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Staying Silent No More
a blog by Suzanne Rico, May 20, 2012
I admit, I didn’t practice what I now preach. I believe those struggling with infertility should be open about it if they can, but when I was stuck in syringe, surgery, and intracytoplasmic sperm injection hell, I stayed silent, convinced my career as a television news anchorwoman would suffer if anyone suspected what a failure I was at making babies.
This “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you” mentality made for some interesting mornings on the CBS-2 news set. When I was lucky enough to get pregnant after IVF, morning sickness would hit so hard that I’d have to run to the bathroom during commercial breaks to throw up. I’d limp back to the set as the ten-second countdown began, doing my best to fake a perky smile, but the crew watching me from the director’s booth on a bank of television monitors wasn’t fooled. Hot tea, a cough drop, Advil, hairspray, eye drops and other small kindnesses would materialize on the anchor desk, but I could not bring myself to tell anyone what was wrong.
The repeated miscarriages were even worse. Afraid to miss work, I would have a D & C on a Thursday, let’s say, and then slog into work Friday morning at 4 a.m. to begin the process of getting camera-ready, but no amount of makeup can cover up that kind of sadness. And even though my boss was a mom, I didn’t dare tell her. My co-anchor grew more and more impatient with my increasingly distracted and distraught moods.
“What’s wrong with her?” I overheard him say one morning after I’d been nearly mute during breaks in the broadcast, stuck in an exhausted fog of sorrow.
“I can’t have a baby, you @#$%^&*,” I wanted to scream, but instead I just walked to my desk, put my head down and cried.
Now, I wonder what would have happened if I had told? What if I’d not kept the syringes full of fertility drugs that I injected in our locked make-up room a big secret? What if I’d been brave enough to speak about my struggle, to admit my imperfections, to ask for help? CBS, as a giant corporation, probably would not have been all that sympathetic—after all, one of their main anchors was playing hurt. But perhaps I would have found community and understanding among my colleagues. I’ll never know, because I never gave them the chance.
So I always urge others now battling infertility to speak out, if only to help exorcise any remaining stigma about people who have difficulty having children. I admire fellow bloggers like Krissi McVicker and Jamie Pursley, who are helping shape the discussion about baby-making in the 21st century. We are too big a population to stay silent, and by talking about your individual challenge, you just might find a path to safety, understanding and ultimately success.