She’s never going to talk to me again.
She’s going to hate me. She’s going to hate my baby.
I wonder if she will cry?
She’ll probably just hang up.
Should I apologize? No. Why would I apologize? It’s not like I took her pregnancy away and made it my own.
She’s going to be pissed. Maybe she’ll be happy? Probably not. What should I say?
My inner-dialogue circulated with best- and worst-case scenarios as I scrolled through my contacts looking for Liz’s phone number. I bounced my 17-month-old son on my hip as I put the phone to my ear.
Liz and I were going out to dinner tomorrow night with a group of our college friends. There would be drinking. It would be totally out-of-character for me not to order wine. I would not be drinking because I was pregnant with my third child. Liz had been trying to conceive since my son was born well over a year ago.
She answered her phone right away. “I wanted to call and talk to you about something before dinner tomorrow,” I started. “I don’t want you to be caught off-guard, so I wanted to let you know that I’m pregnant.”
“I’m not going to announce anything at dinner and you don’t have to say—“
Of course, I didn’t want to tell my best friend that I had now gotten pregnant twice in the time she had been trying to conceive even once.
“Oh my gosh!” Liz interrupted. My eyes raced back and forth mimicking my brain. Was that an "Oh my gosh, how could you do this to me?" Or was that "Oh my gosh, how exciting!"?
“Congratulations,” Liz deadpanned. She wasn’t thrilled, but she was still on the phone. “I’m just a little taken aback. I wasn’t expecting you to say that.”
We talked for a few more minutes. I felt better after having the conversation. I don’t think Liz did.
Here I was with a toddler in my arms and another baby in my belly. I was thrilled to be pregnant but felt guilty celebrating my news. I knew what not to say to someone who struggled with infertility. But I didn't know the right way to say “I’m pregnant.”
Allison Ramsey, a certified counselor for grief and infertility in Asheville, N.C., shared some Do's and Don’ts for how to share the news of a pregnancy with someone dealing with infertility:
1. Don’t tell her in person
When I told Liz over the phone that I was pregnant, I knew I was trying to spare her feelings at the dinner party. But I still felt like it should have been a conversation I had in person. Not so, according to Allison. “As the pregnant person, you may think you are being respectful of your friend by telling her in person, but it is actually selfish. Your friend needs time and space to react in the way she needs to react.”
Allison suggests sending a text, email, voicemail or private message.
2. Do tell her before announcing it to the world
Liz told me one of the hardest things for her was scrolling through Facebook and being hit out of nowhere when yet another pregnancy announcement pops up. “Women with infertility can be overwhelmed with pregnancy posts on Facebook,” Allison agreed. “Before you post an announcement on social media, you should tell your friend.”
3. Don’t expect her to respond immediately
“People experiencing infertility have a range of emotional experiences around it and need to be allowed to feel how they feel,” Allison advises. Liz told me that several times she had been put on the spot when other women announced pregnancies. “I needed time to process their news and couldn’t always muster support or happiness right off the bat. Eventually, I would get there but often not immediately.”
4. Do get straight to the point
Of course, I didn’t want to tell my best friend that I had now gotten pregnant twice in the time she had been trying to conceive even once. But not as much as she didn't want to hear it. It was uncomfortable to know our feelings wouldn’t match up during the conversation. But it had to be done, and no amount of beating around the bush was going to change that.
Even though I wanted to celebrate my pregnancy by telling everyone I knew, I tried to be respectful of my friend’s feelings.
5. Don’t expect a party—literally and figuratively
“I have no problems going to baby showers,” Liz confided in me once. “At the same time, I don’t think I am going to be hosting any showers either.” Allison warns that even if the offer is presented, don’t expect a friend who is really struggling to play hostess. “It may be something she feels obligated to do, because you’re ‘best friends.’ But it may be a lot harder than she thinks.”
Even though I wanted to celebrate my pregnancy by telling everyone I knew, I tried to be respectful of my friend’s feelings. “It’s hard for a mom who lives and breathes children not to talk about children,” Allison says. “The most important thing is to remind your friend that you love and support her no matter what.”
The night of the dinner party, no one asked why I wasn’t drinking and I didn’t say anything. A year later, we were out to dinner with the same group of friends. When it was time to order the wine Liz exclaimed, “Just a water for this mom-to-be!”
We all cheered with excitement. I hope I was the loudest.
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Kim Mower is a writer and mom to three young children. Her work can be found on kimmower.com. Follow her on Facebook at A Housewife Writes. Sometimes she tweets @a_housewife but most of her day is spent caring for her children who demand things like food and attention.