Did you hear about the first #TTC Lunch?
On Saturday 20th January 2018 over 100 men and women from the trying to conceive community, many from Instagram, came together for a lunch organised by IVF Babble and some other amazing individuals. The Fertility Network UK were proud to support the event alongside several other speakers.
This is the first of many TTC Lunches, watch this space for more information. In the meantime, if you want to find out what it was like to be there, Jade has kindly written down her experience of the day.
“When you decide you’re ready to have a family and it doesn’t happen within a reasonable length of time (usually within about a year of trying) panic very quickly sets in. As the realisation dawns that you may be suffering from sub-fertility things become pretty scary, while all around you it feels as though others fall pregnant, seemingly, without trying.
My husband and I started our journey nearly three years ago in May 2015, after seven years together and one year married. As the months went by and it didn’t happen I found myself becoming more and more isolated. This was new territory for me. I am a fairly outgoing person. I have some amazing friends and I am pretty much an open book. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am a chronic over-sharer. But when it came to the problems we were having with our fertility I found myself getting upset that none of the friends or family that I had opened up to really understood what I was feeling or why I was feeling it.
In late 2016, after a pretty devastating diagnosis of stage IV endometriosis we were told we would need to have IVF in order to stand any real chance of having a baby. This was not a shock to me after hearing how severe my endometriosis was but at the same time it was completely overwhelming. I was a different person to who I was when we had started trying for a baby. I lost my confidence and my relationships with friends I had known since I was a child had changed beyond recognition. I had no one to turn to and express my sadness that my body couldn’t do what I felt it was designed to. I had my husband. And he was amazingly supportive but he didn’t quite understand my need to talk through things; to find hope in the stories of others; to speak to a women who understood my fears over the journey that lay ahead; to connect.
By Christmas 2016 I had cut myself off almost completely from those that cared about me. I spent some time looking for support and advice online. One of the ways I did this was to start searching for fertility related hashtags on Instagram. I would take a sneaky peak at anyone with a public profile and check out the journeys they were on. As time went on I began to interact with women who looked like they were on a similar path to me. I was amazed at how quickly I felt connected to people I had never met. I was forming real friendships with people who understood exactly how I was feeling. I could feel the isolation dissipate and started to feel myself again. I had met Sarah in person after a couple of months of chatting and felt an instant connection. Not just on the fertility side of things but in general. There was an unspoken understanding and it felt amazing to find a friend who I could completely be myself around. I now count her as one of my best friends. We don’t live too far away and see a lot of each other.
This relationship was a turning point for me. The more people I spoke to through Instagram and then met in real life the more I felt like myself again. I felt strong and positive for the first time in literally years. Having met around a dozen or so girls from the Instagram community at a couple of lunches organised by Sarah, I began to not only relax in my own skin but also enjoy supporting others on their journeys.
In December, Cat, one of the women I follow on and interacted with put up an Instagram post and asked if anyone wanted to meet for lunch in London. I initially didn’t respond. Living about two hours from London it felt like a bit of trek. It looked like I was one of the few who didn’t! Cat had responses from nearly 80 women and rapidly realised what she was organising was slightly bigger than a little afternoon tea get together. I wanted in. What a great opportunity to come together and meet so many people who just get it! I didn’t want to miss out.
This doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous. By the time the day came there were over 100 people (including men) signed up to attend the now huge TTC London Lunch. This was the biggest event of its kind in this country (maybe the world!). I found the idea of meeting people I had had no interaction with before the day completely out of my comfort zone. There would be a few people I knew there, including Sarah, but it was still nerve wracking. Cat joined forces with Sara from IVF Babble and arranged a few speakers to come so I knew I would not have to make conversation for the whole event, which was probably the thing I most worried about. What if conversation didn’t flow? What if people didn’t like me? What if it was just plain awkward?
I need not have worried. As soon as I walked in to the venue the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. There were little groups of people chatting away and introducing themselves. As people nervously approached one another they were faced with big smiles and friendly hellos. There was a gentile hum around the room as connections were made and new friendships formed. Cat and Sara talked us through the plans for the day and I was so impressed with how they had put together a day full of information and still managed to make it feel relaxed.
I began chatting to women whose faces I vaguely recognised from Instagram and those that I had never seen before. We shared our stories. Some people were at the scary beginning, travelling down a path that they wanted to prepare themselves for. Others had been on their journey for many more years than we have, having undergone investigations and treatment including several rounds of IVF.
The chat was interspersed with interesting and informative talks from various professionals including a Fertility Consultant, a representative from Fertility Network UK and an acupuncturist which I think nicely reflects the varied professionals available to offer support and advice to those struggling with fertility. Poor Dr George answered so many questions. I don’t think he was expecting to be so grilled. I certainly learned a lot though.
I think the success of the day was clear in the fact it overran! Four hours flew by in what felt like minutes. Friendships were made. Bonds were formed. Information exchanged. The day was full of emotion and above all strength. Fertility issues are no longer something to hide. The sheer numbers at Saturday’s lunch proves this. The more events that are held like this the stronger the message of support. If you are thinking of attending something like this, I implore you do so. I know it can be daunting but if you have felt those feelings of isolation like I did for the first two years we struggled, I guarantee you that you will not leave feeling the same way. Next time I have promised to take my husband. He felt like he was missing out. And he was!”
Come and find Fertility Network on Instagram.