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Finding My Voice During National Infertility Awareness Week
a blog by CGD, April 29, 2011
Last week I was having dinner with my very closest friend. I had recently sent her my last blog post on this site, and she was giving me her thoughts.
Basically, she told me that, while she thinks my honesty and willingness to share with total strangers is great, she also thinks it is kind of odd that I refuse to share this stuff with the people in my own life, thinking that they would benefit tremendously from hearing more about my feelings and experiences. Wouldn’t that help them know better how to interact with me around my infertility issues?
She asked me what I thought was holding me back, and I was speechless. I had no idea why I was not sharing this stuff more freely with people in my “real life."
Pinpointing the Reasons for Not Sharing Is Complicated
The more I tried to explain myself, the more confused I became. The truth is I still am.
At first, I thought, maybe it was the sensitive nature of infertility that kept me from sharing more openly. Talking about my uterus and ovaries is not exactly the most comfortable conversation. Could it be that?
Or was I embarrassed that admitting to my infertility somehow made me weak or less feminine? Maybe, but most people already know something about our infertility, even if they do not have all of the details of our medical issues or treatment protocols.
But sometimes I feel envious when hear people talk covertly about their infertility, telling me that it is something that nobody really knows about. Are they handling this better than I am? Was there strength in their silence? Clearly, you can see how this spiraled.
I ended up exactly where I started — I am just confused and have more questions than answers. But, what did become more clear is that not sharing certain pieces of information with others opens me to up to countless comments and questions that I really want no part of: like people telling me how lucky I am to get to sleep late on weekend mornings or someone asking if we have ever considered trying in vitro fertilization (IVF). Really ??!!
Typically, I say very little to these sorts of things, silently sucking all of it in. My before-mentioned friend gets very angry at me for doing this, telling me I am doing them, myself and our relationship a giant disservice by letting them say upsetting things to me without telling them how it affects me. She’s not wrong. My silence creates distance. Instead of figuring out how to deal with the people who say these offending comments to me, I tend to just avoid them. While I may not have to hear those kinds of comments so often through this distance, I also succeed in straining those relationships, sometimes to points beyond repair, or so I fear.
Opening Up During National Infertility Awareness Week
So this week, I tried something new. In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) I shared my last blog entry with a group of close friends from college — nine of them to be of exact, consisting of both those with and without children. I wrote a nice email, explaining why I was sending this and that I hoped it helped them understand better where I am coming from. I was petrified. Did I say too much? Did I offend them in some way with my infertile snarky-ness? I was worried that I looked dramatic or attention seeking or something like that. After all, isn’t a bit narcissistic to write a blog totally about yourself and expect that other people will find this interesting?? Spiraling once again.
But, in the end, I received overwhelming, supportive responses from all of them. I felt so relieved and hope that, perhaps, I have helped to provide them with some information on how to deal with the infertile people in their lives — in this case me. I have been sitting on a new email to a larger group of friends. I have not sent it yet. I am still kind of nervous and ambivalent and know that once I send out something like this, I cannot take it back. I am giving it more thought.
NIAW is an interesting time for me. I feel both motivated to share my own experiences and afraid to do so all at the same time, even though I still have no idea what I am afraid of. It is as if I simultaneously want nobody and everybody to know about my infertility, and clearly there is no way to have both. But, what I am finding is that the less I say, the worse I feel. I am hoping that is enough to get me to start talking — or at least start forwarding around these posts more often. And while I have yet to really begin to understand my hesitations, at least I have found a really good place to start.