Support

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Occasionally I circle around the idea of a support group for childless couples, but I always end up dismissing the idea. There probably exist such groups, but infertility is a weird, kind of taboo issue in society. You’re allowed to be infertile, and you’re allowed to talk about it for a bit, but if you take your friends’ advice, see the doctors and still find yourself unable to have children, that’s the last you’re allowed to talk about it. You won’t see your friends again. They’ve got kids, and their world revolves around that now, so anything they do is kid-centred. Inviting childless couples to kid-centred events feels either inappropriate or awkward, like you’re rubbing it in.

So, in theory, it’s the perfect situation around which to form a support group. Come along, tell your story, give and receive encouragement, learn coping strategies. It should work.
Then I think about the problems. You’d get couples in their 50s who have all but accepted their fate trying to talk to couples in their 20s who have been “trying for ages”, by which they mean six months. What do those couples have in common that they can talk about? Then there’s the problem of hope, as well. When couples are going through IVF, they’re having a hard time balancing hope with realistic expectations and trying not to get their hearts broken. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk, and it’s tricky enough without other couples trying to either build you up or tamp you down, as the situation requires.

Lastly, there’s the leaving. Sometimes, those couples in their 20s or 30s will suddenly succeed at overcoming their infertility in some way. The IVF will suddenly take on the third try, or they just miraculously conceive after seven years, or maybe they were never infertile at all and their long, hard, gruelling six months of waiting is finally over. The rest of the group will notice when someone stops showing up, and they will know what that means. They know, and it hurts. It’s worse than losing a friend. It’s losing a solidarity partner – someone who was struggling through the same problems as you, who then suddenly doesn’t have them any more. That’s not what they want to do really – cause pain and leave – but they’ve lost any and all connection to the group now. Those left behind just get a reminder about how their own problems are not shared by everyone, and not even shared equally by everyone in the group. It’s also a reminder of the times your friends had kids and stopped seeing you because that is actually happening all over again.

So. Even if there were a support group for childless couples, and even if it works really well for those people, I doubt we would go.

John

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