In this community, we say it’s the “worst club with the best members.” We often meet people with the same vision, strength, and courage to come forward and help us navigate the often dabbed, “tough topic” of infertility.
Today’s blog post is something different. I am honored to share the page with Mr. Brandon Johnson, a male focused therapist who specializes in infertility.
Because infertility is a diagnosis that effects both women AND men. And I wrote the I’m Very Ferris children’s picture book series for all genders and all races from all different families to come together to learn and respect and be proud of the beauty of IVF.
Ladies and gentleman, please enjoy the wise words of Brandon Johnson from infertilityisntinferior.com.
Keeping Fertility Secrets
Who to tell and how to discuss your Infertility Journey
It never fails, once you’re in a steady relationship or marriage everyone begins to ask, “When are you having children?” However, you have already started to try to have children. Do you and your partner know how much you should discuss and share about this journey?
When conceiving does present a problem, everyone has their opinion on what you should do. Before you get caught up in others opinions, you are your partner need to carve out time to discuss a few important things. You have to protect your relationship/marriage. This is the most vital step! Not everyone will give advice with your best interest in mind. Not everyone will agree with the steps you will take.
Express your emotions
The first step is to discuss with yourself and then your partner, your ultimate feelings on your Infertility diagnosis. When it comes to your relationship/marriage and infertility, it is important to be open and honest with each other about your feelings and expectations. Most of my male clients focus on their wife’s feelings and never think through his own feelings. He leaves out his perspective in how to accomplish their next steps in the infertility journey, because he is only focused on his partner.
It is important to know what each other are thinking and feeling from the beginning and throughout the infertility journey. This will dictate whether you should share what is happening. This is not the time in which you should suppress your emotions. It will not only delay your next steps, but will cause internal problems, if information is shared with others.
Deciding on what to share
As a couple you decide what information you want to share. There is a level of intimacy with infertility that you do not want to share with others. This is probably not the time to discuss your sex life. In my personal and professional opinion, it is never a good idea to discuss your sex life with friends and family. Discuss with your partner which intimate details that are share-able. Do not deviate from that list in respect for yourself and your partner.
Some things to consider not sharing is who is actually infertile, the plan to do controversial medical procedures such as IVF, or your Adoption plans. As time goes forward, you can update your share-able list. However keep in mind that this is done when you and your partner BOTH feel ready.
Plan Whom to tell.
Telling your family about your infertility diagnosis seems like the obvious choice, until you begin to consider the sibling who keeps getting pregnant on “accident”. This can create a comparison situation which has caused many of my clients to withhold sharing. The person that you should open up to first is someone you have an unbreakable trust with. Make three (3) lists with your partner of people whom you can share with. The first list is filled with people you can share previously decided intimate information with. These persons will try to comfort you and I advise you to give them the permission to do so. They may not know exactly what to say, but grant them grace.
As time goes on and you become more comfortable with your diagnosis, you can begin to talk to other people. You won’t feel as vulnerable. You will find these people on your second list. They do not need details and play by play actions of your journey, but you want to give them an answer to “Are you having children?”
Not everyone deserves to know about your journey. There are people who want to help and others who want to gossip. You have a right to privacy, and the right to protect your fertility. You will know the people in which you need to keep quiet around. They will probe for more information, but you can simply say “This topic is not up for discussion.” These people are on the third list.
Take ownership of your journey and how you walk this path. Protect your infertility and your feelings. Most of all, protect your spouse as infertility is a couple’s concern and no one travels through it alone.
If you had a failed IUI, IVF, Embryo adoption, or Adoption you may not be ready to tell someone immediately. You will need some time to process the pain and your next steps. In some cases your family will have a negative reaction to the limited information, but the final say is with you and your partner. Do not let anyone make you feel bad for your choices. Be strong, and do not let anyone pressure you.
If you keep finding hardships, barriers and emotional pain on your Infertility journey, know that you are not alone. There are relationship therapists that can help you and your partner. Do not hesitate to reach out, because we are Stronger Together!