How to be Sensitive

This message is for ALL pregnant women and new mothers- 

Just being around you is painful for your infertile friends. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what we, your infertile friends, cannot have. However, there are things you can do as a sensitive friend to make it easier for us.

Don't Complain About Your Pregnancy (adapted from the Resolve website)

THIS IS THE NUMBER 1 RULE! I understand that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort. You have every right to vent about these discomforts to any one else in your life, but don't put me, your infertile friend, in the position of comforting you. Building on that, don't post these things on Facebook for everyone to see either, because you have no idea how many women in your social network may be silently suffering from infertility. I'll probably do a separate post on why Facebook is so bittersweet for infertiles.

Your infertile friends would give anything to experience the discomforts you are enduring because those discomforts come from the baby growing inside of you. When I heard a close friend of mine recently complain about her weight gain, I thought to myself, "How dare she, everyone knows that she is gaining weight because of the baby growing inside her, I'd not only love have that excuse for my own weight issues, but beyond that, I'd give anything to be pregnant like her, I'd gladly gain hundreds of pounds for the opportunity to have a baby!"

Let me set the pace

Once you've announced your pregnancy to me, take your cues from me as to how much we should see each other and talk about anything, especially your pregnancy. I might need a leave of absence from you for a while. Trust that I'll come back to you when I'm feeling stronger. And this might come and go in phases too. I'll have to process things as they come (your pregnancy announcement, your baby shower, the birth, meeting your child for the first time, etc.).

Don't take it personally

So far, I have managed to go to baby showers and hospitals to welcome my friends' new babies, but it is getting harder. Stay sensitive to my emotions, and cut me the slack that I may need to be happy for you while crying for myself. If I can't bring myself to hold your new baby, give me time. I am not rejecting you or your new baby; I am just trying to work my way through my pain so that I can show sincere joy for you. The fact that I am willing to endure such pain in order to celebrate your new baby with you speaks volumes about how much our friendship must truly mean to me.

Don't ignore me and don't forget me

Even as you give me space, also send me notes or call occasionally to check on how I'm doing, or to let me know you're still thinking of me. This is especially important if you are a former infertile. I don't want to stop supporting you, so please don't stop supporting me just because your situation has changed.

Invite me to your baby shower, because being excluded sucks even more than facing my pain at your party, but let me know that you'll understand if I can't come because it's too hard for me right now.

This will be covered in a separate post about how to tell me you are pregnant, but please, please, please, don't wait to tell me you are pregnant. Follow the guidelines I will suggest in the other post, but don't leave me out while you tell everyone else. In fact, it would be better if you could tell me first, so I can have time to process it before the whole world already knows. I want to be in a place where I can celebrate with you along with everyone else, not have everyone wondering how I'm going to handle the news.

Ask me before you put me on your mass mailing list

I don't need to see the updated ultrasound pictures that you send out... unless I tell you I that want to. This is true too of your weekly/monthly updates of your baby once he/she arrives. This includes Facebook wall posts as well. I'm sorry to be so hard on Facebook, but it often isn't a good friend to the infertile. It can be a constant reminder of the pain an infertile is going through, when what we really want is to connect with those we care about to help us stay strong. But again, I'll talk about Facebook issues with a more logical explanation in another post.

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