MINNEAPOLIS — Elyse Ash and her husband are building the life they pictured in their dreams.
The two are the proud parents of a one-year-old daughter.
But, their life wasn't always a bubble of happiness.
In the United States, about 1 in 8 couples experience infertility. That was the case for the Ash family.
The couple started trying to conceive in 2014. They thought it would be easy. Little did they know Elyse had endometriosis and was having trouble getting pregnant.
“I had never seen a positive pregnancy test after three years of trying. I thought women were drawing on a second pink line, like there was a positive pregnancy test,” she said.
Her husband, Brad, was beginning to give up hope.
“I really thought it was starting to fade away for us after a few years. It just feels more and more hopeless,” he said.
But their unexpected problems lead to the greatest gifts.
“After a year and half of trying to the old-fashioned way we then went to a fertility clinic,” she said. “You feel like society has lied to you because you are taught as a teenager, you can get pregnant so easily. That was the lowest of the low after that first round of IVF didn't work. It felt like we walked into a casino, and then left on the first roll the dice.”
During the struggle to conceive, Elyse discovered the best people to talk to about infertility were those who had a similar experience but were now safely on the other side.
This led to the creation of her startup, Fruitful. It is a free fertility mentorship program that connects those struggling with infertility with those who've been through it firsthand.
Fruitful matches you with a mentor or mentee who shares your background and values.
“These fertility warriors offered the best of both worlds: true empathy, along with perspective, shared knowledge and emotional stability,” she writes on her website.
Fruitful, a passion project the couple birthed through pain now has more than 3,400 members.
And, it's free.
“We describe it kind of like alcoholics anonymous meets tinder,” Brad Ash said. “I built the platform and matching algorithms.”
Their mission is to make sure nobody goes through infertility alone and offer hope. They now have a little girl who recently turned one.
“She was born after three years of trying to conceive and two rounds of IVF,” Elyse Ash said. “It was worth every injection.”
To learn more about the program or to become a mentor, visit their website.