I was a social media user before infertility. I blogged about my dogs and books I'd read. I tweeted about Harry Potter. I had a community of people I regularly interacted with. It was great, but at that time social media was a hobby for me. Entertainment. A way to practice my writing and spend some time interacting with others. Fun.
When infertility came along, however, social media became a lifeline.
Despite the fact that 1 in 8 couples or 7.3 million American women experience infertility, I didn't know anyone who was dealing with it. Most of my friends didn't have kids, weren't trying to conceive, or were newly pregnant without a struggle. I didn't have anyone to talk to who could answer my questions or just emphasize with the awful emotional roller coaster I was on.
I started blogging about our struggles because I needed to talk about it. I needed to put my feelings out there. I needed a way to process what we were going through. So I put it out there -- the surgeries, the needles, the hormones, the horrible emotions -- I shared it all.
The more I put myself out there and shared our story, the more connections I made with people who were facing similar struggles. I was welcomed into the infertility community and found answers, understanding, and friendship. And the friends who weren't struggling with responded with more love and support than I could have imagined.
Sharing my story truly changed my life. It helped me connect with the people I needed in my life at that moment -- my people. Sharing my story gave me the space to work through the anger, the tears, the fear, and the joy. It taught me to advocate for myself. Sharing my story taught me to be a better support for my friends, regardless of their struggles. It gave me the opportunity to educate others on the realities of infertility.
Not only did my social media use help me find the community I needed, it taught me about the real power of social media. I was able to use social media to share, question, learn, teach, reach out, laugh, cry, and advocate. I walked away from my experience with infertility not only as the mom to my beautiful daughters, but with a strong belief that we all deserve the chance to tell our stories, to educate the world, to find our people. I want this for our students, and I want this for our teachers.
Tell your story. Listen to others' stories. Reach out. Connect. Find your people.