Thursday, April 25, 2013

Join the Movement...As a Parent

As many of you know, it's National Infertility Awareness Week and Resolve is asking bloggers in the community to talk about being more active in bringing change to the infertility landscape.  This is a topic that I think about a lot.  I want to be a voice in that landscape and I really want to help make change.

One of the things that I wish had been different for me in my infertility journey was support.  I wish I had reached out for support when we were in the thick of it.  My closest friends weren't at a place where they were having children and knew what kind of emotions went into that.  The people we knew who were having kids, had no idea what it was like to want kids and not be able to have them.  Our families certainly didn't make the process easier, and often said the worst thing they could in a given situation.  Hubby was and always has been my biggest support.  But outside of that, I felt very alone.  I didn't feel like anyone understood, cared, knew how to help me, or even wanted to help me.

I should have reached out for support at that point and found a group or a therapist or something.  I didn't.  I didn't even realize how low a point I was at until I wasn't at it anymore.  But I wish it had been different.  So now I try harder to know when I need support and go looking for it.  As an infertile parent, I started to realize that I still needed support.  Infertility has left me forever changed.  I was not "cured" once I had a child.  I am a different parent because of the process that it took for me to get here.  Some of that is very positive, some of it gives me great anxiety.  I still see the need to be supported by other people who understand the journey we went on to parenthood.

That's one of the reasons I started this blog.  I've read blogs in the ALI community for a long time.  I never commented.  I felt a huge connection to these people and they helped me in a lot of ways, but I never told them.  I wish that I had.  I'm so thankful that I started the blog when I did.  The connection that I've found with other people around the country and world has been amazing.  It has made me long for the ability to be with those people face to face though.  To sit down and have a cup of coffee, watch our kids play, and talk about life as an infertile parent.

So about two years ago, I started looking for support groups for infertile parents.  I figured there had to be one.  I started with Resolve and looked at their support groups.  All of the support groups and services that I could find were for people going through the process of trying to have children or living child free.  I found one page with some information about pregnancy after infertility, and that was kind of it.  Everyone in the ALI community knows that infertility doesn't end with a baby, but I couldn't figure out how to find support once I had one.

That's when I decided to start my own group.  I was really nervous to put myself out there, but I put a notice up online advertising a play/support group for people who had gone through the process of infertility or adoption to start their families.  I knew there had to be more people out there like me and I was right.  At our first meeting three other moms got together and while the little ones played, we talked about what we'd been through, how it had changed us, and what we were like as parents because of it.  It was really wonderful.  Unfortunately, it never got much farther off the ground.  We met more times over the next year or so, but the group never really grew.

The main problem that I had was figuring out how to get the word out.  I knew there had to be other parents out there like me, lots of them, but I didn't know how to reach them.  I tried some local bulletin boards but I knew the place where they all potentially could be, was kind of untouchable.  The reproductive endocrinologist.  I couldn't figure out a way to get the word out through my doctor without being hurtful to all of the people still trying to start their families and needing support with that.  And so life got busy and, reluctantly, I threw in the towel.

Luckily I gained a really wonderful friend through the process, but I feel like this is something that needs to happen.  We need to physically have a place for infertile parents to find each other, to talk about our past and how that has effected our present.  To support each other if we choose to continue growing our families.  Even just to sit down and watch the little people running around in the back yard and all marvel together at what miracles they are.  That is such a moment of healing for me, that the power it could have when multiplied is astounding.

My challenge to myself is to try again.  To join the movement and not let this hiccup that I ran into stop me.  I believe this is something that needs to happen.  I believe this is something that a national organization like Resolve could benefit from.  I also believe that I was a little afraid to put myself out there in a big way and really get it off the ground and spread the word.  That's my challenge and where one of my passions about joining the movement stems from.  I have a need to find other people who can relate to my situation as an infertile parent.  I want to talk to them, see their face, and be able to lean on each other.  And I know there have to be other people out there like me, itching to join that movement too.  Think of what we could accomplish together.  Not just as support for each other, but as a voice for infertility for all of those still struggling to start a family. (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)


  1. I agree that many people would benefit from a group for infertile parents. When I joined my mom and baby group at the local parenting center, there were 12 babies, and over time, I came to discover that 5/12 were conceived through IVF. Furthermore, out of 11 moms, 6 had been through treatments. It wasn't something that people publicized right away, but once we realized our common bond, it was such a relief to have someone to relate to in *that* way. I remember one woman (now friend) talking about how she hadn't wanted a baby shower and didn't even order a crib until 38 weeks because she was so scared about losing the baby. I understood her completely, and it made me so happy-sad to know that there was another mom sitting just a few feet away who knew how scared I had felt (and, in a way, continued to feel), too.

    Anyway, I do think dedicated groups for infertiles with children would go a long way, because as you said, infertility doesn't just go away once you're a parent, though in the same breath, it *is* different than being infertile without children, and it would be unfair to those still enduring that particular hell to suggest otherwise.

    I look forward to seeing where this takes you. Good luck :)

    1. It is amazing how many people you find in life who have had difficulty having children in one way or another. It also still amazes me how little people talk about it. Once we had our first miscarriage we started hearing from all of our friends who had had one. I wish it was something that was talked about more.

      Your moms group sounds amazing. I have to admit, I never stuck around long enough in one of the moms groups I tried to dig deeper. I probably should have. Maybe I need to go back and try again. Maybe I need to just be a little more outspoken about it all myself.

      And I could not agree more that the support I need now is nothing compared to what I needed when I was still trying to have Bean. I would never suggest differently which is why I leave my RE's office as untouchable. As much as I know that I could probably find other people there who have children, I believe it needs to be a sanctuary for those who don't. I would never want to cause more pain to anyone going through treatments. Which is also why I can't really fault Resolve and other organizations for not building a support network for infertile parents. I would rather have their efforts go to those most in need and to the cause in general. That's why I feel like the little guys like me can try to step up. I know what a difference it has made to have people who understand this side of me.

  2. Good for you for taking the initiative and getting something started! I'm sorry that it didn't end up being what you had hoped, but I love your idea of trying for it again!