What to do when you’re pregnant and your friend isn’t?

When Kaeleigh emailed me to let me know that she’d started an Unpregnant Chicken blog I thought it was a great idea! So much so that I asked her if she wanted to do a guest post here.

When she suggested a post on tips on “how pregnant women can help non-pregnant/infertile friends though the changes in their relationship” I thought it was going to be a little tricky to say the least, but told her to go for it.

Not only did she come up with some great advice, but none of it suggests that you should be any less excited about your pregnancy – I like to think all chicken websites are brilliant like this.

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I have a confession to make. I’m infertile. I know, it’s heavy, and probably not what you were expecting on a pregnancy site. But hear me out, because the fact that you’re pregnant makes what I’m about to say even more important. Believe it or not, you probably know someone close to you who is also… infertile. Someone who would take your swollen cankles and leaky bladder and cherish them more than anything.

Seriously! I know it’s hard to imagine. But stats say that as many as 1 in 6 couples are infertile. All those women would really like to be you right now. The problem is, they’re not. That fact can make being around you, and your super cute bump, challenging.  Even if they’re your sister, your aunt or your very best friend! Your belly is a constant reminder of what they want and can’t have. That can make interacting with pregnant friends very challenging for us infertiles.

That’s what brings me here. I feel there are things you can say and do, as the pregnant one in the relationship, to help smooth our acceptance of your pregnancy. It’s important to maintain a friendship, even when one of you is pregnant while the other is not.  I want your relationship to change and grow for the better, even as your belly becomes a catch-all for food and other debris!!  You shouldn’t need to grow apart simply because you’re growing another human! So, here are some tips on how to play it cool around your infertile friends so you can still be friends from conception to birth and beyond.

1/  Don’t announce your pregnancy face-to-face:

Please don’t make them struggle to smile through the news in front of you. They will be happy for you. But they might need a minute to remember that. They might cry at first. Best to send a txt and, when they’ve composed themselves, they will send congratulations. In the same vein, if you want to announce on Facebook it’s much nicer to tell them separately ahead of that. So they’re prepared for any sonograms or belly photos that follow.

2/ Talk about things other than your pregnancy:

Of course you want to talk about your little kumquat. Totally understandable! But they may not have much to add about it. So gush for a small amount of time, say less than 10 mins, and then turn to other topics. Like sports, or mutual friends, or the weather, etc. I’m sure they don’t want to have to cancel lunch dates with you. Please, don’t make this more awkward than it has to be.

3/ Allow them to opt out of your baby shower: It’s just too many “feels”.

Your friend may have gone through miscarriages or have onesies hanging in the closet that have never been used. Seeing all your gifts and having to guess how big you’ll get can be excruciating. Be supportive if they choose not to attend but make sure you invite them anyway. If they decide they want to come and there’s no invite it’s like saying they can’t be part of your baby club.

4/ Be a good shoulder:

Sometimes they’ll need to vent. Just like you need to vent about the shittier side of pregnancy, they may want to talk about how infertility sucks. Even when it’s awkward know, that if they’re opening up to you, they must trust you immensely. Allow them to share.

5/ Don’t tell them about that friend who just did “X” and got pregnant:

Seriously. Stop it. Yes, occasionally, people get pregnant after adoption. Sometimes, a vacation was just the trick. But when you say these things you’re trivializing your friend’s pain. Better to just leave the advice to their medical team. Yes, they have a whole team assigned to this. Assume they’ve got every angle covered.

It’s important to stress that, sometimes, your infertile friend may want to cut off or reduce contact with you anyways. Even if you do the 5 things listed above. This is a real case of “it’s not you it’s me”. I know, that stings. It may simply be too painful to deal with ANYTHING related to babies. Which may, unfortunately, extend to you ATM. Try to be understanding and tell them you’ll still be there when they’re ready.  You’re a great and supportive friend! Hopefully, they’ll come back.

With thanks and love from all the infertiles in your life! We appreciate your effort in helping us adjust.

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