How to tell people about your sub-fertility

I brought up yesterday how amazing it was to be pleasantly surprised when a friend reacts in a supportive way.  I want to reiterate that I understand that not everyone will react that way and that the actions we take to protect ourselves are just that, to protect ourselves.  It was just a nice reminder that I do not need to protect myself from everyone and that good people who can relate to me do exist.

I need more pictures in my posts...here's a Mexican sunset!

In general, I am a very open person and I can talk about things that are personal to me without feeling too vulnerable. However, I’ve realized the issue with sub-fertility is not so difficult for me to talk about it, as it is for me to tell people.  After all, what good response is there to “We haven’t been able to conceive.”  Its just a conversation killer.

Anytime I’ve told people about our problems (I’ve only told family and a few close friends who know me well), I’ve started crying.  As soon as the initial tears start flowing, I’m OK.  I can talk with my friends/family about it and not cry again.  Of course, I’m not really about telling just any old person, but about telling the people you’re closest too for example, who might wonder why you’re taking a vacation to…Nebraska? My friend this weekend gave me the idea after she told me about a similar situation with her mom.  When her mom had breast cancer, she was fine talking about it with friends and coworkers, but she just could not tell them herself.  She worked it out where her manager told everyone instead, so by the time she talked to them they already knew and it was easier for her.

I’m big on owning and accepting my feelings.  This is happening to me, so a big part of me wants to be the strong one that can tell people about this.  After all its my life, so I’d like to be there when it happens.  A prideful part of me wants to be the one that has it all together and accepts this completely in stride and doesn’t cry in front of people.  But, I know that would just be a show.  It does affect me.  It dose cause me pain and I don’t know what I gain by hiding it other than by giving off an “everything’s OK” guise to further propogate the idea that I don’t need anyone’s help.

I’m starting to see the advantage of say, having my husband tell his family so that its easier to talk about in the future with them and so that I don’t scare them all away and make them not talk about it ever again by being a blubbering mess.  I know other women feel differently, but it is therapeutic for me to talk about it, so I don’t want to ostracize people and make them think I can’t.   My big fear with this is that because I don’t tell them myself, they will think they can’t talk about it to me and then it will be even more awkward.

I'm already awkward. I don't need anything else to make me more awkward.

This is of course assuming that they don’t already know, which I’m guessing they have an inkling.  The last time we were at his grandparent’s house his grandma asked us why we don’t have kids yet (in Spanish, so keep in mind I’m just barely following along – but I did catch that!) and the hubs responded with our patented “We’ll have them when God gives them to us.”  Never to be easily tricked, his grandma responded with something along the lines of “Well, you have to work at it to you know!” Did I mention she’s a little feisty? And apparently his dad chimed in with “That’s why they’re going to see the Virgin of Guadalupe, Grandma.”  So.  Maybe they got the hint (even if it was lost on Grandma) or maybe his dad was just trying to save us from intense Grandma questioning.  Its a fine line you can’t distinguish between!

Anyway, I’d appreciate any personal stories on this as I’m totally on the fence about how to handle it now that I can understand why it might be better for everyone if my husband just deals with his family, even though I am concerned about the “egg-shell” effect.

Do you tell your family hard news yourself or do you get your spouse to do it?

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11 thoughts on “How to tell people about your sub-fertility

  1. I’m struggling with his too – I’m comfortable (well sort of) talking about it but not bringing it up initially. It’s even weirder when you already have a kid because people assume that if you already have one you should be able to have…seven! then I’m afraid the assume we use BC or something which is exacerbated when youre in the prolife movement.

    I just had lunch with three uber-fertile friends. One, who knows my story, asked me beforehand if I wanted to talk about it, what to say, if she should tell my other friend not to bring it up, etc. I know she meant well but I couldn’t help thinking “I’ve become THAT friend. The charity case.” I just asked her not to mention anything to anyone. I think they all suspect somehing anyway just based on other comments & conversations

    My blog has helped a lot too. I know a lot of ladies in blogland keep them private from family and friends. But I haven’t. If people have questions I often point them to it. It’s easier for them to just READ how I feel rather than me breaking down in front of them!

    • Yeah, I talk about it when it comes up in conversation. That’s how I ended up telling my family and that’s how I would like it to play out with his too, even if I cry.

  2. I told my family myself, but we told DH’s family together (with me mostly talking). I didn’t feel I could speak with SIL about my subfertility struggles for a long time after she got pregnant “on accident” the second time (7 months after baby #1). I called her a few weeks ago (before my BFP) to apologize and let her know why I hadn’t been speaking with her that much. It was a HUGE weight lifted off me. I felt so much better speaking with her about it, and she offered nothing but love and support :) I wish I had done it sooner!

  3. As I’m not in your situation (hubby and I are practicing NFP until he’s done w/grad school, so I have no clue whether I’m fertile Myrtle or if I’ll be facing fertility issues), I’m probably the last person who should be weighing in on this! Having said that… ;) …I’d say let your husband’s family know (that way there’s one weight gone – they know. Now you don’t have to worry about them asking uncomfortable questions, etc.). I don’t think there’s any problem if he tells them. If you want to do it, that’s cool, but if you don’t, let him handle it. That be another weight off your shoulders!

    PS Just found out that we have a mutual friend in Katie! She and I met through our young adults group at church and are good friends. ;) I thought I found your blog via her, but wasn’t sure. She told me the other day that you two have been corresponding back & forth for a while now. So that’s how I stumbled across your blog!

    • Yeah there is a whole other side of this in that his family has had a lot of their plate this year with some pretty serious surgeries and divorces so, we really didn’t want to add any stress to them by telling them anything. I imagine it will come up soon.

  4. Well I can comment on giving hard news to in-laws, though not on the same topic. My husband’s family can be feisty as well. I have no problem telling my family things and DH usually is around with me. As for his side of the family, there have been some times when I know he can communicate with his mother and grandmother better than I. He has had more practice and knows how to say things where it won’t cause a problem. Most of the time I am there with him, just a little more quiet. There have been a few things that have been a very personal topic that I didn’t think they would support right away. It was much easier for DH to explain and guide the conversation than for me to get defensive and cry about it. I don’t think it was seen as awkward in any way either because they are used to talking with my husband and I was still around.

    hm….hope my rambling makes sense :-)

    • I think I do want to be there and like you said, maybe just let him talk. He has a way of saying serious things nicely, where as my tears make them seem like the end of the world :) thanks for your input!

  5. Our infertility was linked to my endometriosis, and since both of our families knew about my surgeries year after year, they definitely understood why we didn’t have kids. My husband talked to his parents on the phone every week, so he was the one who told them about the endo, and then infertility. It was just never a big announcement so much as just a “here’s more of the story” kind of thing. His mom used to be so sweet about it, any time I talked to her, and I don’t think his parents were scared to talk about, but they definitely left the topic alone unless we brought it up. I think mostly so we wouldn’t feel any pressure or sadness more than we had to.

  6. Pingback: Secret language of sub-fertiles « Matching Moonheads

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