Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Know When To Hold 'Em

I was recently speaking to a friend who asked me how she should broach the subject of discussing fertility issues with people, which is something that I've thought a lot about since I started writing this blog. Prior to going live and letting basically everyone I know into the most intimate parts of my life I sent an email out to my whole family giving them a summary of what I had been going through, something only my immediate family had been privy to up until that point. I included a link to what I had written so far and offered to answer any questions anybody might have. Of all the emails I sent out, I received back one text message from my cousin offering his support. At first I was hurt and angry; at the time there were a lot of emotions swirling around in my head and I didn't really know where to land. It took me a while to reconcile those emotions and the only way I was able to was by taking a minute to understand where they were coming from.

I come from a semi-private family; and by that I mean they don't want to talk about issues like mine - but they want to know that I'm okay. It's a level of comfort reserved for old-school traditional families - at least mine anyway. The kind of openness it takes to write a blog and tell everyone the experience you had while masturbating into a cup is far beyond the side-conversations prying for information that my family is used to. After I sent out my email to my family, I had expected a bombardment, but what I should have expected is quiet concern, which is what I got, and looking back, meant a whole lot more to me. To my family, it's not your words that show your concern and your love for someone, its your actions - so keeping quiet was their way of respecting my privacy.

What I learned is that if you're looking for support, you need to ask for it. That said, when you're looking for information the principle is the same, but there are a few things that you need to remember.

Everyone is different and so is their journey. There are some people that don't want to talk about their struggle at all, and there are people like myself and K who talk incessantly about our ordeal. This means that when approaching the subject with someone dealing with infertility, you could end up with more than you bargained for, so be concise with your question. For example, if you were to ask me what step we're at in the process, what you're probably meaning to ask is "is she pregnant yet?" but by wanting to be sensitive, you now have an explanation of the actual entire process of IVF on your hands. Why? Because for the most part, in order to understand what step we're in, we likely have to explain the entire process to you which will probably include a list of side discussions required to define certain terms.

There are also many people that have gone through loss, and people that found out they would never even be able to experience that - and every one of those people deals with those situations differently.
So there is a level of sensitivity that you will have to show but if you want to know something - ask. Trust me, if they're not comfortable talking about it, they will tell you that. Keeping that in mind, think about the question before you ask it. Kay had an encounter with a co-worker that consisted of him asking her "Are you ready to deal with your first pregnancy basically being a write-off?" - Kay was confused and asked him what he meant, so he said "You know that most women's first pregnancies result in miscarriage don't you?" I mean, the guy was obviously misinformed, but his message was not the problem. It's the fact that he is asking a woman, who is already having difficulty conceiving, if she is ready to lose her first baby. Dude, the answer is no, and also, no -you idiot. He got off lucky because Kay is not the burst-into-tears-at-work-at-shit-said-by-morons kind of person, but most women, would not have been so understanding.

I think it's also important to mention that unless you're asking for it, it's not your responsibility to navigate the feelings of a person dealing with infertility. Doing so is difficult at that best of times and downright impossible for most others, so in my opinion somebody dealing with infertility shouldn't be making you walk on eggshells around them all the time. If they are, you need to lay your cards on the table and tell them that straight up, but be mindful and supportive when you do it.


  1. I appreciate this. And both of you. I know there's been a few times during your journey where I've apologized for asking 100 questions, however with you and K I feel like our relationship is there so I can.
    It sucks that this topic is so "taboo" and uncomfortable for a lot of people. I love that your blog bridges that gap in a lot of ways and explains the process in real-man's language- helps the rest of us who aren't medically minded to understand the process and be more informed.

    I've said it before, and I'll say it 1000 times more, I appreciate your raw voice.


    1. We appreciate you being a part of our journey, and we appreciate your interest!