If you are new to the infertility world, I'm about to tell you about the best kept secret.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I remember how long I suffered alone in silence when I was first diagnosed with infertility. I just wasn't ready to tell my friends or family what was going on with us. I was terrified, but, I knew I needed support outside of just my husband.
I reached out to a friend of mine that I knew had struggled and had done IVF to have her beautiful twin babies, and I'll never forget what she said to me...
"No one will truly understand how you are feeling, unless they have gone through it themselves."
And, she was right.
Because she had experienced infertility, she was able to validate me in a way, I didn't expect. It was honestly like she could read my mind. She would say things like, "I used to feel like a bad person for being sad or angry when I would see a pregnancy announcement from a friend, but after connecting with other women going through this, I realized that these feelings were completely normal."
OMG! I have those feelings too!
This is when I knew I needed to find support in other women who had struggled with infertility. So, I reached out to a couple of other friends that I new had been through fertility treatments. They welcomed me with open arms and would even check in on me to make sure I was okay, day after day.
It was suddenly like the clouds had been lifted. FINALLY, I am free! I felt safe sharing with them. They let me just be me. They showed me that it was okay to be angry at the world some day, but to find ways to be grateful other days.
My friend also advised me to seek out people online..
"It's like a secret club of women that no one knows about."
I needed IN on that secret club! I started googling forums, and joining private FaceBook Infertility Groups that would qualify me with a bunch of questions before allowing me in. Their main priority was protecting the women in the club, and allowing people to feel safe to share. Then, I started typing hashtags into Instagram like #infertilitysupport and found an entire community of women who supported each other online, without ever meeting in person! Many of them actually had anonymous profiles, and never posted any photos of their faces. They were speaking so freely, it was so inspiring.
They were posting real life shit, that I needed to see. I needed to know that I wasn't alone in this. They'd share things like - screenshots of text messages from asshole friends, blurring out the name. Photos of their bruised bellies from all the shots. Photos of their crumpled up tissues, after crying for hours and hours. Photos of the 10 different pregnancy tests they took that day, sitting in the trash can. All negative.
I needed to see this stuff. I needed to be reminded that I had support out there that truly understood what I was going through. If I had a bad day, I would just hop online and scroll. It was amazing to see the type of comments women were leaving each other, cheering them on.
They were posting encouraging quotes, like this one. I probably had over a hundred saved to my phone at one point. These quotes were my lifeline to survival.
I also started listening to podcasts. I loved listening to women speak about this topic and share their stories.
I remember thinking how brave they were to be sharing and wondering - will I ever be that brave?
Will I ever be able to share with people outside of the secret club? God, I hoped so. I wanted so badly to "come out". I was determined to get there. I felt myself getting stronger and stronger each day that I could lean on the support of my new cyber friends.
I felt connected to them. I felt validated by them. I felt protected by them. And after years and years of struggling with infertility, I still feel this way. I can confidently say I have cyber friends - friends I have never met. Okay, call me a weirdo, but it's real shit. Remember how we used to have pen pals back in the day? Well, it's like that. My infertility pen pals are my friends. They lift me up when I need it, they validate me when I need it, and they walk this journey along side of me, every step of the way.
This tribe of women saved me.
I don't like giving advice, but this is one I just can't keep in...