For many couples, trying to conceive can quickly escalate from a fun, flirty project to an emotionally intense and overwhelming medical undertaking in record timing.
I know this firsthand: my husband Brad and I spent years trying to conceive and it was the toughest time in our relationship. What started as something light-hearted and beautiful (“We’re going to make a baby!”) quickly deteriorated into something stressful, expensive and completely overwhelming (“What if this never happens for us…”).
We went from being a healthy, happy 30-something couple with every opportunity ahead of us to broke, hormonal infertiles who avoided parties, travel and all the things we once loved. And while our usual support network tried to be there for us, it was really tough for anyone who hadn’t been through it firsthand to understand the intensity of the ordeal. And I mean…I get it…we weren’t super fun to be around during that time. Things were tense. I’d randomly burst out crying at brunch or even just passing the baby section at Target. I was struggling to find real connections, ways to process my complicated feelings and just felt really stuck.
Infertility is a complicated, emotional, messy-as-hell experience for 1 in 8 couples. The whole ordeal can hijack your life, because when you’re dealing with fertility issues, you’re also dealing with marriage, medical, financial, friendship, and (oftentimes) mental health issues.
You’re looking for community, ways to cope (some of which are healthy: journaling, going to yoga or working out. And some of which are not healthy: endless Instagram scrolling, drinking, emotional eating).
For me, the only thing that felt good was talking to other people who had been exactly where I was…dodging baby shower invitations, crying during sex with my husband, and struggling to see what life might look like in the future. You see…I’m someone who needs to talk about my feelings. I need community. I need the support and the realness and the friends to say, “I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I am here for you!”
The only good news in all of this is that in today’s world, suffering in silence is fairly optional. There are many ways to find emotional support and infertility friends who know what you’re going through and understand how tough it can be to get a specific diagnosis, decide about expensive treatment options and more.
So how can you find the emotional support and community you need when trying to conceive?
Here are a few awesome ways you can start connecting with other people who get it.
Fruitful is a fertility mentorship matching program that I created with my husband while we were going through infertility ourselves. Individuals struggling emotionally are paired with a mentor who has experienced it firsthand but is now on the other side. The service is a great way to talk one-on-one to someone 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 and guidance that comes with a bit of time and distance. This is a particularly helpful program for those dealing with a specific diagnosis, as mentor/mentee pairs are usually matched based on similar experiences and medical histories.
The Instagram #TTC community is another great resource. Just search the hashtag #TTC or #Infertility or any other fertility code word and you’ll see a bevy of women (some anonymous, some loud and proud) sharing the most intimate details of their journey. 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, baby pics and ultrasound scans…so if you’re easily triggered, this is a pretty big downside to consider.
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 very similar experiences but offers a lot of the same pitfalls as Instagram (mainly, potentially triggering posts and photos from others TTC). These groups can also feel a bit overwhelming…but perhaps the greatest downfall of Facebook groups is that even if the group is private, it’s still connected to your personal account. And as you probably already know, nothing on Facebook stays private for long.
Finding a professional therapist (especially one who specializes in infertility, child loss, family/relationship and/or grief) can be massively helpful when struggling with infertility and miscarriage. Of course therapy is pricey and can be tough to wedge into busy schedules, but with companies like TalkSpace and Better Help, it’s never been easier to find a therapist who works for you, fast.
In-person fertility support groups are another great way to find fellow #TTCSisters. Listening to someone tell their own story, and in turn sharing your own, can be incredibly powerful. There’s something about looking someone in the eye and really seeing their pain and hope 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 a support group in the first place.
What resources have you found useful on your journey? Please share your favorite TTC communities and why you love them with others – it’s important to share and remember, you do NOT have to go through infertility alone.