I’ll never forget the first time I formally pitched the idea of Fruitful Fertility. It was to a group of 6 men, none of whom had experienced infertility. One of the guys, a father of three, asked me at the end of my pitch, “What exactly would motivate someone to sign up to be a mentor? I mean….why would anyone just volunteer their time for free?”
I almost laughed in this guy’s face.
He clearly had no idea how traumatic infertility was and how after you’ve been through it (or any kind of trauma, honestly), you’ll do anything you can to make sure others don’t feel as lonely, depressed and hopeless as you did. If anything, his question made me even MORE confident that Fruitful could really help other people. I’d seen mentorship happen organically all around me when I was trying to conceive. It was like a weird, underground club or speakeasy…I’d mention something to a friend who told me about her cousin’s friend’s friend and then we’d start texting and voila…friendship.
But what are the characteristics that make someone a good fertility mentor? It’s not enough to have merely gone through IVF or experienced a miscarriage. It takes a special kind of person who is willing to be there for someone else who is struggling. To listen. To be vulnerable. To share their own story. To inspire and guide.
And while there’s no perfect combination, we have noticed some characteristics that make some people more inclined to be a good fertility mentor.
What Makes Someone a Good Fertility Mentor?
- They know what it feels like. Most importantly, successful mentors have experienced infertility personally. Perhaps they went through it for one year or ten years, but they know the heartbreak of CD1. They know the anxiety of waiting for test results. The specifics of their stories vary, but they understand fear, grief, loss and anxiety. How it feels when someone at work asks when you’ll have kids. They know. They get it.
- They’re patient. Mentees feel safest when they can open up at their own pace with a patient, open mentor. While some mentees might want to just jump right into their stories, many take a while to open up. It’s important to let mentees share at their own speed and to create an environment where they feel safe. To not put pressure on the relationship and to just show up and listen.
- They’re empathetic. The word ‘empathy’ is thrown around a lot these days. But what does it really mean? Good mentors are awesome at imagining how their mentee is feeling on any given day and being there to support them through it.
- They’re available. We know, we know. Everyone is super busy these days. And prospective mentors are notoriously busy – mostly because many of them have kiddos. But being able to actively replying to emails, texts or phone calls is what makes this service so valuable to mentees. It also helps establish trust and build a relationship. So making sure you can reach out and respond sounds obvious, but is arguably one of the most important aspects of being a mentor.
- They respect others. Respecting others is a huge aspect of being a good mentor. This means not judging your mentee, even if they make a decision that differs from what you did. Infertility is a deeply personal experience that combines some of our most sacred beliefs, values, religious views and financial obligations. Perhaps your mentee is or isn’t interested in pursuing an egg donor. Perhaps they’re borrowing money for one more round of IVF. Whatever it is, good mentors know to respect and not to judge decisions that differ from their own.
- They’re humble. Good mentors know that they don’t have all the answers and try to just offer their support. They don’t mislead their mentees into believing that they’ll get pregnant if they cut out caffeine or visit a specific doctor or clinic. They understand that there’s no secret trick to getting pregnant. They also don’t wave their own success in their mentee’s face. They don’t text photos of their kids or take calls when there’s a crying baby in the background. They try their best to be sensitive and humble friends and leaders.
Does this sound like you? Sign up today to become a fertility mentor with Fruitful.