Yesterday, one of my best friends told me she is pregnant. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. This is the woman I wrote about before: the one person I have been completely open about my IF journey with. Lillian took longer than average to get pregnant…about 8 months…but she did not have infertility and did not need ART or any interventions. Since we are so close and since she knows so much about how I have been struggling, she really took the care to tell me in the right way. I cried, I was sad for myself, but I was also so happy for her.
Lil did SUCH a fantastic job of sharing her news with me, letting me have space for my pain and grief, and allowing me to be genuinely happy for her. I really feel this has brought us closer than we ever were before, and I have the utmost respect and love for the way she told me. I was an emotional mess yesterday despite my joy for her, but I wanted to use this as an opportunity to focus on the positive in all of this. So, I wrote a little how-to that is based on absolutely nothing but my own personal experience. Keep in mind that we infertiles are not a monolithic, homogeneous group and your own infertile friend may feel differently than me. But, for what it’s worth:
How To Tell Your Infertile Friend That You Are Pregnant
- Do it in private: This means not in a public setting and not around other friends who aren’t infertile. Make sure you both have space to sit with your feelings together.
- Don’t ask her to throw you a baby shower: I’m sure you are just over the moon about your own pregnancy, as you should be. Many people will be giddy for you, but your infertile friend may be dealing with her own pain in such a way that interferes with her ability to have this immediate reaction with you. As much as I love Lil and her unborn child, I am currently incapable of being the outward facing head cheerleader of any and all things baby. Lil 100% understands, and she told me this, which immediately put me at ease.
- Don’t tiptoe around it: Be straight with your infertile bff. Get to the point. She will appreciate knowing up front, without finding herself in the middle of a confusing rambling conversation about nothing. This may take some guts from you, but we appreciate it. And for goodness sake, do not let her find out from others or from a social media post!
- Allow her space with her feelings: That does NOT mean she has carte blanche to say rude or insensitive things to you about your good news. But, it does mean to give her some space to let the sadness about her own situation wash over her in tandem with the joy I know she will feel about your good fortune.
- Tell her how much you care about her: This will be evident if you approach the conversation the right way, but it never hurts to hear it directly, either. Lillian explained to me how much she loves me, how much she hurts for me, and how much she still wants to be there for me– if its something I still want. And, it certainly is.
- Ask her if she wants to hear about the details: I already feel isolated enough in my infertility, so the last thing I wanted was to be cut off from Lillian’s own journey, and I made that clear to her: please share with me. However, others may not want to hear every detail of your growing belly, so just ask it up front. But don’t assume she doesn’t want to talk to you about it. She may truly love sharing this special bond with you during your pregnancy.
- Make it about the two of you: This isn’t just about babies. It’s about your friendship. It’s not a contest over feelings; it’s not a competition over joy versus grief. It’s also not a zero sum game: your happiness does not equate to her sadness. The reason you are in each other’s lives is because of a deep, loving, personal connection that predated and supersedes family planning. Find the compassion inside to imagine yourself in your friend’s shoes, and hope that she can imagine being in yours. You aren’t telling your friend just to get a congratulatory statement from her; you are doing it to honor your friendship and the love between you. Elevate that to the center of the conversation. Be clear that you still want to talk to her about everything in her life and want to be there for her. Lillian told me she loves me and is cheering for me and wants to continue being the IF support system she was prior to her own pregnancy. Of course I wanted that. ❤