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.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The In or Out Chronicles--The First Why Entry

Back to the In or Out Chronicles (which is much different from the ole in-out-in-out...ha ha ha...wink wink...nudge nudge. In-out-in-out? Boom chica wah wah!). And as another sexual side note, we found a Fisher Price dump truck this weekend that plays this song: "in and out / in and out / that's what dump truck is all about." And how can you NOT sit there and poke each other and raise eyebrows saying, "oh, yes, dump trucks are all about the fuck."

On this lovely day of Yom Kippur, I started thinking about it again when Ms. C said that she needed to figure out a way to work the pomegranate into dinner since she wasn't out to her family and couldn't just ask them to eat the pomegranate with her. Talk about guerrilla fertility support. Thanks family. You have no idea that you just wished me fertility and a sweet new year. IN YOUR FACE.

As you know, I am out. I'm actually Out. With a capital O. Because that's just how out I am. I wouldn't have any problem walking through the grocery store wearing a shirt that says, "ask me about my luteal phase defect" if I thought it would help me connect to another person and ease their journey. Because you know that I'm a strong believer in passing along any information you have that could help another person (and, since this seems to be a post riddled with side notes, another huge thank you for everyone who is on the peer counseling list. And feel free to write others on the list with questions!). It's how I jump ahead in my journey and it's my civic duty to help others leapfrog past wasted months of trying in order to get to a diagnosis or a procedure that works best for them.

That said, there is an element of frustration when you are out and other people wish you were in. Or wish you weren't quite so out. There are times when I have shared intimate details of our journey with another person and then they acted as if it were the white elephant in the room from that point forward. I turned to them for support and received none (I give them the long answer because they showed an initial interest in my fertility and asked a question such as "are you guys trying?" I tend not to answer the question, "how are you" with details about fertility treatments even though for my answer to be honest, it would have to include details about my progesterone levels. I know that when people ask "how are you" they are generally just giving you a longer version of "hello." But when people specifically ask if we want another kid, I believe they either want to know the truth or are being nosy and should understand how these questions are inappropriate unless you want to hear all the saucy details of my last transvaginal sonogram).

If you ask me personal questions, and you receive personal answers, you now have a responsibility to support me. Don't ask the question if you're not prepared for all possible answers. Or at least say that you're uncomfortable discussing my fertility issues so I know in the future not to share again.

But here is an off-shoot and an interesting question. That is prefaced by these two scenarios: (1) If you go into a restaurant bathroom and a woman is sobbing hysterically at the sink, do you ask her what's wrong or do you ignore her? (2) If your friend got into the car and you saw that she had a black eye, would you ask her how she received it?

Because both of these scenarios open up a can of worms. That may make you uncomfortable. And you can't shove them back in if you don't like the answer. You now are tied to that person and have a responsibility to support them. Somewhat. I mean, if the woman just told you that she had broken up with her boyfriend, you don't have a responsibility to follow her home and eat ice cream with her on the sofa. But you do have a responsibility to comment and comfort within the confines of the public bathroom. If your friend told you that she received her black eye from her husband, you now have a responsiblity to support her through spousal abuse and aid her in getting help. Yes, you can always step back and say, "oh. That sucks. Where do you want to eat tonight?" But what does that say about you? And where do our responsiblities to each other start and end? Just basic responsibilities because we're all human. And then the next level of responsibilities because we're friends. And then the next level (or perhaps the same level) because we're family.

I was reading a book about pregnancy loss last weekend. I was reading it because (1) the topic interests me, (2) it has info about implantation issues and clotting disorders that I think will help me organize my thoughts before my hematology appointment, and (3) I'm currently working on the chapter on pregnancy loss. A family member asked what book I was reading. I flipped over the cover and said, "Preventing Miscarriage." She said, "oh" and walked away.

Which is one of the drawbacks to being out. Because when you're in, other people may let you down, but they don't consciously know what they're doing so you can only blame them so much. I mean, idiotic statements are idiotic statements. But when you're out, you expect a modicum of support. Even a "are you reading that because you lost again?" Just a question to show interest. Granted, this person did not know the can of worms they were opening by asking what I was reading. It is very different then asking if we're trying. But still. You know our history, give a little support. Show that you care.

Someone commented once that they're only out when they get something out of it too. They share the details with someone because they receive support in exchange for the information. But what do you do when someone is asking you intimate details about your IF journey, yet they're not giving you the support in return? Do you continue to share? Do you stop sharing and just answer each nosy question with a terse smile and a "nothing new to report" (even though there is plenty of news to report)? Do you walk to them about it? And what do you do when they continue to give you nothing in return? Is there anyone else in this world (besides you and your partner) with a RIGHT to know the details--other family members, friends, etc? For instance, grandparents-in-waiting are affected by your fertility (or lack there of) because their role can't be fulfilled without you. So do they have a right? If you're going to ask a sibling to help you take care of your kids once they're here, does he/she have a right to know your fertility status?

Because being out and getting no support in return makes you wonder why you're telling people the details in the first place. And I'm specifically speaking about when I answer a question with information. Not when I'm walking around the grocery store, volunteering details of my luteal phase defect.


zhl said...

Well, I'm not out to a lot of people; don't actually have that many living relatives with whom I am close (how sad that is to write). I'm out with some friends but have bored myself with IF talk so I don't mention it much.

I was out my my uber-fertile sister but am now not answering any of her questions or offering her any information, after an altercation this summer. She didn't want my dog (a baby surrogate, I admit) around and felt the need to remind me that dogs aren't children. Since then, she gets nada.

I am glad though that there are women like you out there and educating.

heather said...

i give info either way. if i don't get support, that's ok with me. if someone asks, i tell them what's going on. i'm also way Out there...and i feel like the more out there i am, the more info i share, maybe someone will be a bit more sensitive the next time they ask questions, or maybe that person is dealing with IF very privately. i feel the more info that is out there the better. and i also feel that if i share my IF journey, then maybe that will let someone who is struggling privately that they're not alone. i know it's hard for a lot of people to be ast Out as i am...but i have a chatterbox personality anyways (that i'm trying to work on lol), so maybe that's part of it.

My Reality said...

I am mostly out with family and friends, I found outing myself easier than dealing with the 'when are you having kids' questions or the 'you aren't getting any younger' and 'what are you waiting for' questions.

Now, if all of our well intentioned family would take a little time to read the basics about ART it would be a big help to us. Instead, they just ask stupid questions.

Anonymous Infertile said...

I am half in the closet - it has been based upon 'who' I was telling.

I have not shared with any family members, although my husband has. I would have wonderful support from them but in the beginning I ignored their questions about us ttc b/c I wanted to surprise them when I was pg. Now, its like I have been hiding something from them for so long that I don't know how to come out to them.

My two best friends know and have been wonderfully supportive. I feel like I have become even closer to them because of how great they have been to me. But, I feel like I have also lost friends because I have shared with them (b/c of their questions) and they haven't really given me any support. And, it's like it makes things uncomfortable now b/c they don't know what to say/do around me.

My best friend from high school completely crapped out on me in the support department and her and I had been so close for so long that sometimes I just think about that and how sad it makes me. I have tried a number of times to talk to her again

I think the reason I am 'out' to other people is because yes, people ask but I don't think they really want to know. It is opening a can of worms and then they get all weird like they don't know what to say or ask. It's liike when you are at work and you ask someone how their doing. Do you really want to hear all the crappy stuff or just expect an answer of 'fine.'

This is kinda garbled but I am trying to make dinner and type away at the same time!!

Murray said...

My sister says we are all disapointed by our expectations. That if we didn't have expectations of how people would react or not react about things we would be much happier. Some people 'get it'. Some people don't.

A few years ago when I wasn't thinking about trying for a baby, my cousin and her mom came over to visit my mom (I was visiting my mother). My cousin was very upset because she was diagnosed with an ectopic. When she described how upset she was and how disapointed etc I felt bad for her but I didn't relate... I just wasn't in that headspace.

I saw my cousin on the weekend. We started talking about miscarriage etc and we really connected (I found out she was months pregnant when her ectopic was discovered which seems crazy to me... she almost died). So now that I've been there I 'get it'. This is not to say that people have to go through something to sympathize with others... Sometimes it's not that they don't care, they just don't get it.

Murray said...

To clarify - she was 5 months pregnant. She had 1 hour to decide how she wanted to terminate. I can't even imagine. She had no idea...

C said...

Your last question really has me thinking. It so happens that three of my four close friends from high school and college are going through infertility. It's bizarre, and the only good thing that's come out of it is that we have one another for support.

Our fourth friend isn't TTC, though, and I know that she sometimes feels a little left out when we're "talking shop" around her. The problem is that she just doesn't seem to understand how to be supportive, and has a tendency to push for details when one of us just doesn't want to give them. It's enough to have made all of us leery about bringing up anything related to the big elephant named infertility that always seems to be in the room when we get together. The thing is, I know that she thinks she's "helping" and the last thing any of us want to do is hurt her feelings by telling her to just drop it.

We don't have an obligation to share details with her, and sometimes we don't talk about it when she's around because her comments and helpful suggestions can hurt more than help. She knows that we're all struggling to conceive, though, and there's no way to un-ring that bell. At this point, I think the choice may be between telling her details and alienating her as a friend. Given the choice, I'll take a few hurtful but well-intentioned comments to effectively ending a decade-long friendship.

lunarmagic said...

Lots of good questions here.

As to the first one - if it was a friend I would inquire/support, if it was a stranger I would probably look twice and keep walking. I'm a pretty shy person, and I don't know how a stranger would react. But if it was a friend, I would absolutely involve myself and try to support them through whatever they're going through.

It really has annoyed me all my life how people ask questions about how I am - in general, in specific - and don't give a flip about the answer. It bugs me. Don't ask if you don't want an answer from me.

Luckily the people I know have generally been pretty supportive. Even if they have no way to understand what I'm going through they make an effort to listen and to say "I'm sorry you're going through that," and just lend a shoulder. The people who don't - who react with assvice or with no reaction at all, yes I stop bringing it up.

To me being Out is not about receiving support, though. I'm obstinate. I will not tiptoe around topics that others find too much. Sure I may not discuss details with them if I don't like how they react - but I'm Out because I WANT to be out. This is who I am, it's what I'm going through. I tend to be very blunt about things.

Carlynn said...

I am half in, half out. Quite a lot of people know that I lost the pregnancy as I was almost 5 months pregnant but some don't know how hard it actually was to get pregnant. I'm tired of talking about it to other people now. People want to help and unfortunately, arrogant as it sounds, I am now light years away from their advice - just relax, take Clomid, temperature monitoring etc. It makes me sad and I feel very isolated sometimes but perhaps that is just the anger. In general, I think people just don't know what to say. They want us to be happy and sometimes we are not and what can they do?

Anonymous said...

I am WAY Out...and, for me, has actually proved more positive than negative.

Our immediate families know about my IF and miscarriage history...and they always ask how I am doing, how things are going, etc. And, they ask questiosn when they don't understand something.

Our close friends know...and, except for one set of friends who are just becoming very different from us on many levels, everyone has been more than supportive.

And, my work knows (specifically, my bosses) because of time off needed for IF cycles and doc appointments. They have been such a huge source of support, I actually have nominated them for a Compassionate Friends Employer Recognition award! They were amazing during my miscarriages, and I am glad to have them (and the insurance that comes with the job, of course!).

The positive thing that has come about with me being so Out about my struggles is that now I have other friends who might not have come Out to me about their IF problems asking me questions. So, I am able to share what I have been through with them, and in turn, they are able to take that information and use it to help their situations and educate their family and friend circles about IF and loss.

Maybe I am one of the few lucky ones that have people who want to understand... It saddens me to read everyone elses' negative stories about sharing their struggles. Then again, I guess this experience really makes you realize who you can count on in your life.