22 August 2010, by Tan Yi Lin
Since I started blogging about us choosing to go for fertility tests in mid-June, it’s no secret that we haven’t exactly been producing a stellar report card in the conception department.
We knew that sooner or later, we would have to tell people, especially those whom we come into close contact with, about our choice to go for IVF. In fact, I wanted to have my immediate family members and close friends know what we were going through, because it would really be nice to have some cheerleaders rooting for us and giving us all the emotional support we needed during this trying (no pun intended) time.
But how have people been responding to what we tell them? Responses can be generally categorised into the six broad categories below:
1. Noted With Thanks
This is a standard reply I receive in response to alot of the work emails that I send to my bosses. Basically, it’s clear that the recipient doesn’t need to know more, doesn’t want to know more, and most certainly will not be asking any further questions. Case closed.
In the context of responses to IVF, while this isn’t the exact phrase used and the tone of the response is less officious and abrupt, it’s obvious that the people in this category don’t need detailed reports of my reproductive health. This response is pretty typical of my male friends. The point is noted and the conversation moves on to a different topic. But we’re glad to report that most people have been gracious enough to thank us for letting them know and to wish us luck. Well, thank you for listening.
2. I Don’t Want To Pry, But…
Next are the people who want to know more but are afraid to ask for fear of being seen to pry into a private affair. For Dan and I, while we’re not amenable to broadcasting IVF updates over Facebook and office lunches, it is not an issue to be shy or apologetic about, especially since we are comfortable enough to blog about it here. But just because we don’t initiate deep conversations about our reproductive organs at the dinner table, it doesn’t mean that we don’t want to talk about our IVF experience. We just don’t want to assume that everyone else is interested in the latest episode of Tubal Tango or Follicle (not the hairy kind) Folly. We’re just as happy discussing the latest movie release in California, as we are sharing a detailed account of Dan’s release into a container. So shoot! (the questions, I mean. I’m not talking to Dan here…)
3. Curious Kittens
These are mostly my younger female colleagues, for whom marriage and children are on the cards, but not in the immediate future. These girls are genuinely curious about what IVF involves and why even young couples like Dan and myself have to resort to this medical procedure. While they have no qualms about asking many questions to feed their interest, they are aware that infertility is a private matter for most couples, and handle the topic with sincerity, tact and sensitivity – which I am most appreciative of.
4. Concerned Carers
Many of our friends, upon learning about our IVF experience, have offered kind words, like “take care”, “don’t stress”, “rest well”, etc – mostly wishes relating to physical health. A caring few go a step further – to recognise that IVF can be an emotionally and psychologically-trying experience for couples, in that the procedure might not yield the positive results that everyone is hoping for. From this group, I get heartfelt messages to be optimistic (which I am!) and that they will be there for me if I ever need someone to talk to. Awww, thank you.
5. Help Lines
My friend Jennifer, upon learning about our decision to go for IVF, offered to introduce me to her friend Agnes – mother of an IVF baby – so that I could have a mentor and friend to share IVF experiences with. We met over lunch at Agnes’ place and since then, both girls have warmly offered to bring me homemade cupcakes and their cheerful company to save me from boredom while I’m marooned at home on mandated bedrest next week. Their visit would help take my mind off IVF for awhile – to keep me mentally sane – while I await news of the success (or failure… *gulp*) of the procedure.
6. Rude B*st*rds
So far, all the reactions to our revelation have been generally positive. Until I decided to let a senior male colleague in on the news. Initially, I had no intention to provide him with details, but thought that it would be easier to explain my 14-day absence from the office at the end of this month, if I revealed the reason for it.
And he replied: “I guessed as much it’s a pregnancy thing. Can’t you do it the normal way?”
How inappropriate. Insensitive. Ignorant. And downright rude. No, obviously we can’t conceive normally, can we now? Idiot.
Reactions like this, I can do without.
So if you are ever given the opportunity to respond to news of IVF, the rule of thumb is (at least, according to us) that it’s okay to ask – after all, the couple already trusts you enough to tell you. Questions are most welcomed. All we ask for is a dash of E.Q, a handful of tact and some support.