Submitted by Kelly Park
Like many others, my path to parenthood wasn't entirely what I had expected.The process of getting pregnant had seemed so straight-forward and then the word “infertility” was introduced and I was embarrassed about how little I actually knew. Feeling overwhelmed and under-educated, I sought out resources that I felt spoke to my experience.
The big medical sites tended to offer broad overviews and lacked the detail and personal experience I was looking for. Then there were the message boards that had personal experience I sought, but were hard to sort through and are full of infertility abbreviations and acronyms -- along with questionable advice that caused some serious overthinking. I even tried to dive right into research papers on my own, but I just didn’t have the expertise to appropriately contextualize the information. Next were the baby sites that had small sections focused primarily on trying to conceive and less so on infertility; who doesn’t want to research infertility while looking at pictures of adorable babies and pregnant bumps? Me. And likely you, too.
There was a lot of emotional energy wasted and wheels spun over an experience that I now know is relatively common. I feel like I took the long way round to learn some pretty basic lessons. What would have made my experience better would have been a middle-of-the-road option that offered detailed yet accessible information on the topic of fertility, along with the perspectives of those who had been there and done that.This led to the formation of fertilitysmarts.com, a site that offers exactly this kind of information.
What I have learned since launching the site is that personal experiences with infertility are valued by others. Information that is popular with readers tends to focus on honest experiences including what you might experience when building your family with the help of an egg donor or surrogate; or finding resolution as a family of two and the post-IVF decision to donate your remaining embryos. Also, popular is the been-there-done-that practical advice on preparing for your egg retrieval or supporting someone experiencing infertility. These are all insights passed on from personal experience.
If it feels right to you, there is value -- likely for both to yourself and others -- in sharing your experience. Best of all, there are many possibilities with varying levels of commitment.
Infertility Mentorship & Support Groups
Perhaps one-on-one or small groups is where you feel at your best. If so, choosing to be a mentor or lead a support group is a fantastic idea.
Fruitful Fertility is a organization that connects fertility warriors with mentors who have completed their journey with people still in the trenches.
Shine: A Light on Fertility pairs up “Fertility Friends” who have experienced similar struggles.
Try a quick Google search to see what else might exist in your own local area.
Participating in Online Infertility Communities
Social media and message boards offer a great way to connect to an online community with the advantages of participating on your own schedule and remaining anonymous, should that be of interest.
Instagram has a large infertility community, many with TTC-specific accounts. Fair warning that there tends to be a large number of baby bump and ultrasound photos thrown into the mix. Check out the hashtags #infertilitysupport #infertilitycommunity if you are looking for a place to get started.
Facebook makes it easy to find closed or private groups on facebook that focus on different kinds of infertility support. Most will ask screening questions to keep the focus of the group on the intended topic. This does require that you use your own personal profile but closed and secret groups won’t appear in your newsfeed. Depending on the size of the group, conversations can cycle quickly and potentially be repetitive, making it harder to form personal connections.
If message boards are of interest, check out Finding a resolution for Infertility offered by RESOLVE on Inspire.com. Reddit also has an infertility community that is large, but comes with specific customs and guidelines that are followed closely.
Guest Posting on Other Sits
If you want to test the writing waters, consider writing a guest post or two on an established blog that you like. If your writing aligns with the mission of the blogger, there is a good chance that they will be ecstatic to hear from you. Not sure that you have a favorite blog? Check out this list of Top Infertility Blogs.
You can also consider sharing your story on sites that focus on infertility and that accept user contributions.
The 16 percent is an organization that focuses on publishing personal experiences with infertility and loss.
The Mighty has a specific section dedicated to infertility that accepts community contributions.
General interest or parenting sites frequently publish on infertility too. If the contact information on how to be a contributor is easy to find, the greater the likelihood they are interested in submissions.
Blogging on Your Own
If you’ve got a lot to say, time to invest, and are in it for the long haul, blogging might be for you.
Keep in mind that if you are looking to develop a following, blogging isn’t just about writing. At first there is the possibility that you will invest more effort into promoting your work than you will writing. Also, an unfortunate side of blogging can include criticism of your personal choices and the occasional mean-spirited troll.
Getting started is fairly straightforward. Sign-up for a blogging platform and post away. Start following sites that you enjoy and comment when you appreciate someone else's work. Repeat the process on social media.
I don’t know that it is possible to lighten the burden that is infertility, but it is comforting to know that there someone else out there who can relate to what you are experiencing. Because of this, your experience doesn’t need to meet any sort of threshold to be valuable; it is valuable simply because it is your lived experience--and there is a good chance someone else out there thinks so, too.