Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Unexpected Announcement & My Expected Reaction

We know lots of couples struggling with infertility. Especially now that I have this here blog. It really helps me feel less isolated, less alone while it seems the rest of the world is out there pregnant or parenting without me.

But in real life, we only know of a few IF couples.

And of all the IF couples we know, only one lives in the same city as us.

A few months ago, while hanging out at that couple's house, they told us of their struggles with IF. I had briefly mentioned one time that we had been trying to get pregnant for a while, so that night, they felt safe opening up with us. They had been trying for over a year with no success. They hadn't sought any medical help yet, but were interested to hear what we had done so far.

We felt bad hearing that they were hurting from the same hurts we felt and knew all too well. But we also felt the news of their struggle draw us closer in friendship. We now had this big, bad thing in common and it made our connection with them feel even more special. They got us, ya know? And we got them. While I'd prefer that neither of us were experiencing the pain of IF, it was good to know that we were less alone in our big city.

Friends <3

Oh, and they're Catholic too. That made our connection even better.

Fast forward two months.

We were out celebrating the wife's birthday a few weeks ago with a big group of friends.

Halfway through the meal, she says, "We have a special announcement to make... We're pregnant!"

The table erupted in happy noises: excited squeals, clapping, loud intakes of air. Tons of joy.

The joy we thought we'd be bringing to a table of friends like that by this point in our lives.

Put on a smile, Stephanie. Be happy for them. This is good news. Smile. Say something!

I had to talk myself into properly congratulating them.

I went through the rest of the night in sort of a daze. While I wanted to be so, so happy for them, it was just so, so hard. Just two months ago we felt very safe with them because of our shared pain. And now, they were getting to experiencing the joy we've been trying, very unsuccessfully, to capture for what has felt like an eternity now. I felt so sad.

And then the husband of the couple, who I'm sure could sense I was a little uneasy from their news, leaned into us and said, "You guys'll be next."

Which was honestly very sweet of him, just to be considerate of our feelings in their moment of joy. In their moment in the spotlight.

But I still couldn't help the sadness I felt inside.

In the IF blogger circle, I've read many reflections about this situation -- feeling sorrow in the shadow of another's joy. Though I felt sad that evening, I know it had nothing to do with our friends and their news. It only had to do with the pain I feel over my own situation. Their joyful news just reminded us of our lack of joy. It wasn't them, it was me.

(Side note - thank you to all the IF bloggers who've written about this before, because I'm not sure I would have made that realization that night had it not been for your past reflections.)

But what made it even worse was that I had never experienced a public pregnancy announcement before, where a couple announces their pregnancy in a large group. And what especially threw me off was that it came from a couple we thought would have issues with IF for at least a while longer.

All other pregnancy announcements from friends or family (especially since we discovered we were infertile) have been private. Through a phone call or individual text message or something along those lines. Where we had an opportunity to process the news privately. And it helped immensely.

But there I was, stuck in a restaurant with a large group of friends and no room to truly process how I felt. It was rough. It took me a week to realize what was really going on inside my heart. Luckily, giving myself time to process helped me put a more positive spin on it all. Here's what I came up with...

We are so happy for our friends. 

Seriously, couldn't be happier. They overcame IF. And without the time, money, and energy of fertility treatments.

God is good. And He did a beautiful thing here. Making these two beautiful people parents.

But, unintentionally, in blessing our friends with a baby, God took our IF-buddies away from us. In fulfilling their dreams, He made us lonely again, leaving us without local Catholic IF friends to lean on in the tough times.

It's kind of like a weird version of the Principle of Double Effect.

(And if you know what the Principle of Double Effect is, you're probably thinking I'm being a little dramatic. And I am. But it sorta works here.)

Making this realization helped me feel a little less sad. And for two reasons:

First, because I acknowledged that God did good and only intended good in this situation. Babies are always a blessing.

Second, because I was able to recognize where the sadness was really coming from. I was glad to discover it wasn't because our friends were experiencing something very happy while we weren't. No, the sadness was really coming from: 1.) feeling like we were losing our trusty companions on this stinky IF journey... 'cause we sorta did. And 2.) feeling like we were alone in our big city again... 'cause we kinda are.

So overall, we really are so happy for our friends. Babies are always a blessing. And we realize God didn't mean for us to feel lonely when He blessed our friends. That was just an unintended side effect.

Also, our friends are still so awesome. And that's not going to change. It's not like them getting pregnant is going to stop them from being stellar and supportive friends. Just the other day, the husband of the couple was hanging out with John and asked him how I was handling the news. Now, isn't that a thoughtful friend?

It also helps that we still have this great, big online community of support. Even if we never find another IF couple in Memphis (which would honestly be a good thing!), we'll still feel very loved and certainly prayed for.


  1. very well said. I can't imagine hearing that in public. as weird as it sounds, I struggle with a fear related to other infertile couples we know getting pregnant. last year I had about three friends who had fertility difficulties get pregnant right around the same time, I felt so alone!!!!! Happy to be online buddies!

    1. So happy to be online buddies too. :) What you've said doesn't sound weird at all. I worry all the time about married couples announcing pregnancies. It the big picture, it seems silly, but right now, it's something that makes my emotions pour out. So it makes sense that we sorta live in fear of them. Sorry you felt so alone. I would have felt the same!!

  2. Wow, I feel all your emotions in this post! And I have to say, I'm a little surprised the couple didn't realize it would be hard for you to react to their news in a crowd...IF has made me uber-conscious of other IF couples and their feelings, and if I ever do get pregnant, you can bet I wouldn't share the news in a group of people that includes and IF couple! Thankfully most of our friends have shared their pg announcements privately, or to me through Mr. M, and I'm so appreciative. Public announcements are killer. Good for you though for working through your emotions and ending with such kindness toward your friends! They're blessed to have you as a friend =)

    1. You are very kind to say that. It took me about a week to really process everything and get to a good point. It certainly wasn't instant! And honestly, I think they were either just so excited to share the news they didn't think of it, or they're still new to IF (1 year of TTC and no attn from doctors) so it didn't seem as big of a deal to them as it would to those of us who have been in the trenches for a while. Just giving them the benefit of the doubt. They are such great friends! As are you! A great e-friend. :) Thanks for always writing such sweet responses.

  3. I'm so sorry you had to experience this in public. I was actually mad (on your behalf) when I read that they had announced it without giving you a "heads up". I struggle with this because objectively, did they "owe" you that? Well, no. We very rarely owe anyone anything. But, as Ecce Fiat said, after experiencing IF, it is kind of stunning to me that they didn't realize how difficult it would be for you to hear this news in a large group. Ultimately, it just makes me sad for you.

    And yes, you are right, it is so much about our pain. The news of a baby, especially to a formerly-IF couple is nothing but good, joyous news.

    Sending lots of prayers your way, friend.

    1. Depending on how long someone has been on the road of IF, they may not have really gone to certain depths of pain and understanding... For example I know each year of IF I learn something new and God grows a deeper maturity in my. Had I been able to get pregnant before I joined all the support groups online and otherwise I know I would not have known to be as sensitive as I know I need to be now... The longer I am on this road the more I see that the pain can go both ways too. That I can cause just as much pain to someone who wants to be happy and celebrate God's miracles too... It is paradox that am trying to write a blog about.. I honestly do not know what I would do if I was able to get pregnant at this point. I feel like no matter how my life will turn out I will end up offending someone... And it would break my heart to know that I could/have caused such pain...

    2. I know what you mean about feeling like you might offend someone, if IF has taught me nothing it is how different everyone experiences pain and hurt and how easy it is to cause pain, completely unintentionally.

      I think a sensitivity to the fact that we can cause pain goes a long way (it does for me at least), for example in this situation a quick text or email with a personal announcement before the large group announcement would have made such a huge difference. Not required or owed, but would have helped.

      Perhaps it is as much a part of the paradox as anything, but honoring our emotions when we are hurt (authentically, not just blaming or lashing out) is important. To pretend that an announcement doesn't hurt is unfair to ourself.

      (Not trying to argue with you, just hoping to clarify. I was at work when I wrote my comment and was probably too brief.)

    3. Rebecca - You are kind, friend. Thank you for your empathy. Also, this: "And yes, you are right, it is so much about our pain." ... I learned that from you. :) Thanks for "coaching" me through processing these feelings. I was actually referring to your blog when I wrote my little side note up there. But I couldn't find the entry you recently wrote about it. So ya, thank you.

      AM - I look forward to reading about this paradoxes idea that you have. Because it's very true. And I find that to be an interesting observation you've made that I've never really thought much about before. But it's certainly a thing. And I think you made a good point when you said "Depending on how long someone has been on the road of IF, they may not have really gone to certain depths of pain and understanding..." I'm thinking that was the case with our friends. While they had gone a full year of TTC with no pregnancy, they hadn't done any of the testing, poking, prodding, drugging, surgery, etc. phases of IF yet. So I'm not sure they were in the same place you, and I, and Rebecca are when it comes to sensitivity with pregnancy announcements.

      Thank you both for all the support you've provided so far. We couldn't walk this road alone.

  4. I think they were incredibly insensitive and I'm sorry you had to experience that. I also think you are incredibly kind and understanding, considering the pain you and your husband are feeling. They are very blessed indeed to have you!

    I'm starting to wonder if that is just the way of the world (and the blogs, frankly..). People get their prayers answered and don't look back.

    I guess I can't blame them, but it still hurts when you are on this end.

    1. To clarify: I'm sure they didn't mean to be insensitive and it seems they tried and are trying to help ease that a bit now, which is great. It sounds like your friendship (both with them and from them) is a real blessing.

      Also, and more importantly, thank you being such a beautiful witness of faith! To show such kindness and good will while hurting inside...not easy. It is a lesson I often am failing at.

      Lots of prayers headed your way!

    2. You are so sweet! It really took me a full week to come around with a more positive perspective. It certainly doesn't come easy for me. And I definitely fail at times. But it's worth it to take a step back and really process these feelings. So I try. :)

      Thank you so, so much for the prayers. They are very appreciated!!

  5. I feel your pain... We have been working in kids and youth ministry on a pastoral staff for 7 years. Because my husband was the director of all the kids ministries newborn on up we were one of the first people to know... plus we have all of our friends having kids... So many people honestly do not know that their joy can cause such pain. In being honest, I would give anything to be the one making such an announcement. I have even thought of the several creative ways I could do it too... However, after many years of dealing with IF I know that my joy will have to be more secret. I will even be cautious to say anything on the FB IF group because that is supposed to be a safer place and people are still on their with BFP announcements and more... YET in all of this I have to be careful. I need to be sure my pain is not causing others pain and that my pain does not turn into bitterness. I also want to continuously work on trying to stay positive. It does nobody good to stay in a constant state of of self destructing pity... IF is hard... SOoo glad that we have a God to help us walk through this trial...

    1. "I would give anything to be the one making such an announcement" - oh AM, how I could relate to this. I've said, may times that the only reason I keep FB is because I want "my turn" to post an ultrasound picture...and like you, I realize just how differently I will {hopefully, please Lord} announce a pregnancy some day. How, most likely, that ultrasound picture will never be posted to FB anyway.

      I so wish not a single one of us had to experience any of this. Pregnancy announcements should be joyful - always and period. How far our world has fallen...

      Prayers and hugs for you.

    2. God is certainly helping us through this along side all of you!

      And ladies, please know that when the day comes that you have a pregnancy to announce, I will be overjoyed from a private message from either of you. We all deserve our moment in the spotlight. It's fun to share joy! And I'd hate for anyone to feel like they can't share it. But I think private and personal announcements are definitely the way to go. Plus, wouldn't it be more fun to share the news over, and over, and over with individual friends, couples, or family members, rather than just posting a sonogram on facebook and getting the joy all over with in a matter of 24 hours? That was a random thought that just came to me, but I think it sounds fun. :)

      Honestly, I don't know what we'll do when the day comes, but I look forward to sharing that joy. And I'll certainly try my best to share it in a way that respects all those receiving the news.

  6. Beautiful reflection, Stephanie! I'm sorry you had to face this. I can definitely relate to this pain. I really like your take on the principle of double effect and don't think it's at all dramatic. The feelings of loss around this announcement were so profound because, like you said, you were reminded of your own missing joy and you felt like you were losing their friendship and the special bond you shared. That is no small thing! Your response is certainly a reflection your strong faith!

    1. Thank you! Your words are very kind. :) And I'm glad the PDE part made sense. It helped me to figure out that while a good thing was happening, sometimes not-so-good things can come of it unintentionally. But that doesn't mean that the good stuff wasn't worth it in the first place, ya know? Anyway, I'm babbling now. Thanks for reading and supporting!

  7. I'm sorry you had to deal with that--I too am surprised that they wouldn't tell you privately first.
    I had a similar experience--it wasn't a couple who had ever had to deal with IF, but it was the last of a particular group of friends (besides us) and it was while out at dinner (and my husband wasn't even there, so it was the three couples and me ugh). I barely made it through dinner, and cried an awful lot of ugly tears that night :(
    I'm glad you're able to see the happier side of it all, though, and find the blessings in it.
    God bless!

    1. Oh man! That sounds rough!!! I would have cried some serious ugly tears too. I think the only thing that got me through that night was having my husband by my side to actually, physically lean on. Like I pulled my chair up super-close to his and didn't leave his side after the announcement.

      God bless you guys!! :)

  8. I am sad right there with you. Intellectually happy for your friends but FEELing sad with you. Beautiful analogy to

  9. (Oops) beautiful analogy to PDE. You weren't being dramatic at all. Experiences like that are traumatic. I honestly still have nightmares that I am in those situations.
    Know of my prayers.

    1. Thank you for your prayers! I'm glad the PDE analogy made sense. I really needed it to help me process my feelings. Never thought I'd use it in this context, but hey, it worked! And it helped! So there's that. :) Gah! Sorry about the nightmares. CD1 and pregnancy announcements are probably two of the hardest things for an IF girl.

  10. I personally do not tell any new couples we meet about our IF journey...we really haven't told anyone (accept our references ) that we are adopting (okay I did tell a complete stranger over dinner once and this blog). This is my journey, my life and I don't want anyone to "pooh pooh" my own happiness. No one really cares as much about your feelings like you do...I know that sounds harsh. I have just learned that over the years especially with IF. I now don't even ask other couples who are childless why they don't have kids. I've learned that once you share the details and make that connection...there becomes this expectation that when one couple conceives...there will be compassion and there very rarely ever is. I've found myself happier or caring less about pg announcements of woman that really don't know me or I haven't shared my journey with. No one will protect my heart like I can. I guess I'm speaking on behalf of someone who never had a pg announcement.

    Just to add...my dh and I had a close friendship with another couple in the early years of IF and they did adopt a baby...and soon forgot about our journey and kept saying "It's your turn next." ummmm...yeah..right. We are no longer friends. It felt better for me to step away.

    1. I'm so sorry that that happened to you. I'm glad you were able to recognize that the friendship was no longer good for you and you were able to step away from it. That's never easy, but sometimes, it's the best/only option.

      I can see why you are so hesitant to share about IF and adoption now. Especially with the hurts you've experienced in the past. I hope you do get to share your joy at some point. Because adoption is a beautiful thing! And I'd hate for that to go unnoticed. :)

      Continued prayers for you and your dh!

  11. I looked back on this post and a lot of these comments are very helpful and illuminating! I just had another thought to share: just as someone else's pg announcement (as awesome as it is for them) might cause me pain, so I'm sure there are things about my life that other people are envious of, or things I could "announce" that would cause someone pain. My DH made a comment to that effect a while ago - we had just returned from a really fun getaway weekend and I wanted to share all about it at our married couple's group that meets monthly. Mr. M reminded me that maybe some of the other couples (they all have young kids) really want to have time together and have a vacation, but they can't, so keep that in mind, in other words don't go on and on with how great it was. I thought that was really perceptive and just to say that I think everyone (us IF ladies included) would do well to learn and practice the skill of sharing good news or something happy in a way that rejoices in how great it is but also respects the fact that someone in the "audience" might be reminded of their own difficult circumstances, whatever they might be. Wouldn't that make the world a nicer place?!? Anyway, just a thought =)

    1. Very good point! We all have our different hurts and we all have things that trigger the pain. It's important to always be sensitive, for sure. Though at the same time, it's also important to try to remember that if someone's good news is causing you pain, it probably has more to do with you than them. It's a delicate balance. But I think your husband gave you good advice there - mention the fun getaway weekend, but don't dwell on it. So it allows you to share you excitement, but it doesn't dominate the conversation, the whole evening, etc. 'Cause it's not like we should hide our joy. We just need to be more aware of who we're sharing it with. And share respectfully. Great thought!

  12. You've still got us in Texas. I know we're not close by but call on me if you need me. This Jan marked 2 years for me and Lupe, this month CD1 was the FIRST cycle in two years that I didn't break down in tears...I guess that's progress. For now, especially due to my recent hospital stint, I'm leaving it in God's hands, I'm even going to throw away my OPK sticks...just want to forget about it all for awhile and then maybe I'll be ready to see a specialist again and get some treatment. I applaud you for your bravery and persistence and I pray for you guys often. Your baby is a comin one way or another. Love you, hugs!

    1. Love you back! Hugs!! Sometimes the best thing to do is surrender. Praying for you guys!! And speaking of brave... girl. YOU are brave!


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