Tuesday, May 17, 2016

CIAW 2016 - Tell Us Gently

Today for Canadian Infertility Awareness Week I am going to talk about pregnancy announcements and how you can break it to your friends and family dealing with infertility a little more gently.

Finding out someone is pregnant is never easy for those of us dealing with infertility. Sometimes we can take it like a champ and actually congratulate you and sometimes it can be downright devastating. Like shatter our world, our heart literally breaks, we can't breathe kind of devastating. Sometimes we end up ugly crying in the most awkward of places, like work bathrooms, Walmart parking lots or family gatherings. Controlling our emotions when we hear a pregnancy announcement is not an easy task and depending on the day, it can be impossible.

Some pregnancy announcements hurt more than others, and that is okay. If we got married at the same time as someone and they announce they are pregnant, it's hard not to compare our paths and feel left out. If someone is pregnant after one month of trying, it is hard not to be bitter that we've been at this for x amount of years and still haven't succeeded. If someone announces their baby's due date and it lines up with the pregnancy we just lost, it is hard not to completely lose it.

There are a multitude of reasons to find pregnancy announcements hard, but there are also ways that the announcer could be gentle and respectful of those dealing with infertility. This is definitely not a complete list and it will also depend on the person/connection to them, but over the years, these are things that I have appreciated and I wanted to share. I also did ask around to some friends to see if they had anything to add to the list.

1) Tell us privately
Announcing in a big group and completely blindsiding the infertile person is a big no-no. There is a lot of pressure to keep calm and not have a meltdown, which puts lots of extra pain onto the person struggling. Personally, it has always been better if the person has told me alone. And by alone, I don't mean face to face. I mean by a phone call or email/Facebook message. If it's close family, a phone call is appreciated and if it's friends or extended family, an email or Facebook message works well. For me, I like to be able to react how I need to and not have to put on a happy face. I can then respond with well thought out words and cry in private, without making the announcer feel bad.

2) Choose your words carefully
When telling someone you are pregnant, be careful with your words. Saying something like "We are finally pregnant!" after only trying for a few months just hits those going through infertility the wrong way. For some of us, we have been trying for many many years and feel like your few months is nothing. In the same boat, if you are lucky enough to get pregnant quickly, don't rub that in. In fact, don't mention it at all. Don't say "It only took us a month" or "That happened so quickly". I find it really hard to not get bitter when someone continually mentions how easy it is for them to get pregnant.

3) Minimize your social media posts
Pregnancy is exciting and thrilling and deserves to be celebrated. You are allowed to want to share this exciting journey with friends and family and you have every right to do so. But for those of us in the mires of infertility, we can find social media, especially Facebook, hard. It is hard to go on there and see post after post talking about pregnancy and pictures showing cute baby bumps and ultrasound videos. It reminds us that we still don't have the one thing we want so much. What I know some people have done and what I always planned to do if I ever was lucky enough to get pregnant, was create a private Facebook group that you could post all things pregnancy related to. This way you can add family and friends to the group and share to your hearts content. And people who find it too painful to see all these posts don't need to join. I would also like to add that if you do decide to do a general Facebook announcement, it goes a long way to give your infertile friends a heads up before doing so. That way, they can avoid Facebook for a day or two while the general hype dies down.

4) Be wary of timing
There is never actually a good time to hear a pregnancy announcement, so you will never fully win with this one. But if you happen to know that your friend is currently in their two week wait or just got a negative test or it is the due date for a baby they miscarried, maybe wait a few days before sharing your happy news. Another good rule of thumb is don't announce right before bed. It's hard enough to process the news of another pregnancy announcement without being overtired and then unable to sleep because you are too busy crying or raging.

5) Don't wait
I can imagine that it would be hard to tell someone you are pregnant when you know they are dealing with infertility. I know that it must not be pleasant for you either and it's hard to knowingly inflict pain on someone else, even if it is not intended. But I will say this, not telling us because you are scared of hurting us doesn't make it any easier. Word will eventually get out and it will hurt more if we hear the news from someone else, instead of from you. So yes, choose your words and timing carefully, but don't put it off longer than you should. We deserve to know along with everyone else, not weeks or months later. Keeping it a secret will hurt us more in the long run. This doesn't mean you need to tell us immediately, but if you are announcing to the general public, tell us too.

I think that about sums up this post. There may be other ways to announce gently and if you have any advice or input, please feel free to add it in the comment section.

There is no gentle way to announce a pregnancy to an infertile friend or family member, but there are ways to be kind and loving. Just remember that and you will be okay.

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