I saw another one today. I wasn’t prepared for it, and I don’t know why that was, because I should know better by now. But I saw it, and my chest tightened, and I felt those familiar waves of sadness, jealousy, anger, and resentment wash over me.
I glanced over at my daughter, now almost two and a half with cheeks for days and legs slowly losing their baby pudge. I have a child. One that was fought for and loved long before we saw her as an embryo under the microscope. My whole world and my focus for six years was standing right in front of me.
So why do pregnancy announcements still affect me so much?
I knew I couldn’t be the only one feeling like this, so I set out to speak with some other women who were in the same situation. Some didn’t have children, and some were parenting after their infertility journey, but many of their responses were similar.
Becky, one woman I spoke with stated, “It hurts every damn time, like someone has a death grip on my heart and just keeps squeezing. It’s always followed by guilt for turning into that green-eyed monster.” Devon added, “The thing I'm bothered by more than anything else is that I will never be able to plan a fun way to tell my husband that he's going to be a dad. Infertility stole that from me.”
The truth is, one in eight women struggle to have a baby and one in four have had a miscarriage. Odds are you know someone struggling. That, or you have really fertile friends.
It's become the norm to announce a pregnancy over social media. But for someone experiencing infertility, seeing those announcements can bring up all sorts of emotions ranging from shock to jealousy to outright anger and sadness. Vanessa said, “I actually got to the point where I hid people on my feed. I couldn’t take it. I was happy for them in a way, but my sadness and envy was too overwhelming.”
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Infertility is a hard road to navigate. How do you announce your exciting news while still being sensitive to those you care about who are in the trenches? Aislinn said, “I still get the 'happy for them, sad for me' feelings. It was a lot harder for me while we were trying for our second, but now that we've moved past that, it's becoming easier. I have good days and bad days.”
If one in eight women have infertility, you know someone who could be caught off guard by your news. The thing is, you can’t tiptoe around trying to make sure you’re accommodating everyone. But maybe the person you know is a good friend or family member. Those are the ones who will appreciate a chat before that ultrasound photo shows up on their Facebook feed. Here are some things you can do to make this easier.
1. Give Them A Head’s Up.
There is no perfect process for sharing the news, but one of the most helpful things you can do is tell them privately, and maybe even in a text message or email. It may appear to be dismissive, but sharing your news this way allows your friend the space to process their emotions in private. They may cry or want to rant, and then they can collect themselves and write you back when they are ready.
“The people who still go out of their way to recognize that their announcement might hurt earn so much respect from me. Taking time to shoot a text before announcing on social media, or worse, in person, means a lot,” Amanda explains.
Infertility comes with some ugly emotions, ones that can surprise even the most level-headed person. Perhaps you know your friend or family member would appreciate you taking them out for coffee to share the news in person. You know them best, and you need to do what you feel is right for your relationship.
2. Please Don’t Forget About Them.
Your first thought when announcing your pregnancy, knowing someone you care about wants a baby more than anything, is probably to avoid talking about your pregnancy. And I get it. It’s awkward. You’re pregnant, and they would give anything to be in your shoes. But one of the worst things you can do is make your friend feel even more alone than she already does. Tell them about your doctor appointments and how you want to decorate the nursery. If all else fails, ask them directly how much they want to know about your pregnancy.
3. Be Careful Of Complaining Too Much.
Remember when I said infertility was a hard road to navigate? There could be such a thing as too much information when it comes to talking about your pregnancy. When I was pregnant, I always made sure to talk about my complaints (believe me, there were many) with my friends who already had kids. Those are the ones who are going to actually care anyway. So make sure you have your tribe of seasoned moms to talk with about the hard parts of pregnancy, and be aware of the fact that your friend is envious of your morning sickness.
4. A Note On The Pity Party.
Finally, I beg you, don’t pity your friend or family member for experiencing infertility. As one who has experience being pitied, I promise you it’s a shitty place to be. There is a huge difference between pity and empathy. Tell them this sucks. Tell them you hate they’re going through this. Tell them you want so badly for them to be successful. Tell them you are there if they need to talk. And realize they will appreciate your pregnancy head’s up more than you know.