The further along you travel down the road to trying to conceive, the harder it is to cope with pregnancy announcements. It’s not that you are not happy for them, it’s just that it can trigger a cascade of pent up emotions. A friend falling pregnant relatively easily, may be a reminder to you of how tough your fertility journey has been and a reminder too of how many times you’ve tried and failed. This can be made worse when the friend has fallen pregnant quickly. The ‘we weren’t even trying’ or ‘I fell pregnant the first time we tried’ lines, can often feel like a knife in your heart. It is difficult too when you know you have turned your world upside down trying to be healthier, and your friend is downing a double strength coffee and doughnut as she ecstatically makes here announcement.
I have worked in the field of fertility for 15 years and have consoled many patients in the treatment room over these conflicting feelings. You genuinely want to feel happy for your friend, but their joyous announcement just causes a great deal of pain for you. Often this leads to guilt over unrealistic expectations, that in these moments happiness is all that you should feel. This is not jealousy you are feeling, it is grief for the pregnancy that has yet to happen for you or grief for the child that you have not yet carried to term. Announcements are massive triggers for this type of grief. It is natural and very normal and you are not alone. In my clinic I have conversations about this almost weekly with patients. You are human, and this really hurts. Fragility around pregnancy announcements show how invested you are and how desperately you would love to be a mother yourself.
So what can help?
- Talking! Talk all these emotions out with a therapist or counsellor. We are here for you and want to lighten your load with complete heart felt listening. You need to feel heard and it is vital for your mental health to know you are not alone in how you are feeling. Friends can be wonderful listeners too, especially ones that understand how rough this road can be.
- Journaling – write, write, write and then write some more. Pour your heart and soul out in your writing or typing. This therapy can be wonderfully cathartic. Burning what you have written or simply pressing ‘delete’ is powerful way to release all that anger, frustration and sadness.
- Nature – Immerse yourself in the healing power of nature! Don’t underestimate its ability to soothe and console you. Swim in the ocean or hike amongst some beautiful trees. Drive out of the city, breathe in deeply and fill your lungs with restorative fresh air.
- Meditation – Begin a meditation practice. Use an app or join a guided class. Even a simple progressive body relaxation meditation can calm you deeply.
- Avoiding – Sometimes avoiding situations where your grief will be triggered is a very wise idea. It’s ok to decline a baby shower invite if you know that you will be feeling very fragile in a baby focused environment. It’s also ok to avoid a newly pregnant friend for a few days until you get a little stronger to face her. Put your delicate feelings ahead of the desire to please others.