Each person experiences their infertility journey in a unique way. Yet, for most facing the diagnosis there are common feelings shared by others: sadness, anger, fear, stress, isolation…..and hope. While all humans desire to connect with others, some life events make us long for it even more in search of understanding and support.
The desire to connect for support and solace is clearly visible among the Trying to Conceive (TTC) community. Thousands of blogs and websites, special Facebook pages and Instagram accounts and even memes, reflect the high interest in sharing information and experience. In fact, there’s a whole vocabulary that’s unique to the TTC community where common words and expressions may even take on a different meaning. To read about this secret language including mysterious acronyms, we published a special blog post with a comprehensive glossary.
Besides the new vocabulary, there’s something else you may have noticed if you’ve received a diagnosis of infertility or know friends or family facing this challenge: the pineapple is everywhere! It’s such a noticeable trend the New York Times wrote about it last month in “How the Pineapple Became the Icon of IVF.”
Many people are aware that the pineapple has been recognized as a global symbol of hospitality and welcoming for centuries. If you didn’t know, that’s ok. The NYT article describes the pineapple as now a “powerful symbol for women struggling with fertility.” Displaying or wearing the pineapple can represent a non-verbal communication of an enormous life event in common or be an active out loud shout of support to raise awareness and funding for the issue of infertility. Some women who sell pineapple-themed items donate a portion of the proceeds to fertility clinics or efforts to raise awareness.
One place where the pineapple symbol has gained significant attention is through the website of two social media influencers who both became mothers using in vitro fertilization (IVF). Tracey Bambrough and Sara Marshall-Page founded an IVF community website and fertility magazine (ivf.babble.com). To Bambrough and Marshall-Page, this visible symbol of the pineapple is a way to “break the silence and normalize conversation” about infertility.
They began selling pineapple pins at the end of 2016. The pins gained popularity among family and friends who wanted to show their support for loved ones. To date, they estimate they’ve sold more than 25,000 pins and are currently sold out.
The use of the pineapple across TTC social media as a symbol of support and solidarity is apparent in its widespread use – just check out the number of hashtags for Instagram accounts and Facebook pages. Many of these sites also have pineapple “boutiques” as do a number of stores on Etsy.
Besides online support, many wearables now feature the pineapple from jewelry and t-shirts to dresses and socks and leggings. While many women report they wear such items to work, Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, a fertility specialist in San Francisco, reports that “probably 75 percent” of her patients arrive for their I.V.F. procedures wearing something with a pineapple on it.
The pineapple also represents a positive and neutral symbol of infertility rather than the needles and medications used during IVF, as some have noted. So, beyond apparel, pineapples also adorn practical items women can use as they go through the IVF process including notebooks for doctor’s visits and decorative boxes to hold fertility medications.
One more explanation of why the pineapple is an apt symbol for infertility is about all that one goes through after the diagnosis of infertility including feelings of guilt and not being “enough.” The shape of the pineapple reminds women to stand tall and as if wearing a crown to counter the negative feelings that can affect mind and body.
How you or friends or family choose to use or display the pineapple symbol is a personal choice. Whether you wear the symbol on your sleeve – or socks – at work or in other public places or just at home, it can demonstrate your support to someone else, or make you feel better by helping to create bonds that you remind you that you are not alone. And for some, hope becomes a successful delivery – reflected in many a pineapple-themed nursery. We hear there’s lovely wallpaper…