Surprise Pregnancy Announcements

Fall is a time for many of my favorite things, including beautiful foliage, chilly mornings, boots, and college football. College football means meeting up with old college friends to relive our glory days. Or at least it used to. We’re now in that stage where almost ALL our friends have kids/babies. The college friends were among some of the last to bite the bullet, so there are lots of babies and surprise pregnancy announcements are always lurking.

Let me say that I’m typically not one of those people who can’t handle pregnancy announcements. If you’re one of those people, I totally get it and I’m not judging at all. But usually I can keep it together and put on my happy face. In two weeks we’re invited to a little reunion with a bunch of college friends. There will be a bunch of kids, a newborn, one friend who I found out today is five months pregnant, and another who I have my suspicions about. I’ll be about one week into my stims and I’m a little worried about how everything is going to go. Some of these friends know we’re having trouble conceiving (an understatement at this point) but others have no idea. I can deal with all the baby/pregnancy talk, but I’m dreading the conversation turning to us and when we’re going to have kids.

Today’s strategy for the surprise pregnancy announcement was to toss my greek yogurt and veggies back in the fridge and binge on some of these bad boys for lunch. Hey, it is the first official day of Fall!

My Fall Weakness - Candy Corn!

My Fall Weakness – Candy Corn!

I’m still working on my strategy for our reunion in a few weeks. I want to be open, but also don’t want to turn into an emotional mess. It can be a fine line to walk. I’m curious to know how all of you cope with surprise pregnancy announcements and friends who aren’t clued in to infertility? I’m very open to suggestions! 🙂

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To the Lonely Mamas

I saw this blog post shared on Facebook a while back and really enjoyed reading it: Are You Lonely, Mama? It is very easy when you’re infertile to envision this secret, exclusive club that all new moms belong to where they all instantly make friends with each other and spend their days watching their adorable babies grow up. It never really occurred to me that it could be lonely at times. Hard, yes. But lonely, no. I’ve had way too much time to build up parenting in my mind and I’ve really put it on a pedestal. So thank you to the author for bravely sharing that it isn’t always bliss.

But I would urge you to try to see things from my point of view, lonely mamas. When I scroll through Facebook, all I see are babies and happy parents. I see my friends with new lives and priorities, leaving me behind. Every morning, I walk past the middle bedroom in our house — a tiny little room between our bedroom and the guest bedroom. When we moved in two years ago, we started calling it the nursery. I decorated it in my mind. I pictured bringing our sweet baby home to this safe place. Now we call it the spare bedroom and we keep door closed because those thoughts and plans are too painful. Friends have stopped asking when we’re going to have kids. Some friends have stopped reaching out at all.

After more than two years of trying to get pregnant, my husband and I are in infertility limbo. I never imagined we’d be here. The mental and physical toll has been completely exhausting. We’re heartbroken, but we’re surviving. I’m lonely, too — for something I’ve never had.  As we head into our first IVF cycle, I hope that someday we look back on this as a season that made us stronger and prepared us to be amazing parents. Like the author, I’m trying not to let this loneliness steal this season from me.

It is very easy from my perspective to feel frustration, jealously, and even anger toward new mamas. I have friends who dealt with infertility before we started trying to have a baby, and I remember thinking they were insane. Every Facebook birth announcement or happy family out to dinner made them rage. But now I know. Infertility is a dark place, and you can only understand once you’re living there. I try to keep those feelings at bay, but I would be lying if I said they never consume me.

So I say to you lonely mamas — I get it. Being a mom is the hardest job. It can be isolating. At times, you miss your old life. Continue to share your feelings about motherhood — the loneliness and the joy. But I hope at the end of the day, you find comfort knowing that you’ve been given the best gift in the world. And you’re so very blessed to be given the opportunity to be a mama.

How to Talk to Your Infertile Friend

Everyone approaches a diagnosis of infertility differently, but one thing that has struck me is the lack of communication between friends on the topic. During our first year of trying to conceive, conversations with friends went from discussing the life changes that a baby would bring, to the “you guys better catch up” jokes, and then quickly changed to sympathetic looks and silence on the topic.

elephant

Infertility is the elephant in the room

On top of dealing with the sadness that infertility brings, these changes in friendships can be very difficult.

Here are some tips on how to talk to your infertile friends:

Ask About the Elephant in the Room
Infertility can make you feel lonely and put a strain on your relationship with your partner. The worst thing you can do is avoid a friend who is struggling with infertility simply because you don’t know how to approach the subject. Keep engaged in your friendship and even if it is awkward at first, broach the topic of infertility and ask if they want to talk about it. You may be surprised to find they’re looking for a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.

Resist the Urge to Give Advice
Listening is different from providing advice or acting like you understand exactly what your friend is going through. Friends frequently think they are helping by providing “words of wisdom.” Here are a few things to avoid saying at all costs:

  • Telling her to relax (Ask anyone who is dealing with infertility and they’ll tell you this is virtually impossible)
  • Saying you understand because it took you {fill in the blank} months to conceive. (While it is stressful even if it only takes a few months to conceive, don’t compare that to a friend who has been trying for years/undergoing treatment/dealing with loss.)
  • Talking about how quickly you got pregnant or your unintended pregnancy
  • Minimizing their situation by suggesting adoption, IVF, life with fur babies, etc. (Fertility decisions are stressful and are based on many factors, including finances, religion, values. The solution isn’t always clear or easy.)

Put Yourself in Her Shoes
Be sensitive and ask your friend if she wants be included in activities with kids, such as baby showers, birthday parties, dinners with other couples with children, etc. Everyone is different – while some people who are dealing with infertility find it too difficult to spend a lot of time around kids, others may feel hurt if they aren’t included in activities simply because they don’t have children. It is best to ask.

Announcing your pregnancy falls into this category as well. Please share the good news with your friend, but be sensitive of how you deliver it. I had a good friend who had a surprise pregnancy. She sent me an email to tell me instead of waiting to tell me in person at an event when she told all our friends. This meant the world to me, because it gave me time to get over my initial shock and selfish sadness so I could be truly happy for her when I saw her in person.

Curb Complaining 
Sleepless nights, potty training and temper tantrums can wear you down and it can be very tempting to complain about the challenges of parenthood to your infertile friends. Keep in mind that people struggling to conceive would gladly accept all those challenges just to have the blessings that you have. Celebrate the joys and complain to other friends who can better sympathize.

Share Your Happiness
Don’t hide your happiness. While it can sting when friends announce they are expecting or talk about milestones or challenges with their kids, ultimately, sharing in life’s joys and disappointments is what makes friendships strong. A true friend will rejoice in your happiness, even when they are struggling with infertility.

Additional Resources
Infertility Etiquette
10 Things to Stop Doing if You Want to Support Someone With Infertility