I've always been one of those people who has treated infertility as a private matter in my day to day life. I speak openly about it online, but that's mainly because I can do it under a pseudonym and among a community of women who understand and who support me unconditionally. Real life, well, that's different. I've never felt comfortable talking about it publicly. Infertility really made me lose a lot of faith in people and frankly I didn't feel strong enough to deal with the stupid.
With three sisters having babies in the span of one year I've been getting a lot of questions about when we're going to have a baby and/or "you're next" comments. We're also buying a house and our fifth wedding anniversary is later this month. It's not unreasonable to expect that the family planning line of questioning would only escalate. So I decided to do something about it. Fight fire with fire, if you will. I'm in a good place for the most part and am feeling pretty strong most of the time. It was the right time.
Last week was National Infertility Awareness Week, and while I have never been affiliated with Resolve in any way (and actually have quite a few ethical qualms about their practices), I do like the idea of raising awareness about infertility. I also really embraced Justine's #MoreThan1in8 campaign because I felt like that simple hashtag conveyed exactly what I wanted to.
So I outed myself. Publicly. On Facebook. And by default I outed Hubs too, with his full support.
I shared what I felt comfortable sharing, how I wanted to share it, and on my terms.
I had low expectations. Like really low. I posted what I did fully prepared for a fight and unfriending spree. I was fully prepared for misunderstanding, false assumptions, the "never give up" message, and "have you tried _________." I couldn't even look at Facebook for hours after I posted about it. I was sick to my stomach. I wasn't sure that I wanted to see. So I went to work and tried not to think about it.
But while I was avoiding Facebook the texts, private messages, and emails started to roll in. I logged on. More of the same. I was shocked. Overwhelmed. People responded in a ways that I never could have predicted. With understanding. With love. With solidarity. With empathy. With compassion. With stories of their own infertility journey. I was (and still am speechless).
Over the last week and a half I've had honest, open, meaningful conversations about infertility with people outside of the infertility community. I honestly didn't anticipate this. A bit of my faith in humanity has been restored.
But probably the best and most unanticipated consequence outing myself doesn't even involve me, it involves Hubs. The other night his phone rang. It was one of his oldest friends. He went upstairs to talk. When he came downstairs almost an hour later he said that it was a relief to finally talk to someone who understood. It turned out that his friend and his friend's wife went through almost the same exact thing as we did (though their journey is not finished because they decided to pursue adoption). Neither one of them knew the other was going through it too. So they talked. They shared. They supported one another. He's been going through this without a support system outside of me, and I think that he's felt that it's his responsibility to be strong for me. Now he has an ally. Somebody that he doesn't have to be strong with.
Never in a million years did I imagine that so many conversations would come of a silly little post. I am still overwhelmed by and grateful for how the post was received. I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes people can surprise you in the best possible ways. It feels good to be out.