I need therapy after group therapy. Or a drink.

There are self help groups for everything so its not a surprise to know there are self help groups for those dealing with infertility. And like other groups, these range from the ridiculous to the downright unhelpful.

It’s hard to put something so basic (like getting pregnant) into words…and it is hard for anyone to give advice if they’ve never walked in someone else’s shoes. I had already talked to people who tried to understand what I was going through.

After googling, talking to therapists, etc I found an infertility support group. I wanted to drink coffee/eat bundt cake while sitting in a circle and hearing about other people’s agony. I wanted to hear the same words come out of other people’s mouths that had been coming out of my mouth for years. I needed that validation that I was not a freak. That I was not losing my mind. And that I. Was. Not. Alone.

The first meeting I attended was at someone’s house…which I kinda appreciated. I didn’t like the idea of being in a clinical setting. (I had been in enough clinical settings….). But I wasn’t sure if I liked the idea of exposing all of my soul to someone on the same couch where they watched Law & Order in pajamas. Not a lot of other options existed, so I headed out my house and drove to someone else’s. Ready to get healed.

When I walked in the door I was most surprised by the large picture of a child in the room. Not really sure what I was expecting…but it actually stopped me in my tracks. I wouldn’t assume if I was going to my first AA meeting that there would be a picture of a bottle of scotch on the registration table. But…I was a group-therapy-virgin. What did I know!? There were a few other people there and we all tried to find a place to sit, while not making eye contact. Before any of us uttered a word we all knew we were in the same boat. We all had high hopes for the group discussion that night….but all had grown accustomed to wanting something and having it ripped from us….so we were all pretty sheepish.

The organizer tried to get us to start talking to each other while we waited for others to arrive. Then I saw the coffee cake. SCORE! So…..Yes! There was coffee! Yes! There was some type of snack. Yes! There was a circle! Well…it was furniture-arranged-in-a-kind-of-a-circle-situation that told me the tears would start a’ flowing soon. Kleenex in hand. Check! Comfy chair. Check! Coffee. Check! Let the healing begin!

The organizer sat down and told us her story. I dug my heels in ready to help her cope. And then it ended like all happy stories end…with a baby. For a minute I was really pissed. I was so happy for this stranger when I found out that her agony was finally over…but good gracious. She was talking to a room full of women who were so wired up on hormones, Clomid and disappointment. We were ready and needed to scream, cry and cuss. And now we were instantly made to feel uncomfortable. How in the WORLD could she try to make me feel better!? I blocked out everything she said after that.

We started going around the circle to tell our stories. I had no idea what to say when it was my turn. The woman to my right was next. She was familiar with the group members so had obviously been there before. Well guess what the heck she said. She came to the group that night for the sole purpose of sharing the news that she had just found out she was pregnant. Am I in the twilight zone? Yay for her. Do NOT come to this meeting to tell us that! We have to pretend we are happy for every other pregnant person in the world….at work….at family events….everywhere….and now…again…at this supposedly safe place when we are overflowing with sadness we now each feel the need to muster a squeaky congratulations.

There are a few rules about being a southern woman. Always send thank you notes. Never host a party without a theme and deviled eggs. And always say please, thank you and congratulations. I did my southern-ly duty. Then picked up my purse and headed to the door. Once inside I tried to choke back the tears while trying to not choke on the 2nd piece of coffee cake. Yes. I had two pieces. At this point I had earned it.

3 Comments on I need therapy after group therapy. Or a drink.

  1. Sandy, once again, an excellent blog post. I know your pain and am here to talk any time you want. I’m dealing with it pretty well now because I’ve had so many years of practice. But I still can’t endure Mother’s Day without tears or extreme depression. And hearing friends talk about their children and/or grandchildren is very difficult. And those Facebook posts with friends’ cute grandchildren? I scroll right past them. Yes, I am happy for them, but sometimes it’s more than my sanity can endure to even pause for a while and say, “Ah, how cute.”

    But I think the one thing you said that really resonates with me is the statement about needing to feel like you’re not a freak. I think you know that I’ve been divorced twice. What you don’t know is that each of my first two husbands got away with much more (furniture, money, etc.) than he should have, and the reason is that I felt unworthy of getting my share (and we’re not even going to talk about alimony) because I had not born them children. Never mind that the first was a verbally abusive alcoholic and the second was a cheater. Those things alone should have gotten me alimony. The second ex actually sent me crying to the ladies’ room in a restaurant because he said he wanted to find a wife who could give him children. Right there in the middle of an upscale New Orleans restaurant. We’d already separated but were trying to work things out. I guess that was his way of saying he didn’t want to try any more. I don’t know why he thought he had to be intentionally cruel, but that he was.

    At any rate, friend, I hope you will let me know if you ever want to get together and talk about it. I learned when I was 18 that there was a slim chance that I’d ever conceive, and that was confirmed when I was 25 and trying to get pregnant. So I’ve had almost 40 years of this childless life. I know.

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