A friend, in response to my Let Me Be post, wrote an interesting collection of thoughts on having children. She noted that when she learned her cousin was pregnant with twins, her first thought was whether it was IVF. Then she asked herself, “why do I care?”
That’s a really good question, and I don’t know the answer. But it does seem to be the kind of question we all ask. At the same time as I fiercely protected my own privacy (you may laugh about this given the intimate details I now willingly divulge here online, albeit under a pseudonym), I remember discussing with my husband whether his brother’s twins were conceived via IVF. The twins are now 11 years old, and we still don’t know. We have an opinion on it, but what business is it of ours? None, I know, and that is why we have never asked, and never will. I was not prepared to be open about our own IVF efforts, and we never told my husband’s parents or brothers (although we probably would now if the subject came up). So I have to respect their right to privacy too.
I’ve seen a variety of opinions on this, though. Some people find it appalling not to tell. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of!” they cry. (And they are right.) They share details with their families, friends, colleagues at work, people at the bus-stop, as if they are on an awareness raising crusade – and maybe they are. If it works for them, that’s good. They are horrified that some of us make a different decision.
But just because we’re not ashamed of something, doesn’t mean that we want everyone to know. I’m not ashamed of spending all morning in bed this morning (just because I can), but it doesn’t mean I wanted my next door neighbour to know when he knocked on the door at about 11 am. I’m not ashamed of the way I vote, but it isn’t something I ever really discuss with anyone. So IVF, a process that is so intimate, that brings up so many emotions, and can be such a stressful experience, is hardly something I was ever going to shout about from the rooftops. Many of us who go through this don’t want to expose ourselves to judgement, or insensitive questions, or simply the knowledge that other people know what we’re going through. Let’s face it, many people will not understand – either the decision, or the mechanics themselves of IVF. People think it’s an instant fix, guaranteed to work. Others have very strong views on it based on religious beliefs.
Besides, who goes around telling everyone exactly how their children were conceived (or not conceived as the case may be)? Why should we expect couples who go through IVF to be any different?