I don’t wanna talk
If it makes you feel sad
And I understand
You’ve come to shake my hand
I apologize
If it makes you feel bad
Seeing me so tense
No self-confidence
But you see
The winner takes it all…. (Abba)

The issue of what you tell people about IVF, and when, is a strange one.

I have not really told many real life people that we’re experiencing infertility. I told one or two gal pals, and a couple we are close friends with. I eventually told my parents after the first IVF didn’t work.

I think like most people we planned to go public about our family planning when I was three months pregnant as this is when you are pretty sure things are going ahead and you can show people your scan photo and everyone can be happy. With unexplained infertility in particular you don’t have a diagnosed problem to fix, it is not a certainty that you won’t be able to do it yourself and there is no trigger point at which you can tell someone some new information about your status. So I suppose while you still have hope that you might conceive you stick with plan A and wait for the 12 week scan. With IVF it’s not that simple of course, because if you tell your pals that you’re doing it you open yourself up to them knowing you’re knocked up as soon as you do. 12 week scan? Try 4 week blood test! They know uncomfortably soon, probably sooner than they’d tell you if the shoe was on the other foot.

Huh. A moot point. More like what do you do if four years down the line you simply have not yet got anywhere and it is all still a big secret? If like us you’ve been married a hundred years and you are sure your friends are wondering, and certainly they are racing ahead with babies of their own.

Some people tell their friends and their family and their work colleagues everything. But some people don’t. Me, I’m quite open about stuff and generally if people ask me something I tell them. But for some reason infertility has felt different because:

  • It feels deeply personal – trying to conceive is intrinsically linked to my sex life after all.
  • I guess I’m embarrassed – I can’t do something that I am theoretically designed to do and that most people can do easily.
  • It is very painful to think about and talk about – I don’t want to face people’s pity or judgement or tactless opinions.
  • It is bloody awkward for the person I tell – they never have any idea what to say.
  • It isn’t just my issue – it is my husband’s too. When it is joint news to share it is not so easy to be free with it.

So, for some reason I’ve barely said anything. And now I wonder if it is my friends and family’s right to know. Or if they’d like to know. Or if they’ll be annoyed or hurt that they didn’t know.

Thing is, once you’ve started to not say anything… well when do you stop? And how?

Infertility is not absolute. So if you decide not to tell people you are ‘trying’ to conceive, well at what point do you decide that’s not what is happening anymore? Pick an arbitrary number of months of trying out of the sky? When you first see your GP because it is not working? When you first see an infertility specialist? When you go on the IVF waiting list? When you actually start doing IVF? When your first IVF fails?

Eek! Too late!

When you decide you’re quitting IVF and you’re going to remain child free forever???

Maybe sticking with Plan A is the only hopeful and optimistic thing to do.