In all of my advocacy surrounding infertility, telling others “you are not alone” has been a central motivation. It’s why I blog. It’s why I tweet. It’s why I sometimes talk about my lady bits on Facebook. It’s why I run a RESOLVE support group in my town. It’s why I went to Washington DC to tell Congress about infertility. So, this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week theme got me excited.
The reason this message is so important is because the experience of infertility can feel overwhelmingly isolating. From the first BFN, we start to wonder - Am I different? After all, we know people who got pregnant on their first try (or even without trying). And, it just gets worse from there.
Hopefully at some point along the way, we find community. “IRL” and online, connecting with other people struggling with infertility certainly saved my sanity, and helped me feel less alone. But, not completely not-alone. After seven years in this amazing club of incredible women (and men), I still feel alone sometimes.
For those of us who have “been around the block,” who have done the treatments, chosen adoption, accepted child-free living and are doing our best to live our lives “after” infertility, things can still feel awfully lonely at times. For instance, today at play group, there was a group of five moms, all pregnant with their second, chatting away. I’m not part of that group. I don’t think I could bear to be part of that group for five minutes, even with my own little kiddo running around alongside theirs. It was a little bit lonely, for a minute. A reminder of how I’m different. (We ended up playing with some dads and their kids. Could have been worse, right?)
And, even among “the infertiles” I sometimes feel lonely. First, I didn’t conceive via fertility treatments, and instead chose adoption. (Break.) I am parenting. (Break.) We are not pursuing another adoption, and chose to have one child. (Break.) I had that pesky hysterectomy last summer, and am now barren. (Break.) There just aren’t many people who’ve walked this same path. There’s no judgement here at all -of myself or anyone else - and this is definitely not a “woah is me” moment - but it can feel lonely at times. I know this is something many of us struggle with.
I do think there’s a difference between feeling alone and being alone, though. For those of us who are lucky enough to have found this community, maybe we should try to keep that in focus more. (I know I should!) We are not alone here. We are so, incredibly lucky. (All it takes is one support group meeting, and welcoming a woman who has been trying to have a child for 13 years and is just now reaching out to other women for support, to remind me.) If you are reading this blog post, you are not alone. Yes, we’ve walked some long, winding roads and are wearied by the journeys. Some of us are still waiting to see what the future holds. There isn’t always someone to turn to who completely understands where we’re at and what we’ve been through. It is truly lonely at times. But, we are not alone.
Now, let’s hold hands and skip.