Monday, February 21, 2011

To tell or not to tell?

Welcome ICLWers! Thanks a lot for stopping by. I have been pondering over a question for a while now, and would love any input from you.

One of the big questions on my mind has been if we should be more open about our IF. I have a couple of close friends who know we have been trying to conceive for long without success. Then there are other friends who know we would like a baby, but they do not know how long we have been trying etc. My parents and sister also know its not been easy for us, and are aware that we have been through testing.

I am actually torn about how I should deal with questions of "do you plan to have a baby" or "when will you give us good news". One the one hand, I think I should be more open about our struggles, so people realize that it is not always easy for everyone to have a baby. Also, I'd have to hear less comments like "your eggs are aging, you should have a baby soon" or "you'll be so old by the time your son/daughter graduates from highschool!".

On the other hand, I haven't had the best response from people to who I do talk to about our problems. One of these days, I'll formulate a post about some of the things people say! But I am sure you all have a very good  idea. Responses include "you should try and relax", "it will happen when it has to", "it will happen when you least expect it", "have you considered traveling to so and so country to try alternative treatments?" or "I know exactly what you must be going through, we tried for two cycles before we conceived, I remember how devastated I was that first month". I know people have the best intentions, but why does it always sound so patronizing?

So the few times I began telling close friends and family, I have just been disappointed by their responses. I guess I should not expect too much, but I think it does more harm than good when their well intentioned comments just end up hurting me. They probably don't realize that we infertiles are just waiting for someone to say something, so we can jump on it and tear it apart and end up feeling bad.

The other reason I am reluctant to talk about this, is because of the added pressure of how treatment cycles turn out. The more people you have to tell about a failed cycle, the more devastating it is. Then there is my husband's point of view. He said it is best we not talk about "outside help" we need to conceive, because then it will become a legacy. People for years yonder will talk about how K and N took the doctor's help to get pregnant. I come from a conservative south asian community where even talking about sex is taboo. I have heard relatives talk about "so and so" who had to take ferility medications etc to have a child. They talk about it for years after wards, and their comments are full of pity for that unfortunate couple who had so much trouble performing an act as basic as creating a child.

I guess from my post its kind of obvious that I lean in the direction of "not to tell". I do sometimes feel guilty about this, because my talking about IF would be a small step to educating ignorant people around me, and creating more awareness that infertility is not a choice, its a disease. However, to be frank, I don't feel brave. Some day if we do conceive, I hope to talk about how difficult it was to get there. But not before that.

So would you talk about your IF? What kind of responses have you received? How did you do it, and if you were to go back in time, would you change anything about having told or not told? I'd love to hear what you all think. Maybe it will help change my perspective about things.


  1. I think this is something we all struggle with and there is no 'right' answer. Ultimately, you have to do what you feel comfortable with - and if that means keeping it quiet for the most part, then that is what you should do. We have told quite a few people and have gotten positive responses so far. There have been a few medical "professionals" who have offered the 'just adopt, then you'll get pregnant" advice - which is particularly hurtful because of all people they should know that adopting is not a way to get pregnant. I guess my only concern with having shared our journey is the same as your husbands - in years to come I don't want to be the subject of conversation, especially since we will have to use donor eggs.
    Good luck and hope you get your positive this month!!

  2. I am totally with you. I am honestly bursting at the seams. If it were not for the insensitive comments that I know would follow, I would probably tell NOW.

    But I've decided to wait until after we are successful (b/c I'm praying real hard that's soon). Then at least since I'll already be pregnant, I won't have to hear the insensitive comments that follow--to relax, why don't we adopt, etc. Also if there ARE any insensitive comments--which I still suspect at that point, I will be much stronger in being able to educate them rather than run away crying.

  3. It really is such a personal issue that you have to make the choice that is what you can cope with. As you have probably guessed from my stories I am a teller. I want to feel less alone. I want to have a list of people I can call when I am just in a pool of tears because i saw a new baby and its mama. I need to have shoulders to cry on, and I covet the prayers of my church family and community. I am so excited to have a child (in some capacity!) and for people around me to know the journey we have been on, and to see God glorified in the family we have been blessed with. I want to open the conversation so people don't start giving advice like 'just relax' or that when they do, I can explain in simple but clear terms that it is not that simple. Not to make them feel bad, but to spread the idea that infertility is not a dirty word, it is not something to be ashamed of, and to remind everyone that in the end God makes babies, the illusion that we have control is truly just that, an illusion.

    Praying for your positive this month!

  4. Here from ICLW. I've told my immediate family members but maybe my situation is a bit different. I have a chromosomal issue and it could affect my brother or sister. We've also told our close friends. It is difficult each month explaining to them that the treatment didn't work. But, I think it's worth the support they provide. It also prevents the awkward--so when are you going to have children questions.

  5. I think every couple struggles with this basic question, but I know that at least for me I have to talk about to my family. I need their advice, their support, and occasionally (blush) their open lines of credit.

    My husband's family is also South Asian, but perhaps less conservative than some - they accepted me after all. We have discussed everything with them, and my only real issue with that is that in their culture when you tell someone a secret they seem to think that as long as the person they are sharing it with is "family" then they aren't spreading gossip (actually, my family does this as well - there is just a bit less "family" to gossip to).

    Anyway, my husband's family has overall been incredibly kind and supportive of our decision and they even started telling us about other people in the extended family who have gone through the same thing. I guess the moral here - usually when we trust our loved ones with our most important feelings, they handle those emotions with responsibility and delicacy. So long as they understand and know you are open to answering their questions, hopefully they will respect your privacy and support you to the best of their ability.

  6. Well, as for us, we told everyone. But I understand the idea of keeping it under wraps. It is very personal, but for me it was just easier to talk about it and have our friends and family understand where I was at. If I was tired or emotional I wanted them to understand why, so I didn't feel this pressure to pretend to be okay when I wasn't

    My fingers are crossed that this IUI is the big positive you have been waiting for and you don't have to worry about sharing the struggle because it will be over!

    ICLW #6

  7. Keya, this is such a personal decision because there are so many factors that come into consideration...the culture you live in, the personalities of the couple involved, the personalities of the families involved. I'm not sure what to tell you but I could totally understand the desire not to say anything if you feel it will make you the subject of gossip for years to come. Hehe, I've always thought it would be easier if there was a brochure we could force people to read about how to handle that kind of news...ya know, a "Thing not to say to an infertile". {{{Hugs}}} and good luck.

    ICLW #19

  8. I thought your post on the topic of disclosure is really wonderful--it really captures the pitfalls of telling. I too wish people would not say so many insensitive things! I hope this cycle is the one for you!

  9. Happy tell or not to tell...that is hard, I know people "talk" about me, but it really hasn't affected me negatively. Yea, I needed help, but I got it and I just had to tell the world...LOL. Whichever you decide will definitely be the right decision for you.

  10. Hello from ICLW. Let me tell you this. NOTHING stops the stupid. We had kept our IF to ourself and we got asked constantly when we were going to have a baby and then we told people we were having touble and that started a whole new round of stupid comments. Either way, prepare for thoughtless people to say stupid things. I blogged about it here:
    Good luck with everything!

  11. I went through several years of infertility myself and found it helpful to tell the people I loved what I needed from them in terms of support; they wanted to be supportive, but no one knew the right thing to say. I told them not to give me advice. I just wanted them to listen and let me say how much it sucked. I wanted to hear when they got pregnant but didn't want to go to the baby shower or be obligated to see the new baby before I was ready. I wanted to be the one to decide when to hear reminders that the rest of my life was awesome, which was one way that friends showed me that my sadness had made them uncomfortable. I talked about wanting a baby often and let people know I could have a hard time and still hear about their personal troubles too. When other friends went through fertility, they called me first. It made me feel better to let people know what felt good and what didn't. I hope I influenced friends to stop asking others about family planning in public.