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Discussion Starter #1
I'm sure everyone knows by now that Michelle Obama's new book includes the story of her own fertility journey.

Suddenly it seems that everyone has jumped on the 'let's talk about fertility/infertility' bandwagon.  I'm wondering what people feel about this.

Is it only me who finds it all deeply uncomfortable and upsetting?  I really don't want to talk about my issues, except with very close friends or people who I know will understand.  I don't want to be known as 'the one who can't have children'; I want to be known for all the positive things I do.  Do you feel the same?  And I don't think everyone should be forcing us to 'open up' and saying 'we need to talk about this'.  Who needs to?  I definitely don't, and I don't want to be forced.  What is it going to accomplish?  I want my privacy and my dignity; like a wounded animal I want to be alone in my hole, and the dignity to do so is being ripped from me along with everything else in my life.  Perhaps one day I will write a book about my experiences, but it will be a funny book written on my terms, not to fulfill the demands of a nosy society that has to know everyone's business.

Last week I shared what I was going through with someone I thought I could trust.  Now she's written a very public article about it. It' doesn't mention me, but there's no doubt as to why she wrote it, and I do wish she'd asked first, because it's the last thing I would have wanted.  Plus she has 3 children, so she can't pretend to understand.

Or do people really disagree and think it's great that everyone's talking about this?  It's OK if you do; I know it's the fashion nowadays to talk about everything, and that's fine.  I just feel violated at the moment, and needed a private place to sound off.

Or should we just ignore the whole thing, because for Joe(anne) Public it's just the latest craze, and next week it will all be over?  After all, the John Lewis Christmas ad has Elton John in it, and that's much more interesting for most people!
 

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Hi,

I think it is down to personal opinion and what someone feels happy to share.  I can't see how this book  is forcing every woman to open up?  I have seen plenty of posts on here over the years where people have wished that infertility was more talked about in the media and that people could be more open with their struggles to conceive.  Many women on here have gone public to help others to, a lovely lady on here called Essie was in the daily mail recently.

We only ever see the celebrity pregnancy announcements in the media and that annoys many people.  Especially if it is someone like Katie Price who never thought it would happen, as it took nearly '3 months' to get pregnant! 

I think that you have been really let down by someone discussing your life and you have every right to feel the way you do.  Could you perhaps talk to them?

I for one, would love infertility to be in the media more, as I was the first one in my huge family to have fertility problems and no one understood.  It was only finding these groups, that made me feel like I wasn't alone.  When I was younger, I remember asking people who had married or were older why they didn't have children and would even press it further, if they just said that they didn't want them.  I now realise that those people could have been trying for years or had recently had miscarriages.

So, there is no right or wrong, just personal opinion is my belief.

X

 

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I feel two ways. First, good that these taboo issues (miscarriage, IVF, etc.) are brought up into more mainstream knowledge and awareness. Specifically regarding Michelle Obama, I saw two interviews where she discussed this, which furthered both ways of thought for me.

But second, I often wish that if these people feel confident and compelled to go public with their struggles, knowing their voices are more powerful and far-reaching, I wish that they would 1) explain more what it involves - they say "I had IVF" like "I had a dentist appointment" and it sounds easy. No problem to manage or go through. For a typical person, the toil of the appointments, surgeries, procedures, medications, drugs, etc. is tremendous. Also, the average celebrity opening up about this is very likely from one of the world's largest cities where access to clinics is no issue. Many people need to commute or travel for access to treatment, and this also affects ability to work/income, and carry on typical life.

2) Use their voice to communicate it is a disease (as per the World Health Organization) and treatment should be funded or better funded. The cost is truly exorbitant and only easily managed by the 1% in areas where zero cycles are funded by the government or workplace insurance, especially with most people requiring multiple rounds to achieve success. (If they do.)  (I know some areas in Europe offer funding for some cycles, albeit with restrictions, but this is extremely rare in North America.)

I'm not saying that these people should say things they don't want to, but obviously they are wanting to bring these topics to greater attention. The real power would be in furthering support (the need for compassion, empathy, support, listening) and change (health care funding, job security, etc.) for the majority of people who dream just as dearly of being parents.

Sorry if this is kinda negative... been thinking a lot about these things recently!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I think you are both right; it's certainly up to the individual whether they feel inclined to 'let it all hang out' or not (no judgement intended here either way; it's a very personal thing).  I don't think it's the book itself which is at fault; it's all the subsequent articles saying, "We need to talk about..." as though we are under some sort of obligation to satisfy their voyeurism.  Is it the needs of women facing this dreadful process, or the needs of the publisher to make sales that are really underpinning this?

And I totally agree that people who don't know think assisted conception is easy.  They say things like, "Well, you can always have IVF", or, "Well, you can always have another go" as if it were nothing.  Most people can't afford IVF, at least not more than once.  And even if you can afford it, people don't have a clue how tough it is.  And, as my consultant pointed out, we don't have sufficient data to say whether repeated high doses of hormones have a negative long-term impact, e.g. in terms of cancer risk.

If we're going to write articles, let's talk about sexism in the fertility industry.  Don't even get me started!  I think, for example, that it's going to be a long, long time before we get a male celebrity speaking about male infertility. 

By the way, I'm all for groups like these where most people have trodden a similar path, and there is genuine understanding.  I just don't like people's pain being used in a rather cynical way to sell newspapers and magazines.  I know this is the way the world works, but I for one prefer not to buy into it.
 

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For me the whole thing is a publicity stunt that suppose to help her selling the book. If she would care about women struggling with infertility she would mention it before and would not put a price tag on it. Plus it would be nice to see her actually doing something to make it better.
I’m glad she opened up but I also get the feeling that she is trying to guilt women for not speaking difficulties in ttc while she herself kept it as a secret for years. How regular  women can find the courage to talk about if someone like her couldn’t? Someone with so much money, support and power.

I’m all for talking about infertility but I don’t want to force anyone to do so if they don’t want to or are not ready.

Since the beginning of our infertility my husband and I were very open about our issue.  I don’t regret it and I try not to except that other people will understand it. You have to go through it to know how hard it is and like someone mentioned how complicated it is.. It’s not just “ doing ivf” it’s the whole hell you have to pull yourself through.
Currently at my work I have 5 people struggling with infertility or have difficulties in ttc. Don’t know if I would ever knew about it if it wouldn’t be for me and my other coworker for being so open about our situations. All of us try to support each other as much as we can, we give ourselves updates (all of us are in different stages and deal with different problems) etc. It’s nice not to be alone. There are also plenty of other young people at my work that haven’t ttc yet. They also know about our struggles. Some of them might also face some difficulties in the future and I hope that they will not feel alone. It’s a different thing when you know people in real life struggling with infertility and making through it rather than hearing only about some celebrities with tons of money and all kinds of opportunities having the same problem. I think it’s less depressing.


 

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I think each to their own, it’s a personal decision but I can see what you mean about her keeping quiet about it for years Ice and Fire.

We used to keep it absolutely to ourselves but have since opened up and pretty much everyone knows. We try to tell as few people as possible when actually going through treatment as don’t like questions about how it’s going, feels like too much pressure.,

I’m quite interested in reading her book, and about her IVF experience.
 

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Mochashosh I can relate to your post. If you’ve been through a lot you have to put yourself first and decide who you can trust with such personal information. Probably some women are more or less sensitive, or luckier with kind supportive people to help them through repeated ivf & miscarriages- but it’s hard if you haven’t got much of a support network. Plus it often seems we live in a very competitive society.

I agree with IceandFire that it would be nice if the book could’ve been written for free or something like that! I also see other people’s points of view about increasing infertility knowledge being a good or helpful thing in general.

Thanks for the interesting post and all the best x
 

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For what it’s worth, i’m really pleased Michelle Obama has spoken up about miscarriage and ivf. I would welcome it if more celebrities who have gone through infertility spoke up.
We sit here feeling inadequate because the most natural thing in life escapes us and all we can see is people having however many children they want. Infertility seems invisible in our society. I don’t know anyone who talks about it openly in my circles and I think part of the reason is that there aren’t (sufficient) role models out there talking about their struggles.
So I was really moved when I saw that M.O. had spoken about it. I even texted my husband saying “it happens to the best of us”. It just made me feel that little bit better about myself.
Reading on I have to say I was disappointed that at least in the interviews she did make it sound quite easy - I had a miscarriage, I thought I was getting on a bit and so we had ivf and now we have two girls. Easy!
Nevertheless i will be buying the book so maybe I have been conned by the publicity stunt but I don’t mind. I want to read something relatable and feel like what we are going through is not so incredibly abnormal.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Strawberry, luckily I work for myself most of the time, so thank God I'm not around too many insensitive people.  It's usually family members making thoughtless remarks that sets me off.  On the contrary, the colleagues at one of my workplaces have been brilliant.  I haven't necessarily told them what's going on, but they can see when I'm upset and they're happy to offer support without knowing why.

Tihica, if you want a really down-to-earth book by real people who've been through this, try 'Get a Life' by Richard and Rosie.  It's funny and sad depending on the part of the story they are telling. but so relatable, and they certainly don't make it look easy, even though they succeeded in the end, and some of us sadly won't have that experience.  It's great for male partners too, because half of it is written from the man's perspective.  I don't know any other books written so much with the man in mind.

I do, of course, have friends who I talk to, particularly ones who've been there before, although I agree with Ali that I should have been more selective when I started out, because certain friends ask how it's going at every stage, and I really don't want to discuss it over and over.  They mean well, but it's misguided.  I'm very open with certain people.  For example, I tell all the gory details to my Minister, because I don't mind doing that (she loves it, but she can't believe some of the stuff I tell her), and I think it might be a service to her to know as much as possible if she ever has to work with congregants in a similar situation who aren't so happy or able to talk.  It's just that, particularly after today, I want to choose my audience with care.  Although I'm a very flamboyant person in public, I'm extremely private about certain things, and this is definitely one of them.  It's not that I'm ashamed or embarrassed.  It's just that it's nobody else's business and I feel no obligation to satisfy idle curiosity or voyeurism.
 

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I like the fact more “celebrities” are coming out about fertility treatments, I get embarrassed to say I’ve had ivf and that’s probably just because of the way I think but I feel it’s a bit of a taboo subject that some women feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it and it shouldn’t be that way.

I don’t think michelle or anyone else coming out with their ivf journey will change how I think or make me more comfortable talking about it but hopefully it will to a lot of other people.

 

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Hi,

I agree totally with the posts.  It is certainly down to the individual.  I do wonder though whether Rachel Weiss had DE, as she conceived at 48 years of age a baby girl.  I just think that knowing, could give others hope.  Especially if they are unsure about using DE.

X
 

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I think Rachel Weiss or Janet Jackson have got enough money to pay doctors to search for the last golden eggs.
 

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Lily  ;D best thing I’ve read in ages. Celebrities often forget the struggle of people with regular money who can’t buy up the worlds supply of youthful eggs haha
 

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Haha. So true. I m sure that for Rachel Weiss or Janet Jackson the whole embryology team must have focused on finding the right egg and the right sperm.

 

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I appreciate that Michelle Obama talked about her IVF struggles. However, she is still very lucky because it worked for her. Twice. So please don’t go out and talk about struggling when there are women like me who have multiple miscarriages and multiple failed IVFs. Because quite frankly I wish I were in her place. She talks about it as if IVF always works, while the truth is that most of the times it doesn’t.

Each to their own I guess. I prefer to keep my struggles to myself and only  discuss with my partner. He is the only one who understands me
 

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Efi, I agree with you. It sounds this way in the interview but maybe there are more details in the book regarding that. The message for now it’s clear for me - ivf it’s easy, it always works and you can always do ivf if you have a problem with ttc.
It’s very difficult to find someone who understands because unless you went through something similar or worse then you will not understand and that’s ok. I would never say to anyone going through multiple miscarriages or after having a stillborn that I understand because I don’t. I can have a compassion, respect and acknowledgement of their struggles but I don’t understand it.
I pointed out this once to my therapist and said that people just don’t understand. I wondered if there is a point in sharing it if no one I know in my life went through something like that and she said that the job of a therapist would be pointless if that would be the case  because most of therapists never went through the tings that the patients went through and yet they can listen and help.
I guess not everything is black and white and I think it all depends on the person. And as much as the “I understand” coming from people having no clue what they are talking about makes me mad I still think most of the people want good for you and they just don’t know what to say.
I was one of them- naive and ignorant and optimistic :) Now I know what I know but how they should know if we don’t talk about it?
 

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Hi IceandFire. I agree with you that they want good and they just don’t know what to say. And that’s the reson why I don’t discuss because no matter what they will upset me. They may have good intentions but quite frankly I have no interest in explaining to them how it is. I‘d rather keep to myself.

Not even my mum understands. I have ended up limiting completely contact with her because she just doesn’t get it. She still tried to fond put what is wrong with me and doesn’t have a clie there might be a male factor.

Just an example of what she has told me all those years:

1) you are not like me. I would conceive within theee months
2) do IVF to get over with it (meaning that IVF always works)
3) after the first miscarriage: you are too sensitive. I lost three. Well...i didn’t exactly „lost“ the chiöd. I had an abortion because it ws poorly.

The list goes on thus I feel that I am better off alone and talking to fertilityfirends. Friends and family just can’t understand. They mean only good but they don’t help.
 

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Hi,

I agree with you, Efi78,

Fertilityfriends is my comfortable zone too.  Friends and family and society can't understand unless they went through difficult journey like us.

My mom is concerned my well being and sorry to see what I've been going through, but she told me that she would never understand how I am feeling because she had never experienced.
 

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Efi I'm sorry your mum has been like that.  I don't tell mine much either apart from the factual things in terms of treatment plans.  Over the years her responses to me have been things like 'well if it wasn't for my hubby's issue (azoospermia), it might have happened quickly'!  She's also said that maybe if I'd met my husband earlier and known about the problems sooner it might have given us more time etc.  She also says about how it's hard for her as all her friends talk about their grandchildren all the time or people ask her how many grandchildren she has (I'm the only hope of a grandchild).  She also puts pressure on me to make sure I'm in 'tip top condition' physically for treatment (i.e hinting at me to lose weight).

In terms of Michelle Obama, I can totally see what people are saying on both sides of this.  I like that it's being mentioned more as I hate that the whole thing is a taboo subject but you're right that it does make it sound like you just do IVF and it works.  People think all you need to do is just rock up to a clinic, have an embryo transferred and bingo.  I'm quite open about our struggles as I want to kind of spread the word that it's not easy for everyone and not everyone can just decide they want kids and then go ahead and have them.  Much of the time now though, I don't like to talk to groups of friends about how things are in terms of how I'm feeling as I worry about getting insensitive comments as people don't get it.  Those comments are normally things like if we've thought about adoption, at least we can make the most of holidays and lay ins or even just 'I'm sure it'll work out'.  Errrr no!
 

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Efi78,  I am actually speechless at what your mum has said to you.  I just can’t believe that someone could be so insensitive.

X
 
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