National Infertility Awareness Week: Speaking of Awareness

29 Mar

Nurse Linda’s Thoughts During National Infertility Awareness Week

Privacy, boy that really seems to be lacking in our world of infertility, doesn’t it? If by chance anyone knows you are undergoing infertility treatment it seems like it is often public domain to be asked how things are going? How was retrieval? How do the embryos look? I know this is a double edged sword because there really are times that we want to talk with family and friends about our struggles but where is the line? Easy answer…the line is wherever YOU say it is. The public really needs to understand that our fertility life is sometimes just as private to us as their sex life is to them. I mean, we have all known couples who have decided to try to get pregnant the old fashioned way but do we ever approach them and ask them how the old sex life is, any certain position that is working, etc? Heck no! Like I said, I can’t always blame our supporters for not knowing when enough is enough in the way of questions but you certainly need not feel obliged to discuss the details. For my patients who come and see me for treatment here in Las Vegas, well we have decided that we are going to tell folks “I got pregnant in Las Vegas, I wasn’t always conscious and often times there were people in the room I didn’t even know!”. We figure they’ll stop asking questions after that.

Certainly, I have had plenty of patients who choose to not reveal that they are undergoing infertility treatment. No one’s business but theirs. Good for them. I never had the strength to keep my big mouth shut while undergoing treatment but I commend those who can. Of course, it is often easy for my patients because they just take a little “vacation” to good old Las Vegas and they avoid lots of questions from friends and family. Our supporters don’t mean to be hurtful but it seems like as soon as they learn you are having IVF someone is going to come along and ask “Boy, did you hear about that clinic that mixed up the embryos?”. Yeah, I heard about it and it is alive and well in my nightmares. When I underwent IVF I always felt I would have to “prove” to my family that the child really was ours (“see doesn’t he look just like daddy”). Sad, but true. This is why more and more patients are keeping this so private.

Then of course there are the couples that are undergoing 3rd party parenting, specifically egg donation. Do they reveal this? Do they even tell their child? This is really a tough one. I’d say more than half of my patients don’t plan on revealing to anyone (child included) that they used an egg donor. And to these folks I can only give one piece of advice……then don’t tell ANYONE. I certainly can’t judge what is “right” and neither can you. These patients are scared and they are thinking of what is best for them in the long run as well as their child. It’s tough, for sure. I even had a patient who hid she used a surrogate. She wore a fake belly the whole time. She may opt to not even tell the child down the road. These scenarios always bring up interesting questions about “rights”. Does the child have a “right” to know their genetic history? Does the child have a “right” to know who gave birth to them? Interesting and difficult questions that we haven’t legally dealt with yet.

So, the bottom line is you can keep your infertility as quiet as you like. I remember the struggle at times between not believing how the world went along so smoothly around me while I was suffering and not believing how the world was focusing on nothing more than my fertility. Or so it seemed to me.


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One Comment

  • Olga says:

    Thank you, Linda, for all these questions that you cover in your blog (they are exactly the same that arise in my head from time to time). When I read your articles, it seems as if I talk to someone about my concerns and worries. It helps greatly taking into account that I can’t talk to anybody about IVF treatment as my husband doesn’t want me to reveal it to anybody (even to my mother;however, honestly speaking, she seems to be the least concerned about my fertility problems as she’s never had any problems in this area). I understand my husband’s point, me too, I don’t want my future child to be labelled as “unnaturally born”. Still it’s not easy to pretend that everything is ok and over and over again answer those stupid questions or just read their thoughts:”hmmm, it’s been 7 years and still they don’t have children”. Sometimes I even feel some sort of a competition between other young couples in our families and us :(( (at least, this competition takes place in my mind).
    Thank you one more time for your care and love. It might be the best work ever to help people keep fighting for their dream and finally become happy.
    (from Canada)

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