Sunday, November 1, 2009

This one's for the girls

This is a story about real life friends. A story about how a group of ladies that met as part of a support group grew to becoming a group of ladies that were supporting each other through some of the toughest times in each others’ lives.

A little over a year ago, Shelby commented on my blog for the first time, and she said she also lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I said: “Let’s meet.” We met one afternoon, and hit it off. It was so easy to talk to Shelby. She is wonderfully witty, compassionate and very warm.

Shelby had been going to a local support group in San Francisco, and she had met some other ladies there that were also going through IF struggles. She asked if I would be willing to come and have dinner with the group some time. At first I hesitated. I had never been to support groups before. I had never talked to “strangers” about my situation in life (I mean, I do talk through my blog, but I have the cover of anonymity here). Shelby asked me if I would be more comfortable if the group included spouses. That way I could ask DH to accompany me. I did, and that’s how I first met “the ladies”.

Our group met quite regularly after that. Sometimes for brunch, sometimes for a drink, sometimes at someone’s house. Everyone was at various stages of their journeys. LW was in the decision making space in between her IUIs and IVF. M was doing IUIs. J was coping with immune issues, and doing IVF coupled with very severe transfusion procedures. OC was going through IVF, and it worked! ME was going through DE and it worked! KW had just had a miscarriage after IVF, and then got pregnant naturally! Shelby’s IVF worked! I was going for my uterus surgery and getting ready for my last hurrah IVF at CCRM.

One by one, it seemed like the group was achieving success. It became a little difficult to be the one(s) left behind. I had by now been lapped several times through the years, so in a way, I was expecting it. But it still made it hard for me to meet the group, especially when the majority of the group was pregnant. We met a couple of new ladies, also from the support group that Sarang met Shelby at. The group sort of started growing in a different direction.

Sarang (her blog is private, so I can’t link it here) was phenomenal through the changes. She reached out to all the pregnant girls one on one, met with them, checked in on them regularly, all while she was going through a failed IVF and failed FETs.

I, on the other hand, let myself withdraw. I felt I needed to. I called it “my coping mechanism” or “self preservation”. I went through my cancelled FET, and subsequently my failed FET, and fell into a dark deep place in my life. I am doing much better now, and now, as I look back, I realize how much of a hand each and every one of these ladies had in gently pulling me out of my trenches. I got emails, voice mails, phone calls, text messages, flowers, and hand written cards in the mail! Each time someone reached out, it put a smile on my face.

See, I had spent 8 years struggling alone with IF. I had never explored support groups. I had grown used to dealing with my failures and losses in my own way – which mostly meant closing down from the rest of the world till I regained the energy and the strength to face life again. Receiving these notes and flowers and messages felt different. And I am so very thankful to everyone for being there.

So Sarang, MV, Shelby, ME, OC, KW, JC, L – if you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart! You rock! You don’t know how much you have helped me by just being there, and by reaching out to me when you knew I needed you, though some of those times, I didn’t know it myself!

OC and ME recently had their babies, Shelby is due soon, and so is KW. MV, Sarang and JC’s journey still continues. My journey continues too. The routes may have changed for some of us, but the destination remains the same – parenthood.

The group continues to meet – sometimes in big groups, sometimes one on one. We now have more members. Recently, Meg found my blog and reached out. She and I met for dinner a couple of months ago. Meg is beautiful, and warm and funny! I introduced her to the original group (or at least the ones still on the TTC bandwagon from that group). Meg introduced us to Melissa, who is a sweetheart! Sarang brought in a few more ladies, and the "new group" met just recently.

So now we have new faces in the group, but the bonding remains the same. The stories are different, but the struggle is the same. And it is so easy to connect with these ladies because everyone gets it. Everyone is in different stages of her journey, but the emotions are the same.

We meet at restaurants and bond over food. And as any veteran IFer, none of us are ashamed of talking about our body parts, or medical procedures, or TTC terminology. I am sure many a fellow restaurant client on the surrounding tables has had trouble ingesting their food if they have ever overheard our conversations! We giggle over stories of cervical mucus, sperm counts, fertilization rates, number of eggs retrieved etc, while proceeding to eat pizza, or chinese food, or whatever else it is that we are eating. No queazy stomachs at our table! On the tables surrounding us? Who knows? And frankly, who cares? Would they rather have queazy stomachs from overhearing IF conversation, or would they rather be us, having that IF conversation?

So this one's for the girls!!

This one's for the girls
Who've ever had a broken heart
Who've wished upon a shooting star
You're beautiful the way you are
This one's for the girls
Who love without holding back
Who dream with everything they have
All around the world
This one's for the girls

I recently noticed on my blog traffic monitor, that someone came to my blog by googling for "real life IF meetings in San Francisco". Whoever that was, if you are reading this, and if you are one of us that needs support, I am sure our group will be more than happy to welcome you. Leave me a comment, and we will include you in our next get together.


DAVs said...

Support is essential. While I've never had a 'group' I have had the fortune to meet a few of my fellow bloggers in real life and it is always divine. No one else gets it, try as they might, they just can't. So yay--let's hear it for all of us girls!

Anonymous said...

You are so amazing - I wish I lived in SF so that we could meet.


Melissa G said...

Nikki, YOU are amazing. And I am so grateful to have met you. (although I wish it could have been sooner!) I felt so honored when Meg invited me to your get together, you're all such extraordinary women. And you made me feel so welcome. I was blown away by your interest in my story and by your openness of your own. You are incredibly eloquent and thoughtful and funny, and again, I'm so glad that I met you.

Thank you for everything. I hope to see you again soon.


Chhandita said...

YOu are lucky you had this support...I wish we had something similar here in India... Maybe I should take the initiative and do something. Its amazing how people open up to me when they hear that I do had to struggle to conceive...I hope I can help some people around here

Jill M. said...

Nikki, I'm so glad you have this wonderful support group! Always thinking of you!

banditgirl said...

I am too moved to even begin to articulate how this post made me feel. Nikki, you are amazing, articulate, smart, loving, kind, gentle, massive support, very dear to me, and I thank Shelby for bringing you into my/our world! Your poem brought tears to my eyes.

Sarang said...

Oh my goodness, this post really moved me. From "re-living" the change of our support group...from support buddies to true friends, it really touched me.

And your "This one's for the girls" poem just pushed me over the edge!

I am working on creating either a Yahoo Group or Google Group so that others wanting "in real life" support in the Bay Area can find us. (It's looking like Yahoo might be the better interface and more public searchable...)

Thank you for being you, Nikki. You have been a rock through all of this for me. Don't know what I'd do without you.

Here's to YOU!

Chris said...

Thanks for the posting. I live in the bay area and would love to join your support group. I have been following your blog for over a year now and look forward to meeting you in person.


Nikki said...

Chris - send me your email address and I will send you an email when we meet the next time. Are you trying to conceive too?

Phoebe said...

Support from those going through the same thing you are is essential. While I don't have a support group I'm a part of here in my town, I have met some incredible women through their blogs and have been fortunate enough to meet up with some of them IRL. There is something about going through this experience that speaks to the strength, determination, and compassion of us women enduring fertility treatments.

Meg. said...

Oh Nikki, what a lovely post to come home to. *hugs*

*I* feel so fortunate to have met YOU. You are GORGEOUS, inside and out. You exude grace, kindness and a warm, welcoming spirit.

Melissa, Sarang and yourself have been a godsend. And you're right -- even though our stories, on the surface, are worlds apart, we all share common pain. A common bond. A common goal.

I'm so happy to be back, and look forward to meeting up with you and the girls soon!

Rambler said...

What a wonderful shout out to people that mean so much to you. I think of it as "the friends who have left footprints in your heart". You are lucky to have them and to be able to talk about A-Z with them.

Hope you are doing well and I'm still here, following along! :)

Shelby said...

I'm sorry I'm such a delayed commenter, but I must say that this post brought tears to my eyes. You are amazing, Nikki, and I am so lucky to have met you. I NEVER would have made it through this past year and a half without all of you.

I am so excited to see you ladies now reaching out to others-to see that circle of support keep expanding. That is so exciting and heartening and I want to thank you for doing that. Sadly, our sisterhood is connected by pain, but happily, strength and friendship as well. What an amazing group of women...I am blessed to know you all!

Donna M said...

Hi -- I too stuggle with IF. We're about to embark on our 4th IVF cycle in December. If your group is open to new faces, i'd love to join in one evening. We live in the South Bay area.

Donna M said...

I too stuggle with IF and am about to embark on a 4th IVF cycle in December. If your group is open to new ladies, i'd love to join in one evening. We live in the South Bay Area.

Nikki said...

Donna - by all means! We would definitely love to meet you! Please send me your email address (I won't publish it) and I will connect up with you!

Mo and Will said...

Wow. What a wonderful group of women. So glad you have them. And for what it's worth Nikki, although I'm across the country, I feel a special connection to you because we've both been through more than the average IFer in this crazy journey. Plus you've been to the denver peeps.

So just know you have one big fan across the country as well. If you're ever in NYC and looking to have any bicoastal support : )


Anonymous said...

nikki, i'm so glad that you have this group. i really wish that we could have met up when i was in cali. :(

i think of you often...


Margaret said...

Nikki - what a touching post. I often think about our "old" group and am "glad" to hear that the support group continues to grow. It was truly lifesaving to share my story with people who got it. Thank you to the girls! Never give up hope!
Love and Hugs