It can happen anywhere, at any time. You’re minding your business and enjoying your day. Perhaps you’re answering the weekly call from your sister, or on a lunch date with your bestie. Maybe you’re scrolling through social media, scanning the statuses of acquaintances, colleagues, friends, and family. Suddenly, your sister asks if you have heard. Your best friend excitedly leans across the table and takes your hand. You see the colorful banner or the all-caps exclamation on your feed.
They’re pregnant. Aren’t you happy?
And you probably are. Why wouldn’t you be? You’re happy that they’re happy and excited about the journey they’re about to embark on.
But what if there’s more? What if you have been struggling to conceive for months or even years? What if you can’t bring yourself to jump out of your seat and congratulate them? What if the very sight of a pregnant tummy is enough to make you want to scream into a pillow out of frustration.
First things first– your feelings are completely normal and valid. The envy you may be experiencing is tied to lots of other emotions: sadness, frustration, anger, hopelessness… It’s a veritable cocktail of unpleasantness. Secondly, you aren’t alone. Jealousy from hearing someone else announce their pregnancy is incredibly common, to the point where there are countless support networks organized to get you through this tough time.
Comforting as it may be to know you aren’t on your own, you may still be struggling with the next step in tackling the green-eyed monster. You might even be a future parent wanting to soften the blow for a loved one who has been struggling with infertility. Either way, we’ve compiled a list of the dos and don’ts of pregnancy and birth announcements to help you navigate.
If You’re Pregnant
Whether you’ve been trying for a while, or you were lucky enough to get it on one of the first times, congratulations are in order. However, if you have a close friend or family member who has been struggling to get pregnant themselves, it may be worth the time to extend a little extra effort in one of the following ways:
Reach out to them in private, and let them be the first.
When you’re having trouble conceiving, being blindsided by big news like a pregnancy announcement can be a little traumatic, especially if it’s coming from someone who has been aware of your struggles. If you are thinking of making a post or hosting a party for the occasion, consider speaking to your loved one privately, and let her be the first to know. Even something simple can go a long way, such as: “I wish there was an easier way to tell you, but I am pregnant. I will be sharing with others but wanted to tell you privately first. I care about you and will be here for you however you need.”
Don’t coddle or pity them.
Some might think that having a private, adult conversation before the announcement constitutes handling said loved one with kid gloves for the rest of the pregnancy. We’re here to say, no, just because you had the kindness and forethought to think of your friend’s feelings doesn’t mean you have to treat them like a child themselves. Being forthright and honest isn’t the same as giving them training wheels, so as long as you are honest and open, you can leave the “sorry, didn’t mean to, you poor thing” at the door.
Don’t ignore or forget them.
While your friend or family member may ask you for a bit of space following the announcement, there’s a good chance they still want to keep in contact with you. Once you’ve clarified how involved they want to be during this process, you can respect it by letting them in on updates and keeping in touch. Unless they specifically ask you to keep your distance, treat them as you always would.
Don’t complain too much.
When it comes to pregnancy, discomfort is kinda part of the package. You’ll be experiencing the joys of morning sickness, soreness, limited mobility… All the good stuff! However tempting it may be to unload about the aches and up-chucks to any and all who will listen, keep in mind that those close to you that are living with infertility would kill to be in your shoes.
If You’re Struggling To Get Pregnant
There’s no right or wrong way to feel when you get the news that rubs you the wrong way or brings up bad feelings, but dealing with those feelings in a healthy way can give you some reprieve and maybe even save some friendships. When the time comes to face a friend or family member who shares a pregnancy or birth announcement, here are some starting points to turn to:
React positively If you can, and honestly if you can’t.
Your loved one is excited to share the news– so excited that maybe they didn’t think their approach through. If they spill the beans, do your best to put on a happy face and congratulate them. You can always speak to them privately and establish your boundaries. If it’s too much to handle, you can let them know. “I’m happy for you, but I hope you can understand that this is a hard time for me. Maybe we can speak more about how to be conscious of my needs while you go through this.”
Talk to someone who understands.
It’s easy for others to get swept up in the happiness that follows a pregnancy announcement– sometimes it’s best to talk to someone who already knows what you’re going through. Look to a loved one who has been in your shoes before, or even reach out online.
Hide notifications on social media.
If you don’t want to be bombarded with daily posts, it’s okay to turn off notifications for the mom-to-be. It’s reversible, discreet, and completely understandable, especially if the person is not that close, to begin with.
Don’t go to the baby shower, or have a private celebration.
No matter what social pressures tell you, it’s alright if you’re not up to go to the baby shower. Speak your peace to your loved one; if they truly care (which they do) they will understand. Alternatively, you can compromise and pick a private time for you to celebrate in a more intimate setting, away from the cameras and strangers. You can also use this opportunity to take a partner or ally with you for emotional support.
If it’s too painful, it’s too painful– do what you have to for your well-being.
There are those of us who have been through immeasurable pain for years at a time when it comes to getting pregnant. These announcements can cause mental and emotional anguish, and merit a different response than the standard “out of sight, out of mind.” If you have to ask the future parent to not share with you specifically, then ask. If you have to avoid public places that have a lot of expectant mothers or children, then do so, or go at less-crowded times. If you need to substitute seeing a friend in-person with calls and emails, let them know. As long as you communicate your needs, a true friend will respect your boundaries, and you should respect your true self as well. Feel what you have to, with no shame.
Consider joining a support group or seeking counseling.
If you are having difficulty adapting to the news and find that you aren’t quite yourself because of it, it’s acceptable (and encouraged) for you to seek help from outside sources. There are counselors specially trained to coach you through the grief and frustration you’re experiencing, and tons of help from people who have been where you are and know exactly what you’re going through. You don’t have to wait until it’s too much to handle to reach out and get some help carrying the load.