Sharing Your IVF News with Friends, Family and Strangers
How do you tell people you are doing IVF?
Oh boy do we have a lot to say on the topic of fertility treatment and communication!
Imagine your closest family & friends. From what you had for breakfast to the new job you applied to - you share everything with them.
Now, picture all of those lines of communication twisted, knotted or - worse - broken entirely. Yep, that’s infertility for you. You can’t honestly predict exactly how anyone will react to the news that you’re doing IVF. But we can assure you that if anyone has a problem with it, well, it’s not really your problem. It’s theirs.
Top 5 Rules for Sharing Your IVF Story
#1 Be a team
If you have a partner or spouse, make a promise to one another that you will a) always share how you are feeling with one another throughout the process and b) not disclose any information about your IVF plans to anyone without discussing it first.
Why is this so important? We have seen so many patients experience relationship upheaval because one grandmother found out before the other. Or, because a friend found out before a family member. It’s unnecessary drama, so do what you can to avoid it.
#2 Make a plan
Literally sit down together and make a list of who you are going to tell in the order of when you are going to tell them. After sharing your IVF plans with close confidants, would a social media post be the best way to alert the masses? Or, do you want to keep your story off of social media entirely? This is the time to decide. (Be aware: If it’s on social media, your boss and employer will see it too. More on that below.)
#3 Set boundaries
This is an important one. Ok, so you’re going to tell Aunt Jan, but what exactly are you going to tell her? Is it a general blanket statement or will you dive into the quantity and quality of your eggs? On the flip side, when faced with a barrage of questions about your health and the procedure, at what point do you pump the brakes?
One hack that can be helpful is to have a book or article that explains the IVF process top of mind. If someone starts getting a little too nosy and you start getting uncomfortable, tell them you have a fantastic read that explains it all, “I’ll send you the link!”
#4 Be prepared
When conversations get going, it’s easy to find yourself turning beet red, grasping for words. The truth is, you don’t have to actually say anything. Your family-building is your business and nobody else’s. For when you do want to respond, we are big fans of having canned responses at the ready. A few of our faves:
“No kids yet, but we do have a fur baby!”
“We both love kids. Hopefully one day.”
“We’re working on it!”
“[Husband Name] and I prefer to keep those things private.”
Preparation is also key for if/when you run into old friends or acquaintances. Don’t underestimate how suddenly soul-crushing it might feel to run into a former colleague who is pregnant with her third “by surprise!”. Ouch. In this case, the “I’m so happy for you. I hope we are as lucky as you one day,” is good to have on hand.
#5 Stay psyched
Sharing your family-building plans can invite drama. And, it’s easy to get caught up in it all. It’s important to remember what it all comes down to in the end, you are trying to have a baby. This is something that should be exciting, joyful and magical - because it is! Don’t let anyone rob you of the magic, including yourself.
The three reactions to expect when sharing your IVF story with family
Ahhhh, family. You can’t live with ‘em and you can’t live without ‘em. When sharing information about your fertility treatment plans with parents, siblings, aunts & uncles - and don’t forget your in-laws - reactions usually fall into one of three categories: supportive, confused or downright judgmental.
These are the reactions you’ve been dreaming about. You explain to your parents that you have been trying to conceive for a very long time now with no luck. You’ve decided to pursue assisted reproductive technology and you’re starting IVF next month. Thrilled with the prospect of a grandchild, your parents jump up and down with delight. They ask how they can help. Even better, can they contribute to any of the costs?
This is where the majority of reactions fall. And, it’s totally understandable. After all, fertility treatment is extremely complicated. The “Confused” members of your family may have the very best intentions but will often come back at you with questions that fall into one of two camps: what’s wrong with you/your body? Or, how does the process work?
The key here is to be prepared for the moments of silence or questioning looks. Then, have your canned answers at the ready. For the most part, these individuals just need a little bit of time to process the news. At this point, we do feel it’s a good idea to set expectations. Will you text every update about your injections and medications? Or, will you simply let them know the results. Let them know what you will and will not be sharing.
There are an infinite number of religious, political and miscellaneous viewpoints in existence that do not condone assisted reproductive technology. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Equally, you are entitled to yours.
What to say to people who judge you for doing IVF:
- You are entitled to your own opinion. Perhaps that would change if you had been struggling with infertility for as long as we have.
- If we want to have a baby, this is our only option. I hope we can count on you for your support.
- Many individuals have lost their fertility due to service in the military or due to cancer treatment and IVF is their only chance at having a baby. Do they not deserve to have a family?
- I hope we can look past our differences to celebrate the idea of having a new baby in the family. If we are so lucky, it would be unfortunate if you couldn’t be a part of their lives.
How will my friends react to the fact that I am doing IVF?
Similar to judgmental family members, you may have some friends that simply don’t agree with the path to parenthood you are taking. Some may come around to it. Others won’t. Even those that don’t fall by the wayside, however, can still evoke their fair share of drama.
The supportive friend
The unicorns of life, the supportive friend is compassionate, caring and truly dependable. These buddies come through in a pinch. They will likely respond quickly to your IVF news with excitement and then ask how they can help.
These are the friends who can’t help but make your (very personal, by the way) news about themselves. How come you didn’t tell them sooner? Should they be doing IVF? Who did you tell before you told them? Their self-centered nature is suddenly very apparent.
The “every uterus is identical” friend
These are the most entertaining. Once you share your plans, they can’t help but tell you about a girl they know who did IVF or a friend-of-a-friend who had triplets after three failed cycles. Most people do not understand just how unique every case of infertility can be so it’s not their fault - they really are trying to be helpful.
It can be easy to get caught up in the details and complain to your partner/spouse about so and so’s reaction. Our advice is to step away from the nitty gritty and re-focus on what really matters. Again, many people are coming from a place of love - they just have a different way of showing it.
What do I say to strangers who ask me why I don’t have kids?
You might think that people you don’t or barely even know have no interest in your family-building plans. On the contrary, you’d be surprised just how much the topic comes up. There you are at a cocktail party, newly introduced to someone, standing there awkwardly. Then it happens: Got any kids?
What you want to say: No, I don’t have kids. Not that it’s any of your business, but thank you for asking so casually and making it sound like getting pregnant is soooo easy. We’ve been trying for [X number] years and I recently just had my third miscarriage.
What you should say: No, but we love kids so much. Hopefully we’ll be lucky enough to have our own one day. How about you?
Again, this is when having those canned responses comes in handy. Avoid the awkward moments all together and put people in their place with a sweet but firm, “Maybe one day!”. Then, walk away.