Let me take a moment to be real: If you’re facing fertility issues, you have mixed emotions about pregnancy announcements and babies. You just do. Well, I do, and I know I’m not alone. Its a strange amalgamation and roller coaster of emotions that start with excitement and joy, then lead to sadness, anger, resentment, guilt, indifference, acceptance…then back to joy and excitement for your friend/co worker/family member. The really crazy part, it this all happens in the span of 10 seconds, while you have a smile on your face. Its like one of those Martin Scorsese freeze frames. Let’s break it down:
Obviously, you’re excited for this big announcement! After all, no one knows how special pregnancy is more than you. You know that there are really only about 3 days in a month that you can become pregnant, and for this to happen naturally without really trying is truly amazing and a miracle! You’re glad the family is growing. The smile on her face is priceless. But then….
You can’t help but be a little bit sad, because her happiness reminds you of your struggle. It feels like you will never get to this moment; sharing the news that you are about to give birth to a tiny human. Another one bites the dust in your circle of friends. The number of child free girlfriends has shrunken by one, and you’re increasingly on the outside of your own circle! How did that happen? And if this announcement now makes you the only non mommy in the group…ugh! Goodbye girls nights, hello kiddie parties, and more comments and questions: “When are you gonna have a baby?! You’re the last one.” The thought of this conversation takes you to the next phase:
You just get pissed off! Why isn’t this happening for me?! What did I do wrong? She doesn’t even like kids! This isn’t fair! You just get mad at everyone. Mad at her. Mad at you. Mad at your spouse. Mad at the doctor. Mad at God. Mad at your lady parts. Mad at the flowers. Mad at the sun. Mad at your laptop. You’re just mad! And frustrated. And exhausted.
Your heart is broken over the fact that your journey to mommyhood has been less than smooth. In fact, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get there at all. The desire is so strong to bring life into this world that this news makes you feel even more anxious and the longing becomes more intense in that moment. So this brings on…..a tinge of jealousy.
Now, you just feel bad about feeling bad about good news from someone you care about. You feel like the worst friend in the world. “I’m a horrible friend!” “How can I be jealous or angry at her for having this wonderful experience?” “Friends aren’t jealous of friends!” This is the apex of the emotional roller coaster you’re currently on.
Now you just try to protect yourself from all of the feelings you have and from outwardly being the crappy friend that you are in your mind right now. You start to remove your emotions. “Good for them.” “Their baby doesn’t really affect my life that much.” “It is what it is.”
Now you’re at a place of understanding and acceptance. This is happening. To someone I love. I want good things for her and her family. I’m going to be as supportive as I can be.
Now you’ve come full circle and are back to being excited. Its still a painful, but you know that she’s been waiting to be a mom too, and now is her time. That smile makes you smile, and when your friends/family are happy, you’re happy. You hug and smile and get all the deets on the new little one on the way.
I think the key is to acknowledge that you have these feelings. Its OK to feel this way for a little bit. But not forever. Don’t hold on to the negative feelings. Go home and have that cry because you’re sad. Talk to your partner or someone about how you feel if you don’t think you can talk to the new mom about it. When you’re ready (NOT when she makes her pregnancy announcement), if you think its appropriate, talk to her alone and have a moment of honesty. If she doesn’t know your struggle, fill her in and let her know that you love her and are happy for her, and you will be there for her, but there are times this may be difficult for you. If you don’t think its going to appropriate to share your situation or discuss how you feel with her, don’t. Don’t steal her joy. Wait a few days or weeks after her announcement to have this conversation. Let your feelings even out so this can be a productive conversation.
The bottom line is, you will have feelings when those around you get pregnant. Its OK. Give yourself the space and time to have those feelings and then get back to life.