Making the decision to be open about our infertility and journey to have a child through gestational surrogacy was a difficult one. When we first started trying to get pregnant, it was something we wanted to keep secret. I was giddy with excitement at the thought of starting a family of our own and wanted to be able to completely surprise our family and friends with the happy news that we were expecting. For a little while our secret stayed between us. We went out to dinner to celebrate this new phase of our lives and I ordered a glass of wine, musing over the possibility that it could be the last drink I’d be able to have for some time.
That was almost three years ago. Since then we’ve spent a lot of time pretending that we are okay even though we’re not. We’ve learned to hide our pain from those around us no matter how much we’re hurting. We’ve faked smiles through many careless comments and insensitive remarks. At times we’ve even remained isolated from those we care about in an effort to protect ourselves. Staying quiet while we suffered became almost second nature, but it didn’t come without a price. Not being able to grieve openly ate away at me, and as we encountered each new obstacle, I started feeling as though even those closest to me had no idea who I was anymore.
For months we debated over whether or not it was time to finally share our news, and eventually we decided that we were ready to be open about our struggle, which had now become a significant part of lives. By that point any hope of surprising our loved ones with good news had long since vanished. Years of ‘trying’ made silly dreams like that suddenly feel so trivial. We were no longer the idealistic couple we’d once been, 24-years-old and excitedly anticipating our first child. Over the years we’d grown up and become hardened, even cynical. Nothing about this was ‘fun’ anymore.
But the idea of sharing our news of pursuing a family through gestational surrogacy was much more difficult to fathom. It was risky to allow people into this intimate process before we knew how we would be affected by it, or even how it would end. Beyond that we recognized that there would be some who would not understand our decision– or worse, criticize it. The thought of being so vulnerable during the most heartbreaking of times was terrifying, and I hesitated to put us in that position after everything else we’d been through.
Ultimately the final decision was made during one of our appointments to the fertility clinic. As our clinical nurse detailed everything we’d face over the upcoming months, she warned that we would need a lot of support just to get through it. I realized then that even though we are broken and tired from the last few years, we still have many battles ahead of us. Fighting on our own is no longer an option, and we are desperately in need of friends and family to lean on as we continue this journey. It was time to come clean.
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see–
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway
– “Let it Go” by Idina Menzel
For the most part, finally being able to share our story with others has been a relief. Finding a voice in the midst of a situation I have no control over has given me some of the strength I need to keep moving forward. The hope that I might be able to help others better understand infertility by sharing my perspective comforts me through the criticism. Being confronted on our decision has been painful, but it pales in comparison to what we have been through thus far. I have only become even more certain that we’ve made the right choice for our family, and the judgement of some is a small price to pay in exchange for the support of our loved ones.
The first time I heard this song tears rolled down my cheeks in the darkened movie theatre. I could completely relate to Elsa in her attempt to hide such a big part of herself from everyone around her, even though it resulted in her isolation from all those she loved. I remember wishing that someone would be willing to fight so hard in order to share my burden too.