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The Untethered Boat of Pregnancy and Parenting After Infertility

Posted Mar 26 2013 9:00am

Yesterday, I talked about how I’m battling prenatal depression . Today, I want to talk a little more broadly about the liminal space of pregnancy after infertility.

The Untethered Boat of Pregnancy and Parenting After Infertility

Pregnancy after infertility is such an unsupported realm of uncertainty. For those of us who are pregnant, especially for the first time, we’re unsure about all the random weirdness that happens to our bodies. We worry about losing our babies. We worry if we’re doing things “right” or “well” – such relative concepts. We hold ourselves to often unrealistic standards and we are cruel with ourselves should we not meet them.

On the flip side, people don’t understand why we might be worried, scared or even sad. People assume that pregnancy is all sunshine and rainbows when in truth: pregnancy can be downright ugly, painful and scary. Thankfully, I don’t think my pregnancy has reached those kinds of lows. But for some women, it all but knocks you on your ass.

Now add depression on top if that all.

. . .

As I work through this and as I make strategic support plans for the high likelihood of post-partum depression to follow once the Knish gets here, I’m trying to take a step back to reflect on what lessons can be gleaned from my experience so far. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

First, prenatal depression is real, valid and seriously under-recognized, reported and treated. Second, collective emotional support resources for the pregnancy after infertility community are seriously lacking.

I feel like we as a community do a lot to keep each other going on the journey, but once some of us reach the precipice of pregnancy and parenthood, suddenly, the anchor’s been pulled up and we’re set adrift. And I’m not saying that it’s a matter of fellow passengers suddenly abandoning ship – although that does happen. When it’s just infertility that we’re dealing with, we have plenty of life rafts and life jackets in the form of professional support outlets: RESOLVE, therapists, support groups, coaches, tons of books, websites, forums and message boards.

But where are those life jackets and preservers when we see those two lines? When we get the call from the adoption agency? Support outlets for pregnancy and parenting after infertility are few and far between. And I think we can – and should – do better to support those going through this transitional state.

. . .

There are some resources out there. PAIL Bloggers is a great example. I’ve been largely a lurker but it’s a growing community and one for which I’m grateful exists. For those not in the know, PAIL Bloggers hails itself as “a community resource for what comes next” and is open to the Pregnant and/or Parenting through Adoption/Infertility/Loss community.

Mel has written some great thoughts about the feeling of being off-balance once finally pregnant or parenting after infertility over at BlogHer: Pregnancy after Infertility is Neither Here Nor There . And A Little Pregnant has a frank, no-holds-barred piece on The Bitter Girl’s Guide to Pregnancy After Infertility that’s definitely worth a read.

With regard to professional support and resources, you can find collections of pregnancy/parenting after infertility articles and resources at RESOLVE , RESOLVE New England and The American Fertility Association . RESOLVE even hosts a Living After Infertility Resolution Online Community at inspire.com.

And honestly, a quick Google search turns up resources from a handful of other places like fertility clinics, message boards and other fertility/TTC news and community aggregates.

But I’ve gotta say…

Support for a community as liminal and transitional as pregnancy/parenting after infertility feels sparse.

. . .

So… what do we do about it?

If you’ve been reading me for more than just this post, you know I like to call out and name the problem/beast for what it is and then make a plan of action to do something about it.

So if the beast in this case is sparse support for the pregnancy/parenting after infertility community, what can we do to support them?

This is one of those times where I don’t have a concrete answer, so I’d love to hear from you. Whether you’re pregnant, parenting or still in the trenches – I think it’s important to hear from all stakeholders. Because let’s face it: even if you’re still going through infertility, the hope is that you will someday parent, somehow – right? So you need to know that this untethered boat waits for you too, so why not help work to help throw a line out to this community that you may soon join?

What can we be doing better as a community? What else could infertility organizations offer to provide more support? How can we leverage what exists in better ways?

Let’s chat and brainstorm in the comments.

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