To Tell or Not To Tell?

telling others ttc

Struggling with infertility and trying to conceive is an intensely personal and individual journey. We may have similar experiences, but everyone’s story is different in its own way.

One thing that contributes to the uniqueness of our stories is the amount of information we share with other people about our struggles with trying to conceive. Recently, a Twitter friend, ShyLittleViolet, suggested I poll readers in order to compare the level of transparency among readers.

I thought her suggestion was brilliant, and not just because I was interested in hearing the responses. While I’m a huge advocate for sharing our stories, I understand that you have to be ready to share such private information. And sometimes it’s hard to get to that place in the middle of something as overwhelming as infertility. So I’m hoping that the responses to this poll will relieve the guilt or shame some of you feel for not yet being ready to share your story. It took me about a year to get to the place where I was ready to blog about it, and even longer before I started opening up to my “real life” friends.

For those of you who do feel ready to share your story, I’m hoping that the responses will encourage you and spur you on to share- even if it’s anonymously or with just one person.

So… please answer the poll below. If you’re on a mobile device or can’t see the poll, click here to take the poll or use the comments section below to tell us how much information you divulge to others.

Who have you told about your TTC / Infertility journey?

No one knows except me and my spouse/partner0%
A handful of close friends, family, and/or co-workers0%
The majority of my friends, family, and/or co-workers0%
Even the mailman knows!0%
Other: (Please specify)0%

Update 6/18/14. Davy from the Sea of TTC wrote a beautiful follow-up piece to this poll. Check it out!

  • If my mailman doesn’t know, he’s not snooping through my mail very regularly. : )

    I’m obviously 100% transparent. My blog shares my name, my photo, heck, my last name is in the blog title. If you google my name, my blog is the first thing to come up. I post about infertility on Facebook and occasionally post a link to my blog directly on Facebook as well.

    People often ask me how/why I decided to be so public. Here’s the thing, I really didn’t “decide”. It was a progression. Genuine Greavu already existed before I found out about our infertility. The first step for me was posting about the miscarriage. I had no clue I was infertile at the time, I just knew that I had lost my baby and I was hurting. I didn’t know anyone else who had been through that, but in case there was anyone else out there reading my blog, I wanted them to know that they were not alone. That was a tough decision. The blog had been so surface level before that… recipes, vacations, long weekend stories. But once I shared there was an outpouring of emails and Facebook messages from people. People I hadn’t seen in years suddenly were sharing that they too had experienced loss. It was the first time I didn’t feel alone.

    From there, it just flowed. After the miscarriage came the infertility diagnosis. By that point, I was already more comfortable posting more personal, intimate, deeper level details. It was a natural progression. From there I found the blogging community and my blog morphed into more of an “infertility blog” than a “about the Greavus” type deal.

    I can see how sharing is really difficult. Especially to just announce it to the world… super scary. I’m so thankful that I’m public though. There are so many people who struggle quietly, who thank me for being their voice, who learn something from the blog. I think that’s great! But the blog also saved me… saved me from loneliness, depression, bitterness. It gave me an outlet that my husband couldn’t provide. And it led me to friends like me. Infertility sucks, but if I’m going to be stuck in this pit, I’m sure thankful I found friends down here with me!

    • Lisa Newton

      Amanda, thanks so much for the thoughtful comment. Your blog was one of the reasons I decided to go more public. I was really inspired by your transparency. I’m so glad I have friends down in this pit with me, too!

    • Amanda- your mailman snooping comment reminds me of something funny. When we were first starting IUI, I came home one day and our male house cleaner who speaks limited english excitedly asked me “You having baby!?” I was a bit perplexed, until I realized I had a stack of baby books by my bed. Lol!

  • I tell – 1. Because I want prayer 2. Because that is what life is all about – going through the daily struggles with others! We are not called to walk this road alone – but as a community. Just my opinion though!

    • Lisa Newton

      Absolutely, Caroline. Wanting prayer is another reason I decided to start opening up a bit.

  • Megan Swanek

    I’m a really open person by nature, and have told everyone…even people that I don’t know that well (who possibly don’t care)! In doing so, a lot of people have come forward to offer support or their personal experiences. The “only” negative comment was from my sister in law who “doesn’t support” what we are doing. Easy for her to say….she is 5 years younger, has a baby and another on the way. He mom is also in great health. In any case, that’s another story!

    Since infertility affects 1 in 8, almost everyone seems to know someone even if they haven’t been directly affected, they know someone who has. Today is my first day back to work post-transfer, and people are already asking me if I’m pregnant, unaware of the wait. The thought has crossed my mind “what will it be like if I’m not” but, just like with other things, I think their support will be helpful. If it doesn’t work, I want people to know.

    Being so open is of course not the “right” way. As you point out, it is a very personal decision. But, this study does show that confiding in at least those closest to you can offer support. http://www.whattoexpect.com/wom/preconception/0327/couples-undergoing-ivf-do-better-when-they-open-up-to-family-and-friends.aspx

    Baby dust to all!

  • Well, we’re some of the weird ones. =)

    No one “in real life” knows- just my husband and I, but I write semi-anonymously on my blog (and have been semi-anonymous since before we were TTC), so I share a little bit about our struggles there.

    For the past year, I’d been hopeful that my body was still in the adjustment process of recovering from hormonal birth control, so we obviously didn’t feel the need to really talk about the struggles… and now that my cycles haven’t found a “normal” and we’re realizing that there may be something wrong, we want to have some answers before sharing with family.

    My husband is a very private person (I’m less so!), and if he had his way, we’d never tell anyone… but I have a hard time with the comments and questions from our families. Of course, they don’t mean to be hurtful or anything… they just don’t know that we’ve been TTC for over a year now and are facing lots of potential issues. And I know that if they knew… they wouldn’t say things that could be painful. You know?

    So now we’re just waiting for my doctor’s appointment next week. And hopefully we’ll learn some stuff.

    I have no idea how to share, though. I’ve been working through this in private for a while now… how do I bring it up? Just tell ’em when they make a comment or ask a question? Call everybody and tell them? Any suggestions?

    • Lisa Newton

      I think the easiest way to do it is to wait until someone brings it up- especially if you’re just starting out telling people. You don’t have to tell them the whole story right away either. Someone might say, “So when are you having kids?” or “Boy, I wish I had some grandbabies,” and your response could be, “Well, we’re working on it but we’re having some trouble” or “Sometimes it’s not as easy as we wish.” It’s a little awkward the first time you share, but it does get easier!

  • The poll is a great idea, Lisa. EVERYONE knows that we are dealing with infertility. I am one of those over-sharers. I have definitely shared about our journey with people within a few minutes of meeting them. I figure, infertility is something most people don’t think about, but I think they should at least be aware.

    During the first year of TTC, we were probably in denial that anything was wrong and therefore didn’t tell anyone. After that, it became too big of a secret to hide from our close family members. I just “went public” on my blog in January after 2+ years of struggling, and what a blessing that has been! Within days, I had friends and acquaintances contacting me about their struggles. Other than infertility, we all had one thing in common: feeling alone. By not sharing your struggle, you miss out on the potential encouragement of people who have had or are having a similar experience. Obviously, some people are more private than I am, and that’s fine. I would just encourage everyone to at least share with the people closest to you. Infertility is too tough to handle alone!

  • ShyLittleViolet

    Well, oddly enough, I am totally open to talking to anyone who asks….but I absolutely CANNOT, under any circumstances, discuss anything about it with my parents. They are THE WORST of the Clueless Fertiles, who had us at the perfect age (22-29 for 3 girls, boom bam bam) and were somehow able to fall/stay/be madly in love….it is great, but ANNOYING AS ALL HELL. My dad is …not good at being discreet, and will say THE WRONG-est of things to the worst of ….anyone. My mom….she just doesn’t get it AT ALL. Sigh