The power of the #ttctribe, by Hollie Shirley

Hello my loves! Welcome back and its May, its sunny, and a wonderful bank holiday in the UK!

So last weekend was the second IVF Babble #TTClunch in Manchester, and whoa, what an awesome day we had! (I mean, other than the 6am wake up call but hey, it’s for you guys so it’s worth it)

We had over 80 people come along to meet other people, listen to our speakers and to chat about all things IVF. I was so honoured to be able to be a part of this day and share my own story with everyone who came along. A Huge thank you to Sara and Tracey for organising this meet up. I have always thought of “support groups” as being this dingy depressing situation, but these meet ups prove the fertility fight club is an inspiring, fun and strong club and we all support one another ferociously.

A big thanks to the great guest speakers on the day too, who inspired, informed and comforted everyone in the room:

Cat Strawbridge from the Fertility Network, Natalie Silverman from the Fertility Podcast, the brilliant Dr Peter Kerecsenyi from Fertility Manchester, Rosie Tadman our lovely nutritionist and Sarah Banks, the amazing life coach who we all want in our lives on a daily basis!

I think everyone came away from this day feeling a little better about their own journey and knowing that no matter where you are on this road, there are always people to talk to and support you. Which brings me to my next topic.

The power of Instagram

After the “Relaxgate” scandal a few weeks ago, there has been a huge surge in activity on Instagram’s #TTCTribe coming together and sharing more openly their own stories, journeys and the overwhelming level of support that is being poured out is amazing, and quite frankly inspiring. Y’all are amazing.

No-one ever anticipates how hard trying to have a family will be.

For me, this has been two years of trying, and let me tell you, that s*** is tough! Especially when everyone around you is dropping out babies like nobody’s business, and offering you their well intentioned but not useful advice! You can find yourself closing off from family, friends, the things you once loved to do, all in the quest to have your baby. You change everything in your life – your diet, you ditch the coffee, you stop going out and seeing friends, you change every cleaning product and skincare routine in your house, you become isolated and miserable.

It’s so hard to go through and the worst part is that unless you have an infertile friend, you feel as though no-one understands what you are going through.

Now I’m quite open about our infertility struggles. Heck, I wrote a book about it. And in many ways, I am lucky. I have incredible support and encouragement from family and friends who have taken the time to understand my situation and know what to say and what not to say.  But there’s something unique and special about being comforted by others who have endured the same struggle.

During my writing process I wanted to hear from real people who are going through the same s*** as me, so I decided to search the hashtag #infertility on Instagram to see if there were people on there who I could reach out to. I scrolled through the public accounts that used the #infertility hashtag and came across an overwhelming amount of women who were sharing their battle with infertility. It was a breath of fresh air to follow their journey–I really wasn’t alone! Because many were now pregnant and continuing to share their stories, these women also gave me hope. Many have their own separate infertility Instagram pages to follow, something I have chosen not to do, they are inspiring and offer hope.

Once I waded in, I realised there were thousands of Instagram users just like me who dedicated their accounts to sharing their journey.

I was able to share with women all over the world who struggle with infertility on all areas, gain insight into which supplements to take and fertility treatments to pursue, questions to ask my doctor, books to read and so much more. We still send  each other gifts and cards of encouragement when someone yet again gets a negative pregnancy test. We vent and know that we’re understood. Many of them I have never and will never meet, but I consider them my sisters –“TTC (trying to conceive) Sisters.” Some TTC sisters struggle with Endometriosis, low AMH, PCOS, unexplained or Male Factor Infertility. Some are trying their first round of clomid, while others are on their fifth round of IVF. Our stories are not all the same, but we all share a common denominator that keeps us connected.

This incredible group of people inspire me and keep me positive. When I need to vent my anger, frustration or sadness, this group is here for me, and wrap their virtual arms around me and allow me to express myself with no judgement, no bullshit and no fear of being told to “just relax and stop thinking about it”. This community is strong and inspiring, and if you are feeling like you need to talk, just look for the hashtags #IVFSTRONGERTOGETHER,  #TTCTRIBE, #INFERTILITYAWARENESS and you will find us. We will welcome you in and listen and offer whatever we can to help you.

These meet ups with IVF Babble add to this support and remind all of us that no matter what, you are not alone.

I hope you all had a great time on Saturday. I know the IVF Babble team are off to the US to do a #ttc there and also another one in the coming weeks in the UK on ‘egg and sperm donation’. But if you would like to hold one in your town, let us know in the comments or on @ivfbabble (across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)

Until next time,

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