Saturday, July 26, 2008

It Feels Like Pulling My Pants Down In Public, But...

The thought of "announcing" our IVF plans feels a little like pulling my pants down in front of everyone I know. However, now that we have officially decided to go forward with IVF, this is our dilemma: Do we just put what we're doing out there into the cosmos and hope for the best?

We have already shared with our parents. At this point, I'm suggesting being even more open with our infertility diagnosis and just treating it as a medical issue for which we need (and deserve) support from everyone in our lives.

I really want input re: this because it's something I'm very conflicted about. On one hand, we think it would decrease the stress we feel about heading into something so taxing and that it might normalize it to some degree. For example, we recently started making plans with several of our college friends to attend football homecoming at our alma mater, only to realize after meeting with our RE that we will most likely be in the middle of egg retrieval when that date rolls around. Part of me just wants to e-mail our college friends (90% of whom have at least one child already) and just say, "Look, we're infertile and we're going for the big guns - we probably won't be able to make it. Deal with it."

That would be so freeing. And, it would allow people the opportunity to pray for us and to be more sensitive about asking about our plans to start a family.

However, allowing people the opportunity to be more sensitive doesn't exactly mean that's what we'll get...which is why I liken this openness to pulling one's pants down in an arena full of wide-eyed faces. I think about my sister-in-law, for example. For those of you who don't know her (and trust me, I complain about her to anyone who will listen), she has to be one of the most insensitive people I've ever encountered. The things that fly out of her mouth are often head turning and nothing short of incredible. I find my head spinning as I think....Did she really just make excuses in front of our mother-in-law for a woman who cheated on her husband????

My point is that telling allows people to be even more insensitive to my growing vulnerability. And, trust me, I've never felt more vulnerable about anything in my life as I am about this infertility thing. I also don't want people's pity - as the days go by, I feel more accepting that this is what God has put in front of us, and I feel so fortunate to be going through it with the absolute best man for me. Also, in some strange way, I feel blessed to have this experience with L. because it's taken our relationship to a level I don't think it could have otherwise reached. I think that going through infertility changes your relationship forever, and you learn things about each other you would have never otherwise known.

So, this is my quandry, and I'm particularly interested in what those of you out there in the IF world think. Did you tell or did you not and what was the outcome?


I Believe in Miracles said...

I'm also torn at that line - tell or not to tell. I really want to start a support group at our church for those suffering from infertility. I feel it is probably needed. BUT I don't want to be known as the 'infertile person' in the fertile mertle church. You know?

My husband is very concerned that our child will someday discover all this blogging stuff and realize that he wasn't conceived 'naturally'. We have friends that had to do IVF with donor sperm and he couldn't imagine putting that out for all the world to see. Kudos to the friends, not for us.

I have not told any family members about where we are in the process. A couple people know that we have some trouble - i.e. spotting issues that are being looked into - and I suspect they think were ttc, but no further. The few friends (4 ladies) irl that do know exactly where we're at have been extremely supportive and wonderful. I err on the side of caution even though I would love to shout it to so many friends to have their prayer and support. But then I've got friends who haven't had any trouble ttc, have 2 kids and sort of poo poo the idea of going to an RE, as trying too hard to get kids. That definately stops me from sharing.

I think it's a matter of defining expectations. People who aren't in the same boat just don't understand the stress and pain of infertility. They often say the wrong thing (like I knew someone and they stopped trying so hard and boom, pregnant) or don't say anything after you tell them (ie not continued support).

It's just hard. There is no protocol. What works for some, doesn't work for others. Good luck with your decision!!

That's my 2 cents. :o)

I Believe in Miracles said...

1 more thing - I hate to put it out there, but someone pointed it out once as the reason she didn't go through IVF, - what if it doesn't work? How would you feel about telling friends your going through IVF, then afterwards telling them it didn't work? (I'm hoping and praying for you that it does!) But would people you tell be more or less supportive about it then?

womb for improvement said...

Hmmm. Difficult one. I'm torn.

I would be tempted to tell people but be quite clear that its something that you find very difficult to talk about and you are only telling them so they understand why you can't make it to the game. Opening up like this then gives you and opportunity to tell them how you want them to react. e.g. "If it is successful we will let you know, though not immediately as like any couple we'll want to wait until the first scan to check everything is OK. If it isn't please be sensitive and don't bring the subject up, we'll be having a hard enough time dealing with it ourselves..."

Good luck with your decision.

Carrie said...

I have not kept it a secret whatsoever. Yes, most people have either not responded at all or still say stupid things. A few have been wonderful though. I was torn as well as to how to handle it, but I'm glad I put it out there. At least that way they know what's going on and I don't have to deal with the "when are you having kids" question. Plus, when I decline a baby shower invitation they know why... even if they don't understand the reasons behind it.

I do however have two blogs. One that no one knows about for the IF world, and one that covers what we're going through that some family and friends know about.

Deborah said...

I have been pretty wide open about it and I will say that you will truly find out who your real friends are.

I think there are so many misconceptions out there and being able to clear some of those up, well, I think of it not only as an opportunity but a responsibilty.

I still think that there are a lot of people, who I have told, that still don't get it. A lot of the time, I find those people to be the same ones that are so wrapped up in themselves, caring for others beyond a certain point is just inconvenient.

Whatever you decide to do, it is most importantly your decision to make and your comfort level will can be your best indicator. Good luck!

Hope2morrow said...

Aren't you just plum sweet? Thank you for your sweet comments on my recent post.

As for your dilemma, I think you have to take each person on a case-by-case scenario. Anticipate how you think each person will react. If it brings beads of sweat to your forehead just thinking about the conversation or how someone will react, I say don't tell. If you smile and think about how warm you think that person will be, then tell.

My husband has wanted to tell everyone, but I have been very reserved with whom I have told about our struggles. I don't want opinions, or statistics, or input because once I reach a decision, I have to go with it. Having too many opinions and people calling was just not something I was interested in doing. Thus, we have about four friends who know exactly what is happening, a few others that know general information, and a family that knows not to ask any questions because we have been trying for a really, really long time. I do not regret my decisions about not telling at all. And if I feel like it later, I can always talk about it. If you tell too much in the beginning and have problems, it's hard to go back and not talk about it because others will always want to know what is happening.

The downfall to not telling is that there are times when you do have to cancel plans or decide not to answer a phone call because you are in the middle of a procedure or your hormones are rampaging through every fiber of your body. Making up excuses and saying no is one of my weaknesses, but I am getting better with that every day. I refuse to lie to people, so there are times when I just say, "It's nothing against you; I just don't want to talk right now." Or "We'll have kids one day." Or "When it happens it happens."

I think it is best if you and your husband are on the same page. My husband decided he would mention it to a few of his friends with generalities and such because they wanted to know when we were having kids. But, for the most part, he lets me tell who I feel best about telling. He also knows that if my family ask him questions (they like to corner him), that he is just to say, "That's not something we want to discuss right now."

I hope this helps. It sounds like everyone handles things differently. You have to find what works best for you all.

My Infertility Diaries said...

I can understand being torn, because you have so many pros and cons to both sides. I can only tell you my experience. I have told pretty much everyone about my infertility. I did it because I needed support and I have to talk things out or else I explode. So far it has been a rewarding experience. Of course there are those few family members that drive me nuts with the whole relax crap. So in a nutshell my advice is if you want to let others know...give them advice too. Like maybe referring them to a website on how to talk with ppl dealing with infertility. Babyzone has a great article about it. I sent it to my mil to stop her from telling me to relax. I hope that helps....I will keep ya in my prayers :D

petridishbaby said...

I love your blog and relate to everything you are saying. As far as telling people, I told most people around me, so that #1 I wouldn't chicken out about going through with it and #2, I wouldn't have to lie or make up excuses for 3-5 weeks of my life. It's been working well for me, and I have gotten alot of support and prayers, which is very nice for my mental health. The only hesitation I have is that now everyone will be eagerly awaiting my positive pregnancy test. If its not positive, I will have to let alot of people know this cycle failed, which will be tough. But, I think its worth it for me to have told them, all things considered. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, I am a few weeks into the process now.

Leslee said...

I was torn as well. We decided to individualize our telling and have told people as little or as much as we felt comfortable with with that particular person. At first we had to give everyone the news of azoospermia. Pretty much our whole family (parents and siblings) and a few friends were told about Dan's diagnosis and we were looking into IVF to bypass that issue. It was great support to have during that low time and during the ups and downs of IVF. Now that we're doing donor IUIs, we have told some of those who knew we did IVF simply that we're trying something else, but the rest know about it.

Just give yourself some space and you'll find what's comfortable for you.

Penny said...

I'm a teller by nature but I'll tell ya, I was not prepared for the lack of support coming from my family. That hurt - a lot. Be truthful to yourself before you let the word out about what you expect from friends and family. Support? Understanding? Sympathy? Encouragement? And how would you feel if you didn't get it? prepared, is all I'm saying.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

Hi there, found you via womb4improvement.

This is a killer dilema.
All I know for certain is that once you give the information out, you can't take it back.

If things go smoothly, then all is well. If they don't go well, you will probably want to run and hide away for a few days or more, and people 'knowing' makes this difficult.

Not pimping my blog but I posted about this a little bit back, regarding my wife and I. There was a lot of good feedback from readers, so maybe the comments can help where I can't.
Too much information?

Good luck.

I Believe in Miracles said...

L - you are way WAY too sweet. I'm so glad I connected with you too. :o)

mommy of girls said...

Hey doll...

I am so sorry that this is even an issue in your life. To tell or not to tell... It is a real dilema. B. and I told some people that we were closest too in the beginning. We did not tell his family nor my siblings...mostly because we knew they simply wouldn't "get it"...I knew they would say stupid things...and they would pretend they understood, but I knew that until you've walked that road you can never really fully "get it".

You know me and I was a whiz at speaking my mind, so coming up with reasons to skip out on things was nothing for me. Sometimes I just said "no thanks...I really just don't feel like doing (blank)".

The people we did choose to tell were people we genuinely felt like would understand and not make stupid comments. And I guess we were a fairly decent judge of character because most of them were behaving just as we had hoped and anticipated. They prayed for us, but never again asked "so when are you going to have kids". "So are you pregnant yet?" etc... Which is what we needed. Support without questions.

So my 50 cent opinion is that, knowing you the way I do, I know you are a great judge of character. To those people you know will be supportive, I say tell and allow them to be praying. To the others, I think I would hold off a while longer. It's hard enough seeing the lonely pink line with you and your hubby without the knowledge that a million other people are anticpating the double pink lines as well. And if you tell the wrong people then you are going to get questioned all the time about "what's going on".

I love you and still am praying daily for your journey to the child of your heart. I know that God promises that all things are made perfect in His time. I pray that He reveals His time to you soon.

courtney said...

I found your blog from I believe in Miracles.
I also have a Sister in law who has little tact or motivation to wash dishes...
I recently 'came out' to the ladies at my church about general infertility. I didn't really tell them where we were at or what our treatment plans were, just that we were trying and it had been two years and it sucked. They were great. Yes, there have been some knuckle headed comments, but oveall I feel pretty good about that decision. But you've also gotten a lot of great advice here. If it makes you want to cry and sweat when you think about telling people, than perhaps this is not your best time to share. But if you just want to generally metion to people that you're doing infertility treatments, and treat it the way you would any other 'medical issue', I think that is brilliant.
Really, if any of your friends have questions, hopefully they'll ask you privately. And yes, you might have to explain it didn't work, but at least you'll have some great support and people around you to help make things feel better.
I don't really know, but that is my $.02.
Good luck!

celestial said...

We have told most of our friends and family about our infertility. Of course some of them are insensitive, but for the most part they are understanding. We haven't been able to do any cycles of IVF yet but when it comes time I suspect we will tell a few people so they can pray for us, be happy with us, and if it doesn't work out, to grieve with us (Even if it's just our moms).

Faith said...

It's hard. DH is against sharing openly for a variety of reasons, so for now we're pretty much keeping it on the DL. We've told our family and a few close friends, and have of course been generally overwhelmed by their support. Despite that, a few friends who we have told have made comments that make me wonder if they heard me right. You just never know how people are going to react . . . . or how those reactions are going to affect you.