Getting Real About My Fertility Struggle

I’m finally starting to open up to my friends and family about my fertility struggles, and the reception has been a whole lot warmer and more empathetic than I ever thought possible.

When Brad and I first started this whole “Let’s Have a Baby!” project back in September 2014, I really only told a handful of people: a couple super close friends who were also either trying to conceive or already had kids. We didn’t tell my parents or Brad’s parents. We naively thought this would be a short-term secret and that soon we would reveal our pregnancy in a cute totally viral-worthy way.


Since this “project” has now taken approximately 2  years longer than I originally thought it would, it’s started seeping into all other parts of our lives. Physically. Financially. Logistically. Emotionally. Henceforth, it’s both been harder to keep it a secret and less satisfying to keep it a secret. So it’s not really a secret anymore.

And it feels AWESOME.

Now I can’t shut the hell up about our TTC journey. And it’s been the most refreshing, freeing thing in the world! People have been so accepting and interested and kind. I’ve been blown away by the outpouring of support and curiosity, warmth and love. While not everyone understands the complicated feelings I’m going through (of course I’d NEVER expect them to), they want to hear about it and I honestly feel like it brings us closer together.

The craziest thing about letting yourself be vulnerable by sharing something deeply personal is that most people will share something right back. When I opened up to my male hair stylist about my “waiting game” after he innocently asked what was new with me…he listened. Empathized. Then told me that his father has been sick in the hospital for two weeks and that I am the only person in the whole salon he’s even told. It was this amazing moment that I think we were both grateful for; it’s almost like he had been holding in this big secret, too. Which aren’t we all? Just waiting for the opportunity to connect truly without “scaring” anyone or being “awkward.” The most magical things can happen when we just leave the door to our truth ajar.

I used to not be able to even talk about this infertility nonsense without completely breaking down into a teary mess of shame and fear…but now I can talk about it honestly, authentically and almost emotion-free. It’s my story. I’m no longer ashamed of it or scared of it or overwhelmed by it. It’s just my reality right now. And that’s ok. And the more we let ourselves be vulnerable and show who we really are, the more others will do the same.

Honesty. Authenticity. Connecting. It’s all such an important part of being imperfectly, beautifully human.

Elyse Ash is the founder and CEO of Fruitful Fertility. It took her and her husband Brad three years, two rounds of IVF and one frozen embryo transfer to see their first positive pregnancy test which brought them their daughter, born in March 2018. Elyse lives in Minneapolis and loves poetry, hockey, social justice, Beyonce and pretending she’s into yoga.

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