family secrets, part 2

I thought my aunt and uncle chose not to have children.  My aunt is so career-focused, both of them travel so much.  It never occurred to me that they had dealt with infertility.  Last night I found out they tried for years.  They went through treatments (I’m not sure what; this would have been in the early 80s).  Finally they decided they couldn’t do it anymore and moved on without children.

I assumed my other aunt and uncle adopted my cousin from China because of a secondary fertility issue; I had no idea that her older brother was conceived after significant medical intervention.

Last night my mother told me these secrets.  I’m not sure why she told me after so many years; I think she didn’t know everything either till recently.

My mother also had problems conceiving; it took two years before I was conceived, and eventually she was diagnosed with POF (hot flashes at thirty!).

Taken all together, even in such a large family, this is quite a lot of infertility.  It makes me wonder where exactly we all came from!  And all of it, except of course for mine, is a great big secret.  My heart aches for my aunts and uncles, and for my mother, who went through this thirty years ago.  There was no blogosphere then; IVF was experimental (I was born the same year as Louise Brown); and all of it was, and is, a great big family secret.

What does it serve, to keep it a secret?  Knowing this history doesn’t change our situation — after all, my aunts and uncles don’t have anything to do with my husband’s MFI — but maybe there could be a way to talk about this the way we talk about oil changes, and sexual harassment, and three bean salad.

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7 responses to “family secrets, part 2

  1. So weird, isn’t it, when all we seem to really want to do is to reach out… To talk, share, commiserate, cry or laugh – whatever, but *together*. I slacked off and didnt post it (ha! How ironic), but my post for Nat’l IF Awareness Week was about this.

  2. I guess considering that many of US feel stigmatized or ashamed or ostracized, I can certainly imagine it being a lot harder to talk about for older generations. And maybe it’s still a source of a lot of pain. I like that your mother told you and maybe that other people are talking about it and told her. I’d love it if these fabulous Aunts and Uncles could share their experiences with you and support you…Anyway, lovely set of posts.

  3. Wow. I’m not sure if that’s reassuring or saddening that there’s that much IF in your family. I guess at least it’s nice to know some of them know what you’re going through. My mom and I are the only reproductive cripples in an otherwise superfertile extended family.

  4. Sometimes I wish I could talk about IF like it was a bean salad too. But then in the next breath I feel highly protective of my situation and want to shelter myself from any outside influence. So, yeah, it’s hard. I’m glad your mom told you about the IF struggles within your family though, it may mean you have more people around you that understand what you’re going through than you realised. That thought alone is quite comforting I think.
    x

  5. St. Elsewhere

    Sometimes there is some information that even our parents are not aware of. It is after the death of CheekyBub that my aunt revealed the problems of my maternal grandma to my Mom. This aunt of mine and my mom are 16 years apart, and for the four living daughters that are there today, my grandma had 13 pregnancies.

    Today, it would have earned her RPL diagnosis. She would have had some specialist to see, but that was not the case then.

    Infertility was a shame. It had a ring of God’s wrath, bad Karma around it, and the fear that the lineage would not continue meant that people continued to be closet sufferers.

    As infertiles, we are skeptical about revealing the news of a pregnancy to anyone initially, but that was always what we had been taught. Some voodoo and black magic, and some harm would happen to the baby and mom. No wonder it all remained secret.

  6. I think this is a fairly common experience — my mother and her brother were born when my grandmother was over 40 (this was in the late 1940s). My uncle only knows that they “tried for a long time.”

  7. Pingback: “put family first” | ginger and lime

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