Cheers, dear readers,
I want you thank you for the overwhelming support from my last blog post. The comments received both here on this website as well as in private Infertility Support Group forums were so encouraging, rewarding, and helped me remember why I write this blog in the first place. In regards to living in a world where we – as those struggling through infertility and its treatment and aftermath – do not currently have the social and cultural construct to be received with natural and easily understood empathy and compassion, I love the way one woman put it in her article “The Invisible Mom’s Club”. Here is an excerpt:
“I want to be active in working towards a world where miscarriage [and infertility] isn’t swept under the rug; where women can openly acknowledge (and grieve) their losses without feeling uncertain as to the validity of their feelings. I want to be a person who others can come to for information and advice. I want to be at the forefront of a movement which purposefully demystifies miscarriage [and infertility] and aims to establish helpful dialogue on the subject.”
Yes! A big fat “Me Too!” on that sentiment!
As a minority in the world (about one in eight experience infertility), it is quite natural to feel “left out” and misunderstood. Who wouldn’t? Thanks to modern day technology, we have the ability find blogs such as this one; online support groups; in-person supportive meet-ups in your local area if you are lucky enough to have one; and friends who have also struggled through infertility, subsequent treatment, and the challenging emotions and sadness that can lead to depression. It is natural and human to want to flock to others who have the same experience that we do.
The same goes in the other direction.
Moms seek out other moms of course! By collaborating efforts, moms can exchange babysitting services, stories and anecdotes of their children, share play-dates for their young ones, and bond over the challenges of raising our next generation, etc. This is totally expected, natural, and just “what people do.” Birds of a feather flock together.
As stated in the article “Infertile? Feeling Left Out of ‘The Club?’” from Psychology Today:
“Infertility has many dimensions, and the longer you are infertile the more dimensions you are likely to explore. One of the more challenging is how to handle relationships with good friends who have become pregnant or who are new parents. These women, often very preoccupied with how to anticipate or to juggle the new role of motherhood, seem to attract one another like magnets. Whether through childbirth prep classes, La Leche meetings, playgroups, or just the coincidence of several acquaintances becoming pregnant within months of one another, these women often bond together to form what I refer to in my book as “The Club.” Happily (or apprehensively) counting the months until their due dates, new Club members seek out more experienced ones for advice on everything imaginable. All very well, unless you, grappling with infertility, are on the outside looking in… In other words, women with infertility feel in the minority, feel silenced, and feel hurt in the presence of talkative Club members.”
Let me be clear: It is perfectly natural for humans to bond with other humans who have similar experiences to learn from. It is also natural to want to collaborate efforts – for example – in childrearing by sharing babysitting services. It is also perfectly understandable that we want our children to be socialized and happy playing with other children near their age. That is awesome and beautiful! There are simply other realities that co-exist and come into play when as a minority in the infertile arena, we are very naturally not part of that dialogue, bonding experience, or conversation. It is usually a conversation stopper to discuss with our parenting friends our miscarriages, our hormone injections, our challenging emotions that we are grappling with in not being able to easily produce our offspring. In all honesty, I get the desire to shy away from uncomfortable, potentially unpleasant conversations about grief, sadness or icky procedures. Who wants to hear about that? Yet this only adds to isolation, feeling misunderstood, and the sadness of the infertile experience if you happen to be the “one in eight” who unfortunately experience infertility. This concept is very easy for me to understand. Yet I do see that it can be challenging for others to understand – but not impossible! For some reason, we all “get” other diseases, ailments and handicaps that afflict us (such as cancer, diabetes, losing a limb, etc.), and offer words of sympathy, encouragement, and even a casserole. But the invisible loss of our unborn children (whether stillborn, miscarriage, dead embryos post or pre-transfer) is not regarded in our society as actual LOSS typically. Yet to those who experience it, it can feel as painful emotionally as losing a limb, or a family member through death, or getting a cancer diagnosis and the subsequent treatment. It can even be life threatening, whether society realizes that or not. This reminds me of the quote “Science: It’s true whether we choose to believe it or not.” The losses are real and can be numerous, and over the course of more time than any of us would want for ourselves.
Please know that your feelings are valid and completely normal, though they may at times be uncomfortable. It helps to remember that we all have things in life that we struggle with. Some are just more easily understood readily than others. Please reach out to this community, other infertility forums, your local support group, a therapist / counselor / coach, and/or any friends that either have a great capacity for empathy or others who you know might be going through (or have experienced) infertility.
The power of community cannot be understated. Self-care during stressful times includes surrounding yourself with those with empathetic ears for your tough situation. Find them!
Please join me next week to hear more about my personal journey down the infertility path. I look forward to speaking with you. I wish you the best on your journey.
This post is also available in: Arabic