21 September, 2006

How To Tell People That You Are Pregnant Without Making Them Want To Kill You

Today is going to be a day of helpful instruction from your humble host.

First off, there are more people struggling with infertility than you may think. That couple who seems happily childfree may have wanted children for years. That couple who already has two or three children may desperately want more. There are just a whole heck of a lot of people out in the world who want babies but for some reason or another cannot have them right now.

If they're anything like me they struggle between disappointment and acceptence.

But honestly, in the years that I've dealt with the disappointment I've had a realisation. That realisation is that people all around me will still get pregnant, and they don't have to apologise to me about it. Really. I love it when other people get pregnant, as long as they're not my underaged nieces. I would much rather see anyone I know happily have a child than deal with the pain of not being able to.

I know, though, that those around me always wonder how to tell me. And I'm fairly sure that for every person who gets pregnant there is at least one fertility challenged sister/best friend/coworker who casts a shadow over the good news of the newly-expecting. So allow me to enlighten you.

1. Just tell them. "Hey, we're pregnant."

You'd be surprised at how well this works. 90% of the time folks like me see this coming anyway. And we like to be treated as though we are still members of polite society.

2. Don't make any references to the ease of conception

See, this is the tricky part. While "Hey, we're pregnant" works just fine, following it up with "....and it only took ONE TRY" or "I guess our plumbing's working!" is what most people would consider tacky. Especially when your audience includes people who have had a try every other day for years and/or whose plumbing is most definitely NOT working.

3. Don't follow up your annoucement with an inquiry into the fertility of your audience.

People will be happy for your pregnancy. But that in no way obligates them to answer rude questions like "So when are you guys joining the club?" I know the temptation for announcing pregnancy to infertile friends is to then politely enquire about how their process is going. But I am being honest when I say that for many people in my boat the one thing that keeps us able to be happy for you is by keeping the focus ON you. I can be happy for your pregnancy, but when you follow that up immediately with reminding me that I have a tender spot it might make me cry. And that would ruin your announcement for both of us.

No, we don't expect the rest of the world to keep it sewn up. Really.


At 12:52 PM, September 21, 2006, Blogger Sarcastro said...

I guess this means I win the pool.

At 1:01 PM, September 21, 2006, Blogger Malia said...

Well said.

We only barely tasted what it's like to have trouble getting pregnant but it was enough to sensitize us to those who struggle mightily with it. I pretty much take the position that if a couple does not have children, they can tell me why if/when they feel like sharing the reason. I don't ask, ever.

In the months after my miscarriage, several unknowing people would ask the, "when are you going to have another?" questions. I knew they meant well but it's hard to answer that because there's this vulnerable time when you question everything. "Should we have more?", "can we have more?", "will we have more?" and there's just no easy way to answer the questions that come from other people when you can't answer the questions you ask yourself.

At 1:17 PM, September 21, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I guess this means I win the pool.

Copyright infringement.

At 2:24 PM, September 21, 2006, Blogger saraclark said...

Well said. When my sister went through her fertility tribulations, we talked about it and she said-"I don't think you would ever do this" and I said "you're right."

The Other Half constantly tells the rudest inquirers that he was maimed in an industrial accident and asks if they want to see. This has stopped a lot of the pushy questions.

Past 30 the pregnancy question gets to be a pretty personal one no matter what the angle.

At 2:38 PM, September 21, 2006, Anonymous bekah said...

I'm with malia - we had some trouble getting pregnant and while it was nothing compared to so many others, it was hard enough for us that I would never, ever consider being so rash as to ask a childless couple when they're planning on having kids or making a mockery of getting pregnant with little jokes about our "plumbing." People can be so insensitive and rude - and it's always about the most sensitive subjects!

At 3:20 PM, September 21, 2006, Blogger Aunt Lydia said...

Oh, you know this one gets me every time. My most recent experience was someone who was pregnant asking me when we were going to have a baby. AND, no one EVER ASKS THE MAN these questions. I'm with Malia - JUST DON'T ASK. Why? Because it's none of your damn business. No one would ask how much money you have in your checking account would they? So, why is it they feel compelled to ask you about something much more personal? The might as well ask you when you last had sex. I'd feel more comfortable talking about my checkbook.

At 3:26 PM, September 21, 2006, Anonymous Shauna said...

"...every other day for years."

Wow. I'm in awe.

At 3:28 PM, September 21, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Ironically, the amount now in my checking account is dramatically nearing the number of children I expect to have someday. ;-p

I kid, I kid.

And you're right...no one really asks the man.

But my favourite (?) question is the "so why can't you guys have kids?" question. I love saraclark's Other Half's answer.

At 3:30 PM, September 21, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

"Wow. I'm in awe."

I, on the other hand, am in "owwww!!!"

Again, I kid.

My husband is going to kill me. My comments on this thread are like when Homer teaches the marriage class and says a bunch of stuff that embarrasses Marge.

At 6:10 AM, September 22, 2006, Blogger Vol Abroad said...

Kat, I think I'm about a week younger than you, married for 9 years and childless. So we get this, too. One positive aspect of British reserve, is that I think we get this less than happens in the US (but goodness knows my TN relatives ask - often at big family gatherings).

I just smile tightly and say "mmm". My husband and I were asked last night if we were going to have "lots of bambinis" last night at a social function...we mumbled something about not having a lot of room. It's awful.

At 7:57 AM, September 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for posting this - i always felt evil for wanting to reach across the table and strangle pregnant women that complain about how hard it was to come up with a name for their baby or how tired they are - weve been trying to get pregnant for years. or underage nieces complaining about how babies ruined their lives and they dont really want anymore, but they still manage to get pregnant every other year. i wish people could be more sensitive.

At 12:51 PM, September 22, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

When we were in the middle of our testing/praying/hoping, my inlaws showered us with advice:

just get drunk
pretend you're in highschool

I guess they thought they were funny.

At 7:51 PM, October 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen! We had been trying to get pregnant for about 7 months (not long, I know, but we're over 35 and I'd been going through a barrage of extremely unpleasant testing) when a casual acquaintence of my husband came up and asked me "So, are you pregnant yet?" I managed not to control my temper (only just) and say "No, I've just gotten fat." I wanted to cry.


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