This isn’t going to be one of those “silver lining” or “close one door; open another” type of blog posts. I promise. I know that infertility sucks. I know that it often isolates you from your family and friends that simply don’t “get” your pain. But it hit me this weekend when I was hanging out “chatting” at the Creating a Family Facebook group, that if there is an upside to the hell that is infertility, it is membership into a sorority of people who truly and completely do understand what it’s like to be trying and trying to conceive.
Who amongst you haven’t felt that instantaneous bond? Case in point: When you speak of buying pregnancy tests in bulk, most people outside of the infertility sorority look at you either like you’re crazy or a masochist. While both may be true, fellow members of the sorority will give you a knowing nod and can tell you where to find the best prices. And like the best sororities, the infertility sorority even has its own secret language: 2WW, TTC, BFP, BFN, etc. When the ever-dreaded AF comes, you don’t have to explain your need for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s to ease your pain. Now all we need is a secret handshake.
Infertility is awful. Indeed it is, but it does create an incredible bond between those who have walked this dark path. It may not be a sorority you wished for, but by golly now that you’re here, it’s sure nice to not be alone.
Someone from the Creating a Family Facebook Support group sent me a message the other day saying that at this point in her life she felt like her best friends were folks she “met” online because she felt understood without having to explain. Have you ever felt that way?
P.S. While in person support is fantastic, don’t underestimate the value of online support. It’s easier to find online support and they are available almost 24/7. The very best, in my ever so humble opinion, is the Creating a Family Facebook group.
Image credit: Voxphoto
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Thank you for recognizing that strangers can often be more understanding and helpful than even your closest family members and friends. When I went through the first few years of infertility, I did not have a home computer, nor did I know any women who were struggling to conceive. I felt completely isolated and endured the most ridiculous advice and comments. I’m sure you all can relate! I wrote my book, THE EYE OF ADOPTION: the true story of my turbulent wait for a baby, specifically to help women battling infertility and/or working toward adoption. I hope your readers will check it out. Kindle Downloads are FREE on Mother’s Day. Waiting Families, you have my on-line, community-style love and support!
Jody Cantrell Dyer, author of THE EYE OF ADOPTION: the true story of my turbulent wait for a baby
There is definitely a sorority for woman when it comes to IF on the web. I am glad because i only imagine what it was like for woman before the internet and having even fewer places to turn to.
However, what is lacking is a fraternity for men going through IF. I know part of it is due to the nature of men and their inability to open up about it. The idea that opening up somehow makes them weaker is a myth that men have. As a male going through IF (azoospermia) I have been able to find very few resources for men. Even resolve’s awareness week last week had next to nothing on the male perspective. At times a feel a bit awkward posting on sites that are female dominated but it seems to be the majority of forums out there. I also understand that I am unusual (in more ways than one) in that I have been more open about my IF. But it still would be nice to have that fraternity.
I appreciate all the work you do and especially appreciated the program you did on male infertility the other day. I have found many of the resources you provide to be very helpful.
Greg, you are so right about the lack of support for men going through male infertility. We debate that over here at Creating a Family, but the truth is that most men won’t participate in online groups about infertility. It seems like most men get their info/education and support from their wives, so we end up supporting the women in order to support the men. Maybe it’s a chicken and egg sort of thing–few men in groups, leads to few men in groups. I would strongly encourage you to join the Creating a Family Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/40688106167/). While I can’t promise a lot of men, there are a few. Also, if you want to post a question anonymously (not that you should, but just in case) then you can send it to me and I’ll post for you. Glad our resources have been helpful.
(Correction, I read the description further (it was cut off in my RSS feed) and it is not, in fact, about termination but sounds gut-wrenching nonetheless.)
On a related note, I’m listening to the new Radiolab episode right now that is called “23 Weeks 6 Days” and, given the description, I’m pretty sure it involves a gut-wrenching story about needing to make a decision about whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. But, at the point I’m at right now, she just described how she took a pregnancy test and saw a very very very faint like and how she took a picture and tweaked the contrast in Photoshop to see if there was a line there. The hosts are kind of chuckling and acting as though this is pretty crazy behavior and I’m just laughing because — little do they KNOW just how common it is!!! But I’m in the sorority, so I get it!
They think that’s crazy?!? We can show them real crazy. Actually, I think that’s a brilliant idea.
thanks dawn. 2010 was a bad year. i wouldn’t have made it through without my vet friends. and even if it’s something as simple as a question on FB about any random thing, i’ve found those girls are the ones who are always there to help. and yes, a secret handshake would help. i try hard not to put my foot in my mouth. 🙂
Cindy, your post brought tears to my eyes! What wonderful friends. May we all be so fortunate in life to find a few. (And, I am so sorry for your loss.)
I feel like I am looking for signs that women might be in the sorority so that I can offer support. For example, another blogger I follow recently posted an Instagram picture of a big serving of ice cream with a caption about how it was the only thing making her feel better and I instantly wondered if she was TTC and had gotten AF that day. It could have been any number of things, but that’s where my mind went first. I think we need a secret handshake!
KJ, yeah a handshake would help. Once, an acquaintance in her late(ish) 30s told me she was pregnant for the first time. Without thinking, my response was “Congratulations, what did you have to do?” She stared, then mumbled “I guess the usual.”
Yes. And Cindy what you said about Reese’s….yes..
when we lost the baby we’d had in our home for nearly 6 mo, my internet infertility vet friends cried and had nightmares too. when i found out my son’s bmom had died shortly after placement, i called my IF friend at 11pm her time. she just found out that she was getting her daughter, but she still took time to talk to me. my IF friends are the ones that send me dark chocolate reese’s PB cups on the anniversary of losing the baby. don’t know where i’d be wihtout them.
I’d like to see it called a fraternity AND a sorority-to make room for all of the men who struggle with this issue as well. Whatever your gender, you really have to live IF to get (as in understand) IF and then break your silence so that others will come to an understanding of it and work with you to make the life giving solutions more accessible (ART, adoption, etc)
MJ, point well taken. I should have thought of that, especially since the Creating a Family show tomorrow is on Getting Pregnant with Male Factor Infertility.
I guess it was kind of a “silve lining” post, but honestly, I feel that way.
i couldn’t agree with you more.