Fertility Treatment Side Effects, Part II: The Out-of-Body Experience
How to cope with strain in your budget, your bedroom, and your conversations
Life in the Hot Seat
I wish I had a nickel for every time someone asked me why I underwent IVF to conceive my children, because I’d have a house next to Donald Trump’s by now. Seriously! I would never ask a friend, neighbor, or coworker something as intrusive as, “How come your husband went bald at such young age?” or “Why can’t you seem to lose weight?” Why on earth do people feel it’s their business to know about my private medical matters? Yet it happens. Frequently. So if you’re about go down the road of assisted reproduction, get ready to field some very personal questions.
Honesty Is One Policy
You may think the easiest way to address the “What’s wrong with you?” question is to tell the truth, but I’ve found that telling someone you suffer from a hormone imbalance or endometriosis often leads to more invasive questioning like, “Wow. How’d you figure that out?” or “Have you tried that new surgery to fix it?” Telling someone about your medical condition also encourages the inevitable stories about acquaintances with the same condition who miraculously became pregnant thanks to acupuncture or from drinking the juice of a berry from the Amazon.
But sometimes the truth will set you free, so if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind discussing your ovaries or your husband’s sperm count in public, just tell the truth. Because trust me, inquiring minds want to know!
The Evasion Technique
Sometimes the best way to handle an unwanted question is to avoid it altogether. If someone asks, “Why are you seeing a fertility specialist?” Just say, “Ah! Hold on!” and pretend to answer your phone. Or you can try answering with an ambiguous comment and another question like this, “Oh, just tests. Hey! What are you doing this weekend?” or “We’re just helping Mother Nature along. New topic! Your hair looks great. Did you get highlights?” A smart person will take the hint and back off. Unfortunately, some people are a little dense and require a more direct, albeit vague answer. “We just aren’t having luck the old-fashioned way,” will usually suffice.
Stop Them with a Joke
Responding to a nosy question with a funny quip is a great way to diffuse an awkward situation while telling someone to mind their beeswax with a big ol’ smile on your face. I’ve used all of the following with great success when asked why I underwent IVF:
“The doctors think I stood too close to the microwave and hard boiled all my eggs.”
“We’ve always wanted quadruplets.”
“My husband’s sperm keep taking a wrong turn at the fallopian tubes trying to inseminate my appendix. Go figure!”
“We still haven’t figured out that whole birds and bees thing, so we thought we’d just leave it to the experts.”
Again, most folks will laugh and quietly get the clue. Besides, it’s kind of fun coming up with new, creative answers.
Assisted reproduction is a lot like a soap opera: dramatic, exciting, scary, and hopeful. But like a television episode, it’s over quickly. So don’t sweat it too much because you can rebuild your savings, your sex life will return to normal once your kids go to college, and your friends … well, they’ll always be nosy!
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