I’ve always been a strong believer in more information is better for people – it helps them evaluate their own information better and feel less isolated. As a young adult, I realized that when I revealed some personal information of my own, it was usually followed up with, “oh, I felt that too!”‘s. Clearly I was meant for the facebook era. Still, I’ve been more circumspect about my infertility struggles – if nothing else, I wasn’t the only party involved.
I was diagnosed with PCOS in my pre-hubby days. I talked about it to some of my friends back then – it’s easy enough to say that you have PCOS without the context of trying to get pregnant (especially when we were all right out of college and trying to make our careers). I even told my husband the day he asked me out (“So, I was diagnosed with this thing called PCOS. And it’s a major cause of infertility. Still want to date me?”).
But in spite of knowing this, when we actually started trying, it was really miserable. We didn’t tell anyone and I’d end up sobbing every time I got my period. That did not lead to a particularly happy relationship – his relaxed attitude only stressed me out more. Eventually I realized that the lack of alternate venting outlet was making it worse. So I slowly started opening up. I started with a friend who I knew had IUI treatments and asked her what the process was like. I talked to a much older friend who I suspected had fertility issues to see if she or her friends might have tried something like clomid.
As my friends started announcing pregnancies, I started revealing that we were trying. I’ve found that, even if expecting themselves, many people can still empathize if only because they’ve seen some small part of it — maybe they were trying for several months and so they could extrapolate how bad it would be to be trying for years, maybe they had a miscarriage, maybe they had some early indicators of a miscarriage and spent the first few months on tenterhooks, maybe they had family who went through it. Some were told after they said something like, “oh I was expecting certain other news from you guys” at which point, I’d launch into my saga.
I’m usually careful about whom I reveal it to, gauging our level of friendship and whether they’d be sympathetic and discrete. For some, it has actually brought us closer. For others, it has told me that we weren’t such good friends after all. Two years into ttc, most of our friends know. Some still don’t react well, some still say the weirdest things, some just ignore it and some treat it like it’s this contagious disease. But I have at least a few people in my camp who are always willing to listen and come out with me for an ice cream to cheer me up.
EDIT: I realized that one reason it’s been a bit easier to tell friends is that we’re on the early side of baby-making in our circles (in spite of being > 30). So I can often couch revealing in terms of “here’s a brain dump of all the information I’ve collected about human reproduction.” Anyone with half a brain would figure out that there’s a reason I know so much but I can then avoiding explicitly revealing information.