How to share pregnancy news with infertile friends

fertile
fertile 

So you're pregnant. Yay! 

You tell those closest to you, but then there's that friend. The one you've spent so many months with helping mop up her tears, feeding her chocolate and telling her that next month will be her month. Definitely. For sure.

So how do you tell someone you care so much about that you've 'jumped the queue'? That you're pregnant but she remains baby-free?

In the past year, I've had a number of friends (I want to say hundreds, but it only feels like that many) tell me that they're pregnant.

They've all done it different ways, and to be honest, I've reacted in all different ways.

From it, this is what I've figured out. It’s true for me, and it may be of use to those trying to support their friends or family.

These truths also apply to people who have an unpregnant friend in their lives (but who aren't pregnant themselves, or who have children already).

DO tell your friend you’re pregnant. You may think it's the worst thing they're going to hear that day, and maybe it is, but trust me: it hurts way less to hear it from you rather than someone else. It hurts possibly the most to find out third-hand, when someone says the pregnant friend had delayed telling you because they were in a flap about how to tell you.

If they're a good friend, they'll appreciate the honesty.

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DON'T get upset if your infertile friend gets upset. She's your friend (or family); she IS happy for you. She's just really sad for herself and her dreams at the same time.

I am so rapt for all my pregnant friends, but I get sad sometimes about it too. It's not that I'm sad that they're pregnant, it's just that I'm sad that I'm not. They’re really two very different things, even if it’s hard to tell that in the moment.

DON'T say “It'll be your turn soon”. Of course we all hope for that, but you have absolutely no idea how long it will actually take. If you say it will happen "soon" and it takes five years, your friend will remember what you said all those years ago, as irrational as that may seem. Be positive for us, but don't feed us fake hope.

DO try to tell them face-to-face (if possible), in a way that allows them to react in whatever way they might react (they honestly won't know themselves until they hear the news). Generally this means somewhere private-ish, and never ever at a special occasion dinner or party. Never EVER.

Also, if she’s a relative, don't tell her in front of the family, as there's often a lot of pressure in those situations. If you want to announce your pregnancy to the whole family, consider pulling her aside and giving her a head's up first, so they have the time and space to digest it privately. There’s little worse than witnessing a public announcement then having everyone's eyes focus on you to gauge your reaction.

DON'T ask if we're pregnant yet. Rest assured, when we are and when we're ready for you know, you'll be told. Loudly. Obviously.  

DON'T tell your unpregnant friend that she's so lucky she doesn't have kids because now she can take holidays/sleep in/have extra money etc. We don’t care about those things, we just want a baby.

I read somewhere recently that telling an infertile person all the above things is like telling someone whose parent has just died that at least they don't have to buy Mother's Day cards anymore. That couldn't have summed it up any better.

DO try to include her in normal 'friend' things. Even if it’s a baby shower, invite her, but accept that she may decline. Not being included is just awful.

DON'T offer up your children. We don't want them, but thank you for the offer.

DON'T shut her out of pregnancy related discussions. Most women who are trying to conceive are doing so because they LOVE babies; they do want one of their own, after all. But at the same time, it doesn't mean you can't share the results from your latest sonogram with her. At least give her the option; she can always turn you down if she's not in the right place to hear it at that time.

And some days are better than others. Just because she might shut down a pregnancy-related conversation one day, doesn't mean she wants to be shut out for the remaining months of your pregnancy.

Sure, maybe you tailor your conversations so they're not ALL about babies, but whatever you do, don't try and pretend you're not pregnant.

DO admit when you have no words. One of the most memorable things a friend (a pregnant friend, of course) said to me when I was having a couple of months ago was this: "I have no idea what to say".

She went on to say she had never been in my position (they conceived as soon as they tried), and that she had no idea how I was feeling or what she could say to make me feel better. I was so thankful for a friend who wasn't trying to make everything better, who wasn't trying to prop me up with fake hope. She just acknowledged that she didn't have ability to know what I was going through, and that was okay. That, to me, was friendship.

DON'T ask her if she's seen that new fad/treatment/advice/sex position that your cousin’s friend's sister-in-law’s brother’s wife became pregnant by doing. She's already Googled it. Also, never say "just relax". Just don't.

DON'T ask if she’s thought about adoption. There are a few reasons for this, such as: a) adoption isn't as easy as you may think, and is a long, hard road in itself, and b) most people trying to conceive want their own biological child, but many would adopt if the opportunity arose down the track. The point being adoption is often (but not always) seen as a last resort – so suggesting it to us might look like you've given up on us.

DO ask (and follow up) if she wants her hand held at an appointment/results day if her partner can’t be there. My husband is frequently away for work and I have had amazing support from my friends, who would drop everything to pour me a wine, make me a meal or come on a walk with me and my dog to just get some fresh air and have a chat.

DON'T share success stories like "My workmate had IVF and she's pregnant with twins!" That's fantastic ... for her. We know it often works and that science is amazing. But it doesn't change that we're still not pregnant right now, despite whatever we’re trying.

DON'T say "Thank goodness you've always got IVF as an option!" Um, no. Just no. IVF doesn't work for everyone. IVF isn't the resolution to every infertile couple's 'issue'.

Reading back, this seems like a lot of 'don'ts', but I don't (there's that word again) mean this to read as a negative piece.

I just believe it's important that the realities of how some women feel is put out there for those who try to support us on this journey.

We lose ourselves sometimes, and we can be a handful to try to deal with, but try your best and we'll be forever thankful.  

Trying to conceive? Chat with others like you in the Essential Baby forum

- © Fairfax NZ News

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