Why would I think that I may have a problem getting pregnant? No one else seemed to! And then, after several months trying and failing to get pregnant, we boarded the roller coaster of infertility diagnosis, treatment and failure. I was a lone wolf among my peers. In my everyday life, I felt alone. I didn't know anyone going through month after month of negative pregnancy tests despite temperature charting, timing, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, fertility drugs and clinical procedures.
Luckily, I found an online community of friends to commiserate with, starting with a message board on Fertility Friend. At some point, I needed more than the message board could give, since I was the only one not getting pregnant, and we had moved onto adoption. Even though I left the board, I managed to stay friends with several of the women, and have been lucky enough to meet some of them. Without them, my life through the testing and decision making would have been so much worse than it was. During the infertility journey and through our decision to pursue adoption, my husband and I reached a point where we were both so mired in grief and depression that we were hardly speaking to each other. We didn't know what to say, we didn't know what to do, and unbeknownst to me, I had underlying clinical depression that was worsened by the situation. It was a time of withdrawal, frustration, anger, sadness, and more anger. Having the online connections helped guide me through a tough time.
Once I left the message board and started blogging, I found an even larger community to follow, support and from which to get support. It was here that I began to be educated about adoption and the options open to us. Following other blogs and commenting helped me to feel like I wasn't as alone as I was in real life. To this day, out of my core group of friends, I am still the only one never to see a positive pregnancy test. They don't get it, how could they? As friends had babies and went through their pregnancies, I was going through a failed adoption placement and then a failed adoption match. Having successfully adopted once and being in the midst of parenting was seen as a saving grace by most. But, asking my son to heal me of my grief of infertility and then the struggle to add to our family was too much. Parenting through the losses was a welcome distraction, but our family did not feel complete. Having an outlet to cry and rant, and eventually celebrate has been the saving grace. Having others comment on my posts and tell me they go through the same things, offer advice, or even just saying "I get it" has been the saving grace. When I'm online I don't feel as alone.
Except when I do. I know that a trigger for some of us is Dr. Seuss's Oh the Places You'll Go . I avoided reading the book to my son for a long time because I knew there were triggers, and then one night he wanted it, so I picked it up and gritted my teeth. This passage hit me like a ton of bricks:
This is what infertility and adoption have been for me: loss of direction, confusion, followed by waiting.
Even in the online community, there are times that we are alone. Even when we reach out to our friends and family, we can feel alone. No one understands what you're going through except for you. There were times when I felt like I had support online, but I had to get through the day, and that was lonely. It still happens even though I have the happily ever after. Twitter is a great example of a social media platform that can broaden the infertility community for us, but at the same time, make us feel like no one is listening. It's only 140 characters, it's fast-moving, the algorithms are weird and sometimes your tweets don't show up on others' timelines. It can be a source of information and support, but then there's times when I feel like I'm shouting into nothingness and no one is listening.
When we feel like no one is reading our blogs or paying attention to our tweets, or we're feeling ignored, we really aren't. There's someone else reading your blog or your tweet and nodding; or they may feel better because of what you wrote; or they may be spurred on to do more research in some area you wrote about. We put these thoughts out into the ether in the hope that someone will respond, and I think most of the time people do respond on some level, we just don't know about it. That's lonely.
We are 1 in 8.
There's always someone else going through infertility and feeling alone, our blogs, our comments and our tweets help someone, somewhere in the world feel connected.
You are not alone.
Want to know more about Resolve and National Infertility Awareness Week? Check out these links:
- http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/what-is-infertility/ (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
- http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)
 Seuss, Dr., Oh the Places You'll Go, New York, Random House Books,1990.