Telling Family and Friends about Infertility?

I am looking for some advice… I’m not sure how much of this will make sense, so please bear with me. I’m really tired.

My husband and I are coming to terms with our infertility, my endo/fibro/etc, and upcoming (though it’s still hard to accept) ovary removal. With the removal of my ovaries, certainly all hope of a biological child is done for me. Even if I kept the ovaries, they say it would be extremely unlikely, basically no chance. I am nearly sure that the ovaries are going. Anyway, I’ve already posted about that…

My question is how to tell people in my life this news.

My closest family and friends already know. I have acquaintances that don’t need to know. It’s this larger group of friends and family that I know love us that I feel some need to tell. I just can’t quite figure out how. I think it would help us get more support, which I feel we need. I also think some of these people would be disappointed if I don’t tell them and they find out later that I didn’t let them know when I needed a friend. And I do need my friends.

The thing is… it’s just so damn hard to tell this story. It hurts so much to tell people. I couldn’t be more vulnerable. It feels like my heart and my guts are just hanging out.

But I think I do need to tell people. Keeping this private might be a great option for some people. For me, I think it’s feeding my depression and feelings of loneliness and isolation. I am an extroverted person who processes things best with other people.  My husband is an introvert and it’s different for him. We are talking about how to handle this in a way that we are both comfortable with, and I think we can do that.

I need the people in my life to step up and support me, but I can’t figure out how to communicate that.

If you have experienced infertility, especially if say you found out you cannot have biological children, did you tell people? Who? How?

What about a major health development or surgery like this? Did you let people know what was happening for you? Who did you tell? How?

What about at work? It’s tough  because most advice out there says to share only the minimal amount, but it feels so awkward to me. Shouldn’t they know I’m heartbroken and ill? It takes a special kind of jerk to judge someone for being heartbroken. Some of these people at work might be that kind of jerk. Anyway, I don’t care as much about them…

It feels like too much to call my friends and family individually and retell the story, but maybe that’s what I need to do. I have a large family and we have a lot of friends. Most of these people don’t know what’s happening yet.

It hurts even more because it’s so hard for me to accept. I don’t want it to be real and I’m having such a hard time getting into that place of accepting it’s real. I don’t expect to be accepting as in feeling okay about it. I don’t expect that. I expect to be sad for a while. Maybe the right word is acknowledge. I need to acknowledge this is real because I need to do this and the surgery is soon. I need to acknowledge the loss more fully and grieve because I don’t want to start grieving at the same time I start menopause. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. I need to go into that surgery strong.

I can’t keep this all hidden. It feels like too much. It doesn’t feel authentic to me. It doesn’t feel right. I think I need to be open about it. I can’t figure out how to communicate it in a way that can be understood. It’s a big loss for us, not just a bad day or a small disappointment. I’m, well I guess I’m overwhelmed with my grief right now. I still go to work and wash the dishes and everything, but I’m not at all myself and I’m so sensitive and fragile these days. I don’t even know how to ask for support or accept it. It makes me feel like no one cares about me, which I know isn’t true. They must just think I’m okay. How do I tell them I’m not in a way that gets believed?

Why would I not share this? Well, the main thing is that I’m worried that people’s lack of understanding, lack of compassion, lack of support, might hurt more once I know that they know what’s going on. I’m worried about what they might say. I’m worried they might be less patient with me – “Just get over it.” I’m worried they’ll judge me. I’m worried about being disappointed in my friends who find out what’s happening and then disappear (that’s already happening). All of these worries though don’t seem like enough. If they judge me, that’s on them. I can’t be responsible for that or worry about what they think. If they aren’t compassionate or as supportive as I wish, I’ll just have to accept that. Some people will be, and those people will be like angels. I’ve already been surprised at who shows up with that kind word or understanding ear.

So… thoughts?? If nothing else, writing this post has already helped me convince myself that I have to be more open about this in order to be true to myself, to acknowledge the loss, and to be ready for what’s next. The other challenge is to do that in a way that keeps my dear, sweet hubby comfortable too.

Gaetano_Previati_-_Maternità

Image: Maternita by Gaetano Previati, public domain

Text copyright Snowdroplets 2016

 

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10 responses to “Telling Family and Friends about Infertility?

  1. This is just me so take it with a grain of salt. Based upon what you’ve said I’m thinking a short sweet email or FB on what you’re going through. Share what you are comfortable to share. Tell them what you need and make it clear that you’ve done all your research and that support rather than suggestions is what will help you get through this.

    Best of luck.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I like the idea of an FB post as well. I am not one to share much of my private life with folks outside of the inner-inner circle, but I have seen my friends do it effectively – especially one who is an ovarian cancer survivor (twice). Share as much as you feel comfortable, and let people know their support and kindness is appreciated. In my experience, people have reacted very well to that. It might help you gain the support you are seeking during this difficult time.
      Love and hugs!! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve often struggled with how to do this, too. Here’s what worked for me when I had to share the news of my first miscarriage: email. I wrote the email in private, including the most important and relevant details, because talking about it was just too difficult at the time. In the email I also said exactly what I wanted from the people that I was sharing this news with — specifically that I didn’t want phone calls or visits (at the time), but if someone wanted to send a card of support it would be much appreciated. This allowed me to share with people and allow them to offer support in the way that would be most helpful to ME (and my husband at the time). I think that’s really what people want to do – they want to say or do something, but may not know what, so just tell them what would mean a lot to you. My friends and family offered support and yet I still had time and space to grieve.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sorry you’re even having to think about this lovely. I actually found sharing my blog really helped – it really helps people to understand what I am going through without actually having to tell them and in turn I get the support I need. But if that’s not your bag then maybe email or if your husband feels up to it then maybe he can let the people in who you both want to know. But just remember that sometimes people don’t know how to help so actually letting them know what support you need is a great help. I kind of did this by putting things in my blog such as ‘what to say and what not to say to someone with infertility’ and such like, so it just took the weight off actually having to tell people. Sending big hugs and much love xx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is such a difficult topic, telling people… I can’t give you any useful advice because I haven’t figured it out myself yet… But saying what you want/need seems to be the best, though I find that so incredibly hard to do. Just wanted to give you some support in this very difficult time. Thinking of you and hoping you’ll find more support from your friends and family. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  5. For those friends and family that don’t know, I like the idea of an open letter either on Facebook, and e-mail, or even posting it here and sharing the link. Many people may not stay current with Facebook enough to read the post, though. If you’re feeling brave enough, host a “non-baby shower” inviting your friends and loved ones to support you, in person, on a given day. A brunch or simple gathering full of hugs and kind words.

    Work is a different story. If your HR person is like my HR person, just knowing you have an illness that may cause unannounced sick days is enough. They really don’t want to know more information…but close co-workers; like MORE than just a co-worker, but friends, I’d also do the open letter.

    Be prepared for a mixed bag of reactions. Sympathy, encouragement, or the whole “you can always adopt” answer may come up often.

    I just went to a family wedding and a cousin pointed to my little 2-year-old nephew and asked when I was going to pop out any babies. When I responded that I’m likely infertile and not, he immediately jumped in with stories of co-workers who have Endometriosis who have had children. So I tacked on that I tried for 7 years, I don’t have the funds for IVF, AND I’m 37-years-old and not looking to raise a child well into my 50’s. So, it’s the end of the line for thinking of any children…Surprisingly enough, I learned last night that if anything were to ever happen to my brother and his wife, he has made arrangements that myself and my fiance raise his son.

    It’s tough. But focus on letting your close friends and family know. If there’s somebody you left out, you can always tell them if it comes up in conversation. And if they’re butthurt over not having been included in your announcement, that is their problem.

    I adore you, hun. And am proud of you for getting these deep feelings out on “paper.” It will continue to help you heal. Much love to you and yours. ~Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

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