Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Catholic Infertility Support Group

I had a meeting today with the woman from the Family Life Office at the Diocese to discuss the logistics of the Catholic Infertility Support Group that I will be starting! Unfortunately, there is just not enough time to get anything underway for this month... I was hoping to have the first meeting around Christmas, since it is such a hard time of year for infertile couples. And as DH pointed out, not only is Christmas hard, but New Year's as well, since it marks "yet another year."
I mean, technically, I could try to hold a meeting this month, but it would most likely just be me there!

The great news is that the Family Life Office is going to help by sending out bulletin ads to put in EVERY church in the Diocese, starting the first weekend in January. They will also advertise with "Catholic Spirit," which puts seasonal inserts in all of the bulletins. And when I showed her the pamphlets from PPVI that I was planning on providing at each meeting (pamphlets on Infertility, Recurrent M/C, Suspected Ectopic Pg, Progesterone use in Pregnancy, Endo., PCOS, ovarian hormone dysfunction, etc.), she said, "Oh let me know where I can order those so we can pay for them and make them available to everyone for free." That is just awesome! Here I was thinking I'd have to make tons of copies of each pamphlet on my own :)

I asked about signing up for a bereavement support training session, since we will also be serving women/couples who have experienced previous miscarriage. I want to make sure that I am properly trained for this type of support, since I cannot empathize first-hand. I will be taking the next course in March.

We spoke briefly about the Elizabeth Ministry, as well, and I'm thinking that this may be just one more way to get the word out about our group and about the prevalence of infertility, in general. But this idea wasn't completely developed, it's just sorta in the background as another resource.

In the end, we set a date for the 1st meeting (and subsequent meetings). We will begin on February 21st, and it will be every 3rd Saturday of the month thereafter.
The first step then was to find some samples of bulletin ads for infertility support groups, and fit them to our needs. Here's what I just finished working on, let me know what you think:

You’re Not Alone - More and more couples are experiencing infertility and pregnancy loss. Where can they turn for Catholic support, education, and resources? A new Catholic Infertility Support Group will be holding its first meeting on Feb. 21st, 2009 at the Diocese Center. To learn more about this ministry or to pre-register, please contact ......

Silently Suffering? - Are you and your spouse currently experiencing the pain of infertility or the inability to maintain a pregnancy? There is support available! Come join us for a Catholic Infertility Support Group, now being offered one Saturday every month at the Diocese Center. First meeting will be held on Feb. 21st, 2009. For more information and to pre-register, please contact...

St. Sarah’s Support Group*: a support group for infertile couples. One in every seven married couples experiences infertility. You are invited to join us on the third Saturday of each month as we share our stories, support each other in prayer, and offer resources following Catholic teaching for infertility treatment. Questions? Call... at... or email:... St. Sarah’s Support Group will meet on Saturday, Feb. 21st from 10:00-11:30am in the St. John Neumann Diocese Center.

“St. Sarah’s Support Group”* A Support Group for Infertility {As we teach Natural Family Planning throughout our diocese, we encounter many couples experiencing infertility.}** Currently, 1 in 7 married couples struggle to conceive a child. To assist these couples, we are beginning a monthly support group at the Diocese Center in Piscataway. St. Sarah’s Support Group will meet on the 3rd Saturday of each month to share stories & scripture, support each other in prayer and offer resources which follow Catholic teaching for infertility treatment. Please contact ... if you have questions or would like to pre-register.

*I thought of the name St. Sarah's Support for a few reasons. First, many of the other patron Sts of fertility names are already used in different IF or Pg-related ministries (Hannah's Hope, Project Rachel, Elizabeth Ministry, etc.)- - and our wedding Anniversary is on Aug. 19th, St. Sarah's Feast Day. I found that fitting, if not ironic. But I'm not sure if we'll use it or not. We may just call it the Catholic Infertility Support Group.

**For that last one, the 1st line can be lifted to save space. All of these are completely stolen from other sources, except for the 2nd one- I wrote that one :) I've just always thought of IF as the silent suffering, because it's the only suffering I know of that others not going through just cannot really understand or offer you support with. It's also not spoken about nearly as much as other forms of suffering.

Anyway, I have some work cut out for me. The woman I met with was SO helpful, and had some great ideas for better organization of the meetings. She thinks instead of open-ended discussion we should have set topics during that time-frame, which will steer the conversation. So now I will be working on agendas for each meeting, topics of discussion, and guest speakers for certain topics (my Dr. has already offered to speak at one of the meetings, bless her soul)! We also have plans on how to a) get the MEN to the meetings, and b) how to get them to open up both at the meeting and at home with their wives about the fertility issues.

I am SOOO excited about this! I really had no exact vision for this when I first thought about doing it, and just let God take control. He clearly has a plan for the group, so I'm just gonna run with it! Thanks again to All You Who Hope, as well as Lottie and Tate over at catholicinfertility.org for their inspiration, resources and support!


Fight The Good Fight of Faith said...

I love the "silently suffering" phrase! That is exactly how i felt until i found this community of catholic IF bloggers.

I'm in awe of how generous you are! You have such a great heart! If there was a group like that here, I would totally go!!

Will keep your support group in my prayers!!

Sew said...

That is so awesome! Look at you go girl!! Seriously, it is a great idea! First hand not only having support, but also having an instructor that can get you help. I would have been there 3 years ago if it were available to me.

I think I might follow in yours and AYWH footsteps. But I will need a SIGN! :) Yes, I am that hard headed.

Fight The Good Fight of Faith said...

I also wanted to add how I can totally see how God is working wonders through you and what a great instrument of God you are! I hope I can open up my heart to be His instrument one day :)

Vent-ilation said...

What a great idea! You go, girl! The "silently suffering" one was the one that would probably catch my eye the most if I saw it in a bulletin. It seemed the most genuine and comforting to someone struggling with IF. No surprise, when I read later tht you had written it yourself!

LifeHopes said...

I have to agree-- my favorite was the "Silently Suffering" one.

They were ALL good, but that one resonated the most in my heart.

You are TRULY doing wonderful work, and I know God will bless you in mighty ways.

Sew said...

I like the top two! Quick and to the point. I also like the 1 and every 7th couple experience infertility.

Looks like we are given a God given break from TTC, and by that we are filled with His grace. Every break I have taken because I felt like it, never felt this good! Seriously, I have never had so much hope in 3 years! I could scream! :)

Jeremiah 29:11 said...

So awesome! Keep us posted on how the group goes. Clearly we know there is a great need for this support group!

JellyBelly said...

i agree with eilyn, "silently suffering" is a great phrase!

i've been thinking about joining a local support group myself, but i don't know if i'm ready to meet people in real life yet. the people in your community that are suffering from IF are lucky to have you! :)

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

Awww, you guys are all the sweetest :) I'm blushing over here. Soooo not worthy of all of your nice compliments. I'm just your ordinary sinner, trying to get by!

JellyBelly said...

TCIE what's TEBB???? i'm so confused!

Karey said...

Just some things I thought of from my experience.. it's good to have some topics planned, but you end up telling your "stories" for the first hour! We've thought of how to not do this, but you really have to. It makes everyone feel comfortable with each other and new people need to explain their story and hear everyone else's. Also, it sounds like you have some help in the marketing department from the diocese, but don't get discouraged if people don't come at first (hopefully this won't happen though!). It was just us for the first 6 months, except for a woman here or there. Now, though, it is up to six of us and we have a great group.. it just took nine months!

I'll try to think of other tips, but great job so far!

Life In Mazes said...

If I saw the second one in a bullIetin, I would definitely be ready to go! I wish you the very best in this new endeavor. I am so glad God has given you such a generous heart!