What I Created Following My Baby Loss That Helps Our Fertility Community

Eloise Edington  |   8 Apr 2022

Going through fertility treatment, it seems there are 1,001 things to keep track of, numerous fertility treatment pathways to digest, countless ways to optimise fertility and an unending number of hoops to jump through and challenges to overcome.

No wonder many in our FHH community find it difficult to cope.

Fortunately, there are ways to improve wellbeing when trying to conceive.

The Tilly app (visit the website here) provides you with all the tools you need to help you take control of your fertility journey, all from a place of experience. Our writer, Holly, spoke with Tilly’s Co-Founder, Anna Sane, about what she’s learned on her own infertility journey, what she wishes she had understood earlier and how she hopes to help others to cope by creating the Tilly app.

“At first I just wanted to get rid of the stress and all the negative emotions, but it was when I realised that’s impossible and that these feelings were actually completely normal (given what I was going through) that I could really start to cope. It’s all about finding the tools that can help you in daily situations and basically preventing the struggle from completely taking over your life – most days at least.”

Read on for top tips and advice on coping with the stress of fertility treatment.

Anna’s Story: When Infertility Takes Over Your Life

Over three years, Anna and her husband had two late losses, two miscarriages, IVF and several failed transfers. They travelled to two different countries and their diagnosis is still a hypothesis (most likely Anna and her husband share the same unidentified genetic disorder). 

“It took over my life completely, and very quickly too. Having that first miscarriage was like pushing a button. It was suddenly all I could think about, and I became jealous of friends and obsessed with calculating at which age others had their first child to see if I could “beat them”. It made absolutely no sense, but I just couldn’t control it.”

Anna describes how the world became filled with triggers so she began to isolate herself and had a hard time accepting her feelings. A friend’s husband passed away during the same period and this comparison was close at hand. Was what she was going through really so bad?

“It was obvious that it was a lot easier for other people and people around us to reach out to my friend who lost her husband than to offer me support for the loss of my son in week 21. It’s not about comparing the losses, but I just felt very alone and questioned my own feelings a lot.”

Anna wishes she had gotten mental support earlier, but says it was hard to understand how bad she was actually feeling – all thoughts were focused on having a baby, and there was no time to take care of herself. 

“Once I had therapy and the psychologist explained to me that infertility and baby loss is a crisis and a trauma like any other, and that I would be weird not to feel the way I did… I wouldn’t say it became easier, but at least I stopped feeling guilty and started to invest more in my wellbeing.”

Finding Ways to Cope

Anna found it hard to find tools that could help her with all her pain points. She ended up having several apps, one for cycle-tracking, one for the IVF treatment, and mindfulness and meditation apps, but they lacked coherent advice.

That’s when the idea for Tilly was born. Anna wanted to create an app that provides both physical and mental support, and to make sure the guidance is evidence-based and personalised, particularly because no fertility journey is like another.

Anna’s Coping Tips

Stress driver: “I feel like the world is a minefield of triggers and people don’t understand what I’m going through.”

Feeling misunderstood, left out and jealous are some of the biggest challenges when you’re TTC. All around you, people seem to be announcing their pregnancies, friends exclaim how excited they are for you to be starting IVF and family members constantly ask when you’re going to start trying (you’ve secretly been trying for six months).

Anna’s top tips:

Mentally prepare before social gatherings.

  • Prepare answers to uncomfortable questions so you don’t feel like you lose control.
  • Create a go-to-place in your mind where you can go if you become triggered.
  • Find tools that work for you. Meditate for a few minutes, using breathing techniques to calm your mind or write down your thoughts. There is a variety of tools adapted for TTC in the Tilly app – all developed together with therapists.

“Journaling was my favourite tool. Writing my thoughts down helped me to get them out of my head and gain perspective. We’ve created guided sessions for different emotions and situations that can arise during a fertility journey.”

Say no.

  • Preparing is great, but you are allowed to say no too. Sometimes we just don’t have the strength and that’s okay.

Educate your friends and family.

  • This is something I wish I would have done more, but I just didn’t know how in the midst of it all – I didn’t have the words to describe what I needed, maybe didn’t even know what it was. 
  • Using someone else’s words is great when this feels hard, and Tilly is developing guides that can be shared with friends and family, bursting with tips on how to help someone struggling with fertility difficulties.

Do you have any tips for talking with someone having trouble TTC? We’d love to hear your contributions so follow this link to take part in Tilly’s survey.

Stress driver: “I’m struggling with navigating all the information.”

There is no lack of information today, the difficult part is understanding what’s relevant to you.

“We have talked to over 500 fertility patients and a clear majority said that navigating all the information was a major stress driver.”

Anna’s top tips

  • Begin by understanding your diagnosis and situation – that’s the starting point for understanding what’s relevant for you. If you have ovulation issues, look at the reasons for this. Perhaps you have a hormonal imbalance and lifestyle changes could be worth a try. But if you have blocked tubes, lifestyle changes are really not going to help that much. Of course, you may still want to optimise your egg and sperm quality, but if you’re young and there’s no indication of low quality maybe it will just add extra stress focusing on that from the beginning? The Tilly app encourages you to respond to questions, add your treatment schedule and track results and, based on this, it personalises the information, so you can focus on what’s important to you.
  • Never hesitate to ask your fertility specialist a question – you can’t ask too much. Come to fertility appointments prepared with questions, so you make sure you get the information you need to feel in control. There are checklists for different types of appointments and occasions in the Tilly app.
  • One thing I wish I had understood and accepted earlier is that there’s not always a black and white answer to everything. There are many aspects of a fertility struggle that research is yet to find the answers to and very often, we have to try different things to understand what works and doesn’t. Trial and error can feel frustrating when all you want is that solution, but if you understand why you are doing different things it may feel easier.

Stress driver: “My relationships are breaking down. Help!”

Trying to conceive is stressful and it’s no surprise couples report a strain on their relationship when going through fertility treatment. Even singletons can find their platonic relationships tested and dating lives suffering when having IVF.

Anna’s top tips:

  • This is the best routine ever: If one person in the relationship is struggling with something, always ask him/her… “Do you want support or solutions?” This simple sentence can help you avoid misunderstandings in so many situations.
  • Communication is obviously the key to all relationships, but it can be easier said than done. We have developed a set of concrete tips together with a psychologist – collected in the guide “Doing anything to have a child; how do you take care of your relationship?” (View the guide here.)

Join FHH’s Founder, Eloise, on Instagram on 21st April at 5 PM when she’ll speak with Anna and registered psychologist Linn Heed about maintaining open communication in your relationships during fertility treatment.

And Everything You’d Expect from a Fertility Tracking App…

The Tilly app also has everything else you’d want and expect from an IVF app. Users can:

  • Create a treatment plan
  • Receive reminders for fertility treatment dates
  • Keep track of symptoms, mood, medication and fertility appointments, lifestyle, ovulation and more
  • Learn about reasons for infertility, fertility treatment and different add-ons
  • Be part of a fertility community to connect with others going through similar experiences
  • Discover effective ways to cope along the journey

There’s a lot more to come and the Tilly app developers are regularly releasing new functionality and content. Set your phone to automatically update apps so you don’t miss Tilly’s exciting new features!

Download Tilly on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

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