How to Announce Your Infertility

How do you tell your family and friends you’re infertile? And not just a little infertile or having a rough time. We cannot/will not have biological children no matter what we do.

Do we tell them over the phone? Or get on Skype or Facetime? Or wait until we see them in person?

How many details do we give? Should we tell them about the azoospermia? Or should we keep it simple and just say we can’t have biological children? Should we tell them Mr.E has had 2 surgeries? And that I have 21 eggs on ice? And that we’ve spent over $60,000 trying to make this happen?

Should we tell them to keep our infertility a secret until we’ve decided on a Plan C? Or just to keep the azoospermia a secret?

What if my siblings are too busy with their own lives and their own children to care about our problems? What if they say something insensitive like, “Just adopt!”

Will Mr.E’s parents be upset that they didn’t know their son had anesthesia twice and we didn’t inform them? What if they say something insensitive? What if his brother says no when we ask him to be our sperm donor? Will I ever be able to talk to him or his wife again?

What will we say to our friends? Will they understand why we kept our struggle private? Should we tell them at all? Or wait until an adopted baby is placed with us and then tell them? Should we tell them the diagnosis?

What if another one of our siblings or friends announces another pregnancy? What will I say? How will I feel?

Will I always feel resentful and bitter when I see someone else is pregnant? Will I always feel like we were robbed of an essential life experience? Will I ever know what our bio-kids would have looked like?

I will update this post after we’ve taken the plunge and told some people. Wish us luck

Update 5/6/14: after meeting with the Reproductive Psychologist, we felt MUCH better about just about everything, especially about how we would feel if Mr.E’s brother didn’t want to be our donor. She really helped us put things in perspective. Even though we would have been disappointed, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. No matter where the sperm come from Mr.E is the dad and as long as we are confident and happy about our choice, our children will be confident and self-assured.

See this post for what happened when we told our families.


13 thoughts on “How to Announce Your Infertility

  1. This is such a hard thing to know what to do. My husband was diagnosed last week with non-obstructive azoospermia. Dr Hotaling said our only hope is doing the mTESE in 3 months. We know we cannot afford it all on our own. I’m not even sure will be able to pay for all the apts, bloodwork, and other labs. Which is so frustrating! We told our parents hoping we can get some help financially. If we didn’t need help financially, I don’t think we would tell them.

    My parents took it great. They were super comforting and helpful. My Mother-In-Law is being dramatic and saying all the wrong things. I know she means well but it does make it difficult. I feel much better that my parents know.

    We still have yet to tell friends and we are planning on waiting for a while to do that.

    I know certain friends would say the right thing but I’m so fearful of what others may say not knowing it would be hurtful and unhelpful. I guess any extra prayers are helpful.

    Hoping all goes well for you. Prayers your way.

    I’m always looking forward to your next post.

    • C, I’m so sorry to hear your diagnosis! This isn’t an easy road, that’s for sure. Take comfort in knowing you’re in good hands! Dr. Hotaling is wonderful.

      If you have health insurance, they should pay for all the pre-op testing of hormones and such. They may even pay the facility charge for the mTESE. And start keeping track of EVERYTHING you spend related to medical stuff, including your mileage to ALL your doctors! If your total out of pocket spend is greater than 10% of your income you can deduct it on your taxes. Just keep track of it all and then when you do your taxes next year you’ll be able to give it to an accountant to see if you’ll get a tax break.

      Ugh, so sorry to hear your MIL is saying all the wrong things! Did she say the normal things, “just relax” or “it’s God’s plan”? The fact that some people think (or might think) that it’s God’s plan that WE be infertile is so offensive to me.

      We still haven’t told anyone yet, though the more I think about it, the more I think we should just rip it off like a bands if and get it over with. Knowing we have to tell sometime and worrying about it is an extra stress we don’t need right now. I’m glad we didn’t tell anyone before Mr.E’s surgery though. If Dr. Hotaling had found sperm, I would have been happy to spare our loved ones the stress and worry on our behalf and keep our struggles to ourselves.

      You know what I would like? A support group! Are there any? I think I might like to talk to some other people who have chosen donor sperm and hear what their experience has been like. Or just talk to people who have already been through this.

      Prayers and sperm sparkles to you, C! Keep us updated on your progress.

      • We do have insurance but it is the bare minimum (my husband is a contract worker, so he doesn’t have any benefits). Our insurance is saying they won’t pay for anything. I am super frustrated with the U of U’s billing department, anytime I call with questions they are rude and it’s already hard enough for me to make those phone calls. Am I just having bad luck, or did you have the same experience?

        My MIL, started by saying how my husband was a miracle baby so we will have a miracle baby. I get trying to be hopeful in a way but honestly if we have a baby it will most likely be a miracle because of modern medicine not the I just suddenly got pregnant miracle. Maybe I don’t have enough faith, I don’t know! I just feel like that’s not that helpful to hear, especially because there is a good chance we will never be able to have biological children. She also keeps asking my husband if she can please tell her friends after we told her not to tell anyone. We haven’t even told our friends but she just really wants to talk about it which makes me feel weird.

        To be honest, after telling our parents I felt so much better because I didn’t have the stress of worrying about their reactions. My parents took it wonderfully but then today my Mom told me maybe we should consider that we aren’t supposed to have children, which was the most hurtful and devastating thing anyone could possibly ever say to me especially coming from a parent who a week ago told me I would be an amazing parent.

        I hope if/when you tell your friends/family they all talk it well. I think it will help reduce the stress, hopefully though they don’t cause a new stress by saying some unwanted thing but at least you would know it was out in the open.

        Sorry I always comment, I hope it’s not annoying, it’s just you’re the only one who really knows what this is like. Come to think of it, maybe I need a support group, haha. Let me know if you find any!

        As always, I am eagerly awaiting your next post! But not in a creepy way.

      • That’s interesting about your experience with the billing dept. I have only ever called them once after the mTESE to get an itemized bill to send in to our ins.

        I really think that your ins should cover the hormone testing. It’s all in how the billing is done. If they put infertility as the diagnosis, then no it probably won’t get paid. But they should be paying for everything leading up to a final diagnosis, and infertility is not your diagnosis, it’s only a symptom. (I might write a post about this, too.) Finding out why there’s no sperm is not the same thing as fertility treatments. He could have CF, a pituitary adenoma, low testosterone, thyroid problems, varicocele, etc. Infertility is just a symptom of any of those and he would need treatment even if you weren’t trying to have a baby. In other words, if a doctor suspected one of those, the hormone tests would need to be done. This is no different.

        If the test is something they would cover for another reason, they should cover it now, too. While it’s likely to just be a genetic lottery that you didn’t want to win and he doesn’t have any of those problems, the tests should still be done to rule these other diagnoses out.

        Re: your family. Yikes. I’m so sorry. Hopefully your husband has a strong personality and is willing to tell your MIL to stop being so selfish. This is not about her!! This is about you and your husband. And how dare she put you in this awkward position by continuing to ask after you’ve let your wishes be known. The awkward position of having to be angry with her and to defend your reasoning for keeping it private! And he should tell her that if she wants to be kept in the loop going forward then she better start caring a lot more about doing what she can to keep your stress level down than anything else. (You can tell I’m not opinionated or a control freak at all. Nope, not at all…!)

        I’m inclined to be a little more forgiving with your mom though even though it seems like what your mom said is more hurtful. If you take it at face value then, yes, it’s very hurtful. But I think it’s a little more innocent than that.

        Have you ever heard of the 5 stages of grief? They are:
        1. Denial
        2. Anger
        3. Bargaining
        4. Depression
        5. Acceptance

        I’m betting after you told your parents and the shock wore off, your mom moved straight into stage 1, Denial. You might assume that she moved directly into Acceptance and thinks you really aren’t meant to have kids. But I think saying something like that is actually Denial. It’s like saying, “You can’t be infertile, it’s just that you’re not meant to have kids.” See what I mean? If you aren’t meant to have kids , then you can’t be infertile. But you are meant to have kids and that means you’re infertile which is really tough to hear, especially when she KNOWS what great parents you would make. I think she’s really grieving for you and with you.

        You might have to remind your mom that the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth is still in full force. There’s no way Heavenly Father doesn’t want you to have children.

        If I’m being fair, I bet your MIL is probably in denial, too. She’s in denial that this is a serious, very serious, fertility problem. She’s probably also in denial that you and her son are in a lot of pain, hence the desire to cure her own pain by sharing “her news” with her friends instead of focusing on the two of you.

        Please don’t ever be worried about too many comments on my blog! I LOVE them! I really do! You are one of my TTC sisters. I did find some local chapters of Resolve support groups, but I’m nervous to go!

        I sent you an email about sharing the blog with your MIL. Let me know what you think.

  2. Hi MRS E, hope you and your hubby are doing well. All my friends keep asking me if I want children. But I didnt tell anyone except my best friend and our parents. I just dont wanna deal with people who feel sorry for me. I want support, but no pity. Thats what my best friend gives me.
    Hope the mTESE works for us. Btw we are doing it in New York with Dr. Schlegel. We will start the stimulation in May. Again thank you for your blog. It helps me so much. I always come and read your posts if I have question in my mind.
    a warm hug to you

    • Can I just say that when I read your and C’s comments today I got tingles all over. Your comments mean so much to me!!

      I totally get what you’re saying and I completely agree with you! One of my earliest concerns was that I feared people would think less of Mr.E, that he was less of a man because he doesn’t have sperm. I still fear that.

      There is also a really practical reason not to tell anyone. I had a really hard time just getting out of bed in the morning. Sometimes I still do. My mind was consumed with 2 things: researching azoospermia or distracting myself from thinking about it with TV or reading books. My emotions were hard to control. Going to work, cleaning, cooking, etc. all fell to the wayside. So for me, if I actually made it to work or was having a good day of compartmentalizing my feelings, I didn’t want to risk anyone deciding today was a good day to call me and ask how the infertility is going. I was, and still am, fragile,

      I worried about the same thing for Mr.E. He has school he needs to be concentrating on. Every time I bring it up, his eyes get so sad. I didn’t want anybody else asking him all the time and making him sad!

      When I told my best friend about it, I told her that she was never allowed to ask me questions about it, but that I promised that I would always update her with info if there was anything worth mentioning. I knew I could trust her to help me by not ever asking. It’s been 18 months and she’s never asked! 🙂 but she’s always there to listen to me and talk to me about it when I’m ready.

      I’m so glad to hear you’re going to Dr. Schlegel! I hope I hope I hope he finds sperm!! He’s great. Did I tell you he did Mr.E’s varicocele repair?

      I can’t wait until May to hear how it goes!!! Sperm Sparkles to you!! And lots of prayers for you and your husband.

  3. I know that ur dh had a varicocele repair but I didnt know that Dr. Schlegel did it…Well I read your post about Dr. Schlegel vs. Dr Hotaling. Thats how i started researching about Dr. Schlegel. He is like a Star in the medical field :-). We chosed him because we have family in New York. How is he? We talked to him on the phone. He seems to be nice. My IVF doctor was so sweet and helpful. She, her name is Dr. Pfeifer, talked to me for more than a hour. Hopefully it will work. I m already nervous 😦 I was soo excited for you guys and I was literally depressed when I heard the bad news. I know how you feel. I read about it all the time. My thoughts, prayers and hopes are all about having a biological child. How nice would it be if it works. But then again I dont wanna hope so much. The disappointment would kill me.

    Btw I read your other post too. I have pro and con list about adoption, sperm donor and and and. It has exactly the same points. Surprisingly we want the same 🙂 The best option would be my brother in laws sperm. But my husband has to do the talking 😉

    • Yes, Dr. Schlegel really is a star! I’m so glad to hear you have a place to stay while you’re there instead of a hotel room! You will never regret going to Dr. Schlegel. He will take excellent care of your husband. He’s very nice and extremely knowledgeable.

      If I can pass on one piece of advice from the counselor I saw for several months it would be this: the disappointment, grief, and sorrow you will feel won’t be any less on the day of the surgery (if you get bad news) because you grieve and feel sorrow now in anticipation of it. So let yourself feel hopeful and happy! I promise it won’t make it hurt more! Your grief will be the same no matter what. And it’s so much more pleasant to go about life with a smile and anticipating all the good things that life can bring you.

      I’m not saying I succeeded in doing that (stopping my pre-emptive grieving) but I tried really hard and I think she was right. My sorrow wasn’t any less. I just made myself miserable for months, actually for over a year for no reason.

      So be happy! Have hope! Love your husband! Do things together that you won’t be able to do when you’re pregnant or with a baby!

      • I can’t stop crying right now because of the advise you shared from your counselor. Thanks for sharing that, I really needed that. I just printed it off so I can read it 100 times a day because that’s how many times I’m going to have to read it. 🙂

      • Are you familiar with the story of Hannah and Peninnah? (From 1 Samuel 1:1-21) I could try to paraphrase it here, but this lady who wrote this article below did a much better job than I could! I come back and read this every once in awhile. I wouldn’t trade places with Peninnah for anything in the world, even lots of biological babies.

        Maybe read the verses first then read this interpretation of it.

  4. Your are right. I thought my sorrow would be less if I keep my hopes low…But I am sure that the pain will be the same if it doesnt work out. I have to stay positive! Thank you for the warm words!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s