Thursday, April 04, 2013

Pregnancy announcement enigma

Today there are so many ways of announcing a pregnancy it may actually make your head spin. With social media and the like...the possibilities are near endless. With 1 in 8 people dealing with infertility - it is still a little baffling to me that SO many people are still so clueless in how to tell your infertile friends/family/co-workers etc. about a pregnancy. If you have found my blog because you are looking for advice before you make your announcement - I applaud you and thank you - you have already conquered step 1 and 2.

Over the last 8 years you can imagine I have had to smile through many pregnancy announcements. I couldn't even begin to count how many, but I can tell you that I remember those that were sensitive to my journey, my feelings and my losses -  and handled their announcements well...and those that didn't.

Sure every person is different, every infertile person handles pregnancy announcements differently but I think the following 5 steps pretty much encompass the things that most infertile people want and expect out of our loved ones when announcing a pregnancy.

1. Know Your Audience. I really think this one is a no brainer - but apparently I am wrong because I know MANY people who still don't do this. The first time I was told to "know your audience" was in writing class in High School - Know who you are writing to - know who your listeners are. Shouldn't this be true in all of our conversations? Think before you speak and especially think of how what you are about to say could effect those listening to you. Don't join all of your family together for a big, public "we're pregnant" announcement while your infertile aunt/uncle/sister/brother/friend is in the room. I would feel like quite the asshat if I went on an on about how wonderful eyesight was and what a "blessing" it was that I have 20/20 vision in front of a person that is visually impaired...wouldn't you?

2. Be Sensitive. This kind of ties into number 1, but in addition to that just be sensitive to the fact that your wonderful news may trigger some very raw emotion in someone else. I have been very open about our infertility journey and our miscarriages so literally anyone who has known me for any measurable length of time knows that I am challenged in the reproduction area. I don't tell people about my journey for pity, to seek advice or accolades. I tell them to educate them on how large this issue is and so that they can be sensitive to my situation. If people don't can't expect them to be sensitive. If I don't know you are visually impaired - I may just unknowingly make an asshat of myself gushing over the beauty of eyesight.

3. Say NO to Social Media. Or at least postpone a social media announcement until you have had the opportunity to tell your infertile friends personally whether via a private email, a phone call or in person. Be a good friend and protect them from the shock and pain of seeing an unexpected pregnancy announcement as soon as they log onto their computer in the morning - nothing ruins an infertile person's day quicker than that - other than a negative pregnancy test.

I have more people hidden on my Facebook feed than I care to admit (or count - math is not my strong suit). It isn't because I don't love these people - it is quite the opposite, but I have to protect my heart. I have good days and bad days and on my bad days I have to protect myself from the constant posting of belly pictures, ultrasound photos, baby pictures and the Mom-zillas on my news feed. On the good days I can go to their pages and gush over their cute kids, bellies and the like but at least I get to choose when I see those things. This is so important I am going to reiterate this point: DO NOT ANNOUNCE A PREGNANCY USING SOCIAL MEDIA WITHOUT FIRST WARNING THE INFERTILE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE!

4. Be Understanding. Please understand that your infertile friend or family member really is happy for you. However, your announcement has triggered a lot of negative thoughts about him/herself, her situation, and her losses. In my case this typically results in a half ass smile, a hug, a quick congratulations and even quicker exit so no one sees my tears. I am not heartless, I don't hate pregnant women or fertiles - it just triggers a lot of emotion surrounding my own failure of a body, my losses and the future I thought that I would have with my husband that I now know I won't. I am excited for all of my fertile friends and family members - even for myself sometimes at the thought of a new niece or nephew, but the truth is, it reminds me of my four miscarriages and all the pain that Bam and I have endured over the last 8 years. The one thing you need to know - your infertile loved one's tears HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU PERSONALLY.

5. Grow some balls. Sorry this is so blunt but I get so sick of hearing "I didn't know how to tell you, I didn't want to hurt you, I was scared" from people. I have been on this journey for 8 years - I am tough. Do I cry? Yes. Do I get depressed? Yes. Do I get over it? Yes. Do I carry on with my life? Absolutely.

Infertile people have balls. We have to - we have to watch endless amounts of baby commercials, TV shows like 16 and pregnant, 19 kids and counting, and the like. We attend baby showers, we sit through non-stop children banter when there are more than one mother in a room. We endure over sharing conversations about episiotomies, diaper blow outs, sore nipples and stretched out women parts. We do this because we are strong and we love our fertile friends and family members. I am just asking that you do the same. If you really are unsure how to tell me, ask. Ask me what the best way is for me to hear this sort of announcement. Is it scary for you? Yes. Is it uncomfortable? Yes.  Will it help you understand me more? Yes. Will I respect you more in the end? Absolutely.

I was recently made aware that my oldest sister is going to be a Grandmother and found out via my  Instagram feed. My niece made the announcement on Instagram with an ultrasound picture and everything. To say I was shocked doesn't really even come close to the anger and betrayal I felt. My family knows almost everything about our journey including our failed adoption and I am just shocked at the lack of sympathy and understanding I received from them. Looking back - this isn't the first time. One of my sisters couldn't even tell me about her third pregnancy. I found out from my mom when she was already 4.5 months pregnant - talk about a slap in the face.

I am not Humpty Dumpty- Your pregnancy announcement will not cause me to have a great fall never to be put back together again. I will recover, I will move on and I will deal with it. But don't be an asshat about it - treat me like a person that you love, respect and sympathize with.


Andrea C said...

What a great way to say what we all think. I am sorry for the insensitivity you were shown. When will people learn??!!

Mitzie said...

I'm going to steal "asshat" from you. It is now going to be in my regular vocabulary!

Nichole said...

Feel free Mitzie! It is one of my favorites :)

Nichole said...

Thank you Andrea!

TianjinShannon said...

Nichole, I just came across your blog for the first time. Thank you. I will continue to read your story and find encouragement from it. Really, truly, thank you.

Nichole said...

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey and offer encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. It wasn't easy for my husband and I to conceive (and I had to be off a medication for us to even be trying) and then I had a miscarriage at 6 weeks. Friends who know all of this just emailed us pictures of their positive pregnancy test and smiling faces and I've been very hurt by their insensitivity. Not so much as a "we know it hasn't been easy for you" or anything. I'm not angry they are pregnant, but I am hurt and angry by their lack of compassion.