Aside from the furtive glances I've cast in the direction of others in the RE waiting room, I had never actually encountered another 'infertile' up until this July, at least not one who was up front about their struggles. To add to that, I had never read an infertility blog and overall, being in the center of a serious fertile baby popping storm, I likened my state to feeling as one would being a leper in a fashion show, minus the colony. July also marked our approximate four year 'anniversary' of TTC. What an anniversary, huh? Four years of swimming through this on my own, having solely my personal journal and sometimes Mr. S. to shoulder the burden. Not a person in my fertile world could understand my acronym lingo (my Mom still refers to IUI as IVI and IVF as IUF) and most of all, no one in my world could understand the silent torture of my unsuccessful pursuit of child, not even Mr. S. At best, I was utterly and completely alone. And let me tell you, it sucked. So, this summer, I set out to change that.
After my miscarriage, I decided that I was either going to completely lose it or take positive action. It was my choice. I wasn't about to let what I thought to be nature's cruelest trick (infertility and now miscarriage) take my well-being, too. So, I made a plan, and it was good. No, it was great. Better than I ever imagined it being. It went something like this:
Step One: Find a support group.
I went online and managed to locate a monthly meet-up in San Francisco through Northern California's Open Path (formerly connected to RESOLVE). I live 45 minutes outside of the city, so it was a trek, but well worth it. There were only three of us that showed up for that month's meeting, but within five minutes, we were all in tears and completely connecting. While they were tears made from heartache, they were also tears of relief. So much of what I was thinking and feeling resonated from them. Since then, I have attended every month and I look forward to the catharsis. It always draws new people in and as a self-proclaimed 'regular', I am delighted to see the meetings grow and to also see the same look of 'finally, someone understands me!' on other's faces. And it's good to feel that this is no longer a revelation to me. But although the group is a welcome haven, I found that once a month just wasn't enough.
Step Two: Start a blog.
After I met with the group, I realized the extraordinary amount of baggage I carried around that I had yet to filter through and decided that I needed another outlet. Being that I had blogged for over 7 years prior, starting this site was a natural progression, so I began it less than a week after my first support group meeting. I found that I had to restrain myself from posting entries on an almost hourly basis. All of the thoughts that had consumed me for the past four years were finally coming to light. It was relieving. Better yet, I was reading other's stories and I found much of what I had discovered with the group: that my thoughts and feelings were far from out of the ordinary. The support that I have gathered through comments on my site has strengthened me tenfold. Still, returning to 'real life', with friends and family who either know nothing of our IF or dismiss it, made me realize that I still needed more.
Step Three: Hang Out with Support Group Buddies
One thing led to another and by September, I got a chance to meet Nikki in person. She is just as amazing as her blog would lead you to believe, and we spent a few wonderful hours over coffee discussing everything from our treatments and hopes to the 50-year-old cougar at the outdoor tequila bar across the way who was shaking her butt in front of all the terrified little 20-something guys. Good times.
Then, recently, some of the ladies from the support group decided to meet for dinner on a regular basis. The most recent time landed us at a great Thai place in the city where we shared pomegranates and a flaming bowl of liquor and plastic monkeys while wearing our matching pomegranate-colored thread bracelets. When I think of this unexpected union, I think of the title of Tara's blog (Divine Secrets of the Infertility Sisterhood). We are already, in such a brief period of time, a sisterhood. In fact, somewhere near the end of that evening, after further sharing our war tales, we gathered our plastic monkeys and declared them lucky. Our lucky monkeys, if you will:
(I blurred one of the ladies out as she wished to remain anonymous-she has a very public job)
Several days later, I received the following from one of my monkeysistas:
The timing of this was impeccable, landing in my mailbox just hours after my IUI. I can't tell you what this means to me.
Step Four: Mind/Body Workshop
So, as if all of that support wasn't enough (it takes many shoulders to bear the weight of infertility, doesn't it?), most of us ladies registered for a Mind/Body workshop that begins this Wednesday. I look forward to learning how better to deal with the stress and sadness this journey has reaped on me, but most of all, I look forward to seeing everyone-all of my lucky monkey sistas. Although so much more loss and disappointment has come to pass over the last year, I can safely say I am in a better place today than I was one year ago. And I would be remiss if I didn't owe it to all of you, both my online and real-life IF buddies. Thank you. I hope that all of you are able to or have already found your own sisterhood as well.