There has been lots of talk about if/when I should tell my family about our journey through infertility. I know some of you are open with your family and I think that is wonderful. I am not. While I love my family dearly, I have boundaries. I didn’t tell mom about my first kiss or about my first boyfriend. We never discussed friendships or relationships and we NEVER talked about sex. I did not tell her when my first period came. Instead, I took care of myself, creeping into the upper corner of my closet where a package of pads had been hidden for years (I was a very late bloomer). We just don’t talk about things like this. The handful of times a personal discussion has come up, it ends with her crying and me squirming. There was too much “soft sharing” and not enough facts.
Infertility falls in line with these kinds of conversations. We have only discussed my wanting to have children after Mr. Husband casually mentioned a desire to have a family in front of her. That night she pulled me aside and said, “So Mr. Husband wants children, huh? Does he know you don’t want them?” Until the age of 29 there was not a maternal bone in my body. I figured it, along with boobs and regular periods, weren’t part of my genetic makeup. By the time Mr. Husband and I were getting married something had changed. I still didn’t have boobs or regular periods, but by George I DID want to share DNA this awesome, intelligent man. I told my mom this and then asked that we not discuss it again. “When there is a new development in this area I will be sure you are among the first to know.” And so the discussion about babies was closed.
There have been times during the past 10 months that I wished things were different. During the days of progesterone induced tears I would long to confide in my mom. Sometimes I would go so far as to dial the phone but when she picked up the words would not come. Mom and I are extremely different people. It has taken many years, but I have come to terms with this. We don’t have the kind of relationship where we go off for a fun “girls weekend” at the beach. We do, however, enjoy poking through garage sales and snickering about all the bad Home Interior decorations from the 80’s. While I would not tell her about my first period, a deeply important phase in many women’s lives, I did announce over dinner that I had a hemorrhoid.
Last week I emailed my cousin, who has suffered through infertility, knowing that once our conversation started I would need to talk to my mom. This side of the family is renowned for their inability to keep secrets and the last thing I wanted was an auntie to call my parents and be all “I hear Belle is an infertile, too” and my poor parents would be all “Excuse me, what?” And then my mom would cry and my dad would go out for a “quick” 20 mile run.
On Tuesday, while coming home from a conference in Ohio, I bit the bullet and phoned home. Mom and I covered our regularly scheduled talking points: cats, home renovations, travels, yoga, cooking, sewing. As the conversation was winding down I said there was something we needed to talk about, but it was not something I cared to discuss again. I explained that Mr. Husband and I will be starting IVF soon and that we have been undergoing infertility treatments for the past 10 months. I explained that this is not something I am proud of, nor is it something I am comfortable discussing. I explained that we will be talking with family up North since this is genetically linked and did not want her and dad to learn about it from an aunt. As always, my mom began to cry and I hastily started interjecting science-y facts in attempt put a band-aide on the emotional damage I may have caused. The conversation closed with her uncomfortably inviting me to talk about this any time. I thanked her and said that probably won’t happen, but when there is a new development in this area of my life, I’ll be sure she is among the first to know.