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Letting family in

09/15/2011

Belle

My cousin keeps some of the most beautiful chickens. I had a chicken photo shoot with them the last time I visited with plans to use the photos on this blog.

I can count the number of people I have shared this blog with on one hand: my best friend in Atlanta (HI!), a former colleague who is a fitness enthusiast and is getting ready to have her first child (HI!), a girlfriend in KY who has also been through the trenches of infertility and is preparing to re-enter for No. 2 (HI! We need to go back to yoga!) and now my cousin.

Every time I tell my story to a friend I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. Sharing my blog, though, is different. This is where I show feelings that I don’t vocalize. This is where I pour my heart out to beautiful strangers who, in turn, pour out theirs. My blog is too often void of the “happy face” that friends and family are so accustomed to.

If I were Dr. Jekyll, my blog would be Mr. Hyde.  

Yesterday I went out on a limb and shared this blog with my cousin. This was a really big step as thus far no one on my side of the family is aware of our journey.  It never occurred to me that opening up to family members might open up a conversation on family history. It never occurred to me that they might actually understand.

I assumed that family “in-the-know” would accost me with constant questions. I worried they would call with the next best fertility solution and inform me that rubbing badger blood on my tummy during full moons would insure ovulation. I worried that I would get those terrible, insincere glances of pity. I worried about letting them down if this never works. I worried they would judge.

Instead, I received a kind email from my cousin saying that my blog is amazing and she is grateful I trust her enough to share this part of my life. She offered me support and digital hugs (something so small that can really make a day when you are going through this). Then she offered family information that I had no idea about: every woman on this side of the family (my paternal side) has ovarian cysts.

“I cannot go back to find out when woman in our family go into menopause naturally. No one has..isn’t that crazy?  It was a huge fad years ago to just ‘yank em [ovaries] out!'” my cousin wrote. “What I would like to know is what was the cause.  Did they have what you have and it just wasn’t diagnosed back then?  This will be an extremely interesting topic to discuss with our cousins and aunts some day.”

I read these words dumb-founded. I am not alone.

Let me repeat this as it is so very profound: I am not alone. 

I have told all my doctors that I have no history of reproductive dysfunction other than my mom needed Clomid to conceive me due to irregular cycles after coming off of birth control. No further diagnosis was ever made. Now I learn that one entire side of my family is peppered with ovarian dysfunction.

I’m crying just thinking about this. Maybe letting family in is not such a bad idea? What do you all think? How do you feel about telling family and what have their reactions been? Based on this new knowledge of family history, would you open up?

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13 Comments

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  1. September 15, 2011

    Doesn’t it feel good? My maternal side is chock full of endometriosis, tho it is just my one Aunt and I that share the secondary IF issue. And I have no idea whether husbands fam shares in the sperm issue. I wish I did. Are you planning on finding out more? Opening up to others? I know, I know, 1 step at a time…and that was a big one. Congrats. =)

    • September 17, 2011

      Yes, one thing at a time. I think it will be a while till I’m ready to open up to more, but this was a big step. And it is amazing how this stuff runs in families. I can’t wait to see my cousin in a few weeks and learn more from her!

  2. September 15, 2011

    Two Aunts, actually. Which is funny because out of six girls, 2 had trouble conceiving #1 and never had a number 2, and the rest have between 3 and 5 kids. Family history is crazy.

  3. eggsinarow #
    September 15, 2011

    It’s so weird. My mom had to have a complete hysterectomy at 36 (facts are hazy, but now we realize it’s because she was later diagnosed with lupus, so her body was probably just going nuts!), and she is adopted so we have no other knowledge of that side. My dad’s side is very fertile, but not without it’s problems: still-birth and miscarriages abound. And yet I think NO ONE CAN UNDERSTAND ME. Except you girls living in my computer.

    I hope that your cousin and family members can help you find your way through this journey even faster!

    • September 17, 2011

      I thank God daily for the ladies in my computer. Without you, I don’t think I would still be pursuing this. I do wonder how much of this is b/c of my maybe lupus. Autoimmune is such a strange beast, as I’m sure you are all too aware!

  4. Mo #
    September 15, 2011

    I think opening up to your family is an amazing thing. Especially if you are on good terms with them. I haven’t shared my blog with my entire family, because sometimes I use it to bitch and moan about them (my parents specifically), but my older brother, my cousin, and all of my close friends know about the blog, and I’ve found it to be a great way to not only keep them informed, but to cultivate understanding and sensitivity. The rest of my family knows about the blog, but doesn’t have the URL, nor will they get it. They respect that. However, everyone knows about our losses, and I’ve found my family to be a huge source of support through all of this. Medical history isn’t even an issue. Just having people who’ve known you your entire life there to listen, or to offer a hug, is great. Sure – sometimes I get hit with a “just relax” comment and some of the usual ignorant BS, but usually when that happens, I parry it with a comeback that makes it clear that relaxing does not prevent miscarriage. All in all, the good bits of “coming out of the RPL closet” definitely beat out the annoying bits, at least for me.

    • September 17, 2011

      Mo, I so badly want to tell my family, but it would require telling my mom first. She is not always the most supportive and right now I need love and support more than ever before. If I told my aunties before my mom it would hurt her, and while we don’t see eye-to-eye, I’m not out to hurt her. I’m sure in time I will grow more comfortable with it all, though. Just to have my cousins support is a huge step, as I love her dearly!

  5. September 16, 2011

    Oh! I am pondering this same thing! I know one of my aunts adopted all three of her kids, and I know my mom has irregular periods and my grandma had at least one miscarriage, and I want to know what my family reproductive history is! But I am so scared to start that conversation. Sending you good vibes!!!!

    • September 17, 2011

      Robin, it is SUCH a tough thing to talk about with family! I hope we can make the right decision at the right time.

  6. September 16, 2011

    Personally I think letting family in on this is so very important. If you have a good supportive base it can make all the difference… and you have nothing to ‘hide’ with infertility. I think society as a whole has made infertility so damn taboo. It shouldn’t be. I am so glad you have made this connection through your cousin.. and I hope for the love and support of even more members of your family.
    PS-It was my DAD who sent me this great article on my blog about infertility and iVF.. yup. My DAD!

  7. September 24, 2011

    My husband and my sister are the only family/friends who read my blog. My husband even asked first to make sure it was okay, because he didn’t know if it was just for my ‘infertility friends.’

    I feel just the same, about Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. There are things I can write about that I just can’t say out loud.

    If anyone finds out that badger blood really does the trick, let us all know!

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