Have you ever been there? That place, that moment, when you look around the room after a friend or family member has just announced they are expecting and you realize in a dazed stupor that you are the only person not jumping up and down. You are the only one not squealing with excitement. Shouting congratulations. Singing praises while dancing around the room. Or drenching them with love. And.It.Is.Awkward.
But it is not because you are unhappy for them because deep down you are. It’s just that every pregnancy announcement brings a tsunami wave of emotions that crashes over you, am I right? And the intensity of these emotions, leave you breathless. And numb. And scared. And…well…not yourself. Because it’s within the first 60 seconds of their joyous announcement you instantly feel bitterness and anger, as well as sadness and grief. Even resentment. But not necessarily towards them. Just towards your circumstances. Because why haven’t your prayers been answered? Are you not worthy? Don’t you deserve a child just as much as they do?
But it’s also within that same 60 seconds you feel joy and happiness for them. And even a sense of relief and hope. Relief that they will never have to endure the pain of infertility and also a rare form of hope. Hope that maybe? Just maybe it might be your turn next. And honestly? These emotions that come so fast and so hard? They are difficult to juggle. Especially in a group setting…with an audience. Because you are convinced everyone is staring at you and waiting. Waiting and wondering. Waiting for your reaction. And wondering what you might be thinking. Or feeling…
Is she happy? Will she cry? What will she say? Is she mad? I wonder if she is jealous? Did you see her look away?
And before you know it the Academy Award goes to…YOU! Because you my friend were able to work up a decent amount of joy and excitement in record timing so that you could join with the others and dance around in bliss. But I also know that despite the awards you have received countless number of times, group announcements still scare you. No, they terrify you. They put you on edge anytime someone clears their throat at Christmas because they have “something to say.” Or when you hear the words, “we have an announcement to make” while eating dinner with friends. And it is because anyone struggling with infertility will tell you that our emotions are so unpredictable. Therefore hearing the news for the first time with others can be extremely difficult. Even personal telephone calls can sometimes be hard because you know there is always the chance of the awkward moment when you won’t be able to win the Academy Award. You won’t be able to hold back the tears and give them the joyful congratulations you know they deserve.
And once again, it’s important to note one more time that it’s not because you are not excited for this new life that will soon enter the world, it’s just that you are struggling. You are in pain. And you can’t stop the feelings you feel from the hurt of infertility in that moment. Or the fearful thoughts you have that this joy and excitement of announcing your own pregnancy may never come true. And it’s hard. It makes you feel like an awful person because you know the right thing to do is set aside your pain for their joy, but sometimes in that moment, you can’t. You want to, but you just can’t.
I realize not every woman struggling with infertility feels or reacts this way because while I may not always like being told in person or in a group setting, my friend would prefer it. In fact, the thought of someone else treating her differently or handling her with “kid gloves” as she calls it, infuriates her and that’s okay. We are all different. We are all struggling in our own ways. We are all dealing with different wounds. Different scars. Different past experiences. We are all in different stages of grief. But I believe despite the differences and despite the struggles, we are all in need of the same grace.
Grace to help us rejoice to the best of our abilities.
Grace to give us the strength to overcome our unpredictable emotions.
Grace to see us through our painful and gut-wrenching circumstances.
And grace to help us never give up hope that maybe, just maybe, our announcement will be next.
But with that grace, I also believe there needs to be compassion. And so if you are reading this today and are among the fertile, can I make a suggestion? A suggestion on how to share your pregnancy news in a group setting that has someone you know struggling and praying every day, every minute, or every second for their own two precious pink lines to appear? Because while I know it sounds like an awesome opportunity to announce it in front of your friends or family members at the big annual family cookout, it’s probably going to place your infertile friend or family member in an awkward position. Maybe even potentially reopen a wound that was just starting to scab over. Or cause them embarrassment as they are unable to hold back the alligator tears that sometimes accompany the pain they are feeling. And so in order to possibly help shield her wounds and allow her to “rejoice with those who rejoice” to the best of her ability, can I offer you my number one tip or suggestion or piece of advice (however you want to look at it)?
If so, here it is…
Tell her prior to the event. Perhaps tell her a day (maybe two) before the big reveal so that she has time to process the information. Process her grief. Process her emotions. Because she really does want to support you, and she really does want to be there with everyone else, but she just might need that extra time to pull herself together in order to do so.
And that’s not too hard is it? It’s doable right? Because telling her in advance still allows you to share your awesome news in front of your family and friends just like you have always dreamed of doing, but it also gives her the grace and compassion her soul desperately needs during this unwanted season in her life. And to me? That’s a win for everyone.
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