A few weeks ago a co-worker of mine came into the kitchen at work and after exchanging pleasantries, asked me if he could have my baby. I’d heard from my husband who worked in the same department as him that he had made a few comments about how he and his wife were trying to have a baby and how he had to go to “fertility doctor” (his words, not my husband’s) with her sometimes. This was the first person that I knew of (outside of my support group) who was struggling or had struggled with infertility and I wanted to help in any way that I could. Of course he didn’t know that my husband had told me about their troubles, so I couldn’t just bring it up out of the blue. I simply said “what?” He said that his wife wanted a baby and it would make her happy, so could he have ours? I didn’t really know how to ease my way into the whole subject of infertility, so I asked him if she wouldn’t rather have his baby instead?

Just as he was telling me that they’d been “having some troubles in that department” in walked another co-worker. While I was more than willing to discuss what we’d been through with this guy, I wasn’t necessarily interested in sharing it with the other random co-worker who had just joined us. I told him that I was sorry to hear that they were having issues and left it at that. He said that they were probably going to try to adopt a Jamaican baby soon and I wished him good luck with that.

I felt awful. Absolutely awful. I’m certain that he just assumes that getting pregnant was easy for us, as it is for most people. Murgdan over at Conceive This wrote about the “Infertility Closet” as a guest post on Fertility Authority a few weeks ago. For the most part, we are very nearly entirely in the infertility closet. Both of our parents know and my sister too, and a few select friends of mine. None of our “couple” friends know (or we haven’t told any of them, at least), and none of our co-workers either. And for the most part, I’m happy with our decision to keep our situation private. Not because I’m embarrassed or afraid to talk about it with people. Truth be told, I love talking about infertility, but with people who can relate on some level to what I’ve been through. When in the midst of all of the heartache that infertility brings, it’s hard to share your emotions with people who don’t know where you’re coming from, and difficult for them to understand and support you.

And even more important to me personally, is the added pressure of other people knowing what you’re going through. The seemingly endless questions of “how are things going,” “when is your next appointment,” “did your last cycle work?” I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle answering all of those questions over and over again and that was the main driver behind not telling people what we were dealing with. As it was, my mother in law was most interested in the details of our cycles and when things were happening. Fortunately my husband fielded all of those phone calls; I’m not sure how I would have handled it if she was asking me and not him. It just felt like a lot more pressure piled on to an already tense situation, not to mention the difficulty of having to tell everyone when things didn’t work out. In fact, I never even told my parents that our second transfer didn’t work…I just didn’t want to deal with it, so I completely ignored it. It’s hard enough to come to terms with a failed cycle without having to deal with telling other people about it.

For myself, I felt and continue to feel good about our decision to not tell many people, especially as the months went by and we were seemingly no closer to having a baby. Now that I am finally pregnant and will hopefully be bringing a baby home in just a couple of months, I am much more open to the idea of discussing what we’ve been through with others. I know from personal experience that having real life people who can relate to what you’re going through can be a life saver sometimes. I don’t like the thought of others assuming that our pregnancy was easily achieved. Even more than that, I hate the thought that there are other women out there who might need a support system and aren’t receiving the fantastic outpouring of support that I had. I would love to be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on for someone who’s in need. I would love to let someone else know that they aren’t alone, even though they may feel as though they are the only one going through this.

The same coworker and his wife came over to me at our company holiday party on Friday and she started asking me about the baby and when I was due and how I was feeling. I felt horrible, having at least a vague idea of what she’s going through and answering her questions as if my pregnancy was something I took for granted. There’s really no way to let people know that you understand what they’re going through without getting into the gory details, and really, a holiday party with a loud DJ is no place for that kind of discussion.

But the thing is that once you say something, you can’t take it back. If I were to tell this coworker or his wife our history, I could never un-tell it. And I think that for the most part, I’d be OK with that. There could be some potential for downsides in the future, but I think that the potential for good far outweighs the potential for bad. So for now, I’ll remain in the closet, but I’m willing to come out for the the right person or situation.

What about you? Are you in or out of the infertility closet and how do you feel about your decision?