The blogosphere has been quiet lately. Have you noticed the lull? It happens every now again, people just stop writing and commenting and things get quiet. In the past a quiet blogosphere frustrated me but now I have more patience for it. It’s just the inevitable period of yin that complements the yang. It is necessary.
And now on to our regularly scheduled program.
Infertility is isolating. Secondary infertility can seem even more so because you really don’t fit in anywhere: not with people who don’t have kids, not with most people who do have kids, not even with most other infertiles. You are, for all intents and purposes, alone.
The isolation is really difficult. It may be one of the most challenge aspects of this experience.
I am lucky in that I do have some amazing support in my life. My parter loves me and is incredibly caring. My best friend is amazing. She is like the best and most unexpected gift in my life. She has been through infertility and understands what I’m going through; she is knowledgeable on the subject and is an incredible sounding board. My mother has also been a pilar of strength, acknowledging how hard this is and propping me up when I need it most. Truly, between the three of them, I feel supported. But I would love to meet–face to face–other women who are struggling with the same things, trying to decide whether to build their families in different ways than they had ever dreamed or to just walk away. I’d love the support and camaraderie of other women who are going through this right now. I’d love to know how they are handling it. How they are making the impossible decisions. How they know what to do.
Many books I read suggest joining a support group, but those same books recommend it be a group that is specifically geared toward secondary infertility, as women enduring primary infertility have a hard time supporting women who already have a child.
Long ago I checked RESOLVE’s Northern California groups page and was disappointed (and frankly a little surprised) to see that there were no peer-led (read: free) general fertility groups in the area, let alone secondary infertility groups. There was one professional group (that, as far as I could tell, cost $350 for six one hour sessions) but they meet on Tuesdays from 10:30am to noon. I guess the assumption is that women dealing with secondary infertility are stay at home moms? All I know is I can’t go to that meeting until maybe this summer. That is four months away.
So I started to think, maybe I should start a peer led group for secondary infertility in San Francisco. Meetings are generally just once or twice a month. If I could find an available space, why not give it a go?
And then the fear reared its ugly head. And the doubt. I started to wonder, am I really the right person to lead a group like this? What do I have to bring to the conversation? Can I effectively facilitate an emotionally charged meeting with women I’ve never met? Will they feel confortable with me, knowing that I’ve only been trying for a little over a year and never plan on pursuing IVF? Am I secondary infertile enough?
The thing is, I know I’m infertile. This is not me harping on “credentials” again. If my 12 months TTC weren’t proof enough, our dismal diagnoses and hopeless prognosis certainly is. But being at the beginning of a journey, no matter how certain you are of its outcome, is different than being two or three or four years in.
I’m not the only one who recognizes that difference. Recently I saw a request through the ggmg boards for an infertility sufferer to participate on a forum but I did not fit the requirements. They wanted someone deep in their infertility journey, preferably either resolved or resolving. There were many possible paths someone the participant could have taken (treatments, donor eggs/sperm/embryo, adoption, etc.) but they had to have traveled those paths, they couldn’t be just recently embarking on them.
I understand the reasoning for that. When including a voice you want that voice to be the most relevant and someone who has struggled for longer, and harder, is the most relevant; more people can relate to that person than to someone else with a shorter, more specific situation. I worry that my newbie status as an infertile will make me an ineffective leader of a group like this.
I’m sure there are lots of other fears: What if no one comes? What if I start the group and then it’s too difficult to maintain it? What I start it and it’s successful and I don’t feel it helps?
There is so much uncertainty. In the end I guess I’m just not sure it is worth it. I want support. I want community, but if it isn’t readily available, am I willing to try to create it? I’m just not sure.
I emailed RESOLVE and asked them for more information on starting a group. Their website assures that there is a process for researching all of this and by the end of that process it will be clear whether I am comfortable starting a new group. I am going to have faith that is the case and hope for the best.
Have you ever participated in a peer-led infertility support group? Was it a positive experience? Would you ever consider leading one yourself? Why or why not? Do you think you’d be reluctant to attend a meeting led by someone who was just starting on her infertility journey?