Resolve.org has started a 3 month campaign to help promote their #GivingTuesday project. October's theme is to #GiveVoice. To find more information on this project, please click here.
With the topic of #GiveVoice, I decided to write about the reasons infertile couples decide to keep their journey a secret. I came across a post on Instragram a few days ago that helped me come up with the reasons for this list. Someone had posted how so many of us "infertiles" who are struggling to conceive or build our family keep everything a secret, only sharing our journey with a couple trusted individuals. Usually our only confidantes are our husband or partner (obviously), mom, or best friend.
While I understand this, especially since I was the same way in the beginning, I think it makes things even more difficult for those who are struggling with infertility. I will discuss the positive things about sharing your story in Part 2 of this series. But for now, let's talk about the top 5 reasons why infertile couples decide to keep their journey a secret.
There is a stigma that surrounds infertility. It exists in part because many people don't understand it. I didn't truly understand infertility until it affected me personally, so I can understand the misconceptions that many people have about this disease. And it can be shameful when your body is incapable of achieving the one thing it was meant to do, reproduce. Especially as a woman, there is a lot of shame involved with the failure to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. Personally, I have felt this. I have felt like I was "defected" because I was born with an abnormal uterus. I felt a lot of shame because of that. There was something "wrong" with me. And I'm sure most women, or men, who have a diagnosable condition that causes infertility will feel that shame about their condition. So they keep it a secret.
Infertility is a very personal, private journey that involves one of the most intimate acts, sex. But not only that, it also involves a very personal decision made between two people when they decide to have a child. But when you're dealing with infertility, there are so many twists and turns on your journey that complicate that decision. Now you are having to decide if you will pursue treatment. If so, what kind of treatment? How many tries? Will you do IUI or IVF? Can you afford IVF? Will you do ICSI, PGD, PGS? How about surrogacy? Adoption? These are all questions that you must ask yourself as you seek treatment and decide what treatment options are right for you. It's an extremely personal decision. If you open up with others about your journey, you will most likely have to answer these same questions while also explaining why you made those choices. For many infertile couples, they don't want to share all of this with others. It's just too much private information that they would rather keep to themselves.
What if treatment fails? What if I can never have a child? These questions are based on fear, and it's hard for us to ask ourselves these questions. It's so easy to get stuck in a feeling of hopelessness. And if our fears come true, do we really want to share our failures with everyone? It's very intimidating. Especially for those who are afraid of having a miscarriage, which I think is most of us, are we ready to share that if it were to happen? For some, the grief of losing a pregnancy is too difficult to deal with and they decide they don't want to risk having to share that experience with others.
Infertility is a hot topic. Everyone has an opinion, and usually it's not a well-researched opinion. So they will judge you no matter what you do. They will give advice without really understanding the issues. And once you start treatment, those judgments may only get worse. Especially with IVF, which is such a frequently debated topic. "Aren't you playing God?" "Maybe you were never meant to be parents." "IVF is immoral." "Infertile people just need to adopt." etc...As much as I hate typing those phrases, I have come across similar comments on other blogs or news articles about IVF. The people making these comments are ignorant. They may not be bad people, but they are definitely ignorant when it comes to infertility. And many infertile couples decide they don't want to deal with that kind of judgment while they're going through one of the most stressful experiences of their lives.
Sometimes an infertile couple aren't always on the same page about what to share and what not to share when it comes to their infertility journey. Maybe one would like to be open and share everything, while the other would prefer to keep things private and just isn't comfortable with anyone knowing what's going on. So they keep it a secret, to protect the partner who decides it's just too private to share with anyone.
For some, it's difficult to overcome any of these reasons and they decide never to share their journey. Or maybe, they share it in anonymously on a blog or Twitter account. In my opinion, sharing anonymously is better than not sharing anything at all. I will talk about this and the reason I decided to share everything in Part 2 of this series.
What are some of the reasons you've decided to keep your journey a secret?