April's Journey to Fertility: Educating Friends, Families, and Employers – Part I


April is a CNY Fertility Center patient and has been on her journey to fertility for approximately three years. April will share candid stories and a unique perspective on the fertility challenges many women and couples face. CNY Fertility Center has locations in Syracuse, Albany and Rochester, NY.
Week 63: Educating Friends, Families, and Employers – Part I
I have found that one of the most difficult aspects of going through fertility treatments is figuring out what to tell your friends, family and employers. Early in the fertility game, many of us are able to be fairly vague with our employers and crafty with what we tell our friends and family. However, each unsuccessful cycle is quickly followed by another month of treatments, appointments and missed work and/or social events. I remember having the conversation with our building principal two years ago regarding my need to miss work. In this case, I was upfront, but I was not upfront with everyone as quickly. Let’s face it, my principal has enough professionalism not to ask me how my cycle went or when my pregnancy test will be. He was a safe one to initially share information with, and I find that once you associate the word “infertility” with having to miss work, no one questions you. Really, no employer wants to have that discussion in detail! (Nor should they; I would much rather be at work than having to throw my legs up in stirrups for an internal exam every other day!)
However, the process can last years, and at some point we have to realize our own limits and begin educating others on our own challenges.  My friend Jess recently wrote the following response in our online “support group/yoga e-mail group”:
“I think this process is incredibly isolating, because it makes people uncomfortable and puts you in situations where you are supposed to be super happy for people and few people on the outside of infertility “get” that you can be happy for them but still really sad for you….I wish that people would realize how lucky they are for being able to have an intimate moment with their partner, pee on a stick, see a heartbeat 9 weeks later, and deliver a healthy baby at 40 weeks or whatever, without needles, constant monitoring, constant news that something else is on the fritz with one of your body’s basic functions, blood tests, ultrasounds, procedures, incredible hope and then dashing disappointment. I also wish that it was more “socially appropriate” to be as open and frank about all that we go through to have a baby as it is for people to talk about their ultrasounds and morning sickness and babies’ poopies and what have you. Maybe then more people would “get it.” I am leaning toward total disclosure at this point because I am sick of pretending that everything is ok to the world when really it’s not. And because I deserve the same support and understanding that people give those complaining about their lack of sleep from their newborn, or their sore breasts from breastfeeding, or the nausea that stalks them all day long.”
And isn’t Jess right? Don’t we deserve the same support? I believe one of the main reasons we do not get support from the insurance companies, our friends, our families and our co-workers is because this topic is still somewhat taboo. Of course, I am not jumping at the chance to talk about my egg quality or my husband’s sperm count at any of our family events, but I do feel that we are all on this tumultuous journey for some reason. If in the end, however, I can teach a few more people to be just a little more informed and sensitive regarding a topic that affects approximately 10% of the population, then I can feel just a bit more at peace with my involuntary involvement in this process. And it is a process!
In hopes of educating others,
April all Year

Click here to read all of April’s previous blog articles on her journey toward fertility.

2 replies
  1. Elaine
    Elaine says:

    I totally agree I have been struggling with this issue myself and I am so thankful to hear that I am not alone in wondering what to say and when to say it to family and friends. I have been at this for over 2 years sneeking around during cycles and coming up with excuses for missing things when in reality I just want to say why and what is going on and educate people with out judgements or constant questions. Thanks for sharing this story it has helped me in many ways to know others are is the same boat as I am and that noone has all the answers.

  2. Mary
    Mary says:

    Thank you so much for writing about this. This issue has caused so much heartache for my husband and for me. I struggle with what to share and who to share it with. I am a teacher also, and have shared some out of necessity for making it to appointments. I often find myself “sneaking” to appointments as well, so that I don’t have to explain all of the details to family, friends and colleagues. Another thing my husband and I talk about is how much is healthy to share. Sometimes we try to protect ourselves from the reaction of others by not telling them what is going on. I often wonder if we should talk more about it. Most of my circle of friends and family know what has happened because we have had 4 miscarriages…the most recent when I was 15 weeks. Even close family rarely speaks to me about it. Part of me wishes people would ask what was going on, and part of me doesn’t want to answer questions.

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