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Fertility Treatment Judgements: How Do You Deal?

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

I’ve been dodging some interesting comments lately, from well meaning folks who honestly don’t know better. And it’s made me wonder: If you had fertility problems on your road to getting pregnant, would you feel an obligation to tell people about it?

I ran into an old acquaintance who’s 7 ½ months pregnant, and we were comparing baby bumps in the bathroom mirror—hers much less obvious than mine. And she started telling me about a couple she knew who was having twins, and how suspicious she was of them using fertility drugs, in a way that let me know she didn’t necessarily agree with it. So what, I thought? I don’t even know these people, but even if I did, Why does it matter?

She obviously doesn’t know I, too, went through a lot of fertility stuff to get pregnant, and at that moment I didn’t feel like telling her. I’m not sure why, other than it would’ve made her uncomfortable I’m sure. This isn’t something I’m ashamed of obviously—I've been very public about my struggles. It’s a fact of life, and I have absolutely no regrets about any of it, clearly. In fact, I’m grateful I was able to take advantage of my options.

I found myself in another conversation recently, with a single dad who seemed very surprised to learn I was having another baby at my age; he assumed I was done having kids at this point. His first question was, “How old will your son be?” And when I told him he’d be almost four by the time the baby was born, he informed me that he and his sister have that same age gap but were never close growing up. He has no idea what I went through to get pregnant, and how long we'd been trying, and I wasn’t about to tell him—I didn’t want to make him feel bad for the comments he made unknowingly, because I know they weren't meant to be hurtful.

But the conversation that caught me the most off-guard was the one I had with a professional acquaintance recently—someone I like very much—who asked me if I knew what I was having. “It’s a girl,” I said with a smile. As the meeting we were in started to fill up, she responded: “Awww, one of each. That’s the million dollar family.”

I knew what she meant but I hadn’t heard the expression before. One boy and one girl apparently equals a million dollar family. Ha, I thought, if she only knew what this pregnancy actually cost me…it wasn’t a million bucks but it sure feels damn close.

It was a sweet sentiment, but I felt a certain obligation to tell her that none of this happened by chance. I didn’t just get lucky and—voila!—I’m having a girl, which is what she was probably thinking. Nope, none of this was sheer luck. This pregnancy was very deliberate, and came about from a deep, unwavering desire to have more children, perseverance, and a lot of faith. I don’t know if I’d call this the million dollar family, but a very fortunate one indeed.

If you’ve had a bumpy road to getting pregnant—infertility, miscarriages, etc.—do you feel an obligation to tell people about it, when they gush about your pregnancy? Or do I just feel this way because I was so public about my own struggles? Talk to me in the comments.

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