Infertility :: The Importance of Finding Your Tribe {Infertility Awareness}


In recognition of National Infertility Awareness Week, we are seeking to raise awareness about this struggle by sharing stories from local moms and a dad who have been in this difficult place, as well as additional local resources to help parents along this journey. Through this series, we hope to provide encouragement for women and men who are facing infertility and perspective for those supporting them in the battle. Thank you to our sponsors, UAB Women & Infants Services, and to each of the contributors to this series — especially the courageous parents who have shared a painful piece of your journeys.

Not me or my friends, as hair appears to be clean and clothes are unstained

I recently had tacos with my rowdy band of infertility warriors. I’m already six years out from my infertility experience and probably should have moved on by now. But infertility haunts me. I am still processing it and have new thoughts and feels about what I went through every day. This might be true for you too, so I would like to share some observations/advice to any one on this path.

First things first — welcome to the club.

Sorry, I realize this isn’t the one you hoped to join. The Sisterhood of the Broken Uteruses, as one friend calls it. I wish I could change your sitch and make your path to parenthood smooth sailing, but I can’t, so instead I will assure you that you aren’t alone. We are out here in droves. Infertility affects one in eight couples. It is time to connect. Life was a bit unbearable when I was just holding all this infertility stress in and not sharing the struggle. It turns out I don’t make a good island.

Finding my tribe was critical to infertility survival.

Did you know that 12% of married women have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy? And, 7.4 million women have received infertility services? Where do you find us? Support groups like RESOLVE. No, I didn’t know about this group before I needed them either. RESOLVE is the National Infertility Association and they will save your life. Resolve hosts regular peer-led support groups. I attended sessions in Birmingham and met my people here. Yes, I had friends before, but infertility changes you. You may find that you have new concerns, interests, etc. and your less-fertility-challenged friends and family may truly struggle to understand or follow you where you’re headed. Expand your network. 

I was not excited about attending my first RESOLVE meeting.

I loathe meeting new people, and attending an infertility support group meeting just sounded like a downer. I also probably wasn’t ready to own my infertility and associate with other “babyless losers”. I say this not because it’s true or accurate, but because the inability to produce children in a timely fashion can feel like a personal failure for many women. We tend to isolate when this happens and not discuss our “shameful” situation. Luckily, I was just miserable and desperate enough to give RESOLVE a shot and I never looked back. 

Suddenly, I wasn’t alone. People at Resolve talked openly about my hidden obsessions (clomid! egg donation! beta tests!). All the fertility stuff we don’t usually discuss in polite company were just put right out on the table. Nothing was off-limits. And some of the women had been in the game for a while and could tell you about the different procedures, even giving recommendations on specific fertility clinics in town. Such expertise, combined with a sense of community, was invaluable and life sustaining. These women kept me informed and strong and often provided much-needed perspective. Maybe I wasn’t having much luck in the baby department, but some of these women came in after recent miscarriages, when they’d been struggling with infertility for years. Their shares shaped the lens from which I viewed my own experience. 

Your next new best friend may just be a reproductive endocrinologist.

If you’ve been trying for a baby for 6+ months, it might be time to go to the doctor. There could be a medical reason for infertility, and the sooner you get a feel for what’s going on, the closer you are to growing your family. It felt so great to add a brilliant physician to my team (tribe) and turn my worries over to a professional. Dr. Bates and his team at UAB Reproductive Endocrinology made my infertility their problem and set a family plan in motion for me. The first two rounds of IVF didn’t work and we were deeply touched by the sympathy and kindness we received from the team at UAB. The next round of IVF was a resounding success — TWINS! Everyone in the room was DELIGHTED! But after a couple of weeks of happy ultrasounds, the medical team wasn’t able to locate Baby B. Dr. Bates had to warn us that the pregnancy may have reduced. His bedside manner and concern were comforting, yet I still went home tired and scared and didn’t get out of bed for a day. Later that week, the team found Baby B again and there was great rejoicing! 

I tell you these details because I want you to know that infertility treatment can be a dramatic roller coaster, and your medical team can be a great source of support at this time. In fact, I consider Dr. Bates my personal miracle worker. I’m forever grateful to him (and all the other wonderful, kind, good-hearted folks who helped us produce these precious boys). 

In sum, my advice to any folks going through infertility is to buckle up. This may be a bumpy ride. There will be ups and downs. I’m not going to sugar coat that. But you do not have to go through this alone. Find and embrace your tribe, check out RESOLVE, go see a doctor. I and all the other infertiles are rooting for ya and hope all your wildest dreams come true.