Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day

Awkward Infertility Conversations

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About a month ago we started attending Sunday school at a new church in an effort to build community here in Katy. So we’ve been doing double duty. Early church at our church home, Sunday school at a church down the road. I know this is weird. But it works for us.

The first class we visited turned out to be doing a parenting module (seriously?), but the second week we found a great fit. And now it’s been about a month and we’re already feeling more connected than we felt after a year without Sunday school. Crazy.

I’m really quite close-mouthed about infertility. I don’t know that I would be if it weren’t so important to DH that we don’t really tell people. Especially while so much is still up in the air. And I can’t blame him for wanting this to be private. It is a deeply private and personal struggle and it’s hard to open up to people who often don’t understand. 

The Sunday school does this thing called “dinners of six” every quarter. It’s an opportunity for three couples to share a meal together and fellowship. A way for people to get to know each other better in the event that they haven’t already developed friendships outside of class. So we signed up to go and enjoyed a great meal and, well, interesting fellowship Friday night.

The hosts are parents of a seven-month old. He’s adorable and about the same age as our godson. The other couple who came is expecting. And there we were. The longest married (we beat the hosts by two months) and the furthest from becoming parents.

This was not a problem until shortly after we sat down to dinner. The boys kind of talked together and so did the girls. The other couple who was there already knew our hosts pretty well, so DH and I were kind of in the spotlight. The hostess asked a bunch of questions. In her defense, she was trying to get to know us better. I don’t think she anticipated what was going to happen. And I did okay.

Hostess: Do you and [DH] want to have children?

Me: Yes.

Hostess: How many?

Me: I guess we’ll see.

Hostess: What’s your timeline?

[And here’s where I gave myself away]

Me: Sometimes things aren’t that straightforward.

[In my opinion, and I could be wrong, the appropriate response to this is “oh” and a polite change of subject.]

Hostess: Oh. Are you having trouble?

[Am I going to lie to my new Sunday school friends?]

Me: Yes.

Hostess: How bad?

Me: We’re seeing doctors.

Ultimately I shared that we’re expecting to undergo more invasive fertility treatments this winter.

She asked whether I’d had any hormone problems or weird periods or anything. I answered her questions as best I could while trying not to give everything away. [At one point she straight up said: “What’s your diagnosis?” I said, “I can’t tell you that.” She took it well and apologized for asking.] She said she had PCOS and endometriosis and was told she’d never have children before she became pregnant. That she understood. That her sister-in-law had undergone several cycles of IVF resulting in her two nieces, with two more eggs frozen for their next round. The other woman at the table spoke eloquently about the miscarriage she’d suffered prior to her current pregnancy and the continual nagging fear she has that something will happen to this baby, too (she’s 15 weeks). 

I have mixed feelings about this conversation. I would prefer to share about our infertility struggles on my terms and with the people I want to tell. I mean, most of the people in our small group (which has been meeting for about six months) don’t even know what we’re going through. But it was interesting to see that both of these women, who appear to be fertile without any question, have had their own infertility/miscarriage experiences, fears, and difficulties.

I know infertility is said to affect one in eight couples in the United States (or sometimes one in six, depending on what you read). But it usually doesn’t feel that common. Friday night’s conversation revealed that it is really more common than what we see. We hide it–most of us, anyway–for our own protection, out of self-preservation. Both of these women understood a part of what we’re going through. Neither had needed fertility treatments, but neither said those stupid things we all hate to hear: just believe, just adopt, God has a plan, and so forth.

Being open and talking about this–even though I wouldn’t have chosen to bring it up–did build intimacy with this woman quickly. She really is sweet and has a heart for people. She wants to be in fellowship in a deep way–even if that means taking conversations where social norms would dictate that they shouldn’t go.

Also, I like the idea that once I have a child, to the world I’ll be just your average fertile person. Some people will know what it took to get there, but most people won’t. I hope I can still comfort people then who are where I am now. But I also look forward to the normalcy that might come with being a parent. I look forward to being able to have mommy talks, to compare notes with the other parents, to learn from them and contribute to what they know. 

I like feeling like there’s a light at the end of this tunnel.

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7 thoughts on “Awkward Infertility Conversations

  1. It sounds like they were pretty empathetic about it, at least. I can relate–I’m in my 2nd week of my new job and apparently, people just assume that I have kids or will shortly. And it’s like…”No, no kids” and they’re like “So why are you a teacher.” *headdesk

  2. I’m glad you ended up having a connection with these women, but it seems like someone who understands even a little bit of what you’re going through would have a little more tact when asking about it. Maybe starting off by telling you she’d had some difficulty would have made you a little more comfortable during that conversation.

  3. Very interesting. Definitely glad they didn’t say anything hurtful since you opened up so much. Really it does feel like that alone is rare. And it’s so nice that they surprisingly could be empathetic. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit that gave you the freedom/courage to talk about it even though it wasn’t on your terms. Which brings up another thought: once we’re in normal world and we are getting to know someone, do we ask anything like that? What if my IF radar is going off? I would definitely want to make a connection with that person. Just some thoughts that I usually don’t think about, but I hope to one day be faced with.

    • That’s an interesting question. I kind of think I might talk about having had trouble/what we went through before asking such a direct question. I would want to make such a connection, but I would want someone to be able to bring it up on their own terms I guess.
      That being said, it is kind of nice to have another couple of people praying for us and maybe the Holy Spirit was leading her to press on when most people would have let it go.
      And I do hope and pray we’ll both end up in “normal world” soon.

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