The struggle with infertility is one of those special struggles that is so incredibly private while simultaneously being obvious and public. Everyone has the standard questions to face at holiday gatherings, baby showers or as the anniversaries and birthdays click by… "So when are you two going to have a baby?" "You're not getting any younger you know, what's taking so long?" Or for those with secondary infertility "You don't want your children to be too far apart in age. Why aren't you pregnant with your second (or third or so on)?" Meanwhile, if you're struggling with infertility, these seemingly innocent questions cut to the bone in the couple that is inwardly aching for a child. Then comes the road of fertility treatments and the endless doctor appointments, bloodwork, ultrasounds, and so on that come with each treatment. People can't help but notice that you're taking off from work early, yet again, for a doctor visit when you're clearly not sick. Friends can't help but notice that you just don't seem to be quite yourself lately (thanks to all the stress and flood of hormones you've been taking). So it leaves everyone with the same question… Should we go public with our infertility journey? And if so, who and what should we tell?
These are questions we dealt with and one I see repeatedly posted and discussed on countless forums. Here's my take on it. Once we got to the fertility treatment stage in our journey, we told people what we were going through and it made the whole process so much easier. Of course we didn't share all the doctor visit and procedure details with just everyone. I didn't walk around wearing a banner trying to be the spokeswoman for IVF. But I didn't keep it a secret to those that cared and noticed. In fact, really only a couple of my very closest girlfriends knew everything I was going through. Telling our secret helped take a load of stress off because I know longer had to try to pretend that everything was okay. When we would get the awkward "when are you guys going to (fill in the blank)" questions at gatherings, we would simply just respond with a kind "That's nice of you to ask and we are trying but are having a little difficulty getting pregnant and are seeing some doctors about our options." In some cases that opened the door for some friends and family to share their own encouraging stories of their fertility issues. And in others, that was simply enough and we could quickly move on to other topics of conversation. The close friends we told helped me more that I can ever begin to describe. To have the support, prayers, phone calls, and texts to cheer you up on the nerve wrecking doctor visit days or to understand what's going on when you're dealing with the heartbreaks that come your way, was unbelievable.
Whether you're facing fertility treatments or adoption, you need a support system when you're going through something as close to the heart and stressful as infertility. So my suggestion is to tell a few of your most trusted friends or family members and let them love on you during this journey. Expect some criticism from some and don't take it personally. Just use it as a way to enlighten and educate others on a very common, but very private, issue. But those friends that come alongside you and hold your hand, cry with you, celebrate with you, volunteer to go to doctor appointments with you… they will be ones that won't let you let go of your faith and won't let you give up. And along the way, you will be able to pass that encouragement and comfort along to someone coming behind you on this journey.