Conceiving Support

The struggles of infertile couples give rise to countless blogs that detail the journey to having a baby

July 15, 2008|By Rona Marech | Rona Marech,Sun reporter

Jaime Sayers comes from a fertile clan: At last count, and it seems to be constantly changing, her grandparents had 16 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren. Likewise, her father-in-law is one of 13.

Given her fruitful line, Sayers never expected that she and her husband would have trouble conceiving, and when it became apparent that getting pregnant wasn't a sure thing for them, she felt she had no one to talk to about it.

So, last March, she started a blog about her struggles with infertility. She lives on the Eastern Shore - far away from family - and the frequent posts were a way to keep her loved ones informed. Also, she wanted to remember her trials later on, in happier times. And she wanted to connect with others with similar stories, to educate and, when necessary, to vent.

"It's a nice way not to just take it out on my husband or family member but to type and let my fingers just go crazy while tears are streaming down my face," said Sayers, 30, whose parenthood quest began in 2003. "To get it off my chest and put it out there."

With more than 7 million people in the U.S affected by infertility, and a growing number of people undergoing assisted reproductive technology procedures, many people are dealing with infertility issues by blogging about their experiences. As she poked around online, Sayers stumbled into an incredibly intricate blogging world: Hundreds and hundreds of people, like her, who were chronicling their battles against biology with pathos, rawness, humor and, sometimes, numbing sadness.

"There are tons of them. I had no idea," she said. "I knew I wasn't alone. But I didn't realize I really wasn't alone."

A Silver Spring woman who writes under her first name only - Melissa - created a blog called "Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters" that serves as the infertility blogging community's central meeting place and clearinghouse. Among other projects on the site, she has a book club and keeps lists of peer infertility counselors and bloggers in various cities (including the Maryland-D.C.-Virginia metro region) who have real-life gatherings. She has a vocabulary page for newbies unaccustomed to the ubiquitous abbreviations some regulars use on their blogs, terms such as "TTC" (for trying to conceive), "DH" (dear husband) or "BFN" (a big fat negative on a pregnancy test). She also writes a daily newsletter with updates about who got back a disappointing test result, who received good news from a surrogate and the like.

Most importantly, she has the definitive list of blogs that deal with infertility, loss or adoption - a categorized roll that numbers 1,400 and grows by about five every day. The blog names, in a glance, say it all: Drama 2B Mama, Who Shot My Stork?, The Impatient Patient, and on and on.

The blog entries themselves also run the gamut from raging tirades to gracefully written entries that resemble mini-essays. Writers ask questions, share the most intimate details, blurt out good news or seek solace.

"ick. feeling crappy," Emily the Hopeless wrote on her blog recently. "i'm an infertile worthless broken woman...i hate my body and i really hate my insurance company!!!!!!!!"

On Father's Day, a blogger wrote about her husband's reaction to the holiday. "T's biggest fear is that he will never see his children as adults. Because we are getting older and will be close to 40 when becoming parents for the first time, this fear gets stronger and stronger as every anniversary passes. We have T's birthday, the anniversary of his father's death, his father's birthday and Father's Day all as reminders of time passing. I a[m] expecting another round of these anniversaries to pass before we become parents."

Chat rooms, listservs and blogs can be therapeutic outlets for some people and seem to be replacing old-fashioned support groups, said Tara Simpson, a psychologist who works at the Baltimore office of the Shady Grove Fertility Clinic. "I've noticed a trend where people are going home - because of time and travel and how hectic everyone's lives are, is what we hypothesize - and talking to people or maybe writing about themselves online for other people to appreciate their struggles. Not as many people are coming in as years ago, when people would get together and talk," she said.

In any case, such support groups aren't available to many people, including Sayers, who travels an hour each way to get to her clinic in Annapolis. She began her blog "Sayers Journey" last year, around the time she and her husband were stepping up their efforts to get pregnant, after years of disappointment and the diagnosis of "unexplained infertility."

Last winter, she and her husband opted for intrauterine insemination, which involves placing sperm inside a woman's uterus to facilitate fertilization. The IUI procedure cost her $1,600 that wasn't covered by her insurance, but worked the first time. Then she had a miscarriage at seven weeks.

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