Infertility and Why Community Matters

I’m glad to see more celebrities and other newsmakers talking about their struggles with infertility. I also want to give a shout out to all the people across the country who organize and lead local infertility and pregnancy loss support groups. When we were in the throes of trying (and failing) to conceive, there wasn’t a formal group in our area, and I felt its absence. I longed to connect with other women who knew firsthand the monthly ups and downs of the process, gals who shared my obsession with at-home pregnancy tests, and ladies who understood the shame and guilt I felt because my body wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do. I came to understand why community is so important for people struggling with this medical challenge.

unimpressed11. You need understanding, not crappy advice.

Ever shared your infertility journey with someone who just didn’t get it? Sure, they might try to comfort you with some sage advice like, “Stop trying so hard!” or “Go adopt a baby from Africa. Then you’ll get pregnant!”

What you really need are co-conspirators who can help you survive the two week wait or can tell you which filters make even the faintest positive lines on a pregnancy test show up. Online communities are a great place for these kinds of relationships. These message boards are full of women who are in the same boat as you, and would send their old pee sticks by the truckloads to anyone who suggests relaxation is the key to overcoming infertility.

2. You need mentors.

It helps to connect with people who are farther along on their journey. They have valuable advice that they’ve gleaned from their experiences. For example, it helps to hear when others have decided to move from trying in utero insemination to in vitro fertilization. If your doctor suggests a course of treatment that sounds new to you, ask your infertility support group if they know anything about it. Of course, you should always feel comfortable asking your doctor medical questions…but sometimes, it’s helpful to also draw on the collective wisdom of the BTDT ladies. (That’s Been There Done That for all your fertiles out there.)

popcorn woman3. You need permission to treat yourself right.

Sometimes, you need an ugly cry because you just found out your ovaries didn’t produce enough eggs for your upcoming IVF cycle. Sometimes, you need to go see a mindless action movie and gorge on popcorn. Sometimes, you just need to rant and rage against the world because it’s not fair that you can’t conceive but the neighbor’s cousin’s dentist’s assistant just got pregnant after a one-night stand. Being in a support group with other people who are going through infertility allows you to understand that there are many appropriate and healthy ways to cope with your emotions.

In what ways has being in community with other people experiencing infertility helped you?

Animated gifs via Giphy.com

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4 thoughts on “Infertility and Why Community Matters

    • First, I’m so sorry that you’re going through infertility. ((Hugs)) Second, it’s really great you have communities of support online and in person. You’re right! Talking to others and knowing you aren’t the only one experiencing all the madness DOES help keep you sane and focused. I wish you all the best on your journey!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve found the most support, surprisingly, from a friend who is a new mom of a 10 week old baby who got pregnant at 38 without trying. You’d think it’d be the opposite, but she has been exactly what I needed – asking me about ME, trying to understand the process, and providing an ear and support – without ever saying one ignorant or stupid thing. Ironically, a (now former) good friend who went through it for years has stopped reaching out, and many others I thought would be there for me just aren’t – a text “emoji” here and there and telling me “don’t worry, it’ll happen” and other greatest hits from the “things not to say to infertiles” list. We just had our donor egg transfer yesterday and are also in the early stages of adoption (we want to do both, to us it never was life or death to have a genetically connected child, we just want a family). We went to support groups but it was more like show and tell rather than honest support of each other, and the online forums seem to me more obsessed with monitoring data rather than talking about feelings, and I feel like the support I have for adoption while doing IVF seems to be blown off on those because they don’t share my sentiments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! Thank you so much for sharing. I think you’re right…support sometimes comes from unexpected places. I’m so glad you’ve found a friend who’s willing to listen and be supportive. We had several older couples who didn’t have children who rallied around us when we were going through the infertility struggle. They never tried to “solve” our infertility problem with crazy advice. They just listened to us and supported us along the way.

      I agree with you about many in the online forums being monitoring obsessed. When I was in the midst of that part of it, I couldn’t get enough of the forums. But when we decided to move on to adoption, I left that behind.

      All the best on your donor egg transfer! What an exciting time for you. And it warms my heart that you’re also pursuing adoption. We reached a point in our journey when we realized the same thing: it’s about parenting children, not giving birth. After mourning the loss of our dream to have bio children, we moved on to adoption, and it’s been a healing path for us and for our children who are also experiencing loss–the loss of their birth families and birth cultures. I wish you smooth sailing on the adoption adventure!

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