Thursday, October 13, 2005

peeking out of the infertility closet

Al and I are in the infertility closet. I want out. But . . . I am afraid. I have been pondering the pros and cons of telling people. Tertia has an interesting post on this (I will have to look up the link later). In some ways we made a concious decison not to tell some people. On the other hand, I don't think we ever planned on keeping this part of our lives completely secret, but silence snowballs. Once you have deflected an innocent question or two, and much time has gone by, it becomes more difficult to talk about. Then again, there are a few (and growing number of) people who know we are trying to get pregnant. But what they know varies wildly.

Reasons we haven't told:

1. My mother. I can not have the conversation with my mother in which I lay myself emotionally bare and tell her about how long we have been trying to get pregnant, how crushed and demoralized I am by our failure, how we haven't moved forward more purposely mostly becuase I can't seem to commit to a plan or completely give up on the idea (yes, after FIVE YEARS) that it is just going to happen. My mother is not a very sympathetic person. Or maybe she tries to be, but I feel very judged by everything she has to say. I can not stand to hear her find ways to blame me for my infertility. Or her helpful suggestions (I know she will have them). Believe me, having this conversation with my mother would set our tenuous relationship back by about 10 years. And yet, I would never want to hurt her by having her find out about our struggles from someone else. So, not telling my mother precludes telling a lot of other people in my life. People whom I suspect would be supportive and whom I would like to tell.

2. My unrelinquished fantasy of announcing my pregnancy to a joyously surprised family. Ask me what I want more than anything. Go ahead, ask. Well, a baby, obviously. But I have developed cherished fantasies of almost every aspect of pregnancy, birth, my baby, motherhood, and on and on. One of my favorites is announcing to our extended families at a large gathering (preferably Thanksgiving, with Christmas a close second) that I am pregnant. A prominant aspect of this fantasy is their surprise. To me, it won't be the same if I am being constantly asked how things are going, if we are finally pregnant, etc. When we tell our families that we are going to have a baby I want them to be surprised and happy, not relieved. Of couse, the rational part of me understands that this is not a great reason for not telling people. But it remains important to me.

3. Pride. I don't want people to know what a loser I am. Okay, I'm not a loser. It's not my fault that I don't ovulate. But still. Sometimes it feels like it is. And on days when I am having a hard enough time holding my head up, I don't want to feel like the whole world sees me as defective. And so many of my friends are pregnant or have young children. Right now the closeted me can hang with them and say that Al and I just aren't ready yet. They tell me (depening on how things are going for them at the moment) how lucky I am that Al and I have so much free time together, how happy they are with their families, what a wonderful mother I will be someday. I so much prefer this to how awkward (I think) things would be if they knew they have something I crave and may never have for myself.

4. Job insecurity. I don't think the job I'm in right now is the job I should be in. What little I know about looking for a new job includes the fact that you don't tell potential employers you are trying to get pregnant. Since my lackluster job search so far involves only networking, letting the infertility cat out of the bag is the same as announcing to the world "Don't hire me!". (Is this paranoid?)

And yet . . . I feel like an important step for me in committing to pursuing pregnancy more aggressively is letting people in on the secret. This is a huge part of my life. I need to talk about it. Starting this blog, and reading all the amazing blogs of all the amazing women whose lives I peek into via their blogs, is a step in the right direction for me. Maybe it will be enough, for now.


thalia said...

I agree with choosing carefully who to tell and when to tell. As I've written about on my blog, for me it's been easier to tell as it's gone some way to explaining to my friends why I've been so absent in their lives for the past year. But since talking about it makes me really sad, I have to ration it. You need to do what works for you.

DoctorMama said...

I didn't tell many people. No one at work, partly because as you point out, it's not generally considered a plus to have a trying-to-conceive employee, but mainly because it was really good to be able to go to work every day and forget about the whole ugly problem. Which would have been hard if anyone were asking "so .. how's it going?"

We didn't tell anyone in my husband's family until we had to. (We had to cancel a trip to his grandparents' wedding anniversary for a retrieval, and we had to give a really good reason for not going.) Actually it was a lot easier once we told -- I shouldn't have been so worried. It's easy enough to say that it's painful to talk about (or to have my husband say that), at which point people tend to keep quiet.

I don't remember when I told my mother -- she can be tough too, but it turned out ok. I guess overall it was easier to tell people than I'd thought it would be.

The pride thing is a bitch. I've had to struggle with this kind of pride my whole life, and it's almost never helpful. Every time I've overcome it, it's been a relief. In fact I have a list of 10 things to remember that I look at when I am having a hard time with something, and #1 is, "It does not help to be proud."

But, obviously, it may be different for you. Good luck.