Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Julie, I want to tell you something...

This post is about that uncomfortable topic for family and friends.  How to tell your seemingly crazy infertile friend Julie that you yourself, or your wife is pregnant or maybe even just starting to "try".  I'm being really specific for a reason in saying, "telling Julie" because the solution to this is different for each person dealing with infertility.  What works for others may not work for me and vice versa.  Therefore, I encourage those of you reading this post who are on the "telling" side and want to be sensitive to be proactive and have this conversation with your infertile friend ahead of time.  

We will use me as the example.  You could write a note or just have this conversation:  

Dear Julie,

I know you are going through a lot of pain dealing with infertility and I want to be sensitive as I approach this topic.  XXXXX and I have begun trying to start a family as well and to be respectful of your feelings and ours and it is important to know ahead of time how you would like us to approach the topic of pregnancy when the time comes.

We want you to know you are in our prayers and hoping that both of us can add to our families soon!


So and So

This allows me to do a couple things:

1.  Think about how I WANT to be told in the event that you become pregnant.  Honestly it takes a few pregnancy announcements to find out which methods of "telling" works for you.

2. Mentally prepare myself for the announcement.  Trust me I am going to be happy for you, but it will still hurt when it happens.  We have been giving our mind, bodies and souls to trying to have a baby for over 3 years and for many it happens so easily.  It is very difficult to process the feelings that come along with an announcement, but I REPEAT...I WILL BE HAPPY FOR YOU!  

3. Not break down into a terrible fit of tears when you tell me via the "wrong method".  Day to day is different on the roller coaster of infertility.  One day I'm as happy as can be and the next I am so low that finding out your dog is pregnant might send me into a tearful disaster.  That is why knowing ahead of time will make this process much easier for both parties.
Okay so without further a do...these simple DO's and DON'T may apply more in situations where you are close friends or family.  I can only imagine you have made it through this post because you want to be a sensitive friend and truly care about delivering your news in the most sensitive way possible.

DON'T: Take an infertile by surprise and expect pure joy back.  You never know she may have just had a failed IUI or IVF and while it is great that you are pregnant, she may not be in the state of mind to be told.

DO: Follow steps above to find out preferred method.  I myself would prefer to be told over an email.  This gives me time to compose myself, cry if I need to cry, and respond in whatever way I feel is appropriate.  I don't feel like a text is appropriate.  You never know if I could be somewhere where reading a text may cause a total breakdown.  Email gives time to be a little more thoughtful and read at the appropriate time or place.

DON'T: Hide your pregnancy from your infertile friend.  This may be difficult, but keeping your pregnancy a secret from them may hurt them even more in the long run.  Finding out about your pregnancy on facebook or through someone else could ruin a relationship.

DO: Follow steps above.  If you didn't already have the conversation with your infertile friend, EMAIL is always the best.  You can explain in the email that you didn't know exactly how to tell them that you are expecting and wanted to give them time to process the announcement.  Most often she won't be offended if you are taking measures to be sensitive.

DON'T: Take your infertile friends reaction to your pregnancy announcement personally.  More than likely she is hopped on hormones as much as you are.  It would be easy to think that she is mad at you personally, but it isn't true.  She is more than likely mad at the world, mad at her situation and sad it wasn't her turn.

DO: Give her time to process the announcement.  Then continue checking in on her even if she doesn't want to talk about your pregnancy.  This may be hurtful to you because you want to share your joy, but if you want to maintain the friendship this is a must.  Be respectful of her wishes.  She may not wish to attend your baby shower because it is too painful.

DON'T: Stop communicating.  Infertility is a lonely road.  It causes weak relationships to crumble and tests even the strongest of relationships.  

DO: Talk about your feelings with your infertile friend.  You can openly say, "I was nervous about approaching this subject with you because I know what you are going through is difficult."  Each person is different, if they are open and willing to talk, lend an ear and if they don't want to talk about it be sensitive and bring up a different topic.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I wrote this post based on my own circumstance and each  person is different.  However, I communicate and read blogs and forums where this topic is frequently discussed and the majority of this information is pretty universal.  I hope this helps those looking for advice on this topic!  Feel free to add any other ideas in the comment section for those of you who have suggestions to add!


1 comment:

Kendall Suhr said...

Really well thought out and succinct post. Having been on the telling end, there is definitely a two way street of nerves and uncertainty. On the telling side, being well prepared and open (by open I mean truthful and honest, not open in terms of how it felt to see the positive sign, etc) is the best way to protect your relationship. I think both sides have to work to understand the "us against them" mentality. On the infertility side there's the idea of "why wasn't it me instead of them?" while on the pregnant friend side there can be the thought of "why can't they just be happy for me". I don't know if it is avoidable, but understanding these feelings can help bridge the gap.