I must say that I am past the season of being angry at my pregnant friends. I, honestly and truly, want to celebrate with my friends when I hear they are bringing a little one into the world. I appreciate all my friends who have made the effort in telling me in the kindest way that they were expecting. Thank you all for giving me awesome ammunition to write this blog.
IMPORTANT: Yes, it if your pregnancy and you may do as you wish... but if you value our friendship I would hope that this post will be as important to you as it is to me.
Quite some time ago in September of 2010 I wrote a blog about what NOT to say to a friend experiencing infertility. (Note: For the purpose of this blog I am referring to the infertile friend as a 'her'. Nevertheless, please remember that men -although usually less open about it- ache with the pain of infertility as well. Your infertile friend can be a woman, a man, or even both units of the couple. Thanks to my amazing Mr. for helping me write this blog!)
Here and some things to remember when sharing your wonderful news:
1. Do NOT assume how your infertile friend will take the news. Your friend may laugh, she may cry, she may scream (she may do all three!) but please don't go into the game expecting your friend will be devastated. It may not be the case. Don't voice your assumptions either. Saying "I wanted to tell you in a place where you could feel comfortable" is A LOT better than saying "I wanted to tell you at a place where you could cry." Your friend will not appreciate 'being told' how to feel or react.
2. Think of the best setting to share. I, personally, prefer in person. Granted, this is not always possible. While I feel the best situation is inviting your friend over to lunch or for a walk, a phone call or e-mail could be done in a sensitive and sweet way as well. Before you break the news to her on the phone, be sure to make sure she is available to talk and (preferably) at home with her spouse. You may not be able to be there to hug and support her, but if you know her husband is you and your friend will both feel better. If you are able to tell her in person, be sure to remove yourself from as much distraction as possible. If you're at a restaurant be sure to sit in the quietest corner; If you're at your home be sure that your husband can watch your children. Etc. However you choose, make sure to speak to her personally. That means no to dropping the news at a party, no to mass e-mails, and no to conference calls.
3. Tell her the news in a timely manner. I've said this 100 times, but it is YOUR pregnancy. I don't know an infertile woman who would prefer that you put their needs above your own. If you wish not to tell friends until a certain time that is definitely understandable. When I say 'timely manner' I don't mean within minutes of seeing that second line appear... However it may be best to tell her privately before you post it on Facebook. If you have mutual friends, consider telling your infertile friend first (or quickly after your friends) because news will spread. You will definitely want her to hear it from you vs as gossip. You will also want to consider your friend's 'season' as well. It is not a good idea to tell her before a big girl's outing out, because she may need time. You should also not tell her before a party she's hosting, etc. Let her get some time to process so she will not be forced to put on a fake smile.
4. Also, consider her 'infertility milestones' if you are aware of them. It would be best to keep your news for another day or so if she is during her Two Week Wait with IVF, dealing with the anniversary of a miscarriage or the anniversary 'trying' etc.
5. Leave out the hurtful details. You may not need to leave these details out forever, but initially telling your friend you may want to leave out how you "weren't even trying" or how you're depressed/terrified due to finances, etc. Tell your friend the facts. You're 8 weeks along (a great time to tell an infertile friend) and that you wanted her to know. After she has had time (moments or weeks) she will ask you how you're feeling. Infertile women aren't cold you want you to be miserable. We want to celebrate with you, given you are sensitive.
6. Don't apologize for being pregnant. Just because your friend is experiencing pain does not mean that you must apologize for receiving one of God's greatest gifts. By your touch or your tone of voice you can let your friend know that you understand you are not sharing good news for THEM but that you are happy. Definitely feel free to show your gratefulness for your gift equally as you're sympathy for their lack thereof. You can be sorry for the situation that your friend is in, but don't apologize for something you are not sorry for.
7. Do not ask about her fertility treatments in the same conversation you announce the news. This tip I found online, but it is a good one! "My brother started the conversation by asking me how my “procedures” went. About 45 min later, the “we have some news…” line came out of his mouth. My husband says that this is like telling your unemployed friend about your new job and six-figure salary in the same conversation that you then inquire about your friend’s unemployment checks." Don't be that guy.
8. Ask her about her involvement in your pregnancy. After she has been told and she has had some time to take in the news, ask her before adding her to your e-mail updates. Ask her if she wants to see the ultrasound picture before you just bring it out. Ask her if she wants to see the nursery or feel the baby kicking.
9. Be honest. Hearing the news is going to be hard enough for her. Be honest with every word. It would be even more painful to realize you may have fibbed a bit. Be short, as sweet as possible, and honest. Don't be overly concerned with 'saving their feelings' because they will most likely already be a little hurt. Just be there to support and help in anyway you can/ they need it.
10. Consider keeping the mushygushy details of your pregnancy for e-mailed updates. Again, YOUR pregnancy. However, if this friend is a close one or family member you may want to save your relationship by not forcing her to block you. Of course post it on Facebook! Post that picture of your first ultrasound! ...Posting every ten minutes that you are sitting on the couch amazed by your growing tummy because the heartbeat was just so beautiful to hear and... you get it.
11. Along those lines, have the right attitude- that pregnancy is special! You may be so concerned as not to hurt your friend you may downplay the awesome gift of pregnancy... or worse. Posting status updates (let's be honest here) that are pretty much complaining of how the baby makes you soooo tired or how you don't fit into your cute jeans because of your tummy are seriously hurtful. Everyone has their down days, I'm sure even with pregnancy and all the changes... but keep them for your journal. It just sounds ungrateful. The right attitude also includes not digging for 'oh you're so beautiful pregnant!' compliments. Save that for lunches out with like-minded friends if necessary.
12. Keep in mind that pain changes what you hear. Even if you're trying to do everything right, your friend may be in so much pain right now she just cannot cope with the news. Try your best to be sensitive, and most likely your friend will come around in their own time.
13. Don't disappear. Okay, whew! You've told you're friend and you've managed to be sensitive to her feelings. I know it's sometimes an exhausting job- especially pregnant- but hang in there! Your friend will not be hurt for long and soon the next 8(ish) months will be all about you and baby. Give your friend time and then let her pamper you for all of your kind consideration!
This post dedicated to my sweet friend, Sarah Starrett. I will never forget how wonderfully you did this. Thank you.