I consider myself lucky because I have a lot of wonderful friends in a number of corners of the world. With my closest friends, I talk about EVERYTHING, but yet through this process I have felt very lonely at times. I feel that they just don’t get it. In no way have they been rude or unsupportive – in fact, they are my cheerleaders – but there is no way I can expect them to understand what I am going through because they haven’t been through the same thing. They can empathise, but it would be unfair of me to expect them to understand fully the pain and the trials and tribulations of the infertility journey.
One day when I was feeling particularly low – after my second IVF cycle had failed – one of my besties called me. She acknowledged that, having just had her second baby without difficulties, she’d never be able to understand fully what I am going through. She wondered if I’d like to speak to one of her university friends (who I knew briefly) about her infertility journey. She connected us and my friend’s friend (who lives in the US) called me one evening. We spoke for over an hour. She shared her experience of her four-year long IVF journey that ended in a traumatic birth of her beautiful baby girl. She gave me tips on how to cope through the lows and cherish the highs. For the first time in a long time, I felt a little less lonely – there was someone out there who knew exactly what I was going through. And for that I was, and still am, grateful.
The same bestie took further initiative and researched support groups in London. Fertility Network UK is a charity that organises monthly support groups all over the country and she found me a support group close to where I live and urged me to go. I went to the next session. A group of women and men (mostly women but a couple of couples attend) meet regularly on a Wednesday evening at a café or bar. Everyone shares her (or his) story and can say as much or as little as she (he) wants to. It was a lovely forum: we talked; we listened; we comforted; and we laughed. Everyone was at a different stage of the journey and it was refreshing to hear other people’s stories. When I cycled home from the session in the dark, rainy November evening, I felt lighter. I remember my parents were visiting at the time and I said to them and my husband: I feel a little less lonely now.
I have been to a few of the Fertility Network sessions since that first one, but out of it I have made some closer friendships. We have coffees, we chat on Whatsapp and we reach out to each other for support regularly – sometimes you need an authentic pep talk. In fact, I thought of writing this blog post today because I’ve been chatting to one of my fellow Fertility Warriors today. We recently cycled at the same time, so she has been a tremendous support for me this spring and summer.
One of my main sources of information when I was learning about Asherman’s Syndrome was a closed Facebook group (see my blog post on understanding Asherman’s here). The group’s members are all ladies who either have had, currently have or suspect they have Asherman’s Syndrome. As general knowledge of the condition is poor, the members of this group have a wealth of knowledge. They also provide immense support and cheer each other on. I also find it reassuring whenever anyone posts a success story – it gives me hope. I have chatted directly with a few of the members more frequently and also met up with a couple in person.
You might prefer to deal with your fertility struggle in private, but I know that for me it really helped and still helps to speak to others in a similar situation. If you feel lonely, but would like support from people in a similar situation not you, I suggest the following:
- speak to your friends to see if they know any friends of friends who are in a similar situation that you could reach out to;
- find a local support group and join it;
- if you don’t feel comfortable meeting up with people in person, join a closed Facebook group (or another online forum).
A special thank you goes out to my bestie for taking charge and making me feel a little less lonely – you know who you are. ❤ ❤ ❤