2013-12-23

During my years trying to conceive and doing IVF, it became increasingly difficult to find out that friends were pregnant.  Facebook was a particular issue, with unexpected 12 week scan photos and birth announcements popping up and slapping me in the face.  I eventually identified that the problem was not the new baby in itself – I wanted a baby so I could understand why others were excited about getting a baby.  No, it was the element of surprise.  The fact that I thought these women were the same as me (i.e. not pregnant) and it turns out they weren’t.  Instead, for two to eight months they’d been pregnant and not said.  I get that, I get why people don’t say until they are sure or feel ready to share.  But finding out someone had crossed over to the dark side was always a painful reminder that I hadn’t and couldn’t.  And the thought of them having held the beautiful and glorious secret for a number of months just made the news ten times harder to hear. So, on Facebook the 12 week scan photos were always the worst.  This is when and how the announcement usually comes.  The picture pops up massive and conspicuous in my feed, I see it multiple times when it is shared by the Mummy and Daddy to be, then I see it again when it is commented on by a hundred people, and I get notifications for this if I have made a congratulatory comment myself.  At my age (34) this happens often.  And you can’t plan to avoid it, the point is you don’t know when it will happen or who it will be.  I had three in a day a few weeks back.  And weirdly with my residual infertility it still hurt to see that, despite being pregnant myself.  I think it always will give me a twinge of pain to see 12 week scans on Facebook, because even now having got past that milestone myself I’ll always remember what it was like when I thought I never would.

I’ve found that birth announcements and stealth pregnancy photos are also painful.  Those people that want to keep their personal business off Facebook or protect their kiddies from the big bad world, so you only find out about their pregnancy when the baby is born or when someone else tags them up and refers to it.  In some ways finding out so far down the line might even hurt more, as the beautiful and glorious secret has been kept for so much longer.

Point is, with close friends at least, you want to feel included in their lives, you don’t want to think they are excluding you for longer than is necessary to protect their wellbeing.  Obviously with acquaintances from primary school there’s no obligation for them to drop round and tell me face-to-face the moment they see those lines on the pregnancy test (although the above points still apply) but with people you know well it does feel a bit sore the longer they keep the secret.

Don’t get me wrong though.  I also know why people post this stuff.  They are excited, they want to share their good news with their friends.  And they probably have no idea that the manner in which they are doing it might make someone else feel bad.  Scans on Facebook might be a regularly cited pain-point amongst infertiles (and it is, do a Google search) but most people don’t know that.

These are all things to consider, because now it is me.  I’m that woman with a beautiful and glorious secret and I have had my 12 week scan and it is time for me to come out.

I want to do it as tactfully as possible.

In my four years of infertility I have seen infertility mentioned on my Facebook feed once, and that was a twee article shared about some octomom.  I know for a fact that there’s people on my friend feed that have done IVF both successfully and unsuccessfully, and I suspect that out of my 500 friends there will be a fair few who are suffering silently with infertility too.  I want to do this right for anyone out there that might be suffering silently.

Some people already know I’m pregnant.  Parents, and some close friends that knew I was doing IVF.  This was more of a ‘successful IVF’ announcement than a pregnancy announcement I suppose, there is something about being open about your IVF struggles and asking friends for support that means that when it works you’re almost forced to share the news a bit earlier than you’re comfortable doing i.e. at four weeks.

But as soon as Christmas is done and we’ve told a couple of other key people the news of this pregnancy it’ll be time to make it public. There’s no point in being anything other than positive and hopeful now, this thing is happening.

How to go public?  From my own infertility experience, posting the 12 week scan is out and waiting a really long time is out.  I was thinking, within the next week, a simple words-only Facebook post along the lines of:

Babymaybe and the husband are pleased to announce that we are expecting a baby in July.

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