So here's the thing. I have friends and family back home, and none of them are especially offended if I go about my day-to-day life without updating them constantly on its minutiae. They don't complain to me, for example, if I fail to let them know what I had for breakfast each morning, or how often I go to the supermarket and what I buy there. They might, however, have a tendency to get icky if I come home from living overseas without catching up, or at least letting them know.

And it's not like I come from New York, or Mumbai, or some other massively big, faceless city which turns on its wheels each day with nary a care for the comings or goings of the likes of one such as me. No, my home, despite being the third-largest city in Australia, is still described by many as a "big country town". My family moved there from various parts of the world about a hundred years ago, when it was just getting started, and hardly any of us have moved away since. Plus, I spent a good twenty-three of my formative years just traipsing around, forming connections, building friendships, and generally participating in the local community, and have since gone back for more. The long and the short of it is this: I will be seeing someone I know next week who doesn't have a clue we're doing IVF, whether I plan to or not.

"So what's my excuse?" I asked Mr Bea earlier in the week.

"Surely you can fudge it?" he replied. And mostly I can. Especially this first time. But I think we all know that, inevitably, we can't maintain the same level of closetness as we have so far.

"B and C, for example," I explained. "They're our oldest friends, and they're both free during the day a lot. I thought maybe I..."

"B knows."


"B knows. I told him."

"What? When? Why? What?"

"Back when it all started. I just, you know, wanted to chat to someone about it. So I told B. I'm not allowed to talk to people about it now?"

"Of course you are." And really, I'm quite relieved to find out that all this time I've been fretting about Mr Bea and how he's coping and everything when I needn't have worried because, you see, he's been seeking support. I'm just a little baffled he didn't mention this earlier, and I'm adjusting to the fact there are people who have known, unbeknownst to me. Over the next several days we had a lot of conversations like this:

"So that time, you remember, when we were at that place, and this happened, and... he knew?"

"Yes, he knew."

"So when he gave me a hug just before I left and I said, "That's not a hug," because he usually hugs so ferociously and he said, "Well I can give you a proper hug if you're feeling up to it," and... he knew?"


"And when C asked me what I was going to do in Singapore and before I had a chance to answer B jumped in and said I should become a Lady Of Leisure, and painted this caricature of a women who swans about having facials at the salon and complaining to her friends about the maid, and I said no, I'd rather become a reclusive eccentric who only comes out of the house at night and refuses to use any mode of transport other than the humble pushbike and always wears purple, then C joined in and had a turn and soon the original question had fallen by the wayside never to be brought up again and.... he knew?"

"He said that? That's pretty smooth."

"Goshdarn. Well this does put a new spin on things."

"Are you finished with the questions now?"

"Did you tell anyone else?"

"Just P."

"P knew? When? So you mean that time we...?"

So it looks like the "friend" situation is more sorted than I imagined. What about the others? Well, riding on the back of an idea given to me in a comment by Lut*, I have created our IVF FAQ. It's a blog! It's an FAQ! It's everything you ever wanted to know about B&A's infertility but were too polite to ask, except the things we don't believe you're entitled to find out! If necessary, I will print little business cards and hand them to people, especially where the alternative is smacking them upside the ear. Mr Bea has made me tone it down considerably, and the above link will be removed once I give the address out, just out of general paranoia. I've written it with a particular audience in mind, but feel free to make suggestions. And feel very free to use the idea if you think it will help!

*I don't know how to link to a specific comment, so here it is, from the Model Patient post:

"I have set up a special e-mail address that my friends can put on their baby-pics mailing list. My husband filters them for me. So far, no one has sent me anything there, so we'll see how that works."


Rachel Inbar said...

Great post, Bea :-) As long as no one bugged me, it was nice that people knew what I was going through. Of course most didn't really understand, but at least it wasn't a big secret.

Good for Mr Bea seeking support! I really admire my husband for the times he's gotten support.

Millie said...

Love your FAQ. That's very nicely done and should come in handy. What a great idea.

Mandy said...

As Tertia Albertyn once said, you are either out of closet, or not. You can't be both. So I set up my blog, and then broadcast it to everyone I knew. I added, "Don't ask me anything. If you want to know, read the blog." It's worked fabulously so far, and is a lot less stressful than trying to remember who knows and who doesn't!
At ladies night last night I spoke about it as openly as any other topic, and it was great. People need to know what a non-picnic this is.

Lut C. said...

I can report that I have received 1 message so for on my baby-inbox. I was so pleased that my friend had remembered, positively tickled.

I've actually contemplated starting a second blog for real-life friends and family. But I doubt it would do much good, since quite a portion is less computer-literate than I am.

I don't agree with Mands, or Tertia for that matter. I believe in compartmentalization (of course, so did the engineers of the Titanic).
My blog is not for family and friends in real life. Would they be able to handle the bitterness, the black humor, the jealousy? What's the point of exposing them to it? To me, my blog is like being in Infertiles Anonymous.

Very few people I know in real life know the details of our infertility. There is a price to pay, but so be it.

Kristy said...

Bea - I think I would drop down dead if my DH ever told me he had spoke to anyone about IF! I think he is very closed off about it and still a bit embarrassed (with sperm issues, i think he feels it compromises his manhood :( )

At least you don't have to deal with telling people now :)

Aurelia said...

Bea, I think this is a very good idea, one suggestion, maybe you should be a tiny bit more specific about the causes and/or tests you have been through. Since you are a vet, I would imagine you have a very well-educated group of friends and family who may understand the answers, and may even have gone through IF treatment as well, unbeknownst to you.
I understand why you may not want to be specific, I guess I just imagine that some people might be able to be more supportive, with more knowledge.
P.S. I'm adopted & I like your answers to "Why not just adopt?"

GLouise said...

I love the idea of an FAQ. Your husband sounds so sweet!

Serenity said...

I like the FAQ website. It's great.

I am pretty out of the closet with a lot of my friends, and I've always spoken openly about our IF with them.

Most recently had dinner with a friend who seemed uncomfortable when I kept bringing it up, and now I have to watch what I say with her because she's a dear friend of mine. Either she's pregnant and nervous to tell me or she's just sick of hearing about it. *sigh*

Right. Not my blog. A topic for mine on another day, I suppose.

Anyway, do what you're most comfortable with. I have a hard time keeping secrets from the people I love - and IF seemed like one massive secret.

Anonymous said...

Love, Love, Love the FAQ page. It was an absolutely genius idea.

Baby Blues said...

I love the idea! As Lut said in her post, "it's laying down the ground rules!" It saves us from the inconvenience of tediously explaining our ART.

As far as Mr. Kite is concerned, he usually let's me decide who I want to invite in our closet. He was glad when I told members of his family.

Maybe you should ask Mr. Bea to start his own personal blog too. It's time we give Smarshyboy some company. :-)

Carol said...

Brilliant! I love every word of it. Especially the part about the goat.

Carol said...

And I agree with Lut - compartmentalization works best for me. But everyone is different.

Somewhat Ordinary said...

I love the FAQ thing! I'm out of the closet with friends and family and people don't ask too many questions, but I might think of doing this too for such occassions! I'm the one that has been very free flowing with info and my husband seems to be pretty comfortable with talking about it as well. However, since we are dealing with a very private matter for guys (azoospermia) I have to be cautious about his feelings with who knows and who doesn't.

Watson said...

Great post Bea, and what a brilliant idea!

You must tell us what happens...

Hopefully, it can stave off some of the 'why don't you just relax and it will happen' comments.


JW said...

I love your FAQ site Bea (bee? ha ha, why not?). What an awesome idea. It would be so great to send people to somewhere like that who ask about it, because I find I just get all choked up, flustered, out of breath etc when I try to tell them about it. Its such a lot we want them to understand and its so hard to explain it over the table at a BBQ.

Ms. Perky said...

I love the FAQ! It's beautifully written.

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