Finding Community & Connection Amid Infertility Isolation

by Kara Yorkhall, L.Ac, MaOM, FABORM

You’re sitting with a group of your friends around the table at your favorite restaurant.  Many of your friends have young children, some of them don’t, but then the question pops up, casually, almost as though it doesn’t really matter or isn’t a big deal at all, “Hey, when are you going to have a baby?  You guys will be the best parents ever.” All of a sudden you’re holding your breath and you can feel your face start to flush. Your mind starts to jump around and tries to scramble for words. Somehow you say “Um, I don’t know… I don’t think we’re really ready yet.”  Your voice feels shaky and you’re sure that everyone can see right through you. But the conversation moves on to the next thing and you’ve managed to dodge that question again.

This same thing happened at your family’s holiday gathering a couple of weeks ago and it’s come up with co-workers recently as well. Trying to conceive is on your mind all the time yet almost nobody knows what you’re going through. It’s becoming very uncomfortable to even be part of these gatherings, not to mention how painful it is to listen to your friends complain about their pregnancy aches and pains or their babies’ sleepless nights.

For couples and especially women who are having difficulties conceiving it is very common to feel a profound sense of isolation and lack of connection with their community. In fact 61% of women experiencing infertility do not share their struggle with their friends and family. Your best friend, your sister, your co-worker may have had multiple children in the time since you’ve been trying to conceive. It may feel like they’ve entered a different world, and there’s no common ground anymore. This can be incredibly painful, and you may feel a need to retreat from these relationships in order to protect yourself.

However, research indicates that social connection is essential for our health and well-being. Social connection strengthens our immune system, and actually leads to less unhealthy inflammation in the body, faster recovery from illness, and even greater longevity overall. We’ve discovered that lack of social connection negatively impacts health more than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. So being connected to others is really important! But if our relationships are causing tension and pain that’s not going to promote well-being either, right?

Here are some ideas to help you find connection & community while trying to conceive:

1. Teach your community how to best support you

Your friends and family care about you and want to be close to you. But they may not have the personal experience to be a helpful presence in your life without some guidance. If you decide to share your fertility struggle with others, ask them if you can offer some thoughts about how they can support you. There are lots of great resources for families and friends out there. Here’s one that I like: Support For Friends and Family   

2. Connect with those who have experienced or are experiencing infertility

It may be most supportive to find a safe space where you can connect with others facing infertility, or who have dealt with it in the past.  Here are a few great resources for this:

     Fruitful. – A free mentorship program where you will be paired with someone who has already completed their fertility journey and can offer you support and guidance as you navigate this process.

     Resolve – Offers free online or in-person support groups

     Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Minnesota – Lists a variety of local options here in Minnesota.

Many churches or places of worship host fertility specific support groups, so this is another option if you’re part of a spiritual or religious community.

Here in Minnesota the Midwest RESOLVE Family building summit is happening on November 10 in Bloomington, MN.  This event is packed with information and will connect you to many different types of resources. Midwest Family Building Summit

3. Build a support team

This may involve utilizing some of the options listed above.  You may decide to bring a group of your friends and/or family together to support you- either virtually or in-person.  And finding the right professionals to walk with you on your journey can be invaluable as well. At Fertile Ground we offer support services for women who are trying to conceive or have experienced pregnancy loss, and we’ve been doing this since 2007. We know what you’re going through- either because we’ve experienced it ourselves or because we’ve worked with hundreds of women in your shoes. Countless women have told us that the care and support they’ve received while working with us has made all the difference along their journey to becoming a parent. Our approach is focused on helping you to overcome the physical issues that are obstacles to conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy while also offering you an emotional and mental sanctuary where you are accepted, supported and guided.

Research shows that infertility is one of the most stressful life events that you will ever experience. Please give yourself the opportunity to find the relationships that help you feel connected as you navigate this process. Reach out to us if we can support you in any way.

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