Monday, January 19, 2009

Public Service Announcement for sharing your pregnancy news with infertiles

Dear Infertile Abby,
I just found out that I'm seven weeks pregnant! My husband and I are thrilled and shocked! It was a complete surprise. We weren't even trying. My issue is that I have a very good friend who has been trying to get pregnant for a very long time and is going through infertility treatments. What's the best way to share my news with her? I think it's best that they hear the news from us in private. We're thinking of inviting them over for dinner and telling them then.
Fertile Fran

Dear Fertile Fran,
Are you high? It's called e-mail. If you don't have a computer, it's called a phone. Your friend's probably going to cry and doesn't feel like doing it in front of you and your husband. It'll just make her feel like a shmuck.
Take care,
Infertile Abby

This situation has reared its ugly head.....again. When my friend lured me to her house with the promise of sunny weather and a barbecue, I unfortunately responded to her pregnancy announcement by getting inebriated and crying on her front curb for about an hour before coming in to fail at faking enthusiasm throughout the rest of the evening (link here). This time, it happened to a good friend. Just two weeks after her 3rd IVF cycle had to be cancelled, her brother and sister-in-law felt the need to come over to visit and share their "big news". And it broke my heart.

Now here's the thing. I get what fertile people are thinking. I do. I really do. In their head, they have this vision of a sit-down where they gently and thoughtfully share the news of their pregnancy and then maybe place a hand on the infertile's knee, tell us how they know it will happen for us and that God has a plan for us or something to that effect. They think we'd be crushed to hear the news from someone else rather than directly from the source. And e-mail or phone? Instant message? No way! In most other situations, it's considered tacky or rude to share big news in these manners. I understand where you're coming from and that you have good intentions. I really truly do.

But here's the thing. You're wrong. I hate to break it to you, but for 99% of infertile people, you're wrong.

Let's change the scenario a little bit because infertility is something that is so difficult to connect with unless it's touched your own life. Let's talk about homes. Most everybody can understand that your home is your safe haven, a place where you find comfort. It's filled with memories. Most of us put a lot of effort into creating a home.

Now imagine my house just burned down. Or that I lost my home to foreclosure. You, on the other hand, have just sealed the deal on your custom-built McMansion. You're understandably thrilled. You want to shout your news from the rooftops. And that's cool. I'd want share it with the world, too. However, would you invite me over to share the news with me personally? Do I have to hear your news right before I sit down to enjoy a meal with you? A meal that maybe I was looking forward to as a nice distraction and a chance to get away from the stress of dealing with losing my home?

It doesn't seem so important, or even appropriate, that I hear the news directly from the horse's mouth, does it? In fact, maybe it would be better to hear it from someone I'm close with like my sister or my mom. Because I'm probably going to get upset. I'm not getting upset because I don't think you deserve your dream home or don't want you to have it. It's not personal (most of the time). But my first, second, maybe even third emotion is probably not going to be happiness for you. It's sadness for myself.

Your joy is a reminder that I'm in the process of losing a dream. Your news is a reminder that I am broken. Your granted wish is a reminder of my unanswered prayers.

Please stop telling us your news in person. It hurts us. Not because we don't love you. Because we do and we don't our pain to take away from any part of your joy. So give us a little time. Please. Send us the e-mail or give us a ring. And then give us some time. We really are happy for you. It's just that, for many of us, our dreams are now ashes scattered around our feet.


MVP said...

Agreed. My SIL told us at the Thanksgiving table, rather than one on one. It sucked, but it was good because I didn't really have to step to the plate and personally congratulate them, gushing over the news. I could just fall in with the crowd of well wishers, plastering a fake smile on my face. No one was the wiser except DH, whose leg I had in a death grip under the table. Ugh. They had just gotten married and surprise!, we had been married longer and trying for what seemed like forever. Yes, do it in a crowd situation or mass email or something. Better than one on one, where the person hearing the news has no choice but to respond with enthusiasm so as not to hurt the others' feelings.

JackieMac said...

I just copied that blog post and sent it to my friend who decide last week at a girls night out dinner to tell me that her daughter is pregnancy and how happy she was - blah, blah, blah - it took all I had not to get up and leave the table. I cried my eyes out when I got home. Thank you for posting this.