Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I betrayed infertiles

I think I betrayed Infertiles yesterday. Instead of owning up to being an infertile, I pretended that we don’t want children. When people ask the "when are you going to have a baby" question, denying any plan to have children comes so automatically that it is out of my mouth before I have a chance to rethink my response.

Yesterday a former coworker asked when I was going to have children, and I said, “No children for me.” She responded by telling me that I am still young and have time. (I’m 37, but I suppose to an older person anyone under 50 seems young.)

How do you respond to this question?

Should I have taken her, “You’re young” as an invitation to give out more information? Something like, “Since I haven’t been able to get pregnant after three years of trying, it is unlikely to happen in the next three years.” But then again, this was just a passing conversation at work, so perhaps I should treat it as the superficial conversation that it was and not delve into any personal details.

On one hand, mentioning infertility to someone who never had a problem is inviting pity and useless advice. But on the other hand, not mentioning it keeps people from becoming aware of how common a problem it is.

As a side note, two women recently told me that they were “childless by choice.” (Neither of these women had any idea of my situation.) I had always assumed that if you told someone you were childless, that the assumption was that it was by choice. Am I completely wrong on this? Why did they have to mention "by choice"? If you choose to stop infertility treatments, then are you "childless by choice" too?

9 comments:

Penny said...

I think anything surrounding reproductive status is, for a woman, a mine field.

So I don't subscribe to the idealism that everyone should be 100% open about their health history here. There's no betrayal.

I think women who say "childless by choice" are fending off people like your coworker who reply, "you still have time." that would bother me.

TrishE said...

You know, I used to be really sensitive to that question myself, and sometimes I still am, but I have decided that when people ask me if I have any children, I will simply say, "No, my husband and I tried for years, but children aren't on the horizon for us." I feel like this simple statement says everything that needs to be said. We tried. We couldn't. We are childless. We are moving on.

Although some less-sensitive people like to follow up with an even more insensitive question: Have you considered adoption? Now, this question always surprises me, and I can't help but think to myself "did they really think that was a solution we hadn't considered? Maybe we'd never heard of adoption. Perhaps, while considering all the painful, difficult, and expensive options about fertility, we simply -forgot- about adoption....I don't know. How do you ask a silly question like that?

I answer it simply, "after much consideration, my husband and I decided it wasn't an option for us as a family." Period. As in, I'm not explaining our decision making process to you....now please, let's talk about something else.

;-)

etrish

Io said...

Betrayal! That's it, the Vet Mafia Bloggers are coming after you...

Heh. I kid, I kid. I think it's rude for people to ask about reproductive choices no matter the situation.

As for the childless by choice thing, if you decide to discontinue IF treatment I don't think that's really what you are...I think cbc implies that you just don't want kids, not that you decided the treatment was no longer possible/not worth it/unattainable/just haven't had them yet.

I usually tell people that we're IF, and lord, the adoption question that trishe mentions? I hate that.
My friend Brian pulled that shit when I said we had to do IVF but couldn't afford it yet. Like I was being selfish and stupid. Grrr. Still makes my blood boil.

Portraits In Sepia said...

I think it's perfectly acceptable to say that you don't want children. I may be in the minority on this but I have said it a few times when I didn't want any further comments from the person asking. Everyone seems to have advice and I only want advice when I ask for it or when I know the person giving it has walked a mile in my shoes. It is nobody's business what your situation is or what you are going through. It's your right to choose who to share such personal information with. I know there are those who think we should be open about it...to get people talking and to educate others and to help it lose the stigma it carries but I would rather leave that to others. Sorry, but that's how I feel. It's still a very sensitive subject for me that I talk about with very few "live" people and on my blog which I know is read and commented on mostly by those who have been on the same journey. Maybe I will change my mind about this later in life but for now that's the way it is.

Emily (Apron Strings) said...

"In the beginning ..."

Hah ... just felt like saying that. But seriously, I think up till the point of my failed IVF, I was pretty open about my IF issues. But after that point, the emotional pain was so hard to bear that I, too, betrayed infertiles everywhere. So I totally get why you said what you said.

As for the childless by choice ... my humble opinion is that these are people that have decided that they absolutely do not (nor ever) wanted children. For those that are childless d/t IF issues and make the decision not to pursue other options ... I tend to hear the "It wasn't meant to be" phrase more than the "childless by choice" phrase.

Anyway, I babble ...

chicklet said...

I actually like the "by choice" disclaimer cuz people assume we chose not to - they have no idea we didn't, unless they ask. And when they ask, I say either "it's not as easy as you'd think" or "we'll see if it happens". I don't want to get all confessional too soon, but I like to leave it open for those smart enough to "get it".

chairs said...

t- your public misses you. You betray us by your silence! -little sis

Faith G said...

You haven't posted in over a month... where are you?

Feliz Dianne Flutter said...

Thanks for the comment. I am always looking for others who are moving away from treatments. It makes me feel less alone. (By the way, we stopped a year ago.)

I don't think you were betraying anyone. When we first stopped treatments, I would divulge too much information. And actually told a few people, "Since my doc tells me I have less that .02% and I'm on birth control. I don't think it will happen."

Now, when I say, I doubt it. It causes less of a shocked look :).

I absolutely believe that you need to do what you need to do.