Thursday, 1 July 2010

The closet

At the weekend, I had coffee with a friend who is 20 weeks pregnant after her third round of IVF. She said that one of the things she has insisted on as her friends and family have found out about this pregnancy is telling them how it happened. She has felt very alone in her IF journey, and felt that she and her husband were the only people in her circle of friends who were struggling. Since she has started being open about her IVF pregnancy, she said it's amazing how many stories have come out of the woodwork about people having similar struggles.

I have found the same thing. There are a couple of people I will never tell about our struggles, either because they would be judgemental about us as Catholics going through IVF or because they would use my pain as a source of cheap gossip. Mostly, though, I've been very open about it throughout the whole process - everyone knew how much I wanted children, so it seemed pointless to try to hide the sadness I experienced about it not happening.

This week, we had visitors - a friend from my university days with her husband and baby. I hadn't seen her for several years, although we had been in touch by e-mail and Facebook. I must confess I was a little disgruntled when I heard that she was pregnant, especially as she had never seemed particularly interested in children and had made a comment on Facebook about how unexpected and unplanned her pregnancy was.

While we were catching up over a cup of tea, we talked about travel, and I said that it had been a bit difficult to make any plans over the last couple of years because of TTC and then the inability to plan around our IVF treatments.

That was when she told me that she totally understood the inability to plan, because she and her husband had tried for two years without success. Eventually, they gave up and when an opportunity came up for her husband to take a two year posting overseas with his employer, they decided to go for it. Within a couple of months of arriving in a new country, she was pregnant.

Apart from the fact that she told me the best cure for infertility is being in a cold environment with no heating so that you and your husband need to spend lots of time in bed keeping each other warm, it was a very enlightening conversation.

I know many people choose to keep their struggles to themselves for all sorts of reasons. It's also a bit of a double-edged sword having so many people know about our situation, because they regularly ask for updates and it's harder to keep private any bits of information that we don't feel ready to share. But I love to hear the stories of struggles and eventual successes, and every story I hear makes me feel a little bit less alone in this journey.


  1. Personally, I am open about my IF struggles. Not that everyone gets all the details and I do not always tell people when we are starting cycles. For me it is helpful in explaining why I am acting or doing the things that I am. If I am down or have to cancel plans b/c of cycle stuff, at least there is a reason why.
    I am glad you found some relief in talking to your friend.

  2. I try to be open about our struggle as much as possible, too. I think it's a bit more obvious for people now since we have quads (and how likely is that to happen naturally?!). I think bringing IF out into the open is really important so that others can find support if they need it.

  3. I agree that it's important, but it's also difficult. You never really know what you're going to get from people, and right now I'm feeling particularly vulnerable. I don't have a problem answering questions if people ask. I would never lie. But right now I would have a difficult time wearing a banner that says "we suffer from infertility" if you know what I mean. I break down in tears at commercials from Home Depot these days. I can't imagine how I would respond to someone being cruel or judgmental.

    All that makes me that much prouder of you for feeling comfy offering it up. You do us all proud. :)

  4. I change my stance on sharing as my mood changes. Sometimes I am all for creating awareness and being honest about our situation, but other times I really don't want the attention and its easier to deflect it with a "we're not ready" or "one day" answer. Thats whats so hard, because I'm so inconsistent in the way I feel about coming out.
    Sometimes peoples success stories make me feel enlightened and inspired, and other times they make me feel cheated.
    But I know what you mean, infertility can bring people closer together too, I've found friends and allies in the strangest of scenarios and I'm so grateful for their support. Its impossible to go through this alone, and I don't think its fair to rely soley on your partner for support either, so reaching out to people is really important. xx