The Infertility Poker Face

As I mentioned in an earlier post, infertility is pretty taboo.  I don’t like to talk about my journey for fear of judgment from strangers.  I realize it’s rather ironic that I can share my story with strangers but the anonymity of my pseudonym makes it possible for me to share my story without the risk of being judged.

When my husband, Frank, and I meet someone new, after the introductions, pleasantries, and small talk,kids there’s always that question: “Do you have any kids?”  My usual answer to this question is “Our kids have four legs and tails.”  We laugh, I redirect the conversation and it’s usually no big deal.

Every once in a while I’m engaged in conversation with someone who is dumb as a stump  and doesn’t observe my need to change the subject.  At that point, what can I do?  I’m not going to discuss my infertility with a complete stranger.  I try and keep the poker face up till I can get the heck out of the situation.

Once out of the situation, I’m fine.  Life goes on and I forget about it.  Every once in a while there’s an occasion where I just can’t escape the questions.  Wedding receptions seem to be the most common place because usually I don’t know half the guests and since I can’t seem to shut my mouth, I usually mingle quite a bit.

The last two weddings I’ve attended have hit me pretty hard.  At one the bride was pregnant and asked us when we were going to have a child so her baby would have someone to play with.  It was the first time I had been asked that question so directly.  I had no answer.  I was a deer in headlights.  After what seemed like an eternity of silence, I feigned a laugh and said “Only God can answer that question.”divine light

I booked it out of there as fast as I possibly could.  It didn’t help that this happened after our second failed IUI cycle.  I cried the whole way home.  Nothing that my husband Frank, or any of our dear friends said could help.

Recently, I ended up sitting next to a couple with an infant who was conceived through IVF.  Understandably, they were exuding joy over their child’s birth.  They flashed pictures, and gushed over how wonderful the kid is.  I listened politely and agreed that he is quite adorable.  Once I had enough, I excused myself.

When I returned to the table it started again.  This time the grandparents talked about his cute little clothes and how mom and dad really needed this day out at the wedding reception.  I got my courage up, a couple of glasses of wine may have contributed to this courageousness, and explained that I understood their joy as we are working to reverse our infertility through NaPro Technology.

I thought they’d back off and remember how sensitive they were at one point.  I was wrong.  They started to tell me how IVF was wonderful and they actually got pregnant by “accident” with IVF.  Seriously?  I’m not so sure if you call harvesting eggs, growing embryos, and insemination accidental.  But perhaps I missed something.

I couldn’t stand the IVF talk.  I wasn’t going to be so bold as to say that there’s a higher incidence of special needs children conceived by IVF than by other methods; but I was unwilling to nod politely and let them think I’d consider it.  I went NaPRo.

I explained that because of endometriosis, I’m not healthy enough to conceive at the moment; even after surgery it will take between nine and twelve months for my body to become healthy.  I went into the NaPro stats about 80% success with anovulatory women, 60% success with Endometriosis, etc.   I talked about how my health has improved since surgery, less fatigue, minimal pain during menstruation, more energy, and better mood overall.   Mom then told me she got healthier too; she lost a few pounds and quit drinking coffee.  That is clearly the same as surgery and 12 months of intense doctor’s care based on your own individual bio-chemistry.

I did all this with a stoic poker face that didn’t convey a single emotion.  This time, I didn’t cry on the way home.  I spoke up for myself.   I don’t know why it was easier to do this with strangers than it is to tell my own family the details.  But I know that I’m getting better at living with infertility and spreading the word about NaPro.

2 thoughts on “The Infertility Poker Face

  1. Great post! Weddings seem to put us in the toughest situations, because you’re meeting new people, trying to find common ground for conversation. Unfortunately, what I’ve found is that couples that didn’t struggle to conceive, nor no anyone who did, usually don’t realize how hurtful their stories, advice, etc are. You are doing great, and as you go along this journey, you’ll become more bold and put people in their place (where they belong to be for such a sensitive subject).

    • Thanks, Celia! I struggle with balancing tact and honesty. It’s not easy. Especially, when you’re on the verge of tears. I can imagine that you’ve been in that situation once or twice. I can’t fault people because they haven’t known the struggle and pain of infertility, but I do think it’s my job to speak up and say that it’s not so easy for everyone. Maybe they’ll be more sensitive in the future. Thanks for stopping by the blog! God bless!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.