It’s something you have come to dread during this roller coaster ride you never chose to get on. The big smile is the first clue, quickly followed by “we’ve got news” as yet another friend, colleague, neighbour, family member… fill in the blank… makes their pregnancy announcement.
The feeling in the pit of your stomach…
Then things get a bit hazy, a smile might lock into place, the not unfamiliar knot in your stomach makes an appearance and your mind starts to race with a whole mash of emotions.
Happy for you, heartbroken for me…
How can it be that someone else’s happiness can make you feel so, so sad? Well let me tell you as one who knows…you are not alone here. This is one of the most talked about topics amongst my clients, and one of the things they often ask for support with. Even during the quiet spells of an infertility journey, where things can seem like they’re on a fairly even keel, pregnancy announcements when trying to conceive, can completely pull the rug.
On top of coping with the pregnancy announcement itself during infertility, difficult thoughts can surface too “I’m a failure”… “It must be my fault”… “I shouldn’t feel jealous”, “I’m a bad person for not being happy for my friend”. These thoughts are very real but they aren’t true. You are simply a human being doing your very best to handle a hugely difficult situation. Your thoughts and feelings aren’t you, they are simply a natural response, that reflects just how hard this journey is.
How to cope with pregnancy announcements during infertility…
Allow yourself to feel how you do
Difficult thoughts and feelings don’t make you a bad person. See if you can make a bit of space to allow yourself to feel the feelings. In my experience sadness, jealousy, frustration and anger are not uncommon at this time. When we get caught up in judging our feelings as bad and good it can make things harder. Seeing them as a storm blowing through can allow a little distance and helps us to remember that these feelings will pass.
Meet yourself where you are
Pregnancy news during infertility can be draining and there may be times when you need to create some self-protection. Putting some distance between yourself and pregnant friends or declining the baby shower invitation might be absolutely the right thing for your own wellbeing. True friendships will sustain in the longer term, and things will move on for both of you in time. And when the time is right, good friendships will naturally strengthen again in the future.
Plan your support strategies
If you’re going to an event where pregnancy is likely to be a hot topic, don’t feel obliged to get stuck in baby talk. Think ahead of time about some alternative things you’d like to talk about and don’t be afraid to take the conversation in a different direction. In case things start to feel too challenging have a plan for leaving early if you need to. Also maybe mention to a trusted friend whose going to be there, that this is quite difficult for you, and ask for their support.
We know that mindfulness can be very supportive for anxiety, depression and emotional overwhelm. If you are new to mindfulness one easy way to begin to introduce it is to find a task you do each day, that has a distinct beginning and end and practice doing it mindfully. One example might be brushing your teeth. See if, for those few minutes you can focus just on that and nothing else. Use your senses… taste, touch, sight, smell and sound to bring real awareness to what it is you are doing. This can be very calming and grounding and can help to slow racing thoughts.
Take care with Social Media
Social media can be like the wild west at the best of times, and never more so than when you’re going through infertility, and it feels like everyone else is pregnant. Taking steps to mute notifications, unfollow things that are unhelpful and having social media free time are all ways to put some boundaries in. Social media can also be a supportive place too and for some it offers a sense of connection. So its good to check in with yourself about how social media is for you and how it leaves you feeling after you’ve been online. This can help guide you to find a balance that works for you.
Treat yourself with self-compassion
Self-compassion can be a real superpower during infertility and in times of challenge like pregnancy announcements it can create feelings of soothing and safety to the nervous system, which can be very valuable. One simple way to be more self-compassionate is when thinking about the challenge you are dealing with ask “what would I say to a good friend who was struggling in the same way?”. Be curious and see what arises.
Find Supportive Connection
Friends who get it, an online group or a coach like me are all places where you can find support. The sense of isolation when handling pregnancy news can be very real, so don’t try to get though it alone.
Charlotte Green is a certified Wellbeing Coach and a specialist fertility coach, with over 12 years of experience, in supporting clients on their journey to parenthood. She brings a wealth of experience, empathy and compassion to her transformative sessions which she provides via zoom. You can find out more about the support she offers here.