Unsolicited Advice

Have it? Let’s hear it. This is your opportunity to be rude, prying, and overly involved. I may not take your advice, but at least you will know that it has reached me while you are safely out of kicking distance. Choose your words carefully, though. Once you click comment, I will be able to see your comment even if you delete it. And fair warning: I am extremely hormonal.

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5 thoughts on “Unsolicited Advice

  1. You know “seeing someone” isn’t the worst thing in the world. Actually it has changed my life for the better in many, many ways. I’m not saying that this is a solution for you or what you need or anything like that. I’m just saying that it can be a great option that is too often pooh-poohed as the province of crazies.

  2. I recently commented on a different blog and I was hurt by your attack of my opinion. I’m not hurt by your response to my opinion. You are free to share your disagreement with my opinion, but, I feel your post did more than that. I appreciate that your life and my life are vastly different, and that I am incapable of understanding your point of view. I am hurt that you somehow appear to think that because you don’t agree with my opinion, or because it read as too judgmental, I somehow don’t have right to have an opinion – or atleast one that is non-confirming to yours.

    I respect your right to have an opinion and to share that opinion. I’m not going to attack your opinion, or you, personally for that opinion. I’m sorry that you felt the need to do so to my opinion and to me.

    • Sara refers to this post on breastfeeding: http://greatestexpectations.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/to-cover-or-not-to-cover/

      Instead of replying in the relevant post, Sara has come to my corner of the internet, seemingly seeking an apology.

      Dear Sara, If you consider strongly disagreeing and using argument against your points as “attacking” your opinion, then so be it. This is the internet, so you’re obviously entitled to hold, share, and publish whatever opinion you wish. But you’re not going to get coddled. I found your opinion incredibly disturbing and judgmental. In particular your comparison of Utah Valley Mormon modesty to breastfeeding made me die a little.

      Buck up. I’m not evil, I’m just extremely against everything you said and I wish no one believed as you did. But unfortunately, people do. Using speech to combat the cover-when-breastfeeding-for-the-sake-of-modesty-etc. opinion is just about my only option, and I won’t keep silent.

  3. Hey Maret! A friend from Ohio sent this to me and I thought you might like to comment on it on your blog. She has been dealing with infertility for some time and is struggling with seeing all of the pregnant women in our ward. Anyway, she knows that Trevor and I have been “trying” (aka making like rabbits) for some time and even though we haven’t had any luck she is bracing herself for when I do get pregnant. She sent this to me as a resource. What are your thoughts? Do you agree with this email? I found it very helpful. I hope you are doing well! Can’t wait to see you in April!

    “This is what I wrote about how to tell someone dealing with infertility that one is pregnant after having an especially difficult time after my husband’s best friend shared his happy news with me in December. I have been very open about our infertility with many of our close friends and with both sides of our immediate family. I realize not everyone feels like being so open with others about their struggles. Anyhow, last night I said I would share it with the group, so here it is:

    How to tell an infertile friend that you are pregnant:

    So the fact is that many of our friends and family are a similar age and stage in life, and it’s highly likely that they are going to be starting or expanding their families while [husband] and I are making our best efforts to conceive and struggling with infertility. It is more likely than not that these friends will be successful in their efforts very quickly. This is a very happy thing and we would never want any of you to go through this infertility nightmare.

    I am finding that the longer [husband] and I have been trying to have a child, it often is harder and harder for me to hear that others around us are getting pregnant, having children while we just keep trying as hard as we can, move to more involved treatments, and experience disappointment after disappointment. Like, I’ve said before, it’s not that I am not happy for my pregnant friends, I am. It’s that having others get what I want so dearly and am working so hard to achieve can make me feel as though my wheels are spinning in the mud and I’m sinking deeper and deeper, somehow even further from my goal. Hearing someone else is expecting just reminds me of the fact that I haven’t gotten pregnant yet, we aren’t having a baby ourselves, and that is extremely painful to think about. It can lead to a whole list of negative thoughts… Why not me? Is my body defective? What if I will never be able to have a child? The list goes on. And at least for the female undergoing fertility treatment, hormones make emotions feel even more intense. I usually cry when I first find out, but then I am usually able to move on to accept the way things are and reach those feelings of happiness for the other person. But I do need my initial moments to mourn the fact that life isn’t fair. Also, as I’ve mentioned before, I often feel guilty for not immediately feeling joy for the other person, for feeling jealousy, for feeling anger and frustration. I’d like to not feel those negative emotions or have those negative thoughts. I’d like to be able to say that I’m stronger, that I don’t feel anything but joy for the other person, and really, I’d like to be able to hide those less attractive feelings from others. Infertility treatments and the involvement of so many medical professionals already strips away so much privacy from something that should be able to be the most private, personal, special experience. When I have an emotional outburst, whenever possible, I’d like to be able to have it as privately as possible.

    So, while there is no “good” way and no “good” time for an infertile friend to hear the news that someone else is pregnant, there are ways and times that are better than others. I’m going to offer some tips and then even a sample email/letter in case any of you ever is in the position wondering how to broach this subject with either me or with someone else you know that may be experiencing infertility or has experienced loss of a child, or miscarriage. You may be reading this and thinking this would have been really helpful X amount of time ago. This guidance is not intended to criticize anyone who has already told me that they are expecting. I know that anyone who has shared their happy news with [husband] and I have only had positive intentions. And in fact, I have used parts of an email one very thoughtful friend sent me in my sample below. I cannot expect for anyone to be able to read my mind or know what might feel better or worse for me if I haven’t given them that information. But, perhaps by sharing the following, it can help me or someone else down the line hear things just a bit more gently than we would otherwise.

    Of course, communication cannot be reduced to a simple formula that works for everyone. So any advice I share is based upon my own experiences and what I have read and heard from other ladies dealing with infertility. I am sure there are others out there who might see it differently.

    Tips:

    1. In choosing how to tell your infertile friend, think about what would be the best way for them to hear, which may very well not be the first way you would want to tell them. For me, I would always rather hear via thoughtful email or from [husband] sharing the news with me in a private moment rather than being told directly (either in person or via phone). Email may seem like a cold medium for happy news, but it gives the person time to process their emotions privately. Next best is the phone and the worst is telling them face-to-face.

    2. If you do choose to share your news via phone or face-to-face, please do not ask about how someone’s fertility treatments are going or transition from her talking about those treatments in the same conversation as you announce news of your own pregnancy. To put it mildly, those are best as separate conversations.

    3. Let them know that you have put thought into how to tell them. This lets them know that you are trying to be sensitive to their feelings and that you recognize this news could be difficult for them to hear. Acknowledge your discomfort (if you have some) about giving the announcement.

    4. Acknowledge that she may have mixed feelings about the news so she doesn’t have to feel as guilty about having some negative feelings along with the good wishes she has for you.

    5. Let her know the above before you say or write “[wife/husband] and I are pregnant.” Once she hears that you are pregnant, she won’t hear anything else you say. I’m going to repeat that because it is so key: Once you tell her you are pregnant, she will not hear another word you say. In that moment, she will be flooded with emotions and her mind will likely start racing. Pain changes what and how a person hears information. And the emotional pain your infertile friend will likely feel will shut off her ability to listen. She may simply nod, or may be frustrated that you gave her news when she wasn’t in a state to hear it, or may not respond at all. Again, this is why I recommend email, as your friend will be able to re-read the words you carefully chose several times as she is ready to take it in. And she won’t have to feel guilty or embarrassed for you seeing or hearing her if she starts crying hysterically, screams out loud that life isn’t fair, etc. She can instead reach out to you when she feels strong enough and is ready to share in your joy.

    6. Keep it brief when you give the pregnancy announcement, provide the basic information. Fill in the details as the other person asks questions. If they’re not asking questions, it could be your cue that they’re not ready to hear the information.

    7. Do share an attitude of toned-down happiness and gratefulness about the pregnancy. The infertile friend doesn’t want to hear and definitely won’t feel better hearing that you are having the worst pregnancy symptoms of all time, that you aren’t happy about being pregnant, etc because her pain and hurt actually has nothing to do with you, only with her own inability to become or stay pregnant. She really does want only the best for you. And she has attached immense value to pregnancy. It could hurt her deeply to hear someone complain about something she values and wants so much.

    8. Don’t tell her the length of time it took to conceive! It is never helpful to hear how long it took or how you did it.

    9. Please don’t ever say any of the following:

    “I know it will happen for you one day”

    None of my doctors can promise me this, so others definitely can’t. I realize that when others say this, they may actually believe that it really will happen for me, but the reality is that there is no absolute guarantee. I’m sure it makes the person saying or writing this feel much better to say this as it reassures them, but it doesn’t reassure me at all. To me it feels like even more pressure to make it happen. And I feel a responsibility to then tell the person that it isn’t a guaranteed deal that trying + treatment + time = baby. I want to be the one telling myself that it’s going to happen one day, not the one having to explain that it might not.

    “Everything happens for a reason”

    Some people find this comforting, but not me… at least not right now. If there is a “reason” for this, quite frankly, I’m not sure I want to know what it is. It is possible that someday when this is resolved one way or another, I will look back and try to process this experience and come up with a reason for why we have had to go through this, but I’m not at my resolution yet. I’m still in the midst of infertility hell, and right now, I can’t wrap my head around what reason there would be that children are born to drug-addicted parents and parents who will abuse and neglect their children, but not to me and [husband].

    “Maybe it’s not meant to be” or “If it’s meant to be, it will happen” or “When it’s meant to be, it will happen”

    “Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.”- Resolve.org To imply that she is not meant to be a mother (even just at that time) is indescribably hurtful

    9. Just remember that although your infertile friend wants to be there for you, there will be days when hearing about how a pregnancy is going, the sight of a pregnant belly or a newborn baby may just be too much for them to face. If you can be there for them at these times by not taking it personally, being hurt or offended, your friend will truly appreciate your sensitivity and willingness to give them the space when they needed it. Your friend still loves you and is happy for you, but she is probably so overcome with her own grief and sadness that she is not able to participate in your joy in that moment. Her infertility affects everyone in her life, and that means you as well. You are just one of many people whose lives are different because of it.

    Sample email/letter:

    Hi [infertile friend’s name]

    I hope you are doing well. It means a lot that you have shared with me about the struggles you and [spouse’s name] continue to have in your efforts to have a child. I can’t know exactly what that experience is actually like for you but from what you have told me I think you handle it with as much grace and strength as anyone could and I admire that about you. I hope with all my heart that you and [husband’s name] will achieve your goal of having a child.

    I have some news and I have been struggling to think about the best way to tell you as I imagine that it could bring up a lot of different emotions for you. I wanted you to hear it from me and not through the grapevine or via facebook. I thought that by emailing you, it would allow you to hear this news privately and you wouldn’t have to feel like you needed to react any certain way for me. [spouse] and are I going to have a baby. We’re very grateful and are looking forward to parenthood. I am [x] weeks today. I will understand if you have mixed feelings about this news and if you need some time and space to process it. I still want to be a support to you. I hope that you will help guide me in knowing if and how I can best be a support to you and if you need any time or space. If you want to share with me any of your feelings about this, I am here.

    Love,

    [Wonderful, compassionate friend]”

  4. First of all, Hugs!!! Minor comments: Hormonal, yes, like a tsunami! I am not a crier, but I totally lost it when one of the kids tried to clean the goldfish bowl and I found the hapless creature lying lifeless in the sink. Another instance that sent me over the edge: dropping the soap in the shower. I know, what a weenie, right? Bottom line is, due to the hormones, you are not your usual self, and composure is sometimes out the window. Another thing about hormones: I don’t know if it’s pregancy in general, or from carrying a testosterone-y male child, but my libido went insane. For the first time in my life, I thought I caught a glimpse of the effects of testosterone on the brain & its thought processes, and actually felt sorry for men, thinking that they have to deal with this all the time. Breastfeeding: As a child, I felt uncomfortable seeing breastfeeding women completely exposed. As a young mother, I breastfed everywhere and anywhere, but chose to lightly cover up (light cotton was my fave). It’s all personal choice. You’ll find your own comfort zone. Bottom line is, it’s your baby, your body, your choices to make. I loved the effects of oxytocin and after a while, and got really good at knowing when I was about to “leak” (“hey, folding paper bags should not be THIS much fun!”). Nursing pads (not in the beginning, when you’re Multnomah Falls, but later, when things settle down): Saved a lot of money/time just grabbing a Bounty paper towel and folding it down into a 3″ square. Because when one side “goes”, the other has to get in on the action, but figures it out in a minute or two, and then settles down. But in the beginning, I’d use a folded hand towel.

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