By Kate Weldon LeBlanc
There are great communities of support online, including on Inspire, Facebook and Twitter, for all different life circumstances – including infertility. I believe these resources are a wonderful complement to support groups like those offered by RESOLVE New England (RNE) or a helpful alternative for those who do not have in-person support nearby or don’t feel comfortable attending a group.
I happily belong to a few infertility-related Facebook groups, not because I am currently trying to conceive, but so that I can offer occasional words of encouragement or share information with those that I consider “my people”. Recently a “sister group” to a “trying to conceive (TTC) in New England” Facebook group has been created for those that are pregnant or parenting after infertility. I am glad this group started because our RNE community certainly recognizes that the emotional journey of infertility does not end with conception or with parenting. There are often still a wide range of emotions. This is why we offer in-person groups focused on Pregnancy After Infertility. Recently, a mother (who very kindly is one of the moderators of both Facebook groups) named Jennifer Manoli shared a post in this sister group that really resonated with me. She wrote: “Do any of you feel like we aren’t ‘entitled’ to have a bad Mom day because of our infertility struggles? I love my children and I truly never take being a Mom for granted. There are so many out there that haven’t been blessed yet. However, there are days that I’m stressed out of my mind. Mom guilt is a real thing and I feel even more guilt on a day like this.”
I was pleased that Jennifer received some wonderfully affirming responses to this post. This “Facebook conversation” hit on something that I often think about, and it got my mind spinning until I could finally find time to click away on this blog post. The intersection of infertility and the emotional well-being of parents (namely but NOT limited to mothers) is a huge passion of mine, personally and professionally. One of my most fundamental beliefs is that women at EVERY stage of their family building – or if they do NOT want to build their family – should have access to non-judgmental emotional support.
I also feel strongly that EVERY parent should be able to vent about the parts of parenting that are stressful, or difficult, or boring. This does not mean they are not grateful. This does not mean they do not love their child or children. This most certainly includes those of us parenting after infertility! Maybe even more so. Of course, I would suggest that your loved one in the throes of TTC is not the best person for you to complain to about pregnancy or parenting. So hopefully you have other support systems to lean on. But I believe it is healthy to deeply appreciate parenthood AND to occasionally complain about it. And probably no one appreciates it more than those who have struggled to get there!