“Why Having a Fertility Mentor Might Be Just What You Need” | guest post by Elyse Ash from Fruitful Fertility
When you hear the word “mentor” what do you think of? I used to picture a stock photo of a 40-year-old lady in a navy business suit. I thought a “mentor” was someone randomly assigned to you at your place of employment…almost like a work second cousin you looked up to but didn’t really connect with. Someone you ate an awkward holiday meal with once a year and that was about it.
And then I went through infertility and learned why having a fertility mentor might be just what I needed
Mentorship is about connecting. Trust. Learning from someone who is a couple of steps ahead of you. That someone is ideally more of a big sister than a second cousin. Like D.J. Tanner from the show Full House. She knows the ropes. Has seen some stuff. She has a strong moral compass and is happy to either sit down to help you work through your problem or just give you a hug.
This idea of mentorship was something that manifested itself in a really beautiful, pure way as I started going through infertility in 2013
I serendipitously stumbled upon a few “fertility mentors” in my own life; other women I knew who had gone through IVF but were no longer actively trying to conceive. They knew the acronyms, the test names – it almost seemed like they knew the cheat codes. So I grabbed ahold of them and held on tight, asking them everything from how many eggs they had retrieved to just send along good vibes on my scary appointment days.
I found myself heavily leaning on their support and knowledge but also their perspective
I was IN the muck…and what I longed for was someone who understood the muck but was free now. Who could sit with me and see me, but could also show me that there was a world beyond this season. This horrible, traumatic season.
This was very different than my experiences with in-person support groups and TTC-specific Facebook groups
In those spaces, I felt like I was being bombarded with other people’s trauma when I was really just trying to process my own. I felt over-sensitive. Confused. Even a little competitive. While I made plenty of great friends in those communities, I also had to be VIGILANT about who I let in and who I let go of. It was tough. Then one day after a failed IVF cycle, I quit Facebook altogether and went all-in on getting support from my fertility mentors.
After this experience, I decided to formalize the idea of fertility mentorship by creating my own company
Fruitful Fertility is a safe, private platform that matches people struggling emotionally to conceive with mentors who have been through similar experiences but are now on-the-other-side. Matches are made through a proprietary algorithm based on shared histories, interests, and values. Think of it like Bumble but for infertility! Once matched, mentor and mentee are able to connect on their own time and schedule. To date, it’s helped almost 4,000 people!
So, is having a fertility mentor may be just what you need?
So what is the value of having a fertility mentor and how is it different than having a cycle buddy or a best friend blissfully unfamiliar with the TTC world? Below are some of the top reasons why I believe having a fertility mentor can help get you out of the impossible emotional maze that is infertility.
Mentors get it
Mentors speak infertility; they know the “inside baseball” language of the experience. They know how it feels to have “line eyes” and they know all the acronyms (BFP! DPO! WTF?) It’s great to talk to someone who knows what the heck you’re talking about with HSGs, beta tests, luteal phases, and the like.
Mentors have perspective
Mentors are not cycle buddies. They’re not sharing the results of their own recent follicle scan or egg retrieval in real-time. Fertility mentors are in a different stage of their lives entirely. With that time comes perspective and wisdom that so many of us struggle to find in the middle of injections and blood draws. They can remind us what it is all for and what might be at the end of the road.
Mentors are outside of your network
It can feel OH SO FREEING to not have to sugarcoat your conversations with someone because you’re worried they’ll blab to your coworker or your sister-in-law. It’s crazy how things change when we feel like we can just speak our truths without fear of judgment. When you talk to someone who doesn’t really know you or know anyone you know, you can speak freely about how things are truly making you feel.
Mentors share your outlook, values, and sometimes even your diagnosis
My favorite part about Fruitful is that we match mentors and mentees on a wide variety of data points, not just diagnosis or age. So not only are you paired with a mentor who has been through a similar situation (whether that be egg donation or adoption or anything in-between) but they also might share your values, love of yoga, faith, or obsession with your dogs, which is pretty damn cool.
Fertility mentors can be a great way to get emotional support from someone who gets it. Someone who is not in your immediate social circle and who WANTS to help you. So many of our amazing mentors tell us how they wish this service had been around when they were trying to conceive. This tells us that this service is very badly needed in the TTC community!
To learn more about either finding or becoming a fertility mentor, please visit www.fruitfulfertility.org.
Thank you Elyse for this great article! We hope it helps provide you with another support option. And who knows, maybe having a fertility mentor might be just what you need!