By Kate Brian, journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility
One thing that anyone who has spent time trying to conceive will find challenging is other people’s pregnancy announcements – it can be very difficult to react in the way you might like to when you are longing for a positive pregnancy test yourself.
Is everyone getting pregnant?
It can feel as if you are inundated with pregnancy announcements as one after another of your circle of friends, colleagues or family members, announces that they are expecting a baby. The number of childless people you know seems to dwindle by the day, and each pregnancy announcement can begin to feel like a betrayal as yet another friend joins the growing band of parents and parents-to-be.
Why didn’t they say anything?
If friends or family are aware of your fertility problems, they may worry about how to best tell you and may even try to avoid having to let you know. Although this is usually done with the best motives, it can be hurtful if you find out that information shared with other friends or family has been kept from you.
How to react?
Of course, a pregnancy announcement is usually greeted with delight, and you may want to be happy for the friend or family member making the announcement, but this will inevitably be tempered by your feelings relating to your own situation. You may feel jealous, angry or bitter, you may wonder why you are still waiting and whether it will ever be your turn. Even if you manage to put on a cheerful face and offer congratulations, you may still find yourself in tears once you reach the privacy of home.
It can be particularly difficult if you have been trying for some time, and if the person making the announcement hasn’t had just one but two, or even three, babies fairly close together while you are still trying for your first. It’s also very hard if the person making the announcement is ambiguous about it because they hadn’t intended to get pregnant or aren’t sure whether they want a baby.
Accepting your feelings
Finding yourself consumed by jealousy or anger is not a pleasant experience, and you may feel that your fertility problems are starting to have an impact on your personality, that you are becoming someone you don’t recognise or like very much. It is important to understand that feeling jealous or angry is a perfectly normal reaction to a pregnancy announcement when you are longing to conceive, and feeling this way doesn’t mean that you are being selfish or unkind.
Once you can accept your feelings, it is often easier to deal with them and think about ground rules for the time ahead. How you will handle the ongoing pregnancy depends on the nature of your pre-existing relationship, but if you are able to talk honestly about how you feel it can make all the difference. Sometimes you may need to make it clear that you don’t want to have to be involved in hearing every detail of the pregnancy as time goes on, or that you might want to try to keep in touch by phone or email rather than in person for a while if that is possible.
People are sometimes worried that cutting the amount of time they spend with a pregnant friend, that not joining in with discussions about baby names or not going to a baby shower or christening, may ruin the relationship for good. Good friends will try to understand and true friendships will survive ups and downs; looking after yourself is key at this difficult time.
Writer and journalist
Kate Brian is a journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility, including The Complete Guide to IVF. Kate started writing about the patient perspective on infertility after having IVF herself.
Currently, she contributes to various types of media as an expert on fertility and writes her own blog, where she gives all the latest news and views on fertility issues, as well as useful advice and links for anyone trying to have a baby.