ten year anniversary is tin (although according to Hallmark, it’s now diamonds, so feel free to send some of those on over). It’s fitting, because tin is a soft metal that shapes easily, making it perfect to contain things or make into art.

You can’t think of tin without thinking of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, wishing he only had a heart. This blog has been my heart for ten years – my bashed, bruised, and broken heart – like the tin heart* pictured above. It has been shaped over this last decade into something beautiful, and you have helped shape it.

This, of course, is all to say: thank you. Thank you for granting me this corner of the internet for ten whole years. Thank you for coming here each day or week or month or even year to check in with me. You have granted me grace, and I am grateful.

Happy tenth birthday, my little blog. What a long and amazing trip it’s been.

 

*(created by this Etsy artist)

 

 

Comments Closed

Comments

  1. Tine says

    Aw. *sniff* You’re welcome. Also, thank you. I have learned from you more than you’ll ever know.

    How has it been 10 years? That doesn’t seem possible, even though I’ve been around for all of them.

  2. Heather says

    I’ve been around for most of it, I think.

    I arrived at fertility blogs when I needed blogs about widowhood but there weren’t any. At 28, I instead found a corner of the internet who were full of a different type of grief. It was close enough to pull me out of my isolation. I’ve hung out on the internet with a half dozen of you ever since. I don’t talk a lot, but I read all the time.

    Congrats, thanks for pushing through the hard stuff and sharing all of it.

  3. Monica says

    I remember those early years so well back when I was blogging as Deviant Woman! There are certain bloggers who have disappeared that I often think about and wonder how they are – it’s so nice to see so many of us on the other side of the infertility struggle and I’m always hoping that the next generation of women going through it find such a supportive community.

  4. Dresden says

    Happy 10th anniversary!!! I was part of the 2nd wave of infertility bloggers and was so thankful for the trailblazers who made it permissible to write about lady town online. I met you for the 1st time at a BlogHer conference and years later I count you as one of my dearest friends. Congratulations on reaching this awesome achievement!

  5. chickenpig says

    Has it really been that long? It just seems like yesterday…
    In the 19th century the friends and family of a couple celebrating their 10th anniversary would hold ‘tin parties’. The guests would all bring a small object made of tin, they look like Christmas tree ornaments and are sometimes used that way, but the object was meant to represent something that the couple wanted. When I learned about this through work I was rapidly approaching my own 10th anniversary and about my 5th year of trying to get pregnant without success. If I had my own ‘tin party’ every item made of tin would have been baby related. It was around that time that I discovered your blog and I haven’t stopped reading since.

    If we threw a tin party for you today, we would probably bring little tin computers. All the better for you to keep on writing. I am still waiting for your life story to come out in print :)

  6. Kathy says

    I have no idea how I first found your blog, but I think it must have been not long after you started it. Then I lost track for a couple years and came back to find you a brand new mother of baby Tori! I found a lot of things that we don’t have in common (I’m a few years older, my children are grown, I’m a lot more conservative) some things we do have in common (hard-won sobriety, love for our family & friends, faith). Anyway, I just want to say that I’ve always been drawn to you and your writing, your warmth, your humor, your raw honesty – I check frequently for your next post! I might not always agree with you, but that’s ok, right!?! Congrats on 10 years, and keep it coming :)

  7. Elena says

    Congratulations Cecily. Ten years is a long time (I hit my 10 year mark last November) , and as you were recapping it, I remembered reading most of those posts. I don’t think I came on board until 2005 though.

    Here’s to another 10!

  8. 4katnap says

    Congratulations! Here’s to the next 10, and the 10 after that, and as many more as you are willing to share. I think your writing brings so much to my life. You’ve faced so much and you are still hanging on. Many would have broken long ago. I”m so happy that you have Tori and Charlie and a career that makes you happy. Rock on Uppercase Woman, Rock on!

  9. Dana says

    10 years. Wow. I found your blog right at the time that you had lost the boys – I was one of those pages of comments that Sarah printed out, even though I’d just found you. (If I remember correctly, another blogger that I read at the time, who I’d met through Ebay of all places, linked to your blog asking for support for you because of your loss. Unfortunately, that other blogger has since passed away.)

    Anyway, I was pregnant myself at the time, with my now 9 year old daughter. I felt your loss so keenly, and cried for and with you – and have often in the years since as well – when you had Tori, when you were buying your house (at about the same time that my husband and I were doing the same!), during the economic hardships – hard to believe it’s been 10 years. Hard to believe the places that MY life has taken me in that time.

    You are still one of the very first “Mommybloggers” I started reading – I’ve watched movies because you said you liked them, checked out websites and products because you said they were good, and followed the growth of your writing with interest.

    Congratulations on the last 10 years – here’s to the next 10! Happy birthday, “little” blog!

  10. Melessa says

    I knew there was a reason you picked “zia”! ;) I was late to your party and found your blog while doing WW in late 2004. Like many, I rejoiced at the birth of Tori, printed out your “milkshake” post in the interest of making my marriage more interesting, and have enjoyed being along for the ride of your awesome life. Happy 10th!!

  11. Elizabeth McKinney says

    I’ve been with you since the beginning, Cecily. I was struggling to get pregnant and then pregnant with you when you were carrying Nicolas and Zachary. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years!!!

  12. Cathy says

    I found you way back when, maybe 2005 or 6? And can only say THANK YOU. Thank you, Cecily, for persevering, for sharing, for inviting us into your deep true Self. So grateful, and here’s to many more years along the way.

  13. jb says

    I think I found you during the Chez Miscarriage days – anyone else remember her? Happy 10th! Great post. Its all so different I can’t imagine where the next 5 years will take us. So glad you are still writing!

      • jb says

        I do too. but remember – I think she went the surragocy route? And had her baby…I think she wished us all well at that point on left the blog spere….I remember when I found her blog it was such an enormous relief. And Julia. And Ceciliy….long road for so many. I forgote the getupgrrl part!

  14. nikkiana says

    Congrats on making it to the double digits! Most people don’t hack it this long! :)

    I always get so tickled to see other people’s recollection of how things have changed, especially considering since people’s recollections of the medium are so varied based how long ago they started and how old they were when they started.

    I’ve been blogging sixteen years and I was just shy of fourteen when I started. I remember what it was like before it was called blogging. Before blogging platforms existed… What it was like before comments existed… and I’m all sitting over here saying, “What are you talking about that there were no feed readers in 2004? That totally became a thing in like… somewhere around… 2000? 2001? Shit, my memory’s going bad. They were just desktop apps and really freaking clunky back then.”

  15. sisters from another mister says

    Back in 2000 I wrote with a dozen countrywide women on a little bulletin board where we virtual hugged and gave eachother hope that our dreams of babies would be realised. Never heard of blogging thro my journey, nor onto the next avenue where adoption brought my cherub into my heart … but now years later, my comfort comes from the blogosphere as my life has turned upside down … each and every day I am grateful for the love I have found in my screen of friends like you.
    Much love to you on this anniversary my dear, you are all heart … and I look forward to this next decade with you … congrats xxxx

  16. Chrysula says

    You’ve popped into my mind at least six times today and not because of social media because I’ve barely had time to glance at anything today. But now I know why. Such an important day! I think you’re an incredible dame and I’m thrilled I get to hang out with you once in a while. Here’s to ten more, oh amazing one. xo

  17. Karinsamira says

    Wow ten years already…fascinating how time flies by when we are so busy with our lives. You sure have come a Long way….sending you cyber hugs

  18. Suebob says

    Happy 10th. I’m not quite there yet, but sneaking up on it. I kind of miss the days of blogrolls and commenting on everything everyone wrote!

    I’m happy you stuck around and happy you’re doing so well. Onward!

  19. Danielle says

    Happy anniversary!! I’ve been reading since 2005! Can’t wait to see what the next 10 years brings :) Thank you for sharing you!

  20. Melissa says

    I have read your blog about 8-9 yrs
    Did the infertility surgery drug route
    myself. Finally got my son
    But I had a voice in you. You always mattered to me. I was so thrilled when you had Tori
    I remember the other blog name
    I wish you much happiness and another 10 yrs. It would feel very Lonely with out your blog

  21. Jo-Ann says

    I have been here since the day you started investigating infertility treatments and you emailed a group a women a long email. I was here the day you started your blog, been knee deep fixing your pictures after you switched to WordPress and I know I will be here for the rest too. Congrats on a huge milestone on the instant world that is the internet. Much love old friend.

  22. Heather says

    I’ve been a reader from close to the beginning. I rarely comment but I’m a fan of your writing. Congrats on 10 years! As long as you keep writing, I’ll keep reading. Here’s hoping for 10 more…:)

  23. Peg says

    Congrats on the 10 years and all you’ve accomplished in between both personnally and professionally. I loved your writing then and continue to enjoy it now. Keep up the great work!

  24. Gettysburg Gerry says

    I just love your line ” I decided to stop being anonymous, and I claimed my internet space.” Very powerful, I feel a blog coming together in my head, thanks for the inspiration.

  25. Annie B says

    while I applaud your tenacity, your content has been drifting over the years. I started reading GOMI because I have been so frustrated with your writing and your obsessive need to be taken as a professional in the online community. You don’t seem to be doing well financially so I sincerely urge you and your husband to seek other means of income and maybe your writing will not be so redundant

  26. Laura says

    I still have my blog from 2004. Didn’t even think about it being 10 years. But, I had blogs before that, just didn’t keep them. Wish I had now. But, even what I did save is on files I can’t read any more. Congratualtions on 10 years and all the life changes, ups and downs. You got here!

  27. bbonthebrink says

    I live in Paris and started reading your blog soon after you started blogging 10 years ago, and still continue to do so. I’ve just clicked on your ‘and I wasted all that birth control’ link and was brought back to all those years ago when I too was trying to get pregnant. I used to read all the other infertility bloggers of the time and gained a lot of comfort and insight from you all. Though I was a terrible lurker and never dared to comment. I now have two wonderful kids (9 and 12) and that epoque seems a long way off as we embark on new and exciting ventures. I’ve enjoyed watching you evolve and change over time, all the best, Barbara.

  28. Kris (aka RevDrMom) says

    I’ve been reading your blog since early 2006 I guess….and I found it through other bloggers–following links and blog rolls. I’ve always loved the way you write, and your willingness to share your joys and your hard times. I remember waiting for Tori to be born and how happy I was when everything turned out well after such a scare.

    I’ve just finished reading through your last few posts (it’s May 13 when I’m writing this) and I am amazed by your journey. And yet It reflects the reality so well that we are ALL on journeys of one sort or another. I know that I am. My own has been like a roller coaster the last few years. And I’ve grown more cautious about what I say online in the absence of pseudonymity; I rarely blog and FB gets, for the most part, only the positive parts of my life. It’s not all been positive!

    But like you I feel like I have taken a leap and I’m in midair. I hope I land on solid ground but only time will tell. Part of this is because after almost 19 years of being single, I’ve met a wonderful man. I don’t know if it will be forever, but I’m hoping so. And at age 61 (!) I feel better and stronger than I did 20 years ago or 10 years ago.

    Thanks for sharing your story and your friendship! K