05 August 2008

it's a soapbox kind of day

brace yourselves.

my usual morning routine. sip organic decaf coffee, check email, and follow up on IF message boards. this morning was different though because of 2 things. the coffee I bought and drank is REGULAR, full-on caffeine (such a dope. and I'm a "professional" packaging designer?) and I suffered through (and finally responded to) yet another post questioning being open and honest about infertility. I'm sorry, I've had enough. you've struck a nerve -- a very sensitive one.

"people" bitch and moan about how we, the infertile community, feel lonely and live in isolated silence. women are ashamed, embarrassed even, or afraid to "come out" because of this ridiculous stigma(?) attached to the diagnosis. we complain about sketchy or no coverage by the insurance companies. who's to blame? simple. we are. the infertiles. being passive and gently tip-toeing around the subject will get us nowhere.

how do you expect acceptance and hope for change if we all continue to live feeling squirmy and uneasy talking about IF? for god's sake. my body and b's body, let us down. why hide it?! is the guy down the street going through dialysis embarrassed to mention his liver? is the woman next door with heart disease worried what others might think of her? I don't think so. I have crappy old eggs, shot fallopian tubes and b has few and challenged swimmers. if we are to have our own biological family, serious doctor intervention is absolutely necessary. do I feel like I'm less of a person or that we are to "blame?" hell no. you break a bone, you put on an appropriate cast.

every single person (mostly strangers) is shocked when I tell them our story. everyone, so far, has been open minded, sincerely interested and willing to learn. "I'm sorry. I had no idea," is the typical response. what the general public truly understands about IF is pathetic. "john and kate plus 8" breaks my heart. "having trouble getting pregnant? twins and sextuplets are the solution." it's that kind of "education" about IF treatments that the world is getting. this shit has got to stop. until people have a better understanding of what it's like to be infertile (emotionally, physically and financially) and the treatment options available then "we" (not me) will continue to feel compelled to keep our untraditional road to pregnancy top secret. we are not talking sex here. we are talking 21st century medicine.

"you did IVF? you must be having twins in there." grrrrrrr. time for a little chat.


I'm so sorry you've had to experience hurtful and rude comments. I really cannot imagine what that is like (especially when going through treatment(s).

I never said being open and truthful about our IF would be easy and pain free, but WE really need to be proactive if we expect to world to "get it" and "change." the majority of the responsibility is indeed in our hands. if we continue to sit in ashamed and uncomfortable silence then we can only expect more ignorant responses.


Aunt Becky said...

Great post. Seriously spot on.

Jill said...

I agree with about 75% of what you said. I, too, am very open about our issues with infertility. I am not the slightest bit ashamed to tell a stranger that we conceived through IVF and will try it again in a heartbeat when we are ready for #2. I've often taken it as my personal mission to educate ignorant people about infertility and fertility treatments.

However -- I also see it as more of a cycle. Instead of simply blaming the infertile community for not having a voice, I see the other side as well. I see how the ignorance of the general population on IF issues can really hold down those who are going through these issues. While I am strong enough to hold my own when people make rude comments about our IF treatments (which, believe me, I have had to deal with MANY such comments), others are just not made that way. I don't fault them for that. IF is painful enough without opening the doors to invite others' hurtful comments.

And while I of course agree that IF is a medical diagnosis, I do see it differently than other illnesses such as kidney failure. Does my neighbor (or my mom!) really want to know that my husband's sperm count is low and that his sperm are slow and misshapen? Probably not.

Just wanted to share my opinion, as someone else who is very open about IF.

Rebecca said...

So weird...I was thinking about this today as well. I was thinking about my reaction to the question, "do twins run in your family?" and how I never know how to answer. Do I get into my whole story? Or do I just say no and leave it at that? I'm decided to start just telling people that we did IVF after a really difficult time with any other treatment. It'll be tough to not act ashamed as (for whatever reason) I do feel that deep down, but I need to do this. I need to make it okay. Thanks for spending some time on your soapbox!

nickoletta100 said...

Absolutely! Great post! I always try to speak up and educate whenever possible. Everyone knows we did IVF whether they wanted to know or not. I have found a lot of people want to know more and the few people that don't, well too bad for them.

Anonymous said...

I am so with you on this. And I take it a step further because our IF issue was ZERO sperm so we had to use a donor. THIS (and egg or embryo donation) seems to be the most "shameful" IF there is. Not only are people ashamed to admit they had problems conceiving, but if one of the parents isn't the true biological parent there is a lot of embarrassment & discomfort associated with that. I get it, I really do, but I also think if everyone were open about it there would be much LESS embarrassment/shame/discomfort associated with it. Plus, I think every child deserves to know exactly where they came from. Secrets are no good for anyone.

Anonymous said...

I pretty much tell anyone who will listen that we struggled with IF. My biggest concern are the women out there who actually think its simple and easy to conceive into their early 40s because "celebrities" are doing it.

The celebrities who hide the fact that they got PG using donor eggs or IVF or with any help at all are doing a great disservice to all young women out there.

There are many other reasons too of course, that is just one that I feel particularly passionate about!

DAVs said...

I've always been as open as possible about my IF and all my treatments--probably more than anyone around me wanted to know. I guess I'm just that way.
But I still haven't gathered up the fortitude to take on my husband's company about their decline of infertility coverage....

tryingin2007 said...

blogger ate my comments!


Portia P said...

Just catching up with your posts after a very busy week.

Mr G and I were so open about our IF we wrote a column in a national newspaper for a period of time. It provoked loads of e mails and letters and we met others in the same boat. We gave and we reaped the rewards of sharing.

What I find interesting from all us girls claiming to be so open (myself included) is that we all blog anonymously. Perhaps that gives us the leaway to be so open and there's a fine line between being open about IF and open about feelings and personal info.