**I just thought of another one (second-last paragraph)**

If there's a complaint I hear over and over again from those who have conceived easily against those who can't, it's this: "Why can't she just be happy for me?" Or perhaps, to spell it out a little more clearly, "Why can't she be demonstrably happy for me, to the exclusion of all other feelings? Why must I be constantly reminded of her sadness as I'm discussing my success?" And I have to admit, I'm guilty as charged of this offense. As someone who's just bad at faking, my traditional response is to concentrate on looking vaguely happy as the announcement is made, whilst leaving it up to my long-suffering husband to verbalise our congratulations. Ongoing babble about your pregnancy is more likely to be met with somewhat disinterested nods and grunts than the enthusiastic banter you desire. I'm sorry about this. It's a deficiency of mine, called "single-facedness". It's probably a sign of diminished EQ.

But I think we can all agree it's better this way than the most likely alternative, wherein I jump up and down with glee as if I'd never experienced infertility and then finish my performance with a few sincere and breathless words, such as these:

"Gosh. Well, all I can say is you're brave announcing it this early." (Smile of complete admiration.)

"Well, you've got good reason to feel confident now you're in the second trimester. After all, these days the rates of fetal death, premature labour and serious maternal complications are quite low." (Encouraging pat on the hand.)

"Hey, if you ever need someone to take your mind off thinking about all the things which could still go wrong, just give me a call. That's what friends are for!" (Big bear hug.)

"Let me give you some advice I wish someone had given me the first, second, third and forth times I fell pregnant: do not, whatever you do, google the following terms...." (Earnest expression, followed by casting about for paper and pen to write said terms down.)

"So, was it a natural conception? Oh, it was. Still! I imagine it you guys are probably thrilled even so!" (Bright smile.)

So, in conclusion, I'd like to apologise for any lack of excitement in my response to your announcement. However, as you have so wisely told me on countless occasions, you have to look on the bright side, because it could be worse.


27 Comments

Baby Blues said...

Precisely how I would react to a pregnancy announcement. This post speaks loud and clear. It's getting the message across to our fertile friends and expecting them to understand which could be a problem. It's not that I'm not happy for them, it's just I'm being reminded again.

thirdtimelucky said...

Sums it up exactly. Luckily, a lot of the time I get the news by email at the moment.

Vee said...

Bravo, well said !

Thank goodness I haven't had too many announcements lately.

Sarah said...

hahahaha! i do try to separate myself from their announcement and show the couple some joy and congratulations, but i'm pretty sure it usually comes across a bit awkward and scary.

Mary Ellen and Steve said...

Absolutely brilliant Bea. I wish I were so articulate.

TeamWinks said...

So, are we supposed to not be sad when they announce their pregnancy? I must have missed the memo declaring we must set aside all of our own personal feelings and pretend to be exactly what they need. Damn. You would never dream of telling them they can't be happy for themselves and only sad for you. So, why would somebody ask you to do the opposite?

Jess said...

I hate hate hate it when people expect us not only to be happy, but to be happy to the point of not caring about ourselves. Are THEY sad for US most of the time at all? No. And definielty not to the point of not enjoying heir own children/pregnancies (not that we would WANT/ASK that!).

Good job Bea! As usual!

Bea said...

I should clarify that this is not a response to any specific, recent event, and that most people are at least a little sympathetic. But this attitude does come up sometimes. Well, you guys know that.

Bea

Bea said...

Not an event in *my own* life anyway.

Bea

AUNT SASSY said...

Bea:
I LOVED this. So true. I myself am also a bad faker. I do a lot of smiling and nodding.. I AM happy for them, just can't separate it well from my own devastation. Your proposed responses gave me a good laugh.. thanks!

Sassy

Piccinigirl said...

It is wrong that I want to Stand up and APPLAUD you? This was amazing and so ON POINT that I feel like I could have said it. But you did and so much better!!!

Somewhat Ordinary said...

HAHAHAHA! I've been avoiding my cousin's second pregnancy becuase I'm finding it hard to think of something to say that doesn't come across shitty! Maybe I'll just send a card because now that I have these suggestions in my head I don't know if they will be unavoidable in a conversation.

The Town Criers said...

Oy--Bea. This is brilliant.

I think the other thing is that people seem to think that your reaction detracts from their happiness--as if part of the process is having everyone excited about their pregnancy. Silly me, I thought the point of the pregnancy was the baby. I'm always struck when people throw out the "just be happy for me" sentiment...

Carol said...

perfect! nicely said! :-)

ellie said...

Well it's good- I found my laugh again- thanks for that. I can't fault the fertiles for not knowing what we live through- but if they walked a few feet in our shoes I suspect they would be more cautious and fearful-- I don't know that I want them to experience that either. It kind of takes away some of the innocence of life.

Maybe just having an awareness that not everyone is in the same place in life and that life truly does contain a ying and a yang. It's not a dark or light or a good or bad-- but just two truly diverse views for the same experience- neither wrong.

Bumble said...

This one cracked me up:
"So, was it a natural conception? Oh, it was. Still! I imagine it you guys are probably thrilled even so!" (Bright smile.)

My best friend and I had a huge fight when she fell pg with her 2nd, because my hubby had told her hubby that I'd cried on the way home after hearing her announcement. She yelled at me, "I feel like I can't be happy about my baby because you just cry about it!" Needless to say, it almost broke our friendship up.

Great post Bea.

steph said...

This is fucking funny. I have to use the f word here because I have done this.... to both of my best friends. Thank god both of them already know what a jealous bitch I am and let it go at that. And I have a beautiful goddaughter!

Oh, and they're throwing me the best guilt feuled shower ever (0:

Adrienne said...

Can I send this to my SIL? She probably won't see the humor in it, though.

My Reality said...

Love it!

MFMMN said...

I don't have any children, but have been pregnant in my past. Here's the thing that I don't understand...if you do get pregnant, or if you have been pregnant in the past, weren't you happy about it? Did you downplay your joy?

I can understand that his would set off sparks of sadness, I have a friend whose baby was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 several months before her birth. The baby lived several hours. I have another friend who is recently pregnant, and the first friend has indicated that though it makes her sad sometimes, she doesn't expect friend #2 not to talk about her pregnancy or show her excitement any differently than if her baby lived. Friend #2 shouldn't be robbed of her own experience nor made to feel guilty.

Ellen K. said...

Brilliant post.

In the past couple of years (hmmm, while diagnosed with IF) I've been wondering why some (fertile) people seem to think that only incessantly enthusiastic responses are the true expressions of "happiness for" another. I've been attributing it to the American cheerleader feminine ideal, but apparently it is more worldwide. Damn.

Bea said...

mfmmn - I don't think a friend would expect anything but mixed feelings.

My parents and grandparents come from a less fortunate time, and right from childhood they were taught to be mindful of those with less than them. It was considered rude to eat sweets in the playground, because not every child could afford them and there wouldn't be enough to share. Sweets were to be enjoyed in private, in a place where they could be shared equally. This was considered basic courtesy of the kind every four-year-old should know.

Why, in this generation, do some people think it's their indignant "right" to "eat sweets" whenever they want, wherever they want, without regard to others?

What makes people think being able to do this will improve the taste?

Bea

Bea said...

On re-reading, it appears you've missed the point of the post, too. This isn't about *me* asking people to ignore their feelings and be less happy. This is about fertile women who ask me to ignore *my* feelings and be ecstatic as if I didn't have a care in the world.

None of my friends would do this to me. I don't actually know a lot of people who are this heartless, but unfortunately I can name one or two. They are not friends of mine.

Frankly, I think anyone who gets petulant and stamps their foot if you don't the way they want you to act is not really a friend at all.

If someone wants to be like this with me, I will have no problem dispensing with the covering-up of my feelings that I *already do* out of consideration for others, and following script B instead.

Bea

megan said...

this was a very timely read for me. a friend phoned me just yesterday with the news of her pregnancy...

Kris said...

Brilliant and well said. I can be mildly happy or sweetly bitchy. Pick your poison.

BillyWarhol said...

i'M here to donate my Sperm!

;))

my sis went thru an awful time trying to get Preggers with her first Hubby*

all kindsa tests & stuff - turns out it was him firing duds*

Oh vell she's on to her 2nd hubby who's a great guy + they have a brand new spanking Westie who just turned 3!!

;))

Bea said...

Billy - you should seriously get in contact with your local fertility clinic about sperm donation. There are a shortage of donors in Canada, as elsewhere, and it's a wonderful gift for some infertile couples. Your clinic should be able to talk to you about the issues involved.

I'm not sure divorcing my husband is the best solution to our problems, though...

Bea

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