Thursday, November 02, 2006


Here she comes, people: Infertility Awareness Week Topic #3.

Today I am going to tackle something more personal. It is a topic that I find myself thinking a lot about, and is discussed time and time again in our community. The subject to which I am referring is how out I am as an individual who is infertile, and what I pledge to do to change my status.

This is not to say that I have not shared our trying to conceive difficulties with anyone, but the numbers are few. I am OUT to a few people: My wonderful girlfriend who listens to all my anger and frustration, and accompanied me to my HSG (and informed the doctor that I was on CD9, because she's so great she even remembers those details); Shlomit, who is on this rocky journey right along with me; and S who truly understands, as she struggled to conceive a few years ago, and is now blessed with two beautiful daughters. I do have another friend who I am only out (small "o") to, and although she is wonderfully empathetic, she is pregnant for a second time, and I feel that at times she doesn't quite get it. Then there is MM who reads this blog (hi darling!) so she knows every detail of what is going on, but doesn't really discuss it with me. That's just the way she is, she is not one to talk about things... yet it is comforting to me that she knows what's up.

And finally, there are my parents (bring the grand total up to 7 people!). If it weren't for necessity (as in The C needed time off work and needed to obtain it from his boss, my parents) I'm not sure that we would have come out to them. Our first conversation included very superficial details: We want a baby and we need medical help. I think what my parents heard was: We have a doctor's appointment, and next month we will be pregnant. Ummm... not quite getting it, but as we didn't really share more details, I don't know if I could blame them.

Over the last month we have had a slew of appointments, nailed down some specifics, and formed some game plans. If my parents hadn't come out and asked: How did it go?, I'm not sure I would have shared anything. But they did inquire, so bit by bit we have been sharing some details. They are starting to understand that just sitting in a doctor's office won't get us pregnant. They are learning that there is an entire field, and yes specialized clinics dedicated to helping people get pregnant. That we will require medication, and perhaps even injections with needles, and ejaculations into specimen containers, and maybe test tubes to get us pregnant. And when we presented them with the menu of procedures and their costs (The C commented that the paper we received from our clinic looks like it could have come from out take-out menu drawer), my parents began to understand what we were facing... physically and financially.

There have been comments that allude to the fact that they don't get how invested we are in this emotionally. Let's look at a few, and examine their flaws:

1. You have to make an effort to make your life less stressful. a) I would not be lying if I said that other than being stressed about IF, I am less stressed than I have been in the past 12 years; and b) Stress will not change the poly-cystic nature of my ovaries.

2. You remember so and so (mother of two boys I grew up with)... As soon as she adopted S she got pregnant with M. I'm not quite sure how this relates to our specific situation, other than that my parents think that she probably was less stressed after the adoption went through, and therefore we can refer to #1.

3. Why don't you adopt? a) I'm not quite ready to give up so easily on experiencing pregnancy, and giving birth to children genetically related to us; b) It's not as easy as walking in to an adoption agency one morning and walking out with an infant of your choice; and c) To me, at this point, adoption offers an other set of emotional investments.

4. So you might have quintuplets? (Wow, did my father even say that?) Any amount of children would be a blessing, but there are ways to assure that won't happen. However, it's possible we could have twins.

Since this discussion that revealed their ignorance, I am trying to be more open and educating about infertility and how it is making us feel. It was hard at first to talk so openly, but I really want them to understand what we are going through. For example, when I was telling my mother about the upcoming HSG, I did not focus on the cost of the procedure, and that it might hurt, but more on the fact that I was upset that The C wouldn't be there with me, and how nervous I was that it might reveal some problems. I am also trying to educate them on what is alright to say to us, and to help them I have provided them with a copy of Infertility Etiquette from Resolve, and various literature about PCOS. Their attitudes and ways of supporting us are starting to change, and I am glad that The C and I decided to let them in on what is happening.

For all this talk about my varying degrees of being out and OUT, there have been two instances in the past two weeks where I walked away feeling somewhat ashamed that I didn't speak up about my infertility, and infertility in general.

The first episode occurred in Vegas while bitching to one of my girlfriends about getting my period. I never like getting my period. Since going off the pill it is very heavy and very uncomfortable. This was compounded by the fact that I had tried to time my taking the Pro.metrium so that I wouldn't get my period while away. Oh the tricks my flow plays on me! (Thankfully, because I have to induce my period, it's arrival is planned, and therefore does not signify a failed cycle.) So, ya... there I was complaining about this bloody annoyance. My friend's advice to me? I should switch birth control pills, or, you know, I should just get pregnant-because then I wouldn't have to worry about my period for nine months. Wait a minute... Why didn't I think of that??!! What did I respond? "Uhh.. ya."

The second instance was at my pharmacy. While I live in a city of a few million people, my neighbourhood has more of a small town feel where everyone knows everyone, and my pharmacist has known me since the day I was born. While filling my prescription for Met.formin (on which Centre de Fertilite xyz was clearly written,) my pharmacist proclaimed: "Oh, so you're having the same trouble as my daughter!" (His daughter who I grew p with and was friends with well into my teens.) My response: "Oh. Maybe. I don't know." Because I didn't know. The next time I went in I had a prescription from Clinic #1. Upon filling this one the pharmacist said, "Oh, so you've changed clinics, I hear this doctor is very good." Me: "Ya." (Please note that I am not worried about my privacy with the pharmacist, I am certain that he will not say anything to anyone.)

When I look back on both cases, I find myself thinking: Why did I not speak up? Why? With my friend I wish that I would have been bold enough to tell her that I was having such a shitty period because I wasn't pregnant. And that getting pregnant for me has not been so easy. With my pharmacist, seeing as he was opening the door, I wish that I had taken a step in. I could have enquired about what difficulties his daughter had with her pregnancies, and asked if she was open to talking about them. The second time I wish I asked what good stuff he had heard about my doctor and the clinic.

And so, on this Thursday of Infertility Awareness Week, I am making the following pledge:

I, Ms. C, solemnly pledge to be more out about infertility. I shall try tell the truth when I am asked why I don't have children. I will not be embarrassed by my struggle to conceive. I shall strive to educate those who are ignorant about infertility. I will work to dispel myths, and spread useful information. And I shall be thankful to you guys everyday for helping me learn and cope with y infertility.


sariel & shlomit said...

ms inspire me!
thank you for this super articulate blog...i'm very happy for you that you are being more 'out' about things...mostly for your own sake but also for the 'cause' in general...the select people i've told (more than 7 but still select) have been MOSTLY supportive...obviously you and my friend N who had a baby by ivf have been the MOST supportive...i am thankful for you both every day!!

i'm glad you're out to your parents and that they seem 'educable'!


MM said...

Thanks for the shout out. I do read. (and i'm not even at an airport!) And I'm glad you came out to me. I may not talk about it but I will always listen .

Mary Ellen and Steve said...

Very inspiring. I hope being more out works well for you. It's good that your parents are starting to get it physically and financially. Hopefully they start to get the emotional piece as well.

I am out mostly because I can't keep my mouth shut, and so far I haven't regretted it too much.

Watson said...

I applaud your new attitude and hope that it serves you well.

I sort of did the opposite: four years ago I was VERY the mechanic and a guy I met at a conference and the local Starbucks barrista could probably have told you what cycle day I was on and whether or not I'd seen any EWCM that month.

Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but still. I took every opportunity to explain that no, we didn't have kids but we were trying. And that tended to open up a huge can of infertile worms...

Well, the longer that went on, the more people were up in my grill, asking how it was going and how was my health? (A not-so-sneaky way of asking if I was knocked up yet!)

In the end, it was just too much pressure and I retreated into my little shell. Now, I don't talk to anyone about it, except on my blog.

If it eases some of your stress (and isolation) to be more open then by all means, reach out to folks who you feel comfortable sharing with.

Just go slowly, and see how it feels to be including more folks in the struggle you and Mr. C are facing. Hopefully, you'll feel more supported and understood by your family and friends.

Erin said...

I've done a lot of this in the past year. Mostly I feel like I'm banging my head against the wall, but sometimes it feels like it was the right thing to do. It's amazing how we all struggle to stop feeling ashamed about our inability to get pregnant, when we have medical conditions that make it difficult--why should we be embarrassed about that? And yet we are, because it comes perilously close to having to discuss our sex lives. Heaven forbid we should talk about that!

I hope that you continue to have the courage to step through that door the next time it opens!

TeamWinks said...

I made that pledge to myself ten months ago. I've never been more proud of myself before. I've gained new friends, opened different doors, and felt better about my situation as a whole. I hope your experience goes as well as mine has. So proud for you!!!

aah0424 said...

I have always been very open about my struggle. It works well for me because it is a big part of who I am right now. I do make a point of making judgements of whether it is an appropriate time to discuss it, but for the most part if you ask be prepared for the answer. I think you will find it to be freeing to be able to talk about it. Good luck!

flygirl said...

I've "outed myself" on a few occasions and usually it all turns out okay. It's just so hard to get over my privacy issues. I feel so defensive when it comes up.

Obviously it's easier now that it ever was but still I want to keep close tabs on who knows and who doesn't. I'm trying to get over it though.

mandolyn said...

High five, stirrup sister!

Angie said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing!

Nico said...

I think this is a great plan you have. I actually told a lot of people what was going on with me and really found them by and large supportive. And it was really nice to be able to talk to my friends about it.

Although they were still insensitive sometimes - sending out mass emails with baby pictures, and not asking at all how I was doing irked me a bit...

M said...

#s 2 & 3 always killed me! As though adopting was an infertility cure!
I wish you lots of luck

Anonymous Infertile said...

That was great!! I am not OUT yet either. Only a handful of my friends know and those that do know are in very varying degrees. I am ashamed to say that I am still not OUT to my parents.

You make me want to do a better job of outing myself. My number one priority is to share with my parents and sister. And then from there hopefully I will be able to start speaking up more often.

Thanks for the comment on my blog! And, in answer to your question, I am currently taking 2,550 mg of met. It was just increased for what seems like the hundreth time. What dose are you currently on? Has it helped at all (lowered your insulin levels)?

Ella said...

What a terrific and open post. I outed myself a few months after my miscarriage. I got so sick of people telling me that miscarriage is so common, no big deal, happens to everyone, I'd get pregnant in 2 months tops b/c a D&C is supposed to "clean you out", yadda yadda that I got so annoyed and angry and just started blurting out my story to anyone that would listen. Once I told people, it helped me realize who my real friends are, who could be sympathetic and who was just a passerby. it really helped me clean house in the friend dept. You have to do what feels right for you, and it sounds like you've opened up to the right people who will give you endless support. And us out there in blogland who are always here for you!

Inglewood said...

Like your attitude about being more out.

I am quite out, when people ask when we are going to have children, I usually respond with, "Good question, so far the fertility treatments haven't worked". At that point if they want to ask further questions I will answer them. For me it my grass-roots movement to remove the shame and stigma of infertility.

The only problem with being so out is the patience it takes when people make insenstive remarks, especially seeing as patience is already being tested to the max. The upside is, sometimes a great source of support is found.

Anonymous Infertile said...

How long have you been taking the 1500 mg of met? I honestly think that it was hardest for me at that dose. I was sick for what felt like months when I started working up to the 1500 and then probably a couple of months for me to get use to it. That was a the max dose that I took for awhile and I was sick for a couple of weeks when I upped it to 2000 mg but my last jump to 2550 didn't really bother me too much at all. I am also taking avandia which does the same thing but works differently and supposedly the 'stomach issues' associated with the met aren't so bad when you are taking both of them.
Has the met helped you?