Sharing the news of a pregnancy with infertile friends and family

I'm sure most of you are growing tired of reading my posts about adoption or infertility. I realize this topic may be a bit depressing or seem irrelevant to some. I promise to take a break from blogging about these issues for awhile, but first--I want to post a few tips for sharing the news of a pregnancy with friends or family members who are infertile or are struggling to conceive.

I can't even count the number of articles, blogs, and books I've read that deal with infertility. This past year I've searched high and low for advice and validation that my emotions and reactions towards announced pregnancies weren't out of the norm. For three years, the news of pregnancies has shaken me to the core. Again, it's not because I'm not excited for these friends, family members, and acquaintances---it's because it reminds me of what I can't have. As one adoptive parent put it this weekend---"It sucks to struggle with getting pregnant when it seems like some people can just sit on the toilet and get knocked up."

I think I've received pregnancy announcements in just about every way possible: cute cards sent out in the mail, Facebook status updates, emails, phone calls, blog posts, text messages, and face to face interactions. The first time I heard that someone close to us was pregnant when it was obvious that for us, getting pregnant was a chore--I bawled the minute my husband broke the news. I drove to the nearest parking lot and cried until I had nothing left. The second announcement I received in the mail---it was one that was meant to be hung on the fridge, but I just couldn't bring myself to tack it on the freezer door and have to walk past it each day. The next announcement came via text message while I was running a speech practice. One minute I was laughing at a student's humorous prose and the next minute tears were streaming down my cheeks as I excused myself from my classroom. The Facebook and blog posts announcing pregnancies that came with 412 excited comments were unavoidable for an avid Facebook user such as myself. Thank God for the "Hide" function on Newsfeed items.

But probably the hardest way to hear of a pregnancy is via telephone or face to face. In this method of communication the person announcing the good news expects a reaction that is similar to his/her joy...and rightfully so; this is a beautiful piece of news. But when you struggle with infertility, receiving this information and then trying to react positively on the spot is so difficult. Once I was at a graduation party for a student---as we were filling our plates with food, I inquired about the bright red pickles in front of me. The mother proudly explained that these were her world famous cinnamon pickles. I thought, Holy crap. I love cinnamon...and I love pickles. What could be better?!? Before I could begin thinking logically about the flavor combination, I shoved two in my mouth right in front of the mother. They were awful, but she was so excited about these dang pickles. I wanted to spit them out in my napkin, but I had no choice but to chew quickly and strategically so as not to let them touch my tongue. I didn't want to hurt the mother's feelings and make her feel bad about something she was so excited and proud about. That's kind of how I felt each time someone announced their pregnancy via phone or face to face. I was excited for these people, but it brought a bad taste to my mouth right away (not as bad as the cinnamon pickles) and I couldn't let my own problems squelch the joy these people were experiencing.

It seems like we infertile-ites would rather receive an email or a personalized letter announcing pregnancies. Though it's still hard to stomach (no pun intended), this type of announcement shows that true concern was made for our situation. A good friend of mine who struggled with infertility before becoming pregnant made it a point to send me the kindest, most considerate email announcing her pregnancy before she posted it on Facebook and told a bunch of friends. I don't quite remember what was in the email, but I do know that she acknowldged my struggles and explained that she understood if I didn't email her back right away. She understood that I needed some time to let the news settle and come to terms with it. I can't tell you how much this meant to me.

Some of you may be thinking that this seems like a lot of work and that infertile people are just selfish and can only think of themselves, and that's why they grow sad at what is supposed to be happy news. It is a little extra work--and we may seem selfish, but we don't want to feel upset about someone else's pregnancy. It tears us up inside that we can't handle these announcements from people who are close to us. Sending out a personalized letter or email will make it a little easier---we'll see that you are being so considerate to be delicate with your happiness.

If you're reading this blog, you are either lost and stumbled upon it by mistake or you are truly interested in what my husband and I are experiencing. So--if it's the latter, thank you for taking the time to try and understand our situation. We truly appreciate it.


Huskerbabe said...

I appreciate your insights. When we were young marrieds we had close friends who were struggling to have a baby. She could get pregnant no problem, but she could never carry them for more than a couple of months. It was heartbreaking for them. When we found out we were expecting our first child I went and told her personally because I didn't want her to hear it somewhere else. We cried together, because I know that even though she was happy for me, it broke her heart.
The hardest situation I've ever been in is telling my sister,who struggled with infertitility, that my unmarried daughter was pregnant for the 3 time in 3 years.
I guess I'm just telling you this because I've been on the other side. It's never easy to share this kind of news with someone who not only wants a baby but would be a fantastic parent.
I'm praying for both of you. I know that I barely know you, but reading you blog has shown me your heart. I'm praying that God brings you a child soon.

Danielle said...

Thanks for sharing your story, and thanks for being sensitive. We so appreciate your prayers!

Erin said...

Thanks for sharing this.

Carol said...

I agree that getting this news as we struggle with infertility is bittersweet--so SO happy that our friend, relative, acquaintance, is going to have a baby, but we are unable to conceive--it gets easier over time. I actually think that dealing with those who keep it a secret because they don't want to upset me is even harder and much more disappointing. Am I really THAT fragile or bitter or angry? NO! Just sad that it didn't happen for us.

Good luck with your adoption and please keep in touch if you have any questions!