Fertility Peer Support Groups - A Little Secret Revealed
There's a problem with peer support.
Inquiring minds want to know. What could be wrong with a group of women who are sharing, educating, supporting and loving each other through infertility and fertility treatment?
When only some of them get pregnant. If you are reading this and are one of our fabulous ladies who attend Ladies Night In or are in our online group, I am speaking for you right now, but not just for you. I’m going to go ahead and express a few of the feelings that you might not feel comfortable saying.
You are all loving and kind human beings. Every single one of you. And I am sure that you are genuinely excited when someone in our group becomes pregnant. Excited and happy for them.
Sad, frustrated and disappointed for yourself because it’s not you.
I’m going to call out the elephant in the room here.
It sucks when everyone else gets pregnant in your “normal” life and you don’t. Then you join this fabulous group of women who are also undergoing fertility treatment and the other women are helpful and kind and supportive and they become our confidants; our go-to buddies throughout this process. And then they become pregnant. And you still aren’t.
And because we are all kind, loving, supportive people, we are excited for those women who have become pregnant. We are. We are happy for them. We know the struggle that they have gone through and we are genuinely and authentically happy that they have achieved what they were so desperately wanting.
And because we are real human beings. Real human beings, not just human beings saying and feeling the “right” things at the “right” time, we also feel other things.
We feel sad that it’s not us. We feel disappointed that we are not in that group of lucky pregnant women yet. We feel frustrated that yet another of us is pregnant and it’s still not us. We feel shame that we have anything but happiness for our friends. We feel fear that this could be the last magical pregnancy and that we are the statistic left behind. We feel unspeakable terror that we are the ones who will be permanently in the “have not” group.
Maybe we feel only a twinge of any or all of those feelings. Maybe we feel a tidal wave and can barely choke out the congratulations that we offer to those friends who have achieved what we are so actively striving towards. Maybe it makes getting our period or getting poor results that much more overwhelming. Maybe it doesn’t.
Maybe we feel close enough to each other that we can even say out loud what we so often only feel in our heart and hear in our heads. Here are a few things that may fit how you are feeling. Why am I writing them? So that you know that you are not alone. You are not alone in fertility treatment and you are not alone in your pain.
When Others Become Pregnant
Here are a few things that may run through your head and heart when others in the infertility support group become pregnant:
I am happy for you. I am sad for me.
I feel relief for you, I feel fear for myself.
I feel jealous even though I love you.
I am crying tears of joy for you and right underneath are tears for me.
I wish you only the best for your pregnancy and it’s going to hurt to hear about it.
I still feel frustrated and disappointed for what I’m going through and it’s so inspiring to hear that you’ve been successful.
I still want you for my infertility buddy even though you are pregnant.
I feel ashamed that I feel less close to you now and I don’t want you to know that.
I wish we had gotten pregnant and could enjoy this moment more fully because we are together.
I am relieved that since my cycle wasn’t successful that yours wasn’t either. But I feel guilt and pain that I feel that way.
Any of these resonate with you? Have I missed the boat entirely? Anything I left out that you would like to add?
My email address, if you would prefer not to post directly to the blog, is FertileYoga@gmail.com and I would love to hear from you.
Say what you need to say. A great line from a beautiful song. Don't choke it back, please. Say it, release it, cry over it, giggle over it. Find the relief in knowing that no one thinks that you're awful or ungracious or mean. Find the relief in knowing that you weren't the only one to feel that way.
Find the relief in knowing, once again, that you are not alone. And if you are feeling that way, talk to someone you trust and know will not judge you.
That's what we're here for. That's what I'm here for.
Sending you loving thoughts, even if some of the thoughts and feelings you are having are far from loving.
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About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.