You are here
Finding Others Going Through Infertility
Even though statistics say that 1 in 6 couples are going through some form of infertility, it doesn't always feel like that. Los Angeles in particular can make struggling to conceive seem especially isolating because in the family building arena, adults tend to, at least publicly, fall into one of three groups.
Group one has a gaggle of particularly well-dressed children who were made easily. Group two only has a vague interest in creating themselves a family, sometime in the distant, distant future, you know, when they finally finish working on that screenplay. Group three, which at times seems to be the most predominant, regards children much in the same way one would an uninvited houseguest vomiting in the middle of your bed.
Some people luck out and their family and/or friends, regardless of experience, step up and become a great support system. As far as easily-found, been-through-it support, it seems like most people have an Aunt or a distant cousin who went through fertility treatments years ago, have since had a child, and is the most believable person in the chorus of "Someday! Keep the faith!". That's great, but where the heck are the current 1 in 6?
I went through fertility treatments for a year before it occurred to me that I would benefit from talking to other people going through the same thing. I had to blindly figure out how to go about finding them, but once I went looking, I couldn't believe I hadn't gone looking before. A few areas of support that I have found helpful:
A great way to find others is through discussion boards, like Fertile Thoughts. If you're shy about truly opening up about your situation with family or friends (it's a trial and error situation how well they're going to understand, after all) this is the perfect situation.
The benefit of looking for other people struggling online is that you don't have to jump into the conversation until you're ready. 'Lurkers' are expected and encouraged - it's like wearing your own invisibility cloak. Unlike when you share with family and friends, you can assess the situation first and get a feel on how people will respond to you (spoiler alert: it will be positively).
When you are comfortable enough to participate in conversations, you'll find nothing other than support. Even better - you will find people who have recently been or are in your situation. Doctors and online articles are great in dealing with the medical side of infertility and keeping you informed, however fertility issues are in large part an emotional struggle. Emotions will keep coming up and they usually require pretty persistent maintenance - which is not necessarily something that's going to come from researching medical information. Through online forums you find others who can talk you through things because they've been there, and give you an unedited account not of the science that's involved in treatment but what it will really be LIKE.
There are literally thousands of fertility/infertility blogs. This may be obvious to you or if you're like me, and had previously only read blogs to get recipes you're feeling brave enough to attempt, it may be news. There are tons, written by men and women around the world, focused mostly to entirely on trying to conceive. Reading them can be invaluable - because again, it's having permission to observe someone else's fertility struggles under a veil of anonymity.
Just like with forums, your level of participation with blogs is entirely up to you. You don't have to leave a comment or even let anyone know you were ever there (just taking a random, informal poll of blogging friends I found out about 1/15 people who visit actually leave a comment). Alternatively you can participate in the conversation, become invested in another person's struggle. Getting involved in blogs can even lead to local, in real life, fertility-challenged friends (through my blog, I've thus far met four, fantastic local women who have gotten me through some tough periods. In a city this big, I never would have met them otherwise). Heck, you can even start your own blog (which is really a great form of free therapy).
If you're feeling brave and like being in a room with other couples going through treatment would be beneficial for you, there are local infertility support groups. They usually meet once a month, and are either peer-led or professionally-led. Being in a room with other people who know exactly what you're going through and genuinely care can be greatly therapeutic. If you're not into joining an existing group, there are even ways to start your own.
Whether or not you have an amazing support system in place with family and friends, finding and getting involved (to whatever degree) with other people in your situation can be hugely, hugely helpful. There really is a particular brand of relief, comfort and support that comes from having people in your life who see the world through fertility-challenged lenses. Finding them is easier than you may think, you just have to open yourself up to the possibilities.