life, love, and maybe babies

Monday, August 18, 2014

to tell or not to tell

To be an infertile person is to live a life of tough decisions - most of which you get no advice on (except from people you don't want advice from). 

Should you give Clomid a try? Should you just skip straight to IUI? What about going to IVF right away? Should you get acupuncture? Should you eat a gluten free diet? Should you stand on your head for 15 minutes after sex?

Questions, questions, questions...with too many confusing answers. Like many dilemmas in life, there is no official "Infertile Lady's Guide to Getting Pregnant." (At least not yet - I might have to write one.) But before you even think of starting down the road of treatment, you have to answer one very, very important question.

Who are we going to tell?

The answer to this question can drastically impact how your journey through infertility goes. Tell too many people and you'll feel overwhelmed with giving constant updates, especially when that update is "nothing has happened."

Tell too few people and you become a giant emotional balloon that's set to pop at any moment. And you don't want that shit popping at the wrong time. 

The situation is different for every couple. As for me, I'm a teller. Screw wearing my heart on my sleeve, I wear it on my forehead in neon flashing lights. However, I learned the hard way that if too many people know what's going on with my infertility, I start to feel completely out of control and get major anxiety.

After several years of playing the infertility game, I've learned to be selective about who I share our story with, and who to withhold it from. (Obviously I'm now okay with strangers knowing since I've started this blog.) This isn't really an advice blog, but I'm going to hand out some anyway. Here's my take on who to tell and who to keep in the dark.

Do Tell: Your best friend

I realize you're super popular and you have 3,449 best friends. But you might consider whittling that down to a smaller circle of peeps. Friends are perfect because they're always on our side, they don't judge, and they're comfortable enough to tell us if our "meet our doctor for the first time" outfit is hideous.

Chances are, when you and your Hubs (partner, etc) first started trying for a bambino, you told at least one of your friends. I mean, who wouldn't? So that friend knows that things haven't progressed as you would have hoped. She will be more than willing to listen to all your boring acronyms (TTC, AMH, HSG, BFP, BFN) and will probably learn them just as easily as you - because she really cares. 

The absolute best thing about this friend? You don't have to begin every conversation with "okay, remind me, now how much have I told you?" You've kept her up to speed on every progesterone insert, every cramp, and ever WebMD search that said your kid is going to have three heads. She's a keeper. All the way through from beginning to end.

Don't tell: The office gossip

It's hard not to let people at work know what's going on, because many of them are likely people you call friends. Just be careful. There's always going to be that guy or gal who doesn't particularly care about what you're going through - they just want some dirt so they can say they knew first. This is the person who, once you've announced on Facebook that you did get pregnant, will post a comment that says, "I'm so glad you can announce! I've been DYING to tell people!" when they've actually already told everyone, including the copy repair guy. 

Maybe tell: Your boss

This is a case by case basis. I'm certainly not going to tell you what to share with your manager. I will say, at the beginning of the infertility journey, keep things close to your hat. Your boss need not know every single medical thing that's going on with you. But if all of a sudden, you're needing to leave for three appointments a week and you just say it's "for health stuff," you're going to attract some raised eyebrows from the boss man. Unintentionally, you might give the impression that you're looking for a new job. For me, I shared everything with my manager after we made the decision to go forward with IVF. Up until then, I was able to use PTO and maneuver my appointments. With IVF, I know my moods are going to be wackadoodle, I'm probably going to get cray cray bloated, and I may or may not become a modern day Jekyl and Hyde. My boss deserves to know what the heck is going on with me. And thankfully, my boss is amazing and supports me all the way.

Think before you tell: Your family

This is another good one to think all the way through. At the beginning of my infertility journey, my parents and siblings and in-laws seemed like a no brainer. They're my family and I love them and they care about me and Hubs. Duh. But as time passed and the doctor appointments and medications and potential issues grew more intense, I found myself unintentionally leaving some members of my family out of the loop. Not because I don't love them, but because I was getting super stressed about telling them. Why? Parents/siblings/in-laws are close to you. They understandably except to be told all the details right now before you tell anyone else because I'm your mother/father/brother/sister. When all you really want is for them to say, "hey, I know you went to the doc this week. Hope it went well. Want to go eat guacamole?"

In addition, sometimes family can overreach. They love you SO much and want to help, and often times they can be the first ones to offer advice they found on their own (also likely through WebMD). Thankfully, because they're your family, you should feel no guilt in saying, "We're working with a doctor that is very knowledgeable, so thanks for your input, but we'll just stick to his advice for now."
Do tell: Anyone you feel like telling

In all truthfulness, you can tell whomever you want, whenever you want. Yes, it may backfire at some point, but you're a human being and sometimes you need to talk.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a client of mine over lunch. We were chit chatting, but in the back of my mind, all I could think about was my upcoming trip to Colorado for our consultation. My client, being the sharp gal that she is, knew I was distracted. She asked if I was doing okay and boom...the whole story came out. I started to apologize all over myself for bogging down our conversation with my personal problems, but she stopped me. Turns out, her children were both conceived with IVF and she was completely empathetic and glad I told her. Awww...

It doesn't always work like that. There are going to be some people that you spill the beans to, that end up being less than supportive, or nosy or know-it-alls when it comes to your infertility.

Ladies, listen to me.


If you get to a point where sharing is no longer caring, you have every right to say, "from now on, we're just keeping fertility stuff to ourselves. I appreciate your concern and I'll be sure to tell you if anything happens!" Let that be the end of it. The three people who need to stay informed are you, your partner and your doctor. Other than that, you make the decision on who gets to join your circle of trust. Feel free to boot people out and then let them back in again. Like I said before, there is no instruction manual on this, so you can do what you want.

 And if anyone gets mad, just blame the hormones.




Jules said...

This list is perfect in so many ways - especially the message of sharing or not at any time. IF is such a tricky, sensitive situation, sometimes having someone to talk to is needed, and sometimes it's just nice to have people mind their own business lol. Great post!

Kim said...

So glad you like it! Infertility is personal on every level, and there are truly no rules. Sometimes we forget that and feel obligated to share to continue sharing once we've started. WE have the power to say "enough sharing, I'm done" at any time we want. :)

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