A parent’s perspective on sharing your fertility struggles with others
When you’re exploring options for overcoming infertility challenges, you might find support in interesting places. One parent-to-be shares her perspectives on where to find resources and what it’s like to face well-meaning but unhelpful questions and comments.
Q. You have been open with your family and friends about your fertility struggles. Was this a difficult decision to make?
When I was first diagnosed with premature ovarian failure when I was 20, I didn’t really talk about it. It was heartbreaking to deal with as a 20 year-old college student who had grown up dreaming about having a family.
Over the years I had posted a few infertility posts on Facebook, but didn’t really JUMP into it until April when we had our first consultation with our fertility clinic. With my diagnosis, we automatically knew that I would have to go through IVF in order to become pregnant, but we didn’t know until after a few blood tests that we would need to use an egg donor.
This made it all the more important to share with friends and family. When a baby is born, the first comments are almost always “they look like dad or mom,” but my child won’t look like me. So by sharing our story, I am educating family and friends on our story and how our child will come to be.
Q. What type of response and feedback have you gotten?
A. We have gotten SO MUCH LOVE! There is such a stigma around infertility that many people do not share their journey, and many women that I know reached out to me and explained they had also struggled with infertility in some way. I think this really helped my husband be more comfortable with sharing our story: he’s a lot more private than I am.
We really enjoy when we have friends, family, and even just acquaintances ask us how everything is going. It really solidifies that our choice to share our journey was the right thing to do. We’ve had more interactions with others than we could have imagined and we are so thankful.
Q. What would you say to another couple who is considering sharing? Any resources you’ve found helpful?
A. Try sharing with a few trusted friends or family and see how you feel. Honestly it’s just been a big leap out of our comfort zone and being okay with whatever happens. You will probably be surprised how many people will open up and be so supportive.
I think the best resources for me have been YouTube and Instagram as far as getting more comfortable and seeing other couples/women post on social media pages.
Q. What is one thing you remember someone saying to you that really helped support you?
A. I can’t recall a specific conversation, but what really has supported me has been my relationship with my parents. I am so close to my parents but I feel like our relationship has grown even more since this process has started. My dad is so excited to have a new grandbaby and is always asking about what’s happening on our journey.
My husband also has a daughter, who is 17, and she is always the first person to get the updates we get and I love how excited she is to have a new little sibling soon! I have a sister who is 19 years older than me and we have such a special bond and I can’t wait to see the relationship between my step-daughter and her baby sibling because I just know how much I loved having an older sister who loved me so much.
Q. Can you recall an example of something insensitive or not helpful?
A. There have been a few times I have opened up to people about feeling down about our situation and I have had my feelings invalidated by responses I’ve gotten. I just have learned who I am able to talk about the lows of the journey and I am thankful that these instances have been very few. You really find out the people who are really there for you and support you no matter what.
Most unhelpful comments or questions (but said in a well-meaning way) have been a lack of education on what the donor egg IVF process is like, and this just gives me a chance to educate others about our journey.
That’s another reason why I share, so that more people learn about IVF and what it’s like to go through it. Decreasing the stigma is so important in today’s world.
Q. Have you connected with other people going through infertility? What has that connection been like?
A. YES! The infertility community on Instagram is AMAZING! There is so much love and support from women who are all going through infertility on different levels. It is the worst club, but the best members. I have so many women who cheer me on and just are there to be supportive. I’ve learned so much about what to expect and how to advocate for myself.
It’s also been so sweet to follow women going through retrieval since we are using an egg donor and are not able to experience it on our own. I love following along on women’s journeys. I actually have made 2 best friends from this community. I talk to them every day and I really love them and I could not do this without them. It isn’t something that is just temporary while we are going through our journeys, but truly solid friendships that go beyond just talking about IVF. I think that’s why I have maintained such a positive attitude about the whole situation, because there has been so much good that has come from this.
Q. Have you participated in any online groups? If so, which ones? If not, what went into that decision?
A. When we first started talking about IVF more seriously, which started when we found out that my husband’s work insurance would cover part of our IVF costs. I had started seriously doing research on IVF and what was involved.
I had joined a few Facebook groups, which I found somewhat helpful. Wisconsin has a few support groups on Facebook, which is very helpful for dealing with specific questions related to clinics and care. My husband has also joined a group for the fathers, but he found it to be mostly filled with men with male factor infertility which is something that we do not struggle with.
I have watched a lot of YouTubers and their journeys through IVF and I think that really helped me learn the most about what it was really like and not just reading medical journal articles.
The Instagram infertility community has been the group that I have really found the most welcoming and helpful.
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