Why Join An Infertility Support Group?
Joining an Infertility Support Group can be a significant source of emotional support during the infertiity journey.
I presently facilitate a support group for women who are facing fertility challenges, during their process of building a family. If you are interested in learning more about the group, and/or how you may go about joining, please contact me directly.
Below is a compilation of anonymous entries written by real women who have taken part in my support group. Each in her unique way, is describing the benefits of having joined an Infertility Support Group:
Taking part in a support group was a turning point in my struggle with fertility.
Over the year and a half that I was trying to get pregnant before joining the group, I withdrew from many of the most important relationships in my life and had few outlets for stress and few points of connection with others. During that difficult time, many of my closest friends and family members had conceived and given birth. I felt alienated from their experiences and felt that in the midst of their joy, they would never be able to relate to my despair. I felt extremely alone.
During one of my worst weeks, I was given a referral to a fertility support group. I joined immediately.
As soon as I walked through the door of the first meeting, I felt incredible relief. I was surrounded by women who could relate to my experience – who had felt the same pain that I had not been able to escape from. I felt so much comfort from hearing these women’s stories and being able to share my own. Even though my weeks were already full of doctor’s appointments, I looked forward to going to “group.” It didn’t feel like another obligation, it felt like the only way I could make it through the week.
—Participating in a support group was invaluable to me. I’m not sure I could have gotten through my infertility journey without it. Struggling with infertility is very isolating. Everywhere around me, I was surrounded by reminders that I was having trouble conceiving. I saw pregnant women and women with children on the street, ads on TV, and countless celebrities in gossip magazines having children. On top of it, there’s Facebook. It seems that every time I logged on to Facebook, another friend was pregnant or had just given birth. And it just seemed so easy for everyone else. I was incredibly lonely. Joining the support group instantly gave me a sense of how many other women were having similar experiences. I didn’t feel alone anymore. I had people to talk to about all the aspects of fertility treatments that no one understands unless they are going through it themselves. Most importantly, I made friends. I developed relationships with women outside of the group and had people to call, text and meet up with when I was feeling upset. This made a world of difference to me.
In addition to the group providing support and friendship, it also was a great forum to ask questions and get advice. There are so many decisions involved in infertility treatments and it was helpful to hear what other people’s doctors were doing and get other group members’ opinions when making difficult decisions.
Overall, the support group saved me during this time. As much as I love my family and close friends, they just didn’t understand what I was going through the way the women in the group did. I highly recommend any woman struggling with infertility to join a group, and if there isn’t one in their community, they should consider starting their own by putting a flier in their doctor’s office or talking with their doctor. I think it’s an integral part of surviving this difficult time.
—I found the individual counseling very helpful in finding ways to help me cope with my losses and sadness. It was an arena in which I could let go and not fear any judgement and get helpful feedback and learn coping mechanisms.
The group experience was something I was not sure I had thought I would ever do. It wasn’t quite “me”, but I actually found it very helpful. The thing that was most beneficial in a group experience, as compared to individual counseling, was realizing you aren’t alone in your struggles, because infertility and loss makes you feel very alone. You realize that all of these thoughts that you think only you have, many other people identify with completely. It was comforting but also sad to know that so many other women could understand very similar feelings and thoughts. It is different than talking to friends or even your partner, who are sympathetic but don’t quite “get” the infertility challenges. These women truly “get it”. The other part I found interesting was learning from other people, and feeling that perhaps because of my struggles and experience I could perhaps help someone with the information or situations that I have been through.
—One must never underestimate the importance of being emotionally supported in this journey, especially when you have little support from friends and family as it was my case: I was single and living in a foreign country, very isolated. When I realized that it was already too late, I was about to go home (Europe) and end all the procedures I’ve been doing to try to have a baby.
My journey on the path of fertility (because this was my aim) has lasted 9 months, 9 months of grief and very little joys as the multiples attempts of being pregnant all failed.
I am pretty sure that if I had started attending the infertility group sessions earlier even though my reality of not being able to become a mother would have been the same, the perception of it would have changed.
Why? Because sharing your emotion (distress, frustration, fear, sadness) with other women on the same paths even though they are perfect strangers to you makes you feel stronger, and for me was a relief.
You’re part of something, not alone anymore, not judged and above all-with people who understand what you’re speaking about and show compassion. And compassion is not far from love and it helps you heal.