Going public about infertility or
the fact our No Kidding status was not our choice – even if we love it now – is
often not easy. Some people are happy to speak openly, even when they are going
through it, but many of us find it takes time, and some never actually open up
about our losses or difficulties.
I began thinking about this issue
(again) when I read Lori’s post noting that she
didn’t want to be outed when going through it. Neither did I. At the time, I
didn’t tell anyone at work about my first ectopic – I had a week off before
Christmas, and by the time we all came back after New Year everyone was
swapping summer holiday stories, and had forgotten I had been away. I told
family (because travel plans had to be changed) and a few close friends. But
then, the infertility began. I say began, because by then we realised we might
need help, I started charting my cycle, learning things about my body that I
wished I’d learned as a teenager, and reading message boards online. After my
second ectopic and cancer scare, I was a little more open, and was very open
with a group of people I met on message boards. But I still didn’t want to
share in real life, and it took me a while to be able to do so.
But why not?
Because telling our stories takes a
toll. When we are already vulnerable and feel like a failure, it opens us up to
judgement, condescension, and isolation from "otherness." That can be tough to deal with,
especially with people we know. Some people can breeze through this, but so
many of us can’t. I can’t always. My husband often tells me not to carewhat people think. It’s easier said than
done, though I’m better than I once was. And back then, when I was vulnerable,
when infertility and loss had already taken such a huge toll, when I was still
adjusting to my life, I couldn’t risk further spirit-crushing judgement. It was already hard enough to deal with my own internal dialogue of failure, misconceptions, and negative stereotypes.
As we grow and develop into
acceptance of our No Kidding lives, it becomes easier. But we still have to
brace ourselves against the reaction of the person who is hearing our story.
And it is hard to maintain that level of awareness, of preparedness, steeling
ourselves against the possibilities of being misunderstood. Last year,
Infertile Phoenix wrote about how exhausting that is in an excellent post here.
As time and distance heals, though,
I am pleased to know that telling our stories takes a smaller and smaller toll.
In fact, I think that at some stage, it changes, and the greater toll is when
we don’t tell our stories, when we don’t acknowledge our reality, when we stay
in the shadows. Maybe some of that is because people aren’t ready to hear our
stories. But that, I have decided, is their problem, not mine.