Mum designs emojis to help women going through IVF

Introducing emoji IVF - a way for women to share the highs and lows of TTC.
Introducing emoji IVF - a way for women to share the highs and lows of TTC. Photo: Facebook/Emoji IVF

Lizzie Potter knows all about TTC (trying to conceive), the 2WW (two week wait), and getting one BFN (big fat negative) after another. Ms Potter underwent three cycles of IVF before having her now five-year-old son, and another eight before welcoming her baby daughter last year.

"I've had an intense IVF history," the Sydney mum told Essential Baby, explaining that not only was IVF a gruelling process, it was an isolated one, too. "No one talks about doing IVF outside of the forums. It's so confronting. Who do you tell? What do you hide? You're going through a maze of emotions and you're not talking to anyone."

And frankly, Ms Potter continues, when it comes to explaining the "misery and madness" of IVF to loved ones, the prayer emoji just doesn't cut it. 

The mum-of-two decided that she wanted to change that - and to help women going through IVF share their experience in an easy and lighthearted way. So she created an app, emojIVF, featuring almost 100 IVF-specific emoji to enable those tough - and occassionally heartbreaking - conversations.

The emoji on offer will be all-too-familiar for those who've done IVF themselves. There's "bruised tummy", "injecting fertility meds in the toilets at work", "standing on your head after embryo transfer," " waiting for the nurse to call", "so bloated by the IVF meds that you look pregnant", "POAS [pee on a stick] addict", and "TMI alert!" to name just a few.

Ms Potter believes that not being able to communicate what's going on in their lives makes it particularly hard for women who are trying to conceive. "It's so raw and horrific for so many women," she says.

"Emoji are fun and funny - and making light of it [doing IVF ] was a big thing for me. There's the times when you're eating five pineapples because there's word out there that that helps. Or standing upside down so the embryo doesn't fall out. And there's also just really horrific times when you're crying quietly on the train because you've just had a call from the nurse and you're not pregnant - again. Or people asking if you're pregnant because you look so bloated from the drugs."

Having spent a lot of time in forums during her own conception journey, Ms Potter says she noticed that humour was a common thread, a tool many women used to make sense of their experiences."You have to make light of it," she says. "You're on the brink of madness a lot of the time. You've got one fingernail in reality. It's so painful and so stressful."

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The complex emotions of hearing a friend's pregnancy announcement: "You're happy for them, but you're heartbroken it's not happening to you." Image/emojiIVF

While Ms Potter managed to capture the minutiae of IVF with her emoji, not all "made the cut" with Apple. "Syringes were problematic," she explains. "Too confronting. So we need to rework some of those."

It's an aspect of the process, however, that she wants to get right. "You get bruises, you've got drug boxes in your house," she says. "The whole thing is a bit ghetto. Suddenly you're thrown into a medical world of needles, so I tried to capture the drug side of the things."
Representing the emotional roller-coaster, particularly of the 2WW was also important for Ms Potter. "You're googling the tiniest of symptoms," she says of those agonising weeks, "trying to find someone, somewhere, who has felt the same way and ended up pregnant."
And receiving bad news, the devastating news that you're not pregnant, yet again, is something she wanted to make easier for women to share, too.
Ms Potter hopes that being able to text exactly what's happening, physical or psychological, to friends and family, "might take the edge off".
And for those loved ones who have no experience whatsoever of IVF, it's about helping them understand the ins and outs of it, too. "My best friend said recently she was sorry she wasn't there for me," Ms Potter says. "She just had no idea about the detail involved."
"It's transfer day today!" "Crossing everything for you."  Image: emojiIVF
To get the emoji, you simply download the app, which costs $1.50, and install the keyboard. Currently there are 95 emoji with another 20 or so in development. The emjois send as stickers in messages, so it doesn't matter what type of phone the recipient has.
Ms Potter also hopes women will suggest emoji relevant to their own experience, to ensure it's reflective of what all women go through. 

"You just need so much support," she says. "And I'm hoping the app will be fun and helpful. I hope it helps women to have a laugh on the tough days."

Download emojiIVF from the App store here, or visit the emojiIVF Facebook page here.