“You are an excellent candidate for ivf.”  “You have Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome, I’m sorry, but we have to freeze all of your embryos.”

“Your embryos are of excellent quality!” “You’re pregnant!”

“I’m sorry, your levels have dropped.” “I’m sorry, there’s no longer a pregnancy.”

“You’ve been approved for adoption!” “It will be several years before we have a baby for you.”  “A birth mother has chosen you!”

Our infertility journey, like many others before us, has been filled with constant ups and downs. With infertility, so much of how one might feel about the process can hinge upon what people say: the doctor, the nurse, a spouse or partner, friends and family, that little voice in one’s head, or that nosy co-worker in the next cubicle. Trying hard to relate, people often share a story they have heard or observed about a friend who just “stopped trying and got pregnant.” Though well-intended, these comments day in and out, can take quite a toll.  Infertility is a medical diagnosis as is any other disease, but so often it is not viewed as such. Words cannot express what it means to sit in a room with a peer group who just gets it; people who can speak the language.  RESOLVE New England connects people:  to resources, to education, to one another, and that is perhaps the most empowering. The first RESOLVE New England group I attended made me feel welcomed and understood. I shared what we were going through and found I could do so with great ease- something I hadn’t been able to do with some people I’d known my entire life. Some of the participants finished my sentences and we had only just met moments before. There was laughter and tears and after I left, my heart felt lighter and I felt empowered. This is why I became involved with RESOLVE New England.

I vividly remember when we found ourselves on the infertility path four years ago.  We didn’t get to ease ourselves in; we were left in the middle of the path, at dark without a flashlight. “How did we get here?!” First comes love, next comes marriage, then the baby carriage, right?! I didn’t know where to begin. There was no turning back and going forward was the only way to start our family, so the direction seemed obvious- but how? Words I could hardly pronounce or spell floated by me in a haze: “Gonadotropin,” “Hysterosalpingography,” “Azoospermia.” In those early days, RESOLVE New England was my flashlight and my compass.  Plato said, “human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” I believe the same could be said for infertility! I had a burning and often consuming desire to start a family, which certainly had a lot of emotion-but I was missing the knowledge. This is when I turned to RESOLVE New England. I bookmarked www.resolvenewengland.org I found comfort in the blog posts; connecting to other’s words at a time when I was feeling so isolated. I found advice on how to wade through the insurance paperwork that soon came daily. I subscribed to the e-newsletter and I found resources about adoption; the next curve in our path. Information is power and that is what got us through those early days.  Education helped us to take control of a situation that was utterly out of our control.

I volunteer as a peer group leader with RESOLVE New England to walk together with others who are also on this shared path. We may not know how far we have to walk, but organizations like RESOLVE New England give us the nourishment to continue on. RESOLVE New England, true to its namesake has strengthened my resolve and given me the courage to keep walking.

Jennifer Smith is the leader of the Portsmouth, NH peer group. Jennifer and her husband live on the Seacoast with their beloved Black Labrador, Arlee and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first child, a girl, due by adoption at the end of December.