IVF :: Stop being assholes about it.

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A few weeks ago I was contacted by a reader on Facebook who asked me if I would be interested in talking about the sensitive topic of IVF. If you read the blog on a regular basis you will know that I never shy away from the sensitive topics that other’s might not want to talk about. Why would I? As a mother of 3, raising the next generation and as a blogger I feel like its super important to talk about these topics because, well, we need to stop being assholes about them. By which I mean we need to start thinking about how we react, what comes out of our mouthes and how our behaviour makes others feel.
This is K’s story:
After 2 long years of trying for a baby, I eventually got referred to York Hospital for numerous fertility/blood tests (I just had a feeling something was wrong).  In 2008 I received the devastating news after having my laparoscopy procedure that my chances of ever having a baby naturally were 1%, but this 1% was likely to result in an ectopic pregnancy, due to both my tubes being severely deformed and damaged (the reason for my tubes being this way was put down to a potential water infection that had reached my tubes and damaged them). Not only did I receive this bad news, I was also informed that York Hospital did not fall in the postal code area for IVF on the NHS, so we would have to go down the private route.  I was left feeling absolutely devastated, numb and disappointed in myself as a woman.
After the initial shock, I pulled myself together and researched numerous fertility clinics, I came across London’s Women Clinic Darlington.  We went for an initial consultation and I was advised to have both tubes removed, as this would up my chance of IVF being successful.  So back to York I went for both tubes to be removed, this op was in a way a good thing and a bad thing.  Good being that it would help with the IVF, bad that a part of my reproductive system was being taken away from me and it made me feel less of a woman than I already did.
I told all my close friends and family what was going on, they were all really supportive, but unfortunately me being ultra sensitive about it all took a lot of the comments to heart.  Comments like “would you ever adopt”, “you can use a surrogate mother”, “just chill it will happen”, “will you have to use a donor”  etc etc…  I know all these comments were said in the nicest of ways, but the lack of understanding was very apparent. My fertility problem was a mechanical problem, my ovaries and womb were both healthy and working how they should be, but I guess once infertility is mentioned, everyone assumes it means I’m totally infertile.  It’s like anything in life, unless someone has actually been through it themselves, they will never ever understand it fully.  We’re all guilty of passing comment without fully knowing someone’s situation, but because infertility is such a taboo subject no one really likes to openly discuss it.  I have never been embarrassed of my fertility problem, I’m just worried about my infertility being misunderstood and people making assumptions that my children aren’t biologically mine, or other children making comments in the playground to Louis like “test tube baby” (as unfortunately we still haven’t moved on from the term “test tube baby”).
I was recently speaking to a friend, who is also having fertility problems, we were discussing that there is lack of knowledge on IVF and infertility.  Its the lack of knowledge and awareness of IVF/infertility that lead to hurtful and insensitive comments being made, although not intentional.
My journey to having my 2 boys has been extremely difficult, not only from the infertility side, but Louis was 2 months early (he was in hospital a for a month), I had an extremely traumatic labour which ended up as an emergency c section which resulted in me nearly loosing my life due to a major PPH.  Luckily I didn’t and I gained enough confidence over the years to try for a second baby Logan, he was a little harder to get, Louis was 1st time lucky, Logan was 3rd time lucky.  For what ever reasons, my journey to being a mummy was never going to be plain sailing but I did it.  I want anyone who is suffering from infertility to be more positive and open about it, it should this day in age no longer be such a taboo subject.
Initially I had a few comments like “is he actually yours”, “what if they put the wrong embryo back”, “just adopt its easier” – I understand a couple of those comments were probably said in jest, but are so insensitive.  Its like me saying to a couple who have conceived naturally “did your wife play away?”. I wouldn’t dream of it, so why do people think they can pass comments on IVF ???  I get the impression that a lot of people see IVF as a pretend way of getting pregnant, or a subject that can be joked about, people are so opinionated about it, they talk about it as if the person who is going through it has no rights to be a mummy or has no feelings.
I think there is so much stigma attached to IVF because people have their own preconceived views and opinions that are based on their incorrect facts.  Infertility is generally a medical condition/problem, so I don’t understand why people are so opinionated towards IVF, we would never say to someone who had a liver condition needing a transplant, that its gods way of saying they should die, so why do people have to say its gods way of saying we shouldn’t be parents.  We are living in a world that is becoming more medically advanced by the day, you would think that after 38 years IVF would be seen as the “norm” by now.  This also applies to lesbian/gay couples too, just because they might not be having fertility problems, they still have the right to being parents, whether it be adoption, surrogacy, IUI or IVF.
I do tell a lot more people these days, but mentally I’m a lot stronger now than I was at the beginning of my journey.
I don’t think anyone can think that this kind of response to IVF is appropriate, can they? I have never shied away from talking about the “taboo” topics or uncomfortable topics, but this really struck me as sad. Why is it that we make so much progression with topics such as miscarriage, PND and the struggles of parenthood, yet IVF seems to be the forgotten cousin of the taboo brigade? If we could encourage an understanding of the type of suffering that parents feel when they are struggling to conceive then maybe we could move past this kind of hurtful attitude.
What are your thoughts?
H x

36 Comments

  1. April 1, 2016 / 1:50 pm

    First of all, thank you for sharing such an honest post and I totally agree with others, unfortunately, people can be so insensitive and ignorant at the same time. Sorry to hear that you had to deal with such people.

  2. Jennifer Silver
    March 31, 2016 / 9:53 am

    Genuinely shocked by the post! I am definitely guilty of putting my foot in my mouth in occasion but can’t believe people would think those things let alone say them. It’s great to highlight, I hope people gain more understanding.

  3. March 30, 2016 / 8:56 pm

    Such an honest post. Shocks me how insensitive some people can be!

    • Harriet March 31, 2016 / 9:05 am

      It’s shocking isn’t it!

  4. March 30, 2016 / 8:52 pm

    What an honest post. I’m afraid a lot of people are just ignorant. It’s not malicious, in a lot of cases the speaker thinks they are being comforting. I am sorry for all you had to go through. X

    • Harriet March 31, 2016 / 9:06 am

      Very true Tori 🙂

  5. March 30, 2016 / 8:26 pm

    Gosh, I actually can’t believe people can be so lacking in sensitivity! Some of the comments are really inappropriate and lacking empathy. I have a friend who went through the whole process and it can be hard enough without people shoving their oar in!

    • Harriet March 31, 2016 / 9:06 am

      I know, I don’t think it’s ever out of malice, just ignorance!

  6. March 30, 2016 / 3:42 pm

    A fantastic and so honest a post. I struggled to conceive, but not to this extent. Certainly enough people don’t talk about it, or even have a chance to read articles like this. I feel like I understand things a bit better myself now
    Tx

  7. March 29, 2016 / 9:11 pm

    Great post – I honestly can’t even imagine what this lady has been through. So many of us take getting pregnant for granted, I know I did with my girls. People do really need to think before they speak. xx

    • Harriet March 29, 2016 / 9:30 pm

      I couldn’t agree more Natalie – I too have been very fortunate, so it’s struck a cord within me. H x

  8. March 29, 2016 / 6:40 pm

    I don’t know how people can be so insensitive! IVF is a wonderful thing, it amazes me. Great post. *hugs* xx

    • Harriet March 29, 2016 / 9:04 pm

      Thanks Sarah – I’ll pass the hugs on, she is one super brave lady for sharing with us all. H x

  9. March 29, 2016 / 4:22 pm

    My best friend had her daughter by IVF and her journey was heartbreaking at times and im so happy shes managed to have such a positive outcome, funnily 3 years after an IVF daughter along came a son naturally …

    • Harriet March 29, 2016 / 9:05 pm

      That is wonderful Emma!! What a magical outcome 🙂

  10. March 29, 2016 / 11:48 am

    It is hurtful to comment on anybody’s medical/emotional/life situation, period. I just wish people stopped being judgemental and got on with their own lives.

  11. March 29, 2016 / 9:42 am

    It must be so frustrating to hear the people you love make comments such as that during hard times such as this (even if they mean well)! There needs to be greater understanding on a lot of medical issues in today’s world.

    • Harriet March 29, 2016 / 11:57 am

      That is so right Laura!

  12. March 29, 2016 / 9:22 am

    Some people are so insensitive they need a reality check. So sorry to hear about the struggles you went through but do you know what you are so strong and an inspiration to us all!

    • Harriet March 29, 2016 / 9:37 am

      Thank you Ana – she is most definitely that! H x

  13. March 29, 2016 / 8:50 am

    People get funny with ivf and I don’t understand why. Guess they don’t understand what it means to be childless when you want kids.

  14. March 29, 2016 / 8:35 am

    I cannot believe some people and their insensitivity – it is shocking! I am so blessed to have conceived four children naturally, I don’t know how I would have coped in this situation. So brave and inspiring, thank you for sharing. Kaz x

  15. Daniella
    March 29, 2016 / 8:21 am

    I didn’t realise there was such a stigma attached to IVF. I assume the people with the rude and uncalled for comments already have children and don’t understand what it’s like to not conceive naturally?

  16. March 29, 2016 / 7:55 am

    As someone who is currently trying for a baby with issues in the way this really hits home. Knowing that there is hope through these treatments gets me through difficult days where I hate my body for not conceiving.

  17. March 29, 2016 / 4:05 am

    I don’t think its appropriate at all. I’ve watched my friend and her husband struggle for years to have a baby, even with IVF and I wouldn’t want to wish that on anyone. So hard and something that is constantly ruling their lives xxx

  18. March 28, 2016 / 9:45 pm

    Although I am only 20 several people close to me have struggled with fertility it’s great to see you are spreading the message that people should talk about it and not suffer in silence xxx

  19. March 28, 2016 / 8:30 pm

    Very informative post. I know a few people who’ve had IVF and it’s a stressful enough process as it is without people lacking empathy.

  20. March 28, 2016 / 7:50 pm

    I completely agree – this is such an important topic to talk about it yet is still totally taboo. I’ve been through IVF and can’t have children. After many years of hoping, my husband and I have decided to draw a line under it and be happy, we’re blessed that children were always a “would be lovely to have or not” and we’re very aware that this helps us in many ways. Yet I’ve had everything from “it takes a really strong couple to be ready to be parents” (admittedly, from someone who didn’t know we were struggling but still a totally patronising dickhead comment) to “don’t you think going on luxury holidays is a bit self-indulgent?” It’s BIZARRE what people feel ok to say about it, We’ve decided to live life to the full but even after all this time there are still moments and will always be, when it makes us sad X

  21. March 28, 2016 / 6:02 pm

    It amazes me that people still think is taboo.. I mean it is a wonderful thing for people who cannot conceive naturally!

  22. March 28, 2016 / 5:40 pm

    It is odd how some people have views on subjects, I don’t agree with the sentiment given at all x

  23. March 28, 2016 / 5:30 pm

    There is definitely a lack of sensitivity around this subject. I think the majority of people do lack empathy – people need to think before they open their mouths.

  24. March 28, 2016 / 3:56 pm

    Oh wow. I had no idea that people actually had opinions on IVF! I always thought IVF was a brilliant thing for people who can not conceive naturally. An interesting read

  25. March 28, 2016 / 3:55 pm

    Wow I’ve never really thought of this before, thank you for sharing, it’s really made me think!

    MadeFromBeauty.co.uk

  26. March 28, 2016 / 8:38 am

    I must confess I am probably one of those who would initially think that when some people go via the IVF route is maybe there is something wrong with the fertility of the man or the woman but today I have learnt something new. Great post.

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