Instead of experiencing the excitement and eager anticipation that’s often associated with baby-making, for many it’s a heartbreaking time, with around one in seven UK couples finding it difficult to get pregnant. Those struggling to conceive or dealing with the after-effects of a miscarriage may feel isolated, especially if, as is often the case, their friends and family are unaware of the difficulties they’ve been facing. But a thriving YouTube community has become a haven for many who are struggling with ‘Trying to Conceive’, or TTC as it’s called by those in the know.
At the time of writing there are more than 62,000 TTC videos on YouTube, featuring people from all over the world telling stories, sharing experiences and tracking each step of their journeys. These are women who are brave enough to turn on a camera and reveal the most intimate details of their lives to the world. Take a moment to watch some of these clips and you’ll be taken on an emotional rollercoaster, from heartbreak to elation and everywhere in between. This content isn’t exclusively made for and by women who’ve had trouble conceiving, but it can be reassuring for people to hear from others who’ve lived similar experiences. “I think just the awareness that there are other people out there who are struggling in the same way that you are helps,” says Elise Atkinson, Fertility Counsellor and member of the British Infertility Counselling Association. “It’s quite reassuring that you can see some of your own experiences mirrored. Some people, when they’re going through something particularly challenging, don’t recognise themselves in that experience anymore and that’s quite disassociating and very disorientating. “Hearing about others facing the same challenges during their fertility journey can be very helpful as this normalises everything. For example, to hear that others experience feelings of envy when they’re told someone is pregnant can be incredibly reassuring. Otherwise you may be left believing you must be a “bad” person for feeling that way, when really it is a very common reaction for those who are struggling to conceive and a very understandable emotional response to a particularly challenging life experience.”
YouTuber Vesta – Vee’s Diary – knows this feeling all too well. She tells Refinery29: “Sometimes you just can’t talk to family members. There are people [on YouTube] that you’ll probably never meet but it helps because they know what you’re going through and can really empathise with you and encourage you in a way that other people might not be able to.”
Vesta, who is currently pregnant with her second child, started watching TTC videos after suffering multiple miscarriages and decided that when she finally got pregnant she’d give back to the community by posting her own online diary to encourage others. “I promised myself that once I had one child I’d do it,” she says. “I just wanted to encourage people and tell them that you shouldn't just sit there and do nothing. You should go to the doctors, get yourself checked out. There are so many tests that a lot of women don’t know about and they just sit there and think: “OK my body isn’t working.”” Jessica April, also known as Little Vegan Mama UK on YouTube, started making videos to document her first pregnancy in 2010, which was unplanned. So when she began trying for her second child, in 2014, it seemed like a natural progression to pick up where she left off. “It was really an extension of where I originated with the YouTube channel when I became pregnant unexpectedly, so when we started trying it was like the next step.”
For some, opening up about such a personal and often very private problem is a daunting prospect
But things haven’t been easy for Jessica and her partner. “Because my son had been conceived so easily we didn’t think we’d have any trouble, we thought it would be quite easy and actually it’s rumbled on for two years. But I still felt like it was relevant to share it because things aren’t often straightforward in life. It’s just about putting it out there so that other women experiencing the same thing don’t feel like they’re going through it on their own, there are other people who have the same problems or the same emotional issues.” For some, opening up about such a personal and often very private problem is a daunting prospect. Ysis Lorenna couldn’t have imagined that she’d lay bare her vulnerabilities for the world to see. “I never thought I would even consider sharing that much about my private life, including our TTC journey and some very painful experiences like my ectopic pregnancy.” But after stumbling across some clips on the web, she fully immersed herself in the world of TTC. “I got hooked on watching live pregnancy test videos, TTC journeys, I learnt all the lingo – how many DPO (days past ovulation) did I have to be to get a BPF (big fat positive) – what the symptoms of ovulation were, when implantation occurs and so on. But despite being addicted to reading and watching these women, I still felt like sharing this part of my life wasn't for me. However, something changed when I suffered my miscarriage. I needed answers, empathy; and I needed to make sense of it all.” While it may not be for everyone, it’s undeniable that for many, YouTube’s TTC community is a therapeutic outlet as well as a place to absorb information and build bonds with women across the globe. So if you think it’s a space where you could belong, it’s worth poking your head around the metaphorical door to get a better understanding of what it’s all about. You never know, it mightn’t be long before you’re turning the camera on yourself.