Facing a season of infertility is hard. Others’ pregnancy announcements, in particular, can bring up a lot of complicated emotions—especially when they come from a family member or close friend. We’d like to offer some suggestions to help you navigate a pregnancy announcement.
Acknowledge your emotions.
Every new life is a gift and a blessing – but during a season of infertility, hearing the good news of someone else’s pregnancy can bring up lots of emotions like anger, sadness, jealousy, and guilt. It’s important to first acknowledge these feelings, and not try to “stuff them” or hide from them. Notice your feelings, name them, and understand that it’s totally normal for them to surface in this situation.
Be kind to yourself.
The difficult and complicated emotions around a pregnancy announcement may also include feelings of shame and guilt. Acknowledge these “difficult emotions,” and then examine your heart. Chances are that these thoughts and feelings are simply responses to your own pain and not reflective of any ill-will toward the new parents. Once you’ve identified where they are coming from, and acknowledged your grief, be gentle with yourself as you work through them.
Pray and go to Confession.
Thoughts and emotions come when they will, and we are not always in control of the timing. But we can control what we do with them. When we are caught in a web of negativity and choose to dwell on emotions like anger or jealousy, or to feed uncharitable thoughts, we fall into sin. For the good of our souls, our emotional health, and our relationships, we must break free. Prayer is our first line of defense; if we don’t have the words, we can simply say, “Jesus, save me!” Regular Confession is also essential, especially when we are in pain and struggling with a particular sin like envy or anger. We need God’s grace to break sinful habits and to cultivate charity and other virtues. A good examination of conscience and Confession frees us from the weight of guilt and fortifies us as we continue to walk our path through infertility.
Share your heart.
Each of us must decide how much of our struggle with infertility to share, and with whom. While we can’t control the arrival of pregnancy announcements in our social media feed, we can be open and honest with family and friends, especially those who are trying to conceive. Consider sharing with loved ones a little about your own experience and your desire to support them. Tell them how you’d like to be informed of a future pregnancy announcement (e.g., in a private message, in person, or with a phone call). Let them know that you love them, and while you may need a little time to deal with your emotions, this is not a reflection of your desire for their good and happiness.
Through the pain of infertility, and even as we take care of our own spiritual, emotional and physical needs, God is calling us to foster greater charity and cultivate abundant generosity in our hearts. This calling from God does not negate our pain nor come easily – it certainly takes much time, effort, and grace. With prayer, the grace of Confession, turning toward our spouses for support, and sharing our challenges with honesty and humility, our hearts will gradually grow in generosity, and we will cultivate more sincere joy for the new parents in our lives. Through this process, we may be surprised to discover the many different yet wonderful ways God is blessing us and our marriages right now.