From fighting back tears when your sister-in-law announces she’s pregnant (again!) to stressing out before every single doctor’s appointment, infertility can be intense. Very, very intense.
A lot of issues
As you probably know all too well, infertility is a complicated, emotional, messy-as-hell experience for 1 in 8 couples. And for good reason! The whole ordeal can quickly hijack your life because when you’re dealing with fertility issues, you’re also dealing with marriage issues, medical issues, financial issues, friendship issues, and oftentimes mental health issues. It’s a LOT of friggin issues.
While our usual support network of friends and family members try to be there for us, it’s really tough for anyone who hasn’t been through infertility firsthand to GET the intensity of the ordeal. To be fair, most of our loved ones want to support us, yet they struggle to be there in a meaningful way that isn’t just a string of platitudes like, “try to relax,” or “it’s going to be fine.” Even your bestest bestie probably doesn’t really understand the level of despair you feel when you get your period.
Suffering in silence
This empathy gap and lack of understanding are why 61% of women going through infertility don’t tell ANYONE about this struggle.Not their moms. Not their friends. No one. Which is absolutely heartbreaking, because the only thing worse than going through infertility is going through this mess alone.
The good news? Today, suffering in silence is completely optional. There are many ways to find new TTC friends who know what you’re going through and can help support you in a real, meaningful way. You don’t have to be an extrovert or even look anyone in the eye! In fact, there’s a whole underground world of women sharing their journeys and supporting one another right under your nose; and it’s freakin awesome! Kind of like a secret society, except with fewer dark cloaks and more nervous breakdowns!
Building your tribe of TTC sisters
So how can you build your TTC Tribe of ‘Ride or Die’ friends who really get #thatinfertilitylife? Here are 5 awesome ways that you can start connecting with other women who know what it feels like to spontaneously burst into tears when you walk past the baby section at Target!
- Fruitful – Fruitful is a free fertility mentorship matching program. Individuals struggling emotionally with infertility are paired with a mentor who has experienced it firsthand but is now on the other side. The service is free and a great way to talk one-on-one (and privately) to someone (either via text, phone, email or in-person) who truly understands the struggles of TTC. The benefit of having a mentor? It’s less competitive than going through the experience with someone else actively trying to conceive, and mentors are also able to offer the ￼￼perspective, knowledge and guidance that only comes with a bit of time and distance.
- Instagram – The Instagram #TTC community is lit. Just search the hashtag #TTC or #IVF or any other fertility code word and you’ll see a
bevyof women (some anonymous, some loud and proud) sharing the most intimate details of their journey – from positive OPKs to confessionals about ditching their friend’s baby shower. It’s a great place to read other women’s stories and find “cycle buddies” who are also going through what you’re going through. The only downside? Lots of BFP pregnancy test photos, bump pics and ultrasound scans, so if you’re feeling sensitive or easily triggered, this is a major watch out.
- Private FB Groups – Private Facebook groups are another way to connect with women struggling with infertility. It’s a great resource for finding others going through the experience but offers a lot of the same pitfalls as Instagram (mainly, triggering photos and posts from others). But the biggest downside of Facebook groups is that even if the group is private, it’s still connected to your personal account. That’s why Your Fertility Toolbox Facebook Group is a great option; it’s secret so it’s completely private and separated from your profile.
- Your Fertility Toolbox – As well as the Facebook community, when you join our toolbox you are joining a group of women who are actively seeking emotional support for fertility and getting access to exclusive invites, offers and resources. Through the Toolbox, there will be more ways to build your tribe (exciting plans in the mix…!)
- Support Groups – In-person fertility support groups are another great way to find fellow TTC sisters. Listening to someone tell their own story, and in
turnsharing your own can be incredibly cathartic. There’s something about looking someone in the eye and really seeing their pain, hope and beauty that makes you feel less alone. The only downside is the availability of these types of groups in more rural areas and also, it can be terrifying for introverts to share their story or even go to the support group in the first place!
Any other resources you guys have found useful? Please share your favourite TTC communities and why you love them in the comments below. And remember, you do NOT have to go through infertility alone!
* Fruitful fertility is currently only available in the US. Watch this space for the global expansion plans!!
Founder & CEO of Fruitful Fertility
Elyse Ash is the founder and CEO of Fruitful Fertility. She and her husband Brad have been trying to conceive since September 2014 and live in Minneapolis with their cat, Puck. Elyse loves poetry, hockey, social justice, Beyonce and pretending she’s into yoga.