It’s interesting to me to see how people are either in or out the closet about their infertility.
I have always been very open about my infertility and about what I am going through. When people ask me whether I have children, I say no (well I used to, now I have to say ‘I had a son but he died’ – nice. Not.) and if they ask any more questions I will tell them that we are trying. Depending on who that person is, I will tell them we are doing IVF etc. And if they have lots of time and I have wine, they will hear about needles, retrieval, ICSI and any other gory details.
Along the spectrum of disclosure there are those on one end who are very private about their infertility. No one in their social circle knows that they are struggling to conceive. Some of the closest friends and family don’t even know. The people in their lives just assume they don’t want children, at least not yet. And the fact they are going through assisted reproductive technology is an even more closely guarded secret. I can understand where these people are coming from. After all, its no one’s business except their own that they are infertile or getting help. These are often very private people who don’t think it’s a good idea to share with the rest of the world what is going on in their private lives.
At the other end of the spectrum you get people like me. Every one in my life knows that I am struggling to conceive and that I am doing IVF. My whole family knows, my social circle, even the people I work with. I have never hidden any of it away. My thinking is I have nothing to be ashamed about. Infertility is a medical condition. I would not hide it from people if I had diabetes, I feel the same way about infertility.
The issue about telling vs not telling in donor egg conception is a very interesting debate. While I am in the ‘telling’ camp, I can see arguments from both sides.
I see this on the bulletin boards, some people are very anonymous (do you get degrees of anonymity?). They post with pseudonyms, and do not reveal any personal information about themselves. I, on the hand, post under my first name and most people know I am from Cape Town. There can’t be too many Tertia’s in Cape Town. Why am I so open? Well, firstly I have nothing to hide and secondly I honest do not give a shit what people think of me. I am who I am, and if people don’t like that – well tough. There is not much I can do about it. I do sometimes worry that my Dr reads my posts because I speak about how I think he is handsome. But then again, tough. I do think he is handsome. I might even tell him one day. Hold on, I actually did the one time during retrieval when the sedation made me a bit woozy. Oops.
I can’t say which is better, but I guess it is easier going public about it. People seem to be more sympathetic, more understanding. But then again, the down side is that your business is every one else’s business. People are somewhat fascinated about IVF and so you get lots of questions. And sometimes you just don’t feel like talking about it. However, when I am feeling down and anti-social, I tell my friends that and they understand. They know that I don’t do baby showers and they know why. I think it must be hard for those who are very private about it all.
If I look at some of the blogs I see this phenomenon as well. I know Grrl is very private. And I totally respect that. I would actually love to hear from some of the people who are very private about their infertility, to hear their thoughts. Are these people who are so private about their infertility just private people? Are they private about other things as well? I suppose this could be the case. I am pretty open / big mouthed about other things in my life.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend, T (gorgeous twin boys on her third IVF) and she said she was very private about their infertility. She told no one. I asked her why she was and I wasn’t and she said something very interesting. She said their diagnosis was male factor and she did not want any one thinking anything less of her husband. And that rang true with me. Unfortunately there are many dickheads in the world who associate fertility with sexuality. That’s a whole other post in itself but I can’t tell you how many guys have offered to shag me to ‘help’ me get a baby. (That’s the down side of being open about the fact that you are suffering from infertility).
Just this week again I had a ‘friend’ at work offering me a shag. I told him ‘we can shag till the cows come home, its not going to get me pg darling, I am the one with the broken bits, not my husband, but thanks so much for that unselfish offer’. He then said ‘but I have got super sperm, they will make you pg’. Thanks but no thanks. I get this offer so often. (I did freak him out just a little by saying ‘how do you know you have super sperm? Have you ever made any one pg? No? Oh dear, you might have something wrong with your sperm and you wouldn’t even know’.)
What is it with people (men?) that think that fertility is related to sexuality. No you f’ing arsehole, I am the one with the polycystic ovaries, there is nothing wrong with my husband. Grrrr. This really pisses me off. I feel like killing the fucker that insinuates there is something less or missing about my husband. I really want to kill. Do NOT diss my husband. Ever.
So what my friend said makes sense. I suppose I would be far quieter about our infertility if we had male factor. Because it’s me, and I don’t give a shit, I tell every one. I know 100% that my infertility has nothing to do with my sexuality. And funnily enough, society does not seem to think an infertile woman as less sexy or sexual. Or at least I have not come across that misconception (in fact I have not come across much conception at all, but that’s because I am infertile, ha ha, crap joke). Its ok for a women to be infertile and still sexy, but society has another set of norms for me.
I don’t know…. Is it easier being in or out the closet?