The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Friday, August 25, 2006

In or Out, Part Deux (Children and Idiots Mentioned)

An anonymous comment stated how sometimes things come right when you need them--the coincidences that jump out at you as if three angels just descended onto your breakfast table and started harmonizing personal hallelujahs. And I kid you not--I posted those thoughts yesterday morning, jumped into the car with my friend and kids, and this is what happened.

We're innocently enjoying an early morning ice cream cone outside of Ben and Jerry's and an elderly woman swoops down on us and starts gushing about my adorable children. And my twins are adorable but this woman literally hit the trifecta in offending me. Beyond asking me where I'm from (which is a thinly-veiled way of asking "what is your ethnicity" oh-somewhat-dark-skinned-girl-that-I-can't-quite-place-is-just-Eastern-European-Jewish) and TRYING TO TOUCH MY CHILDREN (I am currently training them to lash out like a police dog and chomp off hands if one more stranger tries to rub their dirty little fingers through my childrens' hair. Either that or I will begin fondling breasts of every woman who makes a move towards my children since these women seem to find it acceptable to affectionately touch strangers), this woman who I have never seen before launched into a one-woman monologue about her inconsiderate children who are not making her a grandmother.

Woman: Your children are so adorable! And I want to be a grandmother so badly. But will
my children give me a grandchild? No. And I will be dead--DEAD--before my
grandchildren are born. I tell them, you're not getting younger. But they need to fly
here and there for their careers. They can't put their careers on hold for one minute
to give me a grandchild.

Me: Maybe they don't want children.

Woman: They say, "give me a few years." But I will be dead before they finally get around to
having children. Dead! will be dead if you don't stop telling me about your inconsiderate children. And I tried to broach the idea that they may be trying and not telling her, but she went back into telling me--a stranger--about their careers and how they're too busy to have children. And what do you say to this because in my head I'm thinking: you are the reason why people stay in.

And this is not even a post about whether or not you have a right to expect grandparenthood (because that is a whole different messy topic to cover at a later time--parental pressure compounding your personal pressure towards parenthood. Say that ten times fast). It's just commentary on the interesting things people posted yesterday about my initial thoughts on being in or out.

And the points I want to return to in later posts (and please comment more on this)...

1. No one posted their own outing story and I know they're...out...there. Am I truly the only one who has had a family member announce it to the world?

2. Zee's thoughts on how after a certain age, people stop asking and assume that you can't possibly be trying to have children. She referred to it as being dead in the water. And the rudeness that not being asked brings as well.

3. Flmgodog talking about how she wishes she could be out. And the stigma that IF still holds. Because someone once commented ages ago on a different post that IF holds the same stigmas as mental illness and bariatric surgery. And this comment made me think about Julia Roberts and she refuses to answer how her twins were conceived. And is that just indicative of the stigma? How many people knew that Nicole Kidman had miscarriages? Other than Brooke Shields and Courtney Cox (along with others that I can't think of at this time), it seems like most people in the public eye are in, in, in. And how is this a commentary on the trends of society?

4. I loved Mandolyn's comment: "we can't ignore it, so it sucks when people close to us can." And the people that you do tell, but who won't talk about it with you. We have that as well and the lack of questions/comforting hurts more sometimes than the insensitive comments of those who don't know. Because you opened up to someone and their lack of connection can either signal discomfort or a true lack of interest in your life. And you don't know.

5. The reasons why we're out: to gain sympathy, to stop others from asking about whether you're TTC (as Piccinigirl says: "I unlit the flame before they struck the match"), to get it out of your head and lighten your own burden of thought." And the reasons we're in: "I'd like to be a stronger person and be able to educate more people about it- emotionally I just don't think I can right now" and "In part we keep quiet because we think that if people knew they would be more likely to think that our adopted children were second best". Amongst many others.

6. Royalyne's comment about her husband: "He's pretty much in the doorway and leans to whichever side the people he talks to expect him to be on." And thoughts on how we organically engage in "coding" when speaking about infertility.

7. Dee's story about the lies we tell. And how they can bite you in the ass years later. And when white lies to protect emotions become huge knives later on that can cut deep.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg since I have a feeling that more stories will roll in during the weekend and when I explore these 7 ideas deeper in future posts. And I still have blogs to talk about! What a busy morning... Excuse any typo-s because I had to write this faster than a speeding bullet.


joan said...

There definitely is a stigma attached to infertility, especially in public life. If there were no stigma, the following political powerhouses would be wearing DMC #814 on their right wrists:

President & Mrs. Bush - Laura Bush's recent biography says she took fertility drugs in order to conceive the twins. Did they get permission from Karl Rove?

Chief Justice & Mrs. Edwards - Married in their 40s. News reports say they chose not to pursue fertility treatments and went straight to adoption. Wouldn't it be interesting to hear about their decision making process?

Former VP Candidate/Sen. John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth - She had not one, but two children in her late 40s. Can you say "donor egg"?

Yes, people are entitled to privacy. But think how much infertility awareness would be raised if any of these high profile individuals decided to talk about their experience. We might even get better laws and policies regarding ART and how it's paid for.

serenity said...

I am just catching up on your more recent posts - as usual you're giving me something to think about.

We have "outed" ourselves to a number of people - my in-laws (who have been wonderfully supportive), a number of our close friends, and some very close family on J's side all know. On my side, my sister knows we are trying and having trouble. (But we rarely speak of it.)

My parents do not know (yet). And I haven't told them only because I don't want the entire world to know, and my mother is horrible at keeping secrets.

That said... I struggle with this, because I would hate for my mother to be thinking that we're too busy or we don't care about having children - we care all too much. I want them to know that we recognize their desire to be grandparents, and we're not deliberately ignoring them. I want them to know that we are trying as hard as we can.

I just don't want the entire world to know. And at this point I am not sure how to even broach the subject of our infertility. I suppose I'd rather have my mom think that we're too busy to have kids than let everyone in our extended family know. Just thinking about that gives me the shudders.

So I go back and forth and back and forth. I am not sure where I'll land on this one. My guess is that I'll out us with them whenever one of two situations happen: 1. if we get pregnant from our fertility treatments, or 2. we end up focusing on adopting.

annmarie said...

About outing -- When doing the cycles, I outed myself on purpose. I figured it was best to be open about it and it really was the only way my husband and I could make it through the it all with some dignity. It didn't help that we were vocal about wanting kids before we were married...and after we married the kids never came and people kept asking. It was just easier to tell the truth.

Regarding miscarriage -- I was outed by a co-worker. I told my employer early on about the pregnancy because of my work environment. I'm in a printing facility and I thought it would be best to avoid certain the news spread that I was pregnant. When the pregnancy ended, everyone knew as well, eventually clients. I took time off and clients asked where I was. The secretary would say things like "oh she took some time off. She's feeling much better though" which led them to ask "what happened??" And then they were told. It was very difficult having to see those people and conduct business after that news got out. I felt embarassed. Shouldn't have, but I did. And This shows my flaws, I guess. I didn't mind people knowing about my efforts to have a family, but when I came so close to achieving it, I couldn't handle it. Maybe it was the extra attention...who knows.

Thalia said...

Broadly no one has needed to out me because I have outed myself whenever I've needed to. I figure that I'm not embarassed about this, and it's pretty much the most important thing in my life, so people might as well know - including my clients. I've told them because otherwise it looks a bit unprofessional that I can't turn up to an important meeting because it's on the day of egg retrieval. That means that people knew about my miscarriage, too.

If you take this route, you have to be prepared to get some disappointing reactions. Most people never ask again how things are going (my clients are actually the exception here). My family have been really good since I asked them for more support, and H's parents are always wonderful, so I am very lucky, I think.

I was outed, by one person I know very well at work to another colleague, but it was to another infertile who then came to see me to tell me about her clinic, so I wasn't really upset. If I'm this open I think it means I have to not mind if others talk about it when I'm not around.

Btw on Joan's comment, I think Senator Edwards and his wife HAVE been open about donor egg, haven't they?

Bea said...

I'm partially in.

I don't like the disappointment that comes when someone who *knows* doesn't *act like I want them to*. It's a huge letdown into a big pit of... something. I don't know.

And it's so hard for people to achieve! What I want from people changes daily, hourly. There are precious few who know me so well they can nearly always pick what to say/do.

I'd rather just sit there smugly thinking about how they've no idea what they're saying, and maybe drafting a few snide internal replies.


joan said...

According to this article, Elizabeth Edwards admits to fertility treatments and hormone shots, but doesn't want to be specific because it's not "ladylike". Oh please!!

lunarmagic said...

First I love your blog, it's so thought-provoking.

About number 3 - that's a really interesting thought, especially since I deal with some obsessive-compulsive tendencies, as well as depression and anxiety, which I am on medication for. And that was a hard one to deal with. Over the past five years I've really learned to just deal with it and try not to be ashamed. Maybe that's why the topic of infertility isn't as hard for me to deal with, when it comes to telling other people and feeling guilty - I've already dealt with similar feelings and come to conclusions. I definitely think infertility has a very "hush hush" mentality behind it, and it needs to change. I hate not being informed, and when I walked into TTC I did it with the thought I'd be pregnant in 3 months, tops. Simply because I didn't KNOW - I didn't know anyone who struggled, I didn't know how prevalent it is. And that really needs to change.

I think if my friends chose to ignore the problem I'd have to give second thoughts to the friendship. I have many aquaintances who have shrugged it off with a "just relax and it'll happen" and refused to listen to anything about facts much less emotion. And that definitely puts them in a different slot in my brain, in my circle of friendship. If they can't be bothered to try to understand something that's so important to me, that says something.

Among "reasons for being out" here's another - because it's a part of my life and I don't feel like I SHOULD be ashamed of it. I'm a pretty stubborn gal. I came out to some people because I needed to unload and find comfort, but that's a select few. To the rest of the world they know enough, but they don't know the extent of my emotions (because it's a long story and I hate going over it again and again - I only have so many hours in a day). But if the topic of children comes up in conversation I'll be damned if I'm going to make up a little white lie and pretend we don't really want kids, or whatever. It is what it is.

Anonymous Infertile said...

I am not OUT but I have been very slowly been outing myself.... right now its kinda like one person at a time. As they ask the 'when are you and J going to have kids?' question, I have started answering honestly. A year or so ago I would answer 'oh we have time' or some other b-s answer but now I have been honestly answering these questions.

Currently the only people that I have outed myself to have been friends. In the beginning I told two of my closest friends. One of them - the one who had been my best friend through high school and college - failed the 'test' miserably. The other was a wonderful source of support but has her own 'issues' right now and although she wants to be ther for me she can't always be. The third person I told has become the one person who I feel like I can now tell anything to and she has been wonderful to me.

I think after the reaction of my one friend and how crappy she was, I think I was afraid of the reaction of other people. Now, two years later, I don't think I care. I need to stop feeling like I am hiding part of my life from everyone. Once I realized how hard it was leading this double life, I have decided to start telling people as they ask. I'm not going to go into all the gory details but telling them that we are having trouble is now ok for me.

Although I have started to tell other friends, I have not outed myself to any family yet. I think that through my self counseling I have figured out that the reason why I haven't told my mom/dad/sister has been because I don't want them to know how sad I have been regarding IF. I know that they would be a wonderful source of support (being that it took my mom 4 years to have me) but I have been scared to tell them. I think more scared because I know that as soon as I start talking about it to them I won't be able to hide my feelings from them anymore.

On the other hand my husband does not hide anything. If someone asks, he tells. I don't have a problem telling people but generally when I do tell people the whole story I get very emotional so 'outing' myself can be a little much for me sometimes.

Tina said...

I was out to many friends about TTC and ART, but didn't tell too many of them about the gory details while we were TTCing because (a) I wouldn't tell them about when I was having sex with DH if we weren't doing ART, so why do the blow-by-blow of our treatments and (b) I didn't want people asking me each cycle how things were going. It's hard enough to deal with our own expectations! We didn't say much to family until we'd been TTCing for awhile for that reason. Didn't want them to get too worked up about the whole "we're working on making you grandparents" thing.

After our first was born, we were very open about how she came about, even noting it in our baby announcements. My mom originally felt I was being too open about it, to the point of making people uncomfortable, but I think she understands me now. I tell anyone who wants to know (and even those who don't) that our first is an ART baby.

Some people I know who are having trouble conceiving are resistant to the idea of using ART because they find the whole process "unnatural" -- so I like to be able to point to my daughter (who is beautiful and brilliant, if I do say so myself), and ask these friends if they are calling her "unnatural" or suggesting that she should never have been born. People should know better, and I'm happy to do my part to dispel these ridiculous ideas!

I also choose to be out now because I remember that the most horrible thing about IF was the feeling that I was alone and completely abnormal. It would have been great to have friends that had been through the same thing (instead, many of my friends got pregnant accidentally!) Happily, I have had friends approach me to talk about their current TTC problems, and I am SO HAPPY to be able to share my experiences and offer advice.

But being out *while* TTC was tough because it was just so hard to talk about it sometimes.