Making an Announcement: Pregnancy after Infertility
It's understandable that hearing pregnancy announcements would be difficult for someone experiencing infertility, but making one during a pregnancy after infertility can also be an uncomfortable situation. Not only do people agonize over the "how," trying to keep in mind how they wanted to hear announcements when back in the trenches, but also the "when."
Infertility's reach doesn't end with the double pink lines or positive beta.
Whenever people post the inevitable "when to tell" post, I admit my own story: I never told. I mean, we told family members and one or two friends early on because they always knew our beta dates and we're terrible liars. But I was too worried to tell anyone else and that fear remained with me well out of the first trimester, well into the fifth month.
I was vomiting daily and had lost my voice and broken blood vessels in my face in the process. I was also wearing a heavy winter coat to hide the pregnancy during a late Washington spring. I was sweating and vomiting and peeing every five minutes--a lovely sight. I was finally informed that I wasn't really fooling anyone and so one afternoon, I left off the winter coat. I still didn't say anything; I simply couldn't find the words. It was just understood between myself and everyone I knew that there would be no announcement. We would simply move from non-pregnant to deeply pregnant with none of the questioning in between.
I was simply too worried that something would go wrong, therefore, I tread carefully, not believing that talking could cause anything to happening, but too busy focusing on my figurative shallow breathing to extend myself into telling people. It felt a little bit like walking across a rope footbridge between two mountains: you're sort of only focused on putting one foot in front of the other and not really thinking about where you're going to do your laundry after you get off the footbridge. Not that telling people that you're bringing new life into the world is akin to doing laundry, but the telling of others was sort of beside the point for us. We wanted the twins to be well and remain inside until term and everything related to pregnancy after that was sort of tangential.
And, at the same time, even though it isn't the route I took, I wish I had told people from day one. I wish I had grabbed happiness when I could, future be damned. People can view it as either a brave or foolish way to live, and I choose the former.
Bloorb recently had a post about telling. She asked for people's thoughts on telling and admitted: "while simple logic says I'm at that point where I CAN tell, infertile logic says I'm never at the point where I can tell. Because as soon as you TELL, then if something goes wrong, EVERYONE'S involved, and THAT'S the part that frightens me. Because if something WERE to go wrong, I'd want as few people in my business as possible. So if we keep it quiet... then it's safer. Except that days like today, well I get all giddy, and excited, and I really REALLY want to tell."
And that is the catch-22, wanting to tell and not wanting to tell at the same time.
No Swimmers had a great post about making the announcement back in the winter and how it cuts both ways--the anxiety from not telling and the hurt from having others decide once you do tell that you should possibly wait. She wrote:
Does she think I'm that naive? I know pregnancy doesn't necessarily = baby. I know that all too well. I'm not going out blabbing to the world that I'm knocked up (well...at least to people who know me IRL). But even if I did...that would be my choice! If something were to happen in the first tri, wouldn't I want the support of friends and family? Should I have to go through something like that alone? With the girls, I called her the day of my first beta, crying and screaming. She was overjoyed. This time? Not so much.
And all of this ties into some interesting advice Hanna Rosin gave on the Bintel Brief this week. A person admitted their discomfort with baby showers, citing superstitions, and asked if they had to participate in her friend's celebration. Rosin advised the questioner, "What’s important here is not so much your clinging to the tradition or your friend needing that extra gift, but your relationship with this friend...Your friend might read your declining to show up or give a gift as sign that you’re not really on board with her new adventure."
This advice is also applicable in the telling and hearing of baby announcements. We all have strong feelings on our comfort level of when we would tell and I've seen people comment on both sides--urging someone to tell before they're ready as well as raising an eyebrow over an announcement they feel is too early. And frankly, we all need to make our own decision on when to tell without considering the timing that others use. Some want to grab happiness the moment it flits by and tell people with an open heart the moment the urine hits the pee stick. And others worry realistically and keep the information to themselves until the first trimester is over. Both are valid announcement paths and no one should be made to feel badly if they want to announce immediately or want to wait.
When did you tell people about your pregnancy or impending adoption if you're currently parenting? Where do you think your comfort level lies if you haven't had a chance yet to make this announcement?
Melissa is the author of the infertility and pregnancy loss blog, Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters. She keeps a categorized blogroll of 1700 infertility blogs and writes the daily Lost and Found and Connections Abound, a news source for the infertility blogosphere. Her infertility book, Navigating the Land of If, is currently on bookshelves (May, 2009). She is the keeper of the IComLeavWe (International Comment Leaving Week) list which is currently open for May.