April Fools’ pregnancy announcements.
Congratulating someone on their pregnancy when they’re not pregnant.
Asking someone when they’re having kids.
I’m not trying to accuse you of being insensitive. A lot of people are guilty of not fully understanding what women are going through when they are struggling with infertility. But as someone who’s been to the other side and back, I’m going to say something that I didn’t have the guts to say when I was struggling with infertility.
Think before you speak.
Just this week I saw this on Twitter from a meteorologist on Fox 2:
Seriously? You see a woman on TV whose stomach is not completely flat and you think to yourself, “She must be pregnant. I should say congratulations!” Seriously.
Then yesterday at work, someone stopped me in the hallway to congratulate me on my pregnancy. I had to remind them that my co-worker Jill is pregnant. I am not. I didn’t worry that he jumped to that conclusion because my belly may have been protruding a little bit. I’ve had two children and I didn’t wear Spanx today underneath my dress. There’s only so much a working mom can do.
My younger self would’ve been devastated.
People see pictures of my kids, and if they don’t know the backstory of how my family came to be I’m sure they’d draw their own conclusions. Because infertility is so seldom talked about, they probably wouldn’t know all that my husband and I went through to have our kids.
3 failed IUI cycles
1 failed IVF cycle
It would’ve killed me if I was congratulated on being pregnant while I was in the middle of my struggles. So imagine how someone who’s struggling with infertility feels when someone decides to make a pregnancy announcement on Facebook. On April Fools’ Day. To her, it’s no joke.
Currently, we are in the midst of a baby boom in our office, and I am excited for each and every one of my co-workers who is about to become a new parent. I love talking to them about all of it. There is no doubt, though, that they will come into contact with other people who are not as lucky right now, and for them it is difficult to endure.
During the years when I was trying to get pregnant, I congratulated a lot of people on their pregnancies. I was truly happy for them, but I was also personally devastated. How many announcements would I have to endure without one of my own? I felt like it was a constant reminder that I was “less than” they were. That there was something wrong with me. I eventually changed my mindset, and accepted that my journey was taking a different path. I also realized over time that I was given a great gift. Having the job that I do, I was able to share my story with other women who were struggling just like I was. Together, we knew that we weren’t alone. Even then, there are comments that can come off as insensitive to someone who is trying to get pregnant.
I kept my first miscarriage a secret for a long time. Only my husband and I knew the truth, for more than a year, as I endured remarks that felt like little daggers. When a friend was going for an ultrasound to determine if they were having a boy or a girl someone asked what she was hoping for, and she responded, “If the baby’s not a girl, I’ll DIE.” Or the people I congratulated on their pregnancies and they said something like, “It’s crazy. We weren’t even trying!” or, “Yeah, this one was an oops!” And if someone had congratulated me on someone else’s pregnancy, I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done. But I doubt I would’ve stood up for myself, because that would’ve meant admitting my painful secret.
Keep that in mind before you post that April Fools’ pregnancy announcement, or when you ask someone when they’re having kids. Just because they don’t tell you doesn’t mean your words aren’t hurtful.