We've written about why setting up a support system is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for your egg freezing cycle - and, y'know, for life in general. (See: Why You Need a Solid Support System).
You might well be thinking: CHECK. I’m surrounded by people, I have my friends, or family members I can lean on. In other words, your support system is watertight.
But actually, here’s the thing...
Even if you’ve got a tight group of great people around you who are your usual support network...they might not actually be the best people to turn to during this very particular challenge in your life. Or at least (no offence to your f&f...) they may not be enough.
Egg freezing isn’t something that everyone has been through! And most people just have no idea what it is, and how to best support you through it. Your mum and your best friend, say, might not be able to support you in the same way they could through something like a miscarriage, a pregnancy, or an illness -- more common scenarios.
So what does consciously setting up a support system for egg freezing look like?
Here are our 5 practical tips:
1. Know clearly what you want from whom
Sit and think about it, and in doing so maybe you'll identify if you’re lacking something or someone. Do you want someone to call on who has already been through it? Do you need to reconnect with your oldest, dearest friend who has dropped off the map a little lately? Would it be helpful to have someone at work who knows what you're about to do?
Make a list. Heck, draw a spider web diagram with you in the middle if you need. You've doubtless been there for friends and family as they've navigated relationships, jobs, weddings, pregnancies, loss and changes. Now, who is going to be there for you for this big event in your life? Plot that shit out.
2. Don’t be shy to actually reach out
When it comes to close friends and family, reaching out might entail being more pro-active than you're used to within these well-worn, comfortable relationships.
Reaching out can mean specifically asking someone to come to appointments with you, or to cut you some slack if you’re a little hard to live with for a couple of weeks.
And could you ask someone to come and be with you right before and right after the egg retrieval procedure? Maybe even come and hang out with you while you’re relaxing and recovering?
Or maybe reaching out means you just arrange a time to sit down with loved ones and talk to them about what you’re doing and why you’re doing egg freezing. Opening up to family and friends about egg freezing also gives you a chance to answer any questions they have. It’s natural for people to be curious. Some people will hold back, trying to respect your privacy. Educating others can actually be a way to help you take control of your situation and remind you of why you made this choice in the first place. You might be surprised to find how sharing this personal experience with family and friends could bring you closer together - a nice, unexpected side effect that some women have pointed out.
3. Think beyond friends and family
Something to be aware of is that although your friends and family are the closest people in your life in general, they’re not always the right people to support you through something specific.
Especially, let's say, if you want to talk about feeling really, really single going through this….but all your friends are married and that conversation gets a little bit awkward. Or maybe you’re conscious of a friend who just had a miscarriage, or another who can’t afford to freeze her eggs. Some women have told us their friends are all busy with babies and look a bit blank or weirded out when they talk about freezing their eggs, or perhaps your family are super conservative and wouldn’t really be on board...
Sometimes it can be liberating to talk to women in a similar situation, those who have already been through it and who just “get it.”
This is why we really recommend connecting in with your cohort in the social section of our Fertility Fit™ app, sharing some of the load, asking questions and engaging with others in the same situation. These are your people, right now!
Not only that, but check our calendar to see if there are any real-world events near you. In every study, actual real life human contact has been shown to be so much more powerful than online or via social media.
4. Take Self-Care Seriously
Sure, this means carving out space to take care of yourself physically. But most importantly, taking self-care seriously can mean recognizing when you need a more skilled source of support (someone like a licensed fertility therapist) and reaching out when you need to.
They are trained to be there to guide you through the trickier to navigate emotions. Maybe you’re actually not worried about the procedure itself, but something related - like a breakup, or another big life event. Nothing you’re feeling is too small to be worthy of time spent working through it.
We have independent listings for licensed professionals in our app, just in case you want to set someone up on the back-burner ready to chat to.
5. And finally, don't forget to be your own support system
This means checking in with yourself about what you’re feeling, honestly, for a start.
Showing up for yourself also means practicing daily self-care, and sticking to a healthy and nourishing routine for your body and mind, whatever that means for you personally. The science on this backs a combination of gentle exercise, journaling and meditation for curating happiness and peace of mind, and so do we. But, feel out whatever works for you personally.
There’s a quote by author Jo Coudert that we could all do well to bear in mind:
“Of all the people you will know in your lifetime, you’re the only one you will never leave or lose. To the question of your life: you are the only answer. To the problems of your life: you are the only solution.”
You're the heroine of your own story. With that said, it sure makes it an easier ride with some supportive connections along the way...
For free resources like meditations, guides to the egg freezing process, and to join our supportive community of other women who are egg freezing, sign up to the ELANZA Wellness Fertility Fit™ app.