The Importance of Community During Infertility
By Victoria Niño
Finding support during infertility is crucial to your survival. Infertility can feel like the loneliest, darkest place you have ever visited if you try to go it alone. Trust me, I’ve tried it. I’ve been there. It wasn’t until I found support that I was able to rise up and move on through my journey. I struggled with infertility for eight years, and at least half of that time I cried behind closed doors.
No one knew my pain even existed except my husband, and although he tried his hardest to support me, he truly didn’t really grasp what it felt like to be me. After all, infertility was happening to me not him. For so long, I never shared my feelings about infertility with anyone but him. I would tell him just enough to get some tears out, but never allowed myself to share my deepest, darkest thoughts. I was too ashamed to even tell my own husband what I was really feeling. I thought I must just be a terrible person. I shouldn’t feel such ugly thoughts, like anger, jealousy, hatred, and bitterness. I would shame myself over and over, day after day. I convinced myself that I didn’t deserve to be a mother because mothers don’t have these types of feelings. This was all my fault. I shamed myself for not being able to give my husband a baby, and felt terrible that he was stuck with me - an infertile, ugly woman.
The shame just kept spiraling…
Until one day, I decided to share with one friend who I knew had also struggled with infertility.
She was very quick to tell me that EVERYONE who goes through infertility actually feels these feelings at one point: the jealousy, the anger, the bitterness. She validated me and took a huge weight off my shoulders. It was hard enough being infertile and trying to navigate my diagnosis, the procedures, and financial hardship I had to endure, but to pack on shame on top of that was just unbearable. I started reaching out to a few other women I knew had struggled to get more validation. She was right, they had ALL felt those feelings. I was not alone.
You see, these women saved me. Some of them were friends of friends, people I barely knew. Their unconditional support and validation is what carried me through to the other side. I just needed someone to tell me I was normal and accepted. I needed to find a way to love myself again, and they helped me do that.
I finally got pregnant via donor eggs and gave birth to my beautiful, miracle daughter, Florence, in July 2018. After she was born, I signed up for The New Mom School in Newport Beach because I knew nothing about being a mother. I had devoted so much time, energy, and money trying to get pregnant, I hadn’t the slightest idea what I would do if any of it actually worked. The New Mom School is a place for new moms to connect and get support from other women going through the same thing at the same time. Sometimes we would all just sit in a circle and cry, but I always left feeling better because I knew I wasn’t alone. After a few classes, I let the founder know that women who are trying to become mothers need this type of support too. She nodded, smiled at me, and said “I totally agree Victoria, I think you should run it”.
And, so, I took her advice that day and Infertility Unfiltered was born – an eight week series focused on the things we desperately need while navigating the depths of infertility - a safe and solid support system, access to experts in the field, and tools to get you through. From survival to celebration, and everything in between. We talk about emotional stress, relationships, sex, grief, and self care. We meditate, we craft, we listen to music, and sometimes we drink wine. This is not your average support group, and we like it that way!
Infertility Unfiltered is a safe place to share your feelings openly and not be judged. We cry together and we laugh together. We learn from each other and grow together. Lifelong friendships are made here. I have a very strong connection to every single woman that walks thru the door and make it my mission to help carry them to the other side of infertility. I am not at all a therapist, I’m just an infertile woman who wants to pass on the love I was shown and help other women rise up. The act of being to help others has been my greatest piece of healing on my own journey. These women are helping me just as much as I am helping them. It’s a beautiful thing.
For now, we are only located in Newport Beach, in the New Mom School space, but hope that one day we can bring support to other cities. If you are looking for support in Orange County, CA, we’d love to welcome you to our tribe!
Every warrior needs a Tribe.
Founder – Infertility Unfiltered