Posted by: birdsandsquirrels | March 11, 2012

coming out to the neighborhood

So, as I might have mentioned on the this blog, we haven’t been terribly open with our infertility journey. Many family members know a little bit, and many friends do too, but it has been kind of a slow process of sharing that information.We have only shared all the details with a few close people.

We moved into a new neighborhood a year ago. It is full of young families and lots of kids. Usually once every month or two, there is a “ladies night out” where all the women are invited to get together at a restaurant. Usually only 8 to 12 of us show up, but there are enough core people who attend that I have gotten to know a few of them. Since most of us have kids (there are probably 3 couples out of about 50 who are young, newly married and don’t have kids – yet), we tend to talk a lot about babies, pregnancy, sleep, kids, etc. Your basic infertile nightmare.

The first one I went to, I was newly pregnant with this baby. Like 5 weeks or so, and clearly told NO ONE. For the one in January, I was about 16 weeks, and I did tell a few people at our end of the table. At this last one, I was very clearly showing, and it was a smallish group, and it came up. One of the girls said “Oh, I thought you guys weren’t having any more kids!” I have no idea where she might have come up with this. I have never said that to anyone! I have only met her a few times, and I like her, but we have never had personal conversations about family size! Perhaps MIL got to talking to her when she took Birdie out for a walk last fall, and somehow that was the impression she got?

Anyhow, here I was, kind of on the spot, and I said, with everyone quiet and paying attention, “Oh, well, we weren’t sure if we could have more children. We had to do fertility treatments to get Birdie. But this one was a surprise. A happy surprise, of course.”

So there. It was out, to a group of pretty new acquaintances that I have to live near for a potentially long time! And you know what, I felt a little raw and naked at first, but it was okay. And if anyone there has or is struggling with primary or secondary infertility, maybe they felt a little less alone and could talk with me about it. And it’s not some shameful secret – it is our reality, and part of our story.

I think I have felt scared of being out with our infertility story stems from fear of being pitied or talked about. How much would it suck to live in a fertile neighborhood with catty women whispering behind your back things like “oh how sad, they can’t have more kids”. To be fair, most of the women seem very nice, and shit like that probably doesn’t ever happen.

When going through treatments before Birdie, I really did not want to tell people (beyond our immediate family and very close friends) while we were going through it. Answering questions about “are you pregnant yet? how’s that going anyway” would be exhausting and painful while dealing with disappointment month after month. If things continue to go well with this pregnancy, this will be our last kid, so theoretically, we won’t have to deal with that stress again. But I worry. What happens if we lose this baby? What happens if god forbid something happens to one of our kids in childhood? What if some miracle happens and S wants to try for a 3rd?

The immediate reaction around the table was supportive. I saw a few head nods (but was too befuddled to pay close attention to possible knowing looks), but then the conversation turned to how everyone seemed to know someone who “just relaxed” and got pregnant easier the second time. UGH! I know I am one of those lucky urban legends, and I know it happens to SOME women, but there are so many more who continue to struggle with secondary infertility, and it is so frustrating to combat that idea! I didn’t have the energy to go there though, so I just kind of sank back into my chair, sipped my ice water and nodded.

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Responses

  1. I hang out with the women in my neighborhood too and came out and mentioned it a few years ago to them. Overall, the response was a really wonderful one. Even though we don’t talk about it much, most women have experienced it or know someone that has. In my nieghborhood nearly everyone at our group had experience a miscarriage the night I mentioned it. It was also great having that group be so happy for me when I did get pregnant.

    I think coming out about infertility is usually a good, and uplifting thing, but it does need to be with the right people. In my group of friends from high school and college mentions of infertility were met with awkard silence. None of them had kids yet or wanted them. They couldn’t understand where I was. But the ladies in my neighborhood are older than me and knew how important their families are to their lives and probably understand better about how painful that would be. I’ll even say in regards to myself, I had a great deal of sympathy when I heard of people loosing children because of stillbirth or miscarriage, but after having my own baby, those feelings are so much more intense because I know better what that person has lost. Some infertiles out there don’t think the moms around them are sympathetic to their struggles, but the truth is that there are many that may understand the struggles much better than they think.

  2. oh god, i hat the “just relax” advice! it sounds like the dinner went well though and i’m glad! you are an urban legend and of all the people it could happen to i am glad it was you πŸ™‚

  3. oooohhhh.. you’re out πŸ™‚ i’ve recently come out more, too. you know, it’s not as scary as i thought it’d be πŸ™‚ for the most part, i feel a little freer!!!

    and i can’t believe how far you are!!!!


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