- Libba Bray, The Diviners
For the first year and change that we were trying to get pregnant, we didn't tell anyone. Well, almost anyone. I told Kate and Wendy and Dad. Jeeves told no one. We had watched people announce plans to start trying, and then felt the awkwardness as it then took them awhile, or as they ultimately struggled with infertility. So we figured we wouldn't say anything. When it became clear we needed help, I confided in G, because if anyone could understand my fears, it would be a fellow infertile who has been through the rigmarole far longer than I have. She was a huge support for me.
Last Thanksgiving, after we had gotten our diagnosis from Dr. M but were still digesting it, we spent some time with Jeeves's nephews. His oldest nephew, J, and I had the following conversation. For context, J was 7 years old at the time of this convo.
J: When are you and Chacha (that's the Hindi term for father's younger brother) going to have kids?
Me: Well, why would I want kids when I have you?
J: Maybe you want your own kids?
Me: Maybe I can just buy you off your parents. How much do you think they'd want for you?
J: A lot. Like, $500.
Me: That's a bargain. I'm going to talk to your dad about it and then you'll have to come live with us.
J thought this was very funny and because he was 7 it was super easy to distract him from his original question. But as I pointed out to Jeeves, J didn't come up with this on his own. He probably heard his parents talking and wondering about it. So despite our best intentions of keeping people from speculating, people were speculating anyway.
Not long before that happened, Phil had arranged for us to have lunch with another clerk that we had worked with, M. M showed up at Phil's apartment and she. was. very. pregnant. I had not known she was pregnant. Phil knew, but hadn't told me because he thought it would be a fun surprise. And then, then M started grilling me about when I was going to have kids. I hemmed and hawed and was like, "Oh, heh heh, ya know, ummm, some day?" I couldn't be mad at Phil for not telling me about M - he had no idea that Jeeves and I were having problems. Because we didn't tell him. Then M went off on a tangent about how women start worrying too early when it takes some time to get pregnant (even though she got pregnant right away) and the reproductive medical industry was a racket, and on and on, and I wanted to climb under the table to eat my lunch. But I kept my mouth shut. I just want to add that M is a lovely, caring, funny, smart person and I love her. But hoo boy, on this day? She was a little tough to take.
We did an IUI and had a chemical pregnancy, but we still didn't tell anyone. We did the second IUI and it failed and we didn't tell anyone. I just lurked on blogs and forums. We started the third IUI and I told Jeeves, dude, you need to tell your mom what's going on. Because if the third IUI was a bust, we were moving on to IVF and I felt strongly that his mom should know about IVF. He finally told her and she was very kind and supportive.
Then we got pregnant and had the missed miscarriage, and suddenly I didn't care anymore who knew. People would ask me what I had been up to or how I was and I would be like, "Oh, well, I had a miscarriage. We had a really hard time getting pregnant. So it's sucked." I blogged about it, and some friends who still subscribe to my blog read about it there. Eventually I calmed down in my zeal for dropping the emotional bomb, I started to realize that hey, not everyone needs to be told this information in the middle of a nice dinner. But that was that. Infertility treatment and miscarriage have been the major events of my life this year and to hold it back seemed dishonest. I love my friends, and I think I can trust them to be cool with this information. And the idea that I was trying to spare myself from people saying dumb stuff like "just adopt" or "just relax" - well, people were saying the dumb stuff without even knowing we were struggling. And for the record, none of my people have said anything dumb since they found out what's been going on.
I know there are a lot of other reasons to keep this stuff quiet. I totally understand and respect why some men and women choose not to tell anyone, or only tell one or two people. But for me, I just didn't feel the need to keep it quiet anymore. And what's more, opening up about it has made me feel less alone. I'm not ashamed about infertility and maybe being open and honest about it will help a friend or a friend of a friend some day, just the way G's honesty was a lifesaver for me. I realize being "out and proud" about infertility isn't for everyone. And it's not like I walk around wearing a t-shirt. No one at my job knows. And there are still some friends we haven't told because the timing wasn't right. But I'm glad I no longer feel like it's something I have to keep secret.