It seems that, these days, everyone wants to reveal everything about themselves. People turn to Facebook and Instagram to show us what they eat, what they’re doing, and where they’re going, and to let us know if they’re having a good day or an awful one.
Television peppers us with news 24/7 and reality shows peek inside people’s lives to show us their most private thoughts and their interactions with others. Little is left to our imagination and, sadly, many have come to grasp this excess of information as normal.
Inquisitive (read: nosy) people think it’s okay to ask you about every aspect of your life and expect that you will answer their questions.
This behavior becomes especially difficult for a couple dealing with infertility, especially with so many “famous” people revealing their struggles with infertility in books, television exposes, blogs, and – yes – on social media. Michele Obama recently profiled the First Couples difficulty in conceiving in her book Becoming, revealing that her beloved daughters were conceived via IVF. Laura Bush did the same in her book.
So, must “regular” couples who are dealing with issues of infertility be willing to share their plight with family and friends?
Not at all, say most fertility doctors, counselors, and other experts. While most of us don’t want to keep secrets, they say, there is a definitive difference between being secretive and being private.
Secretive is when a family member or friend inquires as to whether you intend on having children and if you’re pregnant yet (particularly if they know you’ve been trying) and you are offended and choose to say nothing.
No comment, you think! Experts say, however, that this might not be the best reply. Being secretive causes you angst and likely interferes with your relationships with others who very likely just care about you. (We’re talking people you know in this instance, not strangers.)
Instead of being secretive, most professionals suggest a very short but concise answer for the inquirers, something like “Yes, we definitely would like to have children but we’re having difficulty with that at the time. But we’re receiving good medical care and will be eager to share our good news when we’re successful.”
All of that is true. You DO want children. You ARE having problems with getting pregnant. You WILL share your good news with your family and friends when it happens.
However, you don’t need to feel as if you have to share what one counselor calls “the whole truth”. It isn’t necessary for you to provide acquaintances, no matter how close to you, with all the details. You don’t have to tell them about IVF, about sperm donors, surrogacy, embryo transplants, or about failed past attempts at conceiving. That’s your PRIVATE business. And that’s where the difference lies.
Indeed, oversharing, despite what the media and social media are telling you, is not mandatory. Infertility – especially the details of how you’re facing it and tackling it – is no one’s business but your own. Chances are you already feel a bit out of control through your infertility journey, so maintaining control over what you tell and what you don’t is paramount.
Take time to discuss this as a couple or with your doctor or therapist before or as soon as the questions start coming. Craft a response to those questions and stick to your plan. Chances are most will accept your answer and not ask again.