Who Do You Talk To When Going Through IVF?
In the beginning, it seemed so natural. You talked to all of your family and friends about trying to get pregnant – about not getting pregnant – – – – – about still not getting pregnant – – – – – – – – – – – – – about seeing a fertility specialist – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – about your recent failed IVF cycle – – – – – – – –
And now you just wish you wouldn’t have said a thing, to anyone, about anything.
So, who do you talk to when going through IVF or other forms of fertility treatments? Who shouldn’t you talk to?
Those are both good questions and they are questions worth answering if you’re pursuing IVF. If you are just embarking on the infertility journey – or if you’re a seasoned veteran tired of fielding well-meaning questions/comments from the world-at-large – we recommend reading, Do or Do Not Tell: How Much do You Share About Infertility?, to get a sense of your options.
It’s easier to start out saying nothing – and then adding information to the general news wire as desired – than it is to spout all the details from the get-go and then valiantly attempt to back paddle into a silent retreat. On the flip side, fertility treatments and IVF cycles can make you feel like you’re in an isolation of sorts, in which case it can be nice to have a handful of trustworthy confidants.
Enlist the help of a fertility counselor
If we could give you one piece of advice, it would be DO enlist the help of an fertility counselor. Even those in the “we don’t’ tell anyone our private reproductive business” camp are well-served by scheduling an introductory consultation or two. There are a myriad of emotions that arise – and plummet – as the result of an infertility diagnosis and subsequent treatment(s). Your fertility counselor will provide a welcome container in which you can pour these emotions and develop the tools with which to cope with them.
Fertility counselors are also a wonderful resource for working through issues that come up inside the couple dynamic, to help you preserve the romance in your relationship, and for practicing the various ways you can communicate your wishes, feelings and decisions regarding fertility choices with your family and friend network.
Join an infertility forum and/or follow a few blogs
The large majority of our patients spend time visiting support groups, infertility forums and/or following blogs written by women and men who are going through the same thing they are. This is a more anonymous way of gaining support and that type of outlet for your feelings can be very cathartic. The forum and blogosphere also provides you with the reassurance that you are not alone in this – there are actually thousands of individuals who share the same daily struggles as you. Who knows? You may wind up keeping a blog of your own as a living document of your journey – whether you choose to publish it publicly or not is your decision.
State your boundaries clearly – and stick to them
If you don’t want to talk about your infertility diagnosis 24/7, let people know. Would you like to keep this year’s Thanksgiving dinner free of questions or suggestions about your baby bump-less belly? That’s your prerogative. Only you can control the flow of information about your infertility diagnosis and treatment plan – but you have to set your boundaries and stick to them.
Similarly, it’s important to let go of everyone else’s emotional response to your situation – or even your own, sometimes. If you feel you simply can’t handle one more Christmas morning with your sickeningly adorable, toddler nieces and nephew, or the cousin who go pregnant the first time she went off the pill, that’s completely okay – and totally normal for someone in your position. Own it, communicate it and be firm.
Your Fertility Plan is Your Business. Period.
The bottom line is that your reproductive reality is not anyone else’s business. Together, you and your partner should come up with an agreed upon policy about what communication will look like – as well as what is shared and with whom.
Need additional resources as you decide whether or not you want to share your IVF journey? We also recommend checking out RESOLVE’s page on Telling Family and Friends where you can practice some boiler-plate responses to the most common questions and comments you’ll hear along your way.
Photo: Victor at Picjumbo.com
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RRC has over 200 years of combined experience. As a leading reproductive health, infertility, and in-vitro fertilization (or IVF) center based in Kansas City, we're proud to have the highest level of expertise available to our patients.