I have often said that I wouldn’t wish infertility on my worst enemy. It is an agony and uncertainty that easily begins to consume you and your life. It’s a pain, I can’t even begin to explain. And while people often think they “get it”, unless you have been there, I promise you… you don’t.
Recently, someone asked for some tips on how to tell a friend, who is struggling with infertility, about her own pregnancy and it occurred to me… it could be helpful to write about that!
My disclaimer is that everyone is different. Not everyone experiences everything the same way. Not everyone will agree with me on what I felt made this particular piece of the journey better for me. All I can do is speak my truth and hope it helps someone, somewhere.
So, here it is… my advice about how to talk to a friend or loved one, struggling with infertility, about your pregnancy.
Tell her sooner rather than later. I had several friends postpone telling me about their pregnancy because they knew it would be hard for me to hear. I get that they didn’t want to hurt me or maybe they were simply afraid of my reaction… which in my shot-induced, hormone-filled life, was admittedly unpredictable. However, if your friend or loved one hears it from someone else first, it will make it worse. I promise. It also made me feel even more isolated than I already did because it made it feel like I was being avoided. Which, perhaps I was, but how hurtful is that to someone you care about?
Don’t apologize. You have nothing to apologize for. Also, don’t lead in with doomsday language, like “I know this is going to upset you…” Just tell her, straightforward and honest. Then when you are done, you can acknowledge that you understand that this news may be hard for the person to hear and let them know that those feelings are okay. Say things like, “I know you are probably experiencing some strong emotions right now and please know that I am happy to listen to you talk through those if/when you are ready.” Also let her know that when she is ready, you would love to have her celebrate with you.
Allow her to be sad. I can not emphasize this enough. For someone struggling with infertility, there is so much doubt, fear and mourning going on. In addition, most of these women are hopped up on hormones, so emotions are made even more intense than they would be on her best day.
[quote]Her feelings of sadness have nothing to do with you. [/quote]
Her emotions are not about being upset you are pregnant. They are about her own fears and sorrows. Each new pregnancy announcement is, in fact, a reminder that she is not… this much is true. However, most women, especially if they care for you, will work past their own situation and get to that place of celebration and happiness for you that you want them to be in. It will just take some time. For some it may be a little time, for me, it was sometimes a week or two. And often it was a “two steps forward, one step back” process. But, I did always get there.
Tell her before you tell others. I really appreciated having some time to process on my own before I had to talk to others about it. It went a long way with me to have time to work through some of those emotions I mentioned above before I had to put on my “public” face about it.
The pregnant one needs to be the bigger person. Yes, this sucks, but it is just how it is. After all, you have the gorgeous baby coming to you at the end of it all.
Come at it from a place of love. If you do this, ultimately it will all work itself out. After all, you wouldn’t be reading this right now if you didn’t care about the well being and happiness of your friend or loved one. Empathy, my friends, is huge.