Now there is a “how-to” idea: How to tell your family you are infertile.
When we started TTC, I was thinking of so many different cute ways to announce that we were pregnant. I didn’t want to tell my family we were trying, but it was going to be a exciting announcement. But then, I didn’t get pregnant. While some women I know are really close with their sisters or other girl friends, I didn’t want to talk about it with my sisters, who were both pregnant at the time. So we didn’t tell anyone, and just forced a smile when people asked when we were going to have a baby. One of my sister’s figured it out after watching me holding her newborn…but that was back when we were just TTC.
After a while though, a couple of things changed. First of all, the Doc told us M’s sperm were essentially worthless. After this, we wanted – well, needed – our parents. We called M’s parents after we got home and even though they were 3 states away, we felt so much love and support. They were the perfect example of compassion, empathy, without prying and without advising. We never experienced so clearly before what it meant to “lift one another’s burdens” and “mourn with those that mourn”. My parents were also very supportive and it was a relief to share it with them as well, but they like (demand) details and have lots of advice and so it was different with them. Both honored our request for privacy (although my parents obviously disagreed- but hey, it’s my decision). It was really nice to share our pain with our parents and to feel their support.
The second thing that happened was I told my sister. She already knew that we were trying and she knew it wasn’t going well. So, I told her what was happening and she was comforting, mostly. She told me every story she heard about someone with infertility. I guess the idea behind that is to tell me that I’m not the only person in the world with problems and that there is hope. She has no way to relate to me (most fertile person ever!) and so is trying her best. Sometimes, that is not what I need though. (I’m sure you’ve been there). I did ask her to not tell the rest of our family. I wasn’t ready to talk about it and repeat every step over and over. It was really nice to have a couple outlets, but I didn’t want 7.
It went on this way for almost 6 months, all through my nightmare with the Doc and through my surgeries. I had M’s parents, my parents, and my sister to talk to, comfort me, (advise me).
Well, then I decided that I want to tell my other sisters about it… and what do I find out? Everybody already knows! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that our “secret” was out, but I was a little mad. My sister had called the others the night after I talked to her and told them. My dad told my siblings still at home. I’m not sure what made me madder: that they didn’t respect my wished to keep it between us or that after telling everybody, they didn’t bother telling me that they had blabbed to everybody. My other sister’s felt slighted because I didn’t want to talk to them and I felt somewhat betrayed. It was a mess. Some may say that I am just being selfish and exclusive, but hey, I was trying to do what I thought was best for my sanity and my emotional state. Still, such a mess. It took a long time to clean up (with some lingering stickiness).
Anyway, it wasn’t a good experience. It has calmed down since then. We still don’t like telling people. Only our closest friends and our families know- well and now anyone who reads this blog. (hopefully if my family reads it they won’t be offended…).
Besides the above disaster, I’ve tried to explain why I don’t want most people to know.
- Most people don’t know how to react. 99% of the time, I am fine. I am not depressed or on the verge of tears. People don’t really know what to do with that. Pity? Smothering?
- Because people don’t know how to react or relate, they tell stories and make up advice.
- It becomes your defining characteristic in their eyes.
That being said, I am grateful for the family and friends that haven’t reacted like this. That acknowledge my pain, acknowledge that they can’t relate, support and listen quietly, and still treat me just like they did before. Those are true friends. Thank goodness for them.