Here’s an article I wish I’d found a long time ago. It’s about how to deal with a friend (or relative) announcing a pregnancy. If you’re childless-not-by-choice, this kind of news can trigger some of the worst human emotions—jealousy, rage, feelings of injustice, and worse. I know I’ve thought, (or maybe even said) “It’s not fair. Why her? Why not me?” It’s a terrible thing to think about someone you like or care about.
I like this article because the author turns it around and makes the news not about “me and her” but about the friendship and what the news will mean to both of you. She says:
A friend’s pregnancy may arrive like a bolt from the blue, but once you’ve caught your breath you can use this new event as an opportunity to think more purposefully about what you need and can offer in a friendship. Remember to keep the emphasis on mutuality, on open communication and also on expanding your friendship network in new ways.
Yesterday I got the news through the grapevine that a friend I’ve known for more than 30 years is pregnant. She struggled with infertility, gave up, lost a relationship, and finally settled into a new life with a new partner, who is already a father of two, and accepted that she would never have children of her own. Surprise! Suddenly she’s pregnant.
At one time, this news would have set me off on a personal rampage against the Universe, but when my husband tentatively asked me how I felt, I replied with all honesty that I was happy for her because I know she wanted this, that I was worried about her because of the potential health problems she might have, and that I was concerned about her mental state having finally come to terms with her infertility and started building a life without children. What I want to do now is contact her, congratulate her, and offer whatever support I can from across the other side of the world. I want my friend to be okay. That’s a far cry from the teeth-gnashing banshee I might have turned into a few years ago. I’m calling this progress.
I don’t think i’m even close to being able to handle this well. I don’t turn into a banshee, but i really, really struggle with it.
I remember when my sister had her first daughter & how she went on & on & on about motherhood & nursing, & the like. I felt like part of me died inside as she went on. (My sis is rather clueless to the feelings of others, anyway.) Now that daughter is expecting her first baby.
I’m old enough to be having friends & cousins having grandchildren. But i lost our last pregnancy just 2 years ago. So now i’m envious of children having children. There is definitely something wrong.
I do try to be supportive. I’m knitting baby blankets & all. But i’m not sure this will ever get easier.
I still get angry, upset, depressed, when I hear or see someone else pregnant. I recently missed a baby shower, on purpose, because I knew the party would not be good for me emotionally. I really hate these feelings.
Katie Gentile says
I’m much better now than I was, but it is a kick in the stomach when it’s someone I thought was happy without children. Then it’s like someone from my own club chose to defect, leaving me the sole remaining member.
It does feel like a betrayal sometimes, doesn’t it? I remember a friend of mine who was, at the time, the only person who I could really talk to about what I was going through. I remember meeting her for lunch one day and I knew as soon as I saw her face that she pregnant. I sat through the whole lunch just waiting for her to tell me. Ack! And yet I was happy for her because I knew she’d been through hell to get there. Such a mixed bag of emotions.
Katie Gentile says
I think part of it is also the tendency for friends with kids to shake out the friends without kids. Even a good friend of mine only invited people with kids to his 1-year old’s first birthday.
I feel like a real vulnerability creeps up in new parents coupled with a huge split in the culture between parents and child-free living that makes it even tougher to enjoy other people’s babies and pregnancies.
Between you, me and the wonderful world wide web. When my sister fell pregnant nearly 2 years ago and txt’d the family while she was on holiday in USA with her man, (5am for us at the time) was sulky. I was so jealous it was obsurd. But in the end I giggled (evily too I might add) that she was going to get fat. (she didn’t really…) But I was still happy for her. She was grounded, well established and was officially ready.
The only thing I couldn’t handle and made me so angry and started to resent even knowing her was that she smoked. (No offence to anyone that does smoke and are pregnant or not- I’m an ex smoker. I just felt it was selfish of her to be doing that while a life was growing inside of her.) Well that and I wanted to become a mum for some time…
Normally when someone announces they are expecting a child your immediately congratulating them and asking them all sorts of questions. But the other group (the one I fitted into) was full of anger, jealous, spite etc … just like alot of others.
I’m almost 33 weeks pregnant and when I found out .. I was terrified at telling one of my good friends in Perth,WA because I knew she had been trying to just over a year with her husband. So I could understand that she may have these kinds of feelings for me and the situation also. She did and was honest about it too, but at the same time excited for us.
Sometimes its just as hard sharring the news as what it is hearing it …
Kelly, thanks for sharing this. I think it’s good to hear the other side of any discussion, especially from someone who has stood on both sides herself. Best of luck on your new adventure. 🙂
it is hard..I am not sure I will ever be 100% happy for my pregnant friends/family members. I struggle with the guilt that comes with these feelings..it makes me feel like a not so great person:(
“Emily” I think what your going through and what alot of us go through is rather natural. Just try not to be too hard on yourself okay 🙂