For nearly a decade, Empty Arms has worked tirelessly as an organization to carve out safe spaces for those who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. This was a population of people who felt lost in a world where the media and social norms can portray pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting as a glorified state that comes easily to most. As time passed, we became aware that a great many of the social difficulties that loss families experience closely mirror the experience of those who have been unsuccessful in their attempts to conceive. Not only that, but there was little support available locally for those families to process this experience.
Therefore, within months of securing our own space, we re-connected with a trusted community member who had, in the past, communicated her interest in hosting an infertility support group. While some of the families who come for infertility support have also experienced a pregnancy loss, some have never conceived or are experiencing secondary infertility. Whatever their experience, we recognize and value that those who are struggling to conceive a child also may have aching, empty arms. And so we have created a space for them to come together.
If you're reading this, you don't need us to tell you how the struggle to conceive can seem to permeate every aspect of one's daily life. Yet few opportunities exist for one to pick apart the reality of what this experience is like.
Consider our Support Groups
First of all, consider meeting some local folks who are also struggling in similar ways. Going to a support group can feel intimidating, but we assure you that we have thought long and hard about creating a comfortable, safe space where you are most welcome to just sit and listen or pour out your entire story. If you'd feel more comfortable attending after speaking with our facilitator, you are more than welcome to reach out to Anna, our lead facilitator, so she can help to get you feeling more settled about the idea of attending. You can find the details of our support group here along with Anna's contact information.
Consider talking to a good therapist
Wanting to become pregnant can and does take over a great deal of our time. While our support groups offer the invaluable tool of peer support, we also always recommend a good personal therapist. We maintain ties with a number of trusted Valley Practitioners, whose contact information and brief bios can be found here. Please note that while these practitioners are quoted on our website speaking about their interest in the loss population, most are family therapists who have a focus on the childbearing years-- which of course include those of us who are struggling to conceive.
Visit a new kind of practitioner
No, we're not like your mother or neighbor who is going to tell you to relax, so you can get pregnant. Or that maybe if you try something new, you'll magically become pregnant. Quite the contrary, and we certainly don't mean to imply that if you try one of these practitioners, your situation will change. However, we do know that in this time where we can feel so futile in our bodies, that can seem to be failing us, working with alternative medical providers can help us to feel like we're doing something to take care of our bodies. So here are a few we trust:
The Wellness House in Northampton houses two trusted practitioners- Amy Mager, who offers acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine, and Lisa Gallauresi, who offers massage therapy. We also highly recommend Kate Cadwgan of Radiant Point Acupuncture. Offering both acupuncture and massage, Kate, like Amy Mager, is skilled and experienced in helping women who are struggling with fertility and conception.
In lieu of real humans, the internet offers an enormous variety of resources that may reassure you that you are not alone in your quest to become pregnant. Listed below are just a smattering of resources to get you started, knowing that each one could lead you down a rabbit-hole of online reading.
The National Infertility and Adoption Education Nonprofit has an extensive website here. It offers a lot of factual information that might be more helpful if you are earlier in your journey and wanting to understand a few more of the nuts and bolts of what this road might look like.
If what you're hoping for is personal stories from others like you, there are many options. Mel, from Stirrup Queen, has been blogging about her journey for over 10 years, and while her page is a bit all over the place now (speckled with posts about a new guinea pig, for example) she is an age-old expert on the subject and her sidebars are full of good things. She also posts regular recommendations for other infertility blogs, which are good. From Mel I found a link to this blog, which is personal and has a sidebar FULL of other personal blogs. Lastly I like this blog, entitled "From IF to When..." which then links to the author's most current blog. It truly focuses on her long road of infertility. I certainly can't predict which, if any, of these personal blogs would appeal to you, but browse away.