Podcasts

Telling Friends & Family

Communicating with friends and family can be challenging when dealing with infertility, and it's a personal choice between you and your partner (if you have one) how much you feel comfortable sharing, if anything at all. In this episode of "Dear Infertility," we take real questions from real fertility patients on this topic and offer research-backed tips and strategies for how to cope. To learn more about Rescripted and to join our free fertility support community, head to our website at Rescripted.com.

Published on March 15, 2022

Rescripted _Ep9_Telling Friends & Family: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Rescripted _Ep9_Telling Friends & Family: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Hi, I'm Kristyn Hodgdon, an IVF mom, current IVF patient, and co-founder of Rescripted,

Ali Domar:
And I'm Dr. Ali Domar, a thirty-four-year fertility industry veteran, psychologist, and expert in the mind-body relationship between stress and infertility.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Welcome to Dear Infertility, the first-ever podcast that doubles as an advice column for those dealing with the daily stressors related to infertility and pregnancy loss.

Ali Domar:
We're here to answer your real life questions related to the mental and emotional toll of infertility, while providing research backed tactics and strategies for overcoming these dilemmas.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Now, let's dive in and help you find calm on this stressful journey.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Hi, everyone, and welcome back to the Dear Infertility podcast. I'm your host, Kristyn, and I'm here with Dr. Ali Domar. Hi, Ali!

Ali Domar:
Hey, Kristyn, how are you doing?

Kristyn Hodgdon:
I'm doing well. So today we're going to talk about whether or not to tell your friends and family about infertility. Our community members wrote in with a ton of questions on this topic, and I think everyone sort of has a different approach to this, depending on how comfortable they feel sharing. So, you know, just to jump right in, someone asks, how do I bring up my infertility journey with my family?

Ali Domar:
Well, I'd say if you want to share your infertility journey with your family, I mean, I think that that there's no obligation. And I think, you know, before one considers telling anybody, one needs to take a step back and decide if you want to share that information and you may want to be selective who you share information with. I mean, for example, I've had patients who come from extremely Catholic families, and the Catholic Church does not approve of IVF, and so my patients have had to pick and choose who in the family to tell, depending on their degree of Catholicism. So she ended up telling her parents who she knew would be supportive and loving and actually helped her out financially, but they all agreed she couldn't tell her aunt and uncle because their aunt and uncle and cousins were deeply religious and they would not be OK with my patient doing IVF. So I think you need to sort of think about who the person is and what their background or belief system is. But you know, as I've said before, I think it's a good thing sometimes. I mean, there's an expression, an Asian expression that a burden shared is halved. And so I think if you're going through infertility, sometimes talking to somebody else about it, friends or family, can be really helpful for you, depending on who the person or people are that you're telling. And, you know, if it's family members or if it's close friends, you know, be aware of what kind of person they are and share the information with people that you anticipate can be there for you and can support you and can listen to you and can hug you and can help you. And don't share this information with people who you perceive will be judgmental or critical or say things that make you uncomfortable.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah, I always had a hard time with, because I'm such a social, outgoing person or I was before I had fertility and COVID, but, you know, I always had trouble with the people that I didn't want to tell canceling plans or backing out of things or just stepping away from the friendship, or, you know, I felt like I almost had to explain my actions, but then I didn't want to tell them what I was dealing with. Do you have any tips for, for those situations?

Ali Domar:
Well, you know, I'd say other than religious beliefs, if you have a friend who you're avoiding telling, I guess I would wonder what kind of friendship is it?

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah.

Ali Domar:
I mean, you know, you know, my husband and I sort of, I probably shouldn't say this publicly, but we sort of think of our friends as our foxhole friends and our party friends. So the foxhole friends are the ones that you could call at 2:00 in the morning and they'll be there for you, they're the ones you, you talk to when you're in crisis and they're, they're there for you, and presumably you're there for them. And then you have your party friends who are like, so much fun to hang with and you love doing stuff with them and you may want to go on vacation with them, but they just sort of can't handle anything deep. And so you probably wouldn't share stuff with them because that's just not the kind of friendship you have. So I'm not saying they would be awful, negative, terrible, but that's just, you're there to have fun with them, and that's just where they want to be. So I'd say perhaps think of your friends and family in that way and maybe consider sharing this with your foxhole friends. I mean, you share information like this, which is painful and personal if you expect to get some kind of either neutral or positive reaction out of them. I would not share this with people who, you know, I have a lot of patients who don't want their mothers-in-law to know, especially if it's female factor infertility, because they don't want that kind of conversation, they don't want that criticism, they don't want that burden. And I'm going through this right now with a patient of mine whose father-in-law, I'm sorry, is just not a nice person and is harshly critical of her for some reason and its female factor infertility. She and her husband have agreed, they don't want him to know.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Right.

Ali Domar:
Because it would give him one more thing to criticize her about.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
That's sad. Yeah, I, it's hard kind of someone actually wrote in with that issue. She's trying to convince her husband that his mother-in-law doesn't need an explanation.

Ali Domar:
So that his mother or his mother?

Kristyn Hodgdon:
His mother, she, she said, how do I convince my husband that my mother-in-law doesn't need sort of an explanation for why we haven't given them a grandchild?

Ali Domar:
You know, that's a tough one, because if she's told her parents, he might feel it's unfair that her parents know and his parents don't, and this comes up all the time because, you know, if a woman is close to her mom, then she's going to want to tell her mother everything that's going on. And, you know, because she expects that her mother knows her well enough to say and do the things that she needs to feel better, and she may not have that kind of relationship with her mother-in-law. And again, especially if it's a female factor, she may not want her in-laws to know, you know, it's a tough situation because it feels kind of unfair for her if he tells them and she doesn't want them to know. But it kind of feels unfair to him that she's getting the support of her parents and he's not getting the support of his.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah, that's very true.

Ali Domar:
So I think it's worth the conversation with the two of them. And maybe if he feels really strongly that his parents know, then he sort of talks to his parents about it, with the agreement that they will not bring it up around her. That's like a line in the sand.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
That's a really good tip. What about how to respond when and if your family or friend doesn't acknowledge your struggles or minimizes them?

Ali Domar:
I would say, I would say when, not if, because I think a lot of people just don't acknowledge how hard infertility is, and people seem to think that infertility is this like spoiled rich people thing. You know, it's, you know, there are going to be people that just don't acknowledge it. And ironically, sometimes those end up being the people who themselves are going through infertility and didn't want to tell anybody.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Interesting. Yeah.

Ali Domar:
So because if they, if they acknowledge that you're going through fertility, then they have to sort of confront the fact that they are too. I mean, I think, you know, this is, I know this is going to sound harsh and I don't mean it to sound harsh, but I think sometimes having a crisis such as infertility sometimes can show you who your true friends and family are.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah.

Ali Domar:
I think that, you know, I remember years ago one of my closest friends had a really significant health crisis. And I remember going to visit her in the hospital and she said to me, it was so interesting to see how some people just were there for her and a lot of people disappeared. I'm like, yeah, sometimes, I mean, obviously some people are not comfortable going to a hospital, but they could send flowers, they could send fruit, they could do something. And again, if you're in a crisis and some friends aren't there, maybe those are your party friends, maybe they can't handle anything personal or medical or, you know, infertility, which has all the sort of sex, you know, and maybe you just sort of say, yeah, they're fun at parties, but they're not somebody I feel close to or feel that I can confide in.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah, yeah, it does show you who your true friends are. In some cases, you know, maybe there's a falling out or someone doesn't support you as well as you thought they should have or just isn't there for you. But in other cases, sometimes it teaches you, too, which friendships you value most. And I think talking about like the mental load and juggling everything. You know, there are some friends like B or C friends that, that, you know, it's just really hard to keep up with everyone. Like at the end of the day, if you're thinking of texting two or three people or calling one friend, maybe those people don't come to the top of your mind. And then like over time, that friendship fizzles out. I mean, I think that's OK, too.

Ali Domar:
I think, I mean, you know, I said this, I say to my all the time, I mentioned to my patients that just because someone was your best friend at third grade doesn't need to be your best friend when you're thirty three.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah.

Ali Domar:
You know, people change a lot over time, and I think it can be a little dicey. I think also those of us who are immersed in the world, like I remember a friend years ago saying she got pregnant, my response was how? Because in my world was it IUI, was it IVF, or was it PDT? And she's like, we had sex. I'm like, oh, wow, you sort of forget because you're so, but I think we also don't realize that some people just don't get it and they don't know what to say, and I'm haunted. Early in my career around the time I just started to see infertility patients, one of my best friends have been married for like three or four years, and I remember, we were like in our late twenties, and I remember saying to them, so when are you going to make me an auntie? And I would never say that now, but I didn't know anything about infertility in those days and people say stuff, and so you might have fertile friends or two fertile friends who don't know what to say and don't know that the things they're saying are insensitive. So you have a number of choices, one of which is to educate them. And that's, you know, in the Ferticalm app we have these scripts, we have like 50 situations of people saying stupid things to you and you have in the app, you have two responses, you either can be polite, oh, you know, thank you for telling me, or you can educate them. Now, we used to have what we called a zinger, which I'm hoping we can put, which is sort of this rude, zinging them back, response, but we couldn't do when the app was sponsored by Ferrin, but now it's on the App Store, so I want to put the zingers back. But if someone says something awful to you, you can either say, you know, thank you for your comment and walk away, or you can choose to educate them and say, well, actually, you know, only, you know, about half of all infertility cases are caused by female factor, half by men. Or you can say, actually, age does also affect sperm or whatever it is, or you can do a zinger. I mean, if you think they're saying something kind of passive-aggressively or whatever, you can zing them right back.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
No, that makes total sense. Someone actually asked if I tell my friends and family about my infertility, do I have to give them constant updates?

Ali Domar:
No, you do not need to give them constant updates. I mean, there are a number of ways of going about it. You know, I get, I remember telling patients, if you tell thirty-five people you're going through an IVF cycle, you're going to have thirty-five people texting you when your pregnancy test day.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah.

Ali Domar:
Do you really want to tell thirty-five people, no, it didn't work. And so there are a number of things, you can appoint a fertility spokesperson, it can be your best friend or your mom or your sister, and anybody who wants to know how you're doing can check in with them. Or you can create one of these, I know they have one for cancer patients called Caring Bridge, there are things like that. When someone's going through a medical crisis, you know you can let in friends and family and you post how things are going, and if they want to know how you're doing, they go to that website.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah, that's a great idea. You can do like a closed Facebook group, too.

Ali Domar:
Ok, thank you. Since I do not know the technology, yeah, whatever it is, it's just you can use social media to select and give people an update and then call the people or text the people or whatever the people, Facetime the people that you do want to talk with.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
What about feeling like an emotional burden after? I remember so clearly feeling this way, like after a year of negative pregnancy test, failed IUIs, my first IVF transfer failed, I just felt like I was sick of talking about it, and they were probably sick of hearing about it. So how do you kind of combat those negative thoughts?

Ali Domar:
A good friend is never going to be sick of hearing about it. You know, if a friend starts saying, hey, let's go to the movies, that might be a hint that she, here their...

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Let's go to the movies.

Ali Domar:
Because then you can't.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
I just got that.

Ali Domar:
You know? And yeah, I think that's true of any crisis. Like if you have a friend who's just not thriving on the dating scene and all she can talk about is these failed dates and how guys are jerks, when, you know what that's like to have somebody who's so focused on what's missing in their life, that's all they can talk about. So, you know, you can either say to yourself, OK, it's my turn. And you know, I sat through 18 failed relationships with this friend and you know, she owes me, or you can sort of spread it out a little bit, you know, other people that you feel comfortable confiding in or honestly join Rescripted and vent to other people. I mean, there's if you're feeling that people in your world aren't getting it, which is going to be most people because most of them haven't gone through infertility, then do something like Rescripted, where you, I mean, you know, I look at some of the chats and it's just amazing, and this is why people, you know why we were pushing mind-body and fertility as groups, because there's such power and talking about the things that are going on in your life, that everyone else go, oh, yeah, me too.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Mmhmm.

Ali Domar:
And people who get pregnant by like having sex half of one time, they aren't going to get it, and they're going to try to be supportive and they're still not going to get it. And they're going to say things or do things that seem insensitive or cruel. And it's just because they haven't been through the experience. And so seek out people who have.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yes! In our community, it's completely free. Well, thank you, Ali, this is fantastic. And until next time, everyone!

Bye!

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Thank you for tuning in to this episode of Dear Infertility. We hope it helps you find calm during this incredibly stressful time. Whatever you're currently struggling with, Rescripted is here to hold your hand every step of the way. If you like today's episode and want to stay up to date on our podcast, don't forget to click Subscribe. To find this episode, show notes, resources and more, head to Rescripted.com, and be sure to join our free fertility support community while you're there.

Sonix is the world’s most advanced automated transcription, translation, and subtitling platform. Fast, accurate, and affordable.

Automatically convert your mp3 files to text (txt file), Microsoft Word (docx file), and SubRip Subtitle (srt file) in minutes.

Sonix has many features that you'd love including advanced search, secure transcription and file storage, powerful integrations and APIs, transcribe multiple languages, and easily transcribe your Zoom meetings. Try Sonix for free today.