Infertility can be a very lonely place. Getting the right kind of support at the right time can make a world of difference when you feel like you are drowning in it. What is the right kind of support?
Sometimes it’s a kind friend who just listens, even if she has never been in the same situation. Sometimes it’s a partner who holds you while you cry on their shoulder. Sometimes it’s a group of friends who distract you with a fun night out and never say a word about fertility or the lack thereof. Sometimes it’s a group of women on social media that you’ve never met in real life, but they understand the pain of another failed transfer like no one else in your life can.
Sometimes we need to vent, to feel understood, or to get advice from someone with shared experience. Sometimes we need someone brave enough to sit with us in our sadness without saying a word. Sometimes we need someone who can ask the hard questions. At different times we need different things. And the reality is, we need different people for these different things. Expecting one person to fulfill all our support needs is setting us (and them) up for failure. Why? Because each person brings a unique set of skills and life experiences to the table. And that’s fine, because we have lots of options out there to build our support system.
You may have family and friends that serve certain rolls in your support arsenal. That face-to-face contact is vital. Then there are online communities for solidarity and shared experience. These can be even more helpful when you find groups that are facing similar challenges as you, whether than be diagnostic issues or age-specific groups. I can’t tell you how much I learned from an IVF group for women 40 years and older. I’ve even developed friendships with women that I’ve met in these groups that have endured past IVF outcomes and births.
Through the process of it all, I found a couple more resources to add to my team; and I want to share those with you because it look me longer to find them and they can serve different roles than the rest.
The first is Fruitful Fertility. Fruitful Fertility is a unique mentorship program. It matches people who are experiencing infertility with “mentors” who have been there done that. It’s free to join, and you submit information about your background, experiences, and values. Then they match you with a mentor based on a variety of factors, which could include age, diagnosis, primary vs. secondary infertility, treatments, geographic location, or other information. You’ll receive an email or notification in the app when you have been “matched” along with info about the other person and preferred way to contact (e.g., email, text). I like Fruitful Fertility because it takes the invaluable support you can get from someone who has shared experiences and facilitates a more personal one-on-one relationship, which is often lacking in online support communities. I didn’t find Fruitful Fertility until I was at the end of my IVF journey. So I became a mentor and have had the honor of working with four mentees over the past two years. Sometimes online infertility groups can become overwhelming. Fruitful Fertility helps you connect with someone similar to you, without all the distractions or drama.
The second resource I’d like to share is an app called Fertility Answers created by MedAnswers, Inc.This app gives you free access to fertility specialists. You can submit anonymous questions privately that will be answered by specialists in a variety of fertility-related disciplines, including RE’s, embryologists, psychologists, genetic counselors, acupuncturists, pharmacists and more. Got diet and nutrition questions – there’s an expert for that. Got questions about egg quality – there’s an expert for that. Need help with stress related to infertility – there’s an expert for that. It’s a great way to get a second, third, or even fourth (because let’s face it, we want all the info we can get) opinion on any of your fertility related questions. You can even schedule phone or in-person consultations with an expert that you connect with. I like the convenience of submitting private questions anytime, anywhere and getting knowledgeable responses. One of the things I found pretty amazing about Fertility Answers is that the app is the brain child of Alice Crisci, who is a cancer survivor and fertility activist. Through her hard work, entrepreneurship, and her own personal experience with fertility challenges, she created has created a one of a kind resource to support you in your journey. I’m passionate about infertility advocacy and as a way to give back to the community that provided me with so much support when I needed it, I volunteer as a psychologist for Fertility Answers.
If you’re interested in expanding your support team, I hope you check out Fruitful Fertility and Fertility Answers. We all need a village!