How to deal with infertility when everyone is getting pregnant.May 31, 2021
Let’s talk about one of the biggest triggers on our path to motherhood……
Yep, the thing that makes us cringe the most when we open our social media feed. The thing that feels like a dagger to the heart. The thing that can ruin friendships and drive a wedge between family members.
But before we dive into WHY it hurts so much when those we love get pregnant, and WHY some pregnancy announcements hurt more than others, I want to say this to you.
YOUR FEELINGS ARE NORMAL. YOU ARE NORMAL.
Just because you can’t be happy when those around you get pregnant, just because a pregnancy announcement has the power to drop you to your knees and make you scream with frustration and pure anger at the world, DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD PERSON, NOR DOES IT MAKE YOU CRAZY.
You are NOT alone in this, even if it feels like the rest of the world jumps for joy when people announce their pregnancies.
I HATED THEM.
If you need to. Read those words again. Over and over and over, until you realise that you are NOT a bad person. This is a normal reaction.
INFERTILITY SUCKS, YOU DON’T.
So now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about WHY it hurts so much when people fall pregnant around us. Yes, I like to dig into the WHY’s, because I like explanations that join the dots. It gives us a better understanding of the way our brains work, and allows us to give ourselves a little grace in this hell-hole of a journey.
It may feel silly that a little post on Facebook or Instagram, or a phone call from a friend, can cause such an upheaval of our emotional state and impact our nervous system so much. But it’s not just a little post or a conversation. When you hear this news, all the trauma and experiences you have been through to have a baby, up until now, come flooding back.
Our automatic instinct when someone tells us THEIR news, is to reflect upon OUR situation. And if you’ve been trying to conceive for years, have suffered through miscarriage and pregnancy loss, undergone IVF treatments or IUI, had multiple exploratory surgeries, treatments for endometriosis (yes, the list goes on), you get the flashback. All of a sudden, you’re in the middle of all that trauma. You are re-living every moment. And that’s a LOT!!
So, your reaction is completely normal based on the level of trauma you’ve experienced. When we feel that level of pain, we link it to the pregnancy announcement. Therefore, a pregnancy announcement becomes the trigger for pain and trauma.
So now you know WHY it hurts so much, why do some hurt more than others?
Here’s what I’ve discovered based on my own personal experience and those of my clients –
- WHO is it? If I knew that someone had struggled to conceive, it made it a little easier to stomach the fact that they were now pregnant (and I wasn’t). And in some cases, it gave me hope. Infertility tends to band us together – like a sisterhood. In our minds, we decide who deserves to be pregnant. The crack-head junky who accidentally falls pregnant after a boozy one night stand is more likely to trigger us, than someone who has been trying to conceive for years and has undergone years of IVF treatments.
- HOW they announced it. This is a big one too. It may seem insignificant, but the way in which you find out, is important. If you’re at a party and there are lots of people around and its announced publicly, you’ll be taken off guard. Likewise, if it pops up in your social media feed with a cool and creative announcement (that you have always dreamed of doing), it may kick your jealousy into gear too. Or if your friend knows you’re struggling and hides the news from you, or you find out from someone else, it can feel like the ultimate betrayal.
- WHERE are you at? This can have a huge impact on the way you process the news. For example, if you’ve just suffered a miscarriage or had a failed IVF cycle, it will definitely hurt more than if you’re about to go for your own IVF transfer. Your current emotional state also has a huge impact. If you’ve been looking after yourself, processing the grief as you go, taking breaks from trying to conceive, and getting the support you need through this journey, a pregnancy announcement may not have the sting it would, if you’re feeling exhausted and raw.
So now you know WHY some hurt more than others, I’d like to share a couple of tips to reduce the impact and sting of pregnancy announcements.
Firstly – it’s important to tell people HOW you would like to find out. If it’s a close friend or a sibling, ask them to tell you via text message or personal phone call (I always found this was easiest). That way you’re not caught off guard, it’s not in public AND you find out before anyone else tells you. It allows you time to process it, without having to respond immediately.
Secondly – start looking after your emotional load. Looking after your mental health on this journey is ESSENTIAL. It’s not a luxury, it’s necessary for survival. Find a safe space to download and process everything you are going through. That way you’re not storing the negative and heavy emotions on this path. You need to move it, and you do that by talking. It could be with a friend or your partner (however you need to choose wisely), a coach, or even by writing in a journal.
Thirdly, create healthy boundaries – say NO to things that hurt.
It’s not your responsibility to try to explain to people WHY you can’t be happy for them. Plus, it’s a pointless exercise, and here’s why…….
Unfortunately, we live in a society that continually tells us that we should be able to separate our feelings – be happy for other people’s success and sad for your own loss – we get told this ALL the time. Especially on this path. We’re told, be positive, be grateful etc etc.
The problem is, people tell us what we SHOULD be doing, but not HOW to do it. It’s pretty easy to dish out advice when you’re on the outside. And in this situation EVERYONE is on the outside, except for you.
Our partners can’t understand WHY because of a couple of reasons. The main reason is that men and women deal with things VERY differently. Yes, it’s right – men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Men are driven more by logic, and we are driven mainly by emotion. Secondly, they see other people handling things well, and automatically assume there is something wrong with you. Unfortunately, they’re receiving their information of what is “normal” through a false lens. We usually don’t tell people when we’re struggling, we hide it from the public eye, so while your best friend Sally may also be going through IVF, she’s not showing the outside world that it hurts.
Then there are those who have never been touched with infertility and loss. They will never understand – no matter how many times we try to tell them. Infertility is a club, and unfortunately if you haven’t lived infertility, there will be some aspects that you will never understand, no matter how hard you try.
Even those who ARE on this journey, who are a member of this club, can still be a source of frustration. There are some who ARE able to separate their feelings and be happy for those around them – which makes us feel even worse. Their proclamation that they could do it, makes us think that there’s something wrong with us.
But here is the truth. NOBODY else has ever walked in your shoes. Yes, they may have experienced losses and infertility and failed rounds of IVF. But they haven’t had your upbringing, they don’t have the same support network as you, and they don’t have the same personality. We are ALL different.
Yet, we keep telling people HOW they should be feeling and what they should be doing.
A prime example of this was a post I put on Instagram recently – it was shared on a very popular pregnancy site, and it said – “You don’t have to go to that baby shower”. I was giving you permission to put your sanity first. I thought this was quite an agreeable statement, but there were a large number of WOMEN (yes, our sisters who are supposed to support each other), who disagreed quite openly. Those who agreed gave it a quiet LIKE, and those who didn’t, were quite vocal. At first, I was shocked, and then I was pissed off. After that, I was disappointed.
Why, in this day and age are we telling those who are in incredible pain, to increase their pain to make others (who are happy) feel better? Why are we telling those who are experiencing trauma and loss, that if they were a better person, they would be able to separate their sadness?
I’m going to be bold here and say……. THEY ARE WRONG.
The truth is that NOBODY……YES NOBODY, has the right to tell you what to feel, think, say or do. I respect the opinions of others, but not when they TELL someone else what they SHOULD be doing.
So, I’m going to say it one more time in case you needed to hear it……
JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN’T BE HAPPY WHEN OTHER PEOPLE GET PREGNANT DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD PERSON.
YOUR FEELINGS ARE NORMAL.
YOU ARE NOT CRAZY.
And……..YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO TO THAT BABY SHOWER!!
Need a little more validation that your feelings are COMPLETELY normal?
Check out my book, The Injustice of Infertility. I share ALL the things that were going through my mind on my 7-year battle with infertility. REAL and RAW.
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