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Do You Talk to Friends and Family About Infertility?

Joe Silverberg Photography

Some people find it easier to talk to complete strangers about their infertility problems, which is why the message boards are flooded with women talking in acronyms. (Here’s an easy reference guide.) I wasn’t very forthcoming with my own infertility issues until I was almost six months into the process. I remember sitting at dinner with a group of girlfriends when I just started taking Clomid; holy hell, that was not a fun dinner. I came home hysterically crying to my husband and vowed that I was never leaving the house again and/or going out with friends while I was still going through this (this was last May).

The hard part for me was listening to everyone pretend-complain about one thing or another: their husbands; their kids; their non-existent problems. I felt like I had real problems; how could they not see how good they have it?

It was very short-sighted of me obviously. What do I know about their problems? They didn’t know anything about mine! But it didn’t matter. I was never going out again. I’d sooner write a blog about my infertility problems and let the world in, then tell a group of friends at an intimate dinner what I was really going through.

I think I was afraid of the pity party. I didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. I have a great husband, a great kid, a great dog, a great career…on the outside everything looked perfect. On the inside? Not even close.

These particular friends are lovely and all have beautiful families and everything in the world going for them. But I’m sure they have their own problems too—who doesn’t? It really had nothing to do with them, and everything to do with me. I was A) On Clomid, and we already know what Clomid does to your sanity. And B) This whole infertility thing was still so fresh. I was very depressed that I even had to go down this road. I’m a planner, and this most definitely wasn’t fitting into my grander life plan. I was going to have kids that were two years apart, three max. I was even going to consider having a third. And it was going to happen exactly when I was ready for it to happen, or possibly even sooner.

I have a type-A personality now—I didn’t when I was younger. I set goals for myself, and I don’t stop until I achieve those goals. I also have a competitive nature, but the competition is with me. I don’t care what someone else has or doesn’t have—I have my own standards that I set for myself. I’m not a perfectionist exactly—I’d hardly call anything I do “perfect” (just ask the husband). But it’s my own made-up version of what’s “perfect” for us that I’m trying to achieve, in some sub-conscious (or conscious) way.

I have a tendency to look waaay into the future to try to see how things will look; it can be paralyzing sometimes. Since that dinner though I have a clearer head (might have to do with the fact that I’m not on Clomid anymore). The future isn’t perfectly laid out, and I’ve come to accept that. I’ve obviously opened up about my infertility problems. I’m an open book, er, blog. I’m not ashamed of what I’m going through; it is what it is, and I’m still optimistic that everything will work out, one way or another. It will work out in a way that's best for our family.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get me a bit down sometimes. But talking about it, being open about it, honest with myself and everyone else has helped me actually. That's the thing that saved me. If I were still carrying this secret around with me, I’d probably still be that depressed person inside who can’t have dinner with her girlfriends. There’s no way I could’ve gone on living like that. I think bottling it up is what made it even harder for me to be around other people. I couldn’t honestly contribute to conversations because I was keeping something so major inside...and that's just not me.

I know blogging isn’t for everyone, but if there’s one piece of advice I can pass along about how to deal with infertility, it would be to find an outlet for what you’re going through. Don’t be ashamed of it; let your friends in. Let your family in. Or if you really don’t feel comfortable talking about it with the people closest to you, keep a journal for yourself. It can be such an isolating and complex disease, it’s that much harder going through it in silence. First and foremost, see if your fertility clinic offers counseling and take advantage of it. Or you can always email me (though I'm not a licensed therapist or doctor).

Shameless plug: Read my latest article for Parenting.com, all about—what else?—the leading causes of infertility. I interviewed three of the country’s top fertility doctors for it, including the founder of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, Dr. Schoolcraft, aka the man who helped Giuliana and Bill Rancic achieve their long-awaited pregnancy through a gestational carrier. Months of research went into this article—coincidentally, I was writing it while I was recovering from my last frozen embryo transfer—I hope you find it as helpful to read as I found it to write.

Follow me @spgorenstein. Friend me on Facebook. Email me. Read my entry for the3six5 project.

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