Who do you tell?

26 Jul

My parents recently forward me Wall Street Journal story: “My Fertility Crisis” by Holly Finn (excerpted from The Baby Chase).    I love that they were thinking of me, but I admit I was a bit concerned.  It sounds like, now whenever they hear a story about someone struggling to have kids they think of me.  It’s very thoughtful of them, but it makes me feel really sad to get these emails as it makes it clear that this is what they are thinking of when they think of me.  Kind of embarrassing I guess.  Even the article title freaked me out with the word”crisis” and the phrase “baby chase”.  It screams of desperation.  I guess it has gotten to this point. Yikes!  Somehow looking at myself through this lens REALLY makes me feel even worse off.  Believe it or not I actually had some optimism, but reading this story made me feel foolish for having any hope what so ever.

On another note, one thing the article did was call out the tendency to talk about this online and only online. I am completely guilty of this.  I have a lot of friends and family that know nothing (other than the obvious fact that I don’t have kids and I’m 7 years married).   They don’t know about any of the pregnancies, miscarriages or the incredible emotional roller coaster we’ve been riding for over 3 years now.  They just guess and (most likely) talk about us behind our backs with our other friends/family and noone asks us anymore (hello white elephant in the room!).  I don’t tell them because I’ve had enough experiences where I’ve shared a little and felt completely misunderstood and invalidated.  Too many people act like they get what you are going through and then start spouting advice when they have no clue.  Often well meaning friends jumped to the “just adopt” advice or “just get a surrogate”.  These folks clearly have no clue the costs and are talking out of their ass.  (My theory is they want to give you advice to solver your issue quickly to solve THEIR anxiety about it as they feel so uncomfortable hearing about a problem doesn’t have a real solution).   I find myself defending my choice to keep trying and not “just adopting” etc. and getting really frustrated (and feeling insulted) by their directing me, as if I didn’t know about these other options.

The author argues that IFers and RPL-ers should be more up front and outspoken and essentially come out of the closet about their issues as it would help dispel the myths and ultimately help raise awareness, sensitivity and understanding of the issues we face.  For this reason I totally praise those that do, but I can’t follow suit, at least not with everyone.  There are way too many people who just don’t get it and it’s a waste telling them.  Telling them is like “giving pearls to pigs” (my therapist uses this expression).  When I do tell people I really do feel like I am “outting” myself. The difference is that I don’t have a community with pride in its identity behind me.  Instead we are more like a community ruled by shame and embarrassment.  We are all here because our bodies have a disease causing us to malfunction in one way or another.  Our struggle will end one way or another when our childbearing years end and so it is all temporary which makes it seem even easier to avoid telling.

Here is her exact quote:

There’s a reason women flock online for solace. The trouble is, every woman’s experience is subtly different, and IVF success often lies in the devilish details. Beyond empathy, online message boards and autobiographical books tend to offer few useful facts. And even anonymously, not everyone is honest. Online forums are a good start, but if the conversation is contained among those already in hell, myths will continue to be told outside it.

Who do I tell?  At this point most of my good friends know (I define good friends as ones I see 1-on-1 and not just in couples or groups) and select members of my family (my mom and sister).  Co-workers, neighbors, group and couple friends are still cut out.  The Facebook community is totally out (and I’ve blocked most of my fertile friends so I don’t have to see their updates).  I figure if I don’t see them as someone who can support me or be there for me when I need a shoulder to cry on, they don’t need to be weighed down with my story.  Another way to understand it is if they don’t open up personal, vulnerable stuff to me, they don’t get to hear my story.  It’s only fair.

Who do you talk to about this?  Do you tell your friends, family, co-workers, etc.?  How public do you go?  I praise people who do go public but I admit I don’t have the trust-level (aka balls) to go all out and tell everyone I know.  That’s why I have this anonymous blog, I don’t use my real name and I pour my guts out here instead of to the people I see in person.

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6 Responses to “Who do you tell?”

  1. Hope July 26, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    I’m like you. I play my cards close in this journey. What you said about how, if the other person opens up with personal stuff to you, then you feel comfortable telling them about personal stuff makes a lot of sense. That’s pretty much what I do, too.

    I also agree that it’s a lot like coming out of the closet, only without the community pride to back you up. I get that if we all came out and were open about our journeys it would help in the long run, but I also think that I have to do what is right for me at this point in time, and you (or anyone else) has to do what is right for you. I guess I think self-preservation should come first, and altruistic stuff like raising for the IF/RPL community comes second, and is done by the people who feel comfortable with it.

    For me, it’s just not worth fighting the myths and stereotypes and dealing with the pain of being misunderstood, when I’m already in so much internal pain. I feel like I need to ration my emotional energy and save it for myself.

  2. bodegabliss July 26, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    I guess I do a little bit of both. I used to talk to friends here about it, but like you mentioned, they didn’t understand and couldn’t give me the support I needed so I stopped (I actually stopped hanging out with them all together, but that’s a different story). But I will be very open to complete strangers and talk about it without hesitance. I guess because there’s no personal investment in them, so it doesn’t hurt as much when they say insensitive things. I guess I am a little less anonymous since I use my name on my blog and even list where I live…I’ve also told all of my coworkers and a lot of random people in my community. So, um, yeah, I guess I talk about it more than I realized. But I’m one of those over-sharers, so that’s probably why. 😉

  3. mutemockingbird July 26, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    I keep my infertility issues pretty quiet unless someone else has said they have issues too. While everyone I have told means well, they all try to solve the problem — “just adopt,” “just talk Clomid” or my favorite “have you talked to a doctor?” — and I find myself trying to control my temper instead of feeling supported.

    I can see why it would be a good thing. I think there are several people at work who are going through this, but I don’t say anything and they don’t say anything.

  4. EWO July 27, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    I tell everyone who will listen. At first, I didn’t tell anyone. We live in a very small community and I didn’t want my husband’s ex to find out, because I knew she would enjoy it too much. After my third m/c, I was just tired of feeling ashamed and I told everyone. I wanted the lucky successful “accidental pregnancies” and planned pregnancies to realize how blessed they were and I wanted all the unlucky infertiles to know they weren’t alone. I really did feel a huge weight lift off my chest in not keeping my rpl a secret anymore, and I do notice that many people respect my strength in keeping it all together despite this very difficult time. I’ve even had friends tell me that they though their marriage was rough, but compared to our struggles (which include a trainwreck divorce situation on my husband’s part) its a cakewalk so if we can keep on so can they.

  5. Foxy July 27, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    I think that you are smart to share selectively. This is such an emotional and personal experience that its just not worth it to put yourself out on the line for judgement any more than necessary. I was careful to share only with those who were able to offer me the kind of empathy and support that I needed, leaving the rest in the dark. I probably erred on the side of privacy, but it was because I just didn’t have the emotional capacity to test the waters with folks I wasn’t sure about. It did help that my husband started opening up to some of those folks, in very general terms, so they knew that it was a delicate topic and were a little more respectful/thoughtful when it came to engaging with me. At least it avoided the questions that would leave me chocked up.

    On the other hand, it has been so much easier to reveal our struggles as we reveal to people that we are pregnant. In the course of these discussions I’ve learned that so many others have had their own struggles, struggles that they remained totally silent and private about. The irony doesn’t escape me.

  6. Kristen July 29, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    I’ve been at this a long time, and the more time that goes by, the more people that know. Most (not all) my friends at this point….a lot of people I just know casually as well…some work people but there are also quite a few people I work with on a regular basis I haven’t told yet.
    For me, I just don’t have expectations of anyone, so they can’t disappoint me. It’s not like I’m some saint…I’ve just learned through other experiences that a lot of people you think you can count on will disappoint you, but a lot of people you expect nothing from will totally rise to the occasion. I figure it all evens out.
    Oh, but I haven’t put a link to my blog (which has all the details) on Facebook…I guess I really don’t want EVERYONE to know…

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