My First Infertility Group Meeting

Yesterday, I went to my first ever Resolve infertility support group meeting. Seems kind of strange to go to one of these after my second IVF failure… I probably should have started a while ago. But with a full half of the women on my heretofore trusty  online A.R.T. support group getting pregnant over the last two months (no joke) I began to feel defective, even among infertile women! Not a good head-space to be in.

It was a cold Saturday morning and the debris from the wild Santa Ana winds of the past few days was scattered everywhere in the form of downed trees and general wind-gusty rubble. My allergies were threatening to act up – at least, that’s what I was telling myself, as my eyes were very watery.

The place was exactly what one would expect a free meeting room to look and feel like. Cold, barren… hmm. I guess altogether appropriate for the occasion after all!

Anyway. It was a small-ish meeting, with three out of seven of us being first-timers. The women were all lovely in their own way and seemed to blossom with beauty and heartache as they told their stories one-by-one.

I had a very weird thought as I was sitting there, looking around the room. I though, “These women look just like everyone else.” Really, genius, what did you expect them to look like?! I instantly laughed at myself. It’s like those old HIV+ ad campaign posters where the anti-stereotypical model poses alongside the “I have HIV” text.

I guess even I have my stereotypes when it comes to infertility. But I’m watching them disintegrate and fall away all the time. I remember sitting in the waiting room at HRC a few months ago and seeing a Hispanic woman there and thinking, “She must be here to donate eggs” because, of course, everyone knows Latina women get pregnant at the drop of a hat and generally have several children even before their mid-twenties. (In my defense, that does seem to be the observable reality where I live.) So imagine my shock surprise to see a young Mexican woman at the infertility group meeting yesterday! My self-condemnation kicked in pretty quickly. It really can happen to anyone. I know that now on a much deeper level than before.

There was another Armenian woman there and she was very evidently new to this whole journey. Her emotional pain was absolutely palpable. She had the look of someone who had fallen down the Rabbit-Hole and wanted desperately to get out. Everything about her seemed to be a panicky, “How did I get here? And what am I doing here!?”

I don’t normally say things like “I know how you feel” to anyone in pain – but we ALL knew how she felt. Not a one of us ever imagined we’d be here. No little girl playing with her dolls ever thinks, “When I grow up … after 4 IUIs and 3 IVFs, I’ll have a little baby just like this!” We all grow up with more-or-less the same dream and, in our case, wake up to the staggering reality that – for us – that dream is not going to be nearly as simple as it is for everyone else.

So, it occurred to me then, that rather than receive support at this group … I was actually much more capable of giving it. The mother in me wanted to wrap my arms around her – and the other newbie – and tell them everything was going to be okay. Instead, I offered them my email and the promise that I would be there any time they needed support, or a place to vent, or just a cup of coffee with someone who understood what they were going through.

And that was tremendously healing … for me.

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