- Diagnosis &
- Family Building
- Support &
- Give Back
- Get Involved
By Amy Ayres
Published in Resolve for the journey and beyond, Fall 2012
Once my own family building journey was complete, I had one outstanding desire from my days of coping with infertility: to help other women who were dealing with the same feelings of anxiety, fear, and isolation.
The RESOLVE support group that I joined when I was going through treatment had a huge impact on me — but I was only in it for two months before finding out that my second try at IVF was successful. That was because there was such a great need in my area, there were not enough hosts to go around to meet the waiting list of support group participants. What if there were other women out there facing the same thing? Could I help them by becoming a host myself?
As it turned out, there certainly were plenty of women who needed that support. And now, nearly two years after our first meeting, I know that the experience was rewarding for them — and for me.
I remember nervously preparing for our first meeting. I wanted to do everything right and make a big difference in these women’s lives. Would I know the right things to say? Would I really be able to help?
The answers were: not necessarily, and definitely.
I quickly learned that I did not need all the answers. As anyone coping with infertility knows, there is nothing anyone could say to make it better. It is talking to someone who truly understands where you are coming from that counts. Some words of encouragement were helpful — but the way that I was really able to help had nothing to do with what I said. It was just being there to bring together women who were going through the same thing at the same time. And in the end, facilitating lasting friendships.
Although our meetings held the distress of not knowing what the future holds, the sadness of loss and the worries that come with starting a new treatment — or deciding not — it seemed that we almost always left with everyone feeling better, especially after sharing a few laughs. Maybe it is from the sense of relief that comes with getting all of it off your chest, and knowing the people who are listening really get it.
Of course, we had our challenges. Those who came for one meeting and got pregnant — that dream that everyone has. The bittersweet news of a pregnancy, which is hard to hear when you are not there yet, even if you know everything the other member has gone through to reach that point. The difficulty of leaving the group after the first trimester — knowing you have gotten what you longed for, but scared to leave that comfort zone.
But for the most part, I think our group was a help to all of those who came and went because the core members just gelled. Each member was invested in everyone else’s story, and cleared their calendars to be there each month not only because it was a help to them, but because they cared so sincerely about each other.
These days, our group no longer has official meetings, but I still keep in touch and get together with many of its members. Several of the women from the group went on to start their families, and several others are still walking that journey.
With either group, I always leave feeling inspired — either by the drive and hope of those who are still trying to achieve their dreams, or by the uplifting nature of the discussion among the new or expectant moms. You will not find a lot of complaints about long nights or cranky babies here (although, of course, there are some!). Instead, you will find the gratefulness and appreciation that comes with the unique perspective that infertility brings.
But the thing that ties both of the groups together is the encouragement that they give each other, and the amazing bond that they share — a bond I am grateful that I was able to help them form.
Amy Ayres is a former RESOLVE peer-lead support group host. She is a freelance journalist who works part time so she can take care of her two daughters, ages 3 and 5, who were born with the help of IVF.