You want to see an example of how different people are – even for all we have in common? Put a dozen women undergoing fertility treatment in a room and ask them whether they share their trials and tribulations with others, or whether they keep their infertility diagnosis or fertility treatment pursuits a secret. Whew! Everyone’s perspectives are so different.
Who and How Many People are You Sharing Your Infertility Journey With?
There are pros and cons to both approaches. Here are some of the most common ones we hear from both camps here at RRC.
Points from the “Tell The World” Camp
First, we’ll share perspectives from women who have chosen to be pretty open about their fertility treatment experience.
- They feel supported. Battling infertility and/or dealing with failed infertility treatments can feel fairly isolating, and this isolation gets some women and couples down. Choosing to share with friends and family can provide a certain amount of support, even if it means having to choke down retorts upon receiving misguided advice or a lack of real sympathy.
- They don’t seem ‘crazy’. Year one and two may not be so bad, but after that, failed fertility treatments – and the ever-present invitations for baby showers and christenings – can begin to affect you emotionally or cause you to be pretty darn cranky to the ones you love. When family, friends and co-workers understand why you can be moody or do not want to participate in certain events, you are typically granted a wider buffer zone.
- It spreads the word. Because fertility and the invasive nature of fertility treatments is such a personal topic – it can make it seem like you are one of the very few. In fact, about 1 in 8 couples struggles to get pregnant – that’s more than 10% of the population. Infertility isn’t as uncommon as you would think and many couples feel their openness about their struggle will help to educate others about the topic, increasing the public’s understanding and ability to be supportive.
- It’s cathartic. For many women and men, sharing infertility struggles is cathartic, helping to release steam from a pot that is perpetually boiling over. If speaking out loud isn’t your best mode of communication, reading, writing, and/or commenting on infertility blogs can be a wonderful way to connect with others who understand what you are going through. Plus, it provides a quieter platform to express yourself.
- It paves the way for time off at work. Being open about your fertility struggles with key players at work may help you when you need extra time off from your job for consultations and/or treatments. Bosses may be a bit more lenient and co-workers may be more apt to cover shifts if they know the real reason you need the time, rather than thinking you are always “headed out of town” for long weekends and enviable getaways.
Points From the” We Keep It To Ourselves” Camp
Then, there are those who prefer to keep it all to themselves. Here are some of their reasons:
- It’s too personal. Sharing your infertility diagnosis can often result in sharing a whole lot of personal information you’d rather not. And it can also solicit a wealth of advice and invasive questions you’d rather not even hear, let alone answer.
- It’s too painful. While fertility treatment and IVF success rates continue to improve, most couples have to undergo more than one treatment before they are successful – and some couples undergo many more than a single treatment before they get pregnant. Knowing this, couples may opt to keep mum so they don’t have to field the, “Did it work? Are you pregnant yet?” questions until it did, and they are.
- It’s isolating. While some women choose to share information to keep from being isolated, others can feel more isolated when they share information with others who seem to have no real understanding – and, sometimes, very little interest – in the information being shared.
- Time to talk about something else. After a while, even the people involved in the treatments become bored with the same story over and over. Telling others about it, or fielding half-interested queries, is almost like sharing what you had for breakfast that morning – it just doesn’t seem worth it. Instead, this camp would rather just talk about everything in life BUT what they are dealing with fertility-wise, waiting until they can finally announce, “we’re pregnant!”
Which camp do you belong to? Do you share your journey with the world-at-large, or do you prefer to keep your infertility path close to your heart? Please share your thoughts (anonymous entries are fine!) with the RRC community.