The stigma of infertility

Some of you saw my aunt's comment on FB last night (FYI she (obviously?) is not the same aunt who struggled with IF for 10 years herself). For those of you who didn't, my status was: "Kitty VD hates infertility. Even with strawberries. Now pass the vodka." (Who caught my Spa.ceb.alls reference?) My aunt's response was: "Did you ever stop to think alcohol might be a factor? Not that I know anything, just wondering."

Hmm. What I wanted to respond with was, "If that's the case, thousands of products of drunken one night stands are going to demand a recount." But I chickened out.

My decision to be open about my infertility was made consciously. To be honest, part of that reason is because I need support from my friends and family, and for the most part I get it. I do realize that when I post things on FB about infertility there's a chance someone's going to say something incredibly ignorant and hurtful, and I choose to take that chance. Actually, I welcome those comments - on FB, that is. If someone said what my aunt said to my face I'd be shocked. On FB I have time to gather my thoughts, to determine whether the person is ignorant and needs to be educated, or whether they're a real asshole. Knowing what I do about my aunt, I can conclude she is merely (albeit hugely) ignorant, and a bit overly cautious. (For the record, I did NOT drown my sorrows in a bottle of vodka last night. I had 2 Miller Lites and a bowl of ice cream.)

I do want to reply to her, though, because her comment made me think of the term "the stigma of infertility." Maybe I've been sheltered, but I'm just starting to understand that it really exists! Isn't it awful that when some people hear you can't have kids, their minds immediately go to, "you must be doing something wrong"? You must be overly stressed, you must drink too much, you must not be "doing it" right, you must not be gardening enough, you must not be praying hard enough, you must have done (or not done) something to deserve this. I'm amazed that more people don't assume a medical problem could possibly be the culprit. And I feel that those people need - nay! - they are CRYING OUT to be educated. And if I don't try to set them straight I can't complain about their ignorance, right?

So before I reply to my aunt, I wanted to post this and get your opinions. Sort of help me gather my thoughts. I am going to be very diplomatic about it, I won't be rude or snarky (even though I want to be), so keep that in mind when I ask, what would you like to say to someone in this situation? What, to you, would be important information to convey?


elephantscanremember said...

I read that this morning and wanted to ask you about it. Wow.

Perhaps you could refer her to the Resolve website? Give her the link to the page of things not to say to an infertile person. Maybe she'd think twice about things then.

Sorry you're dealing with it. (Hugs)

Anonymous said...

Oooohhh, I totally would have left that comment back. I am glad that you have decided to be open about your IF struggles. I think part of our role as IFers is to educate about IF and make those ignorant peeps eat their words!

Heather said...

I agree with posting a link to an informative website for those dealing with infertlity.
How funny that I've also somewhat decided to open up to letting people know about my IF issues. I've been catiously testing the water. I think I've posted kind of cryptic things because it's like you said, you get very ignorant people commenting. I loved your post!
I hope your aunt sees the seriousness of infertility.
Oh we are cycle buddies! Af showed up 3 days early (last night). Saline sonogram scheduled for 2/23 to see if I have scar tissue.

Allison said...

Oh yes...there is definitely a stigma.

I think responding to her from a place of "thanks for your concern..." and educating her is a great idea. And if you word it right, you can probably still throw in the "recount" bit (LOL).

Kudos to you, Kitty, for opening up about it. (((Hugs)))

Kitty said...

Thanks everyone!! I feel really strongly that infertility shouldn't be taboo, and I'm starting to be more vocal about that. Everyone else says whatever the hell they want, and they usually have no idea what they're talking about. Why should I be afraid to stand up for myself?

Here's what I ended up responding with:

"Alcoholism can definitely be a factor, but there haven't been any findings that show moderate alcohol consumption causes long-term, true infertility. Otherwise I think there might be thousands of products of drunken one night stands demanding a recount!! ;) I encourage everyone to check out www.resolve.org and learn a little about infertility. It's not self-inflicted, it's a disease that can be caused by a multitude of physical problems, and there shouldn't be such a stigma attached to it.

"You guys are great, and Aaron and I appreciate all your support!! I wouldn't be able to get through this without it :)"

(Gotta throw in those smileys, keep things light!)

Tanya said...

I LOVE IT! You are being awesome about it. I believe that I would have just been awful and went with my gut only to semi-regret it later. I love your response!

Misty Dawn said...

UGH go with the first comment. LOL I liked it better. Yes, I am mean and bitter about my situation, if you don't like it don't comment! Sigh, I'm with you on the education of others, keep up the good work. LOL

E said...

OMG your aunt said that? That is why I didn't want to discuss my issues with anyone. BEcause of stupid ass comments. You handled it better than I would have. See, that comment would have pissed me off so bad...and ruined probably 2 days out of my week.

Do you notice that she is implying that it *might* be something you are doing to your body to cause infertility?? Like its somehow your fault.

People are ignorant. I like your comeback!! very witty ;)

-my husband grows cotton- said...

"...not gardening enough..." LOL

I definitely think there is a stigma. I think it is awesome that you have stepped out and have aknowledged that IF is something that you are dealing with right now. You go girl!

M said...

I love your reply. It's classy and polite while sending the message that implying that it's something that you are/aren't doing that is causing your IF. I think that's why I always hated the "just relax, it'll happen" comment. It implied that it was my fault when it was completely a physical problem.

Good for you Kitty!!

Kate said...

I agree - there is definitely a stigma. I'm so glad you're opening up and educating others about it - I wouldn't be as gathered as you are though, I'd have left the first comment!

MotherHen said...

I almost deleted my FB comment I left. It was directed at her but afterwards I hoped it wouldn't offend you...then I thought about it and you know me pretty well to know that I love you and Aaron and look forward to mini versions of the both of you no matter how many freaking AF it takes! I will always be here to wine (pun intended) with you! ;)

I have to admit I was one of those "relax and it will happen" kind of people. You and another dear friend of mine have opened my eyes to my ingorance. Thank you.

^J^ said...

OMG ! I saw her comment and it pissed me off so much that I almost replied something back to her. Good thing I restrained myself cause I wouldn't have put it nearly as etiquettely as you did!! Good job!

I also have been more open and out there with my IF. I have become a fan of a couple different IF pages on fb and I am hoping that, if nothing else, it will help raise awareness to the disease.

Steph O. said...

Well, bless her judgemental, ignorant heart! (sorry, that's one of my fav features of the South! You can say anything about anyone, as long as you're blessing their heart in the process!)

Mom & I often discuss what a shame it is that the most perfect answer to anything would not be met kindly. It's STFU- Shut The F(udge) Up. So perfect, so fitting, so not really appropriate in most settings (esp religious services, go figure). I thought your answer was good. :)