Trying to conceive can quickly escalate from a fun, flirty couple’s 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 have 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.
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 (often times) mental health issues.
And if you’re trying to decide whether pursuing donor eggs is the right decision for you, that can make things even more complicated, emotionally fraught and expensive. You can end up feeling even MORE alone, especially if your TTC (“Trying to Conceive”) friends all got pregnant after their first IUI.
The good news? Today, suffering in silence is completely optional. There are many ways to find emotional support and TTC friends who know what you’re going through and understand how tough it can be to decide whether to pursue donor eggs.
So how can you find the emotional support and community you need when trying to conceive with donor eggs?
Here are a few awesome ways you can start connecting with other people who get it.
1. Fruitful – Fruitful is a 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 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 egg donor questions or concerns, as mentor/mentee pairs are usually matched based on similar diagnoses. Just remember to indicate that you’re interested in talking to someone who pursued donor eggs in your application.
2. Instagram – The Instagram #TTC community is another great resource. Just search the hashtag #DonorEggs or #EggDonor 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 and decision to pursue donor eggs. 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 (“Big Fat Positive”) pregnancy test photos, baby pics and ultrasound scans…so if you’re easily triggered, this is a huge downside to consider.
3. Private FB Groups – Private Facebook groups are another way to connect with women also struggling with infertility and deciding whether to pursue egg donation. 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). 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.
4. Therapy - 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 egg donation. 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.
5. Support Groups – 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. Plus, if you are working through the decision whether you’d like to pursue donor eggs, you might not get the targeted support and understanding you might be craving.
What resources have you found useful on your egg donor journey? Please share your favorite TTC communities and why you love them in the comments below. And remember, you do NOT have to go through infertility or egg donation alone.
Elyse Ash is the founder and CEO of Fruitful Fertility. It took her and her husband Brad three years, two rounds of IVF and one frozen embryo transfer to see their first positive pregnancy test which brought them their daughter, born in March 2018. Elyse lives in Minneapolis and loves poetry, hockey, social justice, Beyoncé and pretending she’s into yoga.