You're sitting at your desk fiddling around on Facebook when a friend messages you via chat. She has big news: She's pregnant.
On one hand, you're happy for her and excited about this new phase in her life—and you want her to know that. But, on the other hand, your stomach drops. You can't wait to be the one sharing the baby news. Until then, each birth announcement makes you want to either stand up and shout or break down and cry.
How to Show Your Support While Protecting Your Emotions
Prepare yourself for pregnancy announcements before they happen. Get in the habit of predicting who you might hear from next.
- Which of your friends has recently gotten married?
- Has your sister been talking about starting a family?
- Have you noticed your former college roommate recently gave up wine and sushi?
Practice your response so you won't be totally blindsided. If these friends and family members know you're going through fertility treatments, you can also give them a heads up of what reaction to expect from you when they do share the news, such as "Hey sis, I know you are trying to get pregnant. If I act a little weird when it does happen, here's why..."
Take social media breaks
Social media has turned into a giant, scrolling news feed—a strange mix of international stories, cat videos and friends' updates. Often, those updates include baby announcements.
If you're sick of seeing a new ultrasound photo pop up every other day, sign off. It doesn't have to be forever, but taking a hiatus from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can give you a chance to turn inward and focus on you.
Besides, the people closest to you will probably share these announcements with a phone call.
Did you (just barely) make it through your cousin's baby shower? Now, your neighbors have told you their good news?
Online support groups like Resolve, part of the National Infertility Association, can be the perfect place for you to share some of your frustrations. And because they're online, you're still able to maintain your anonymity.
Tell the group what's getting to you at the moment, and learn from their experiences, reactions and coping mechanisms. You educate and help each other at the same time.
If some of the people in the group want to arrange for a meeting in person, don't be afraid to join them. You also can confide in someone in your life who you know has struggled with fertility. She will likely have unique, honest insight to help you through.
Facebook has private groups that may fit your needs. Even if you're not ready to open up about your situation, scroll through the feed to see if anyone is experiencing similar issues to yours.
Write it out
Writing in a journal can help you process your feelings without worrying about judgment from others. It's a one-way conversation that can easily prompt self-realizations. At the same time, it can ease the weight of all those emotions you carry around with you.
You may have tried journaling at different points in your life to varying degrees of success. But this time, make a point of finding a system that works with you. Then, stick with it. A blank page or blank screen is one of the few spaces where you can pour out your raw feelings without wondering how it will be received.
Keep a Word or Google Drive doc opened on your computer at all times, so you can access it easily when the mood strikes you. You could also carry a small notebook in your purse and write down your thoughts whenever you find a free moment.
Take it to the mat
Whether you choose yoga, Pilates, weight lifting or jogging, exercise can help you work out some sources of frustration while at the same time bettering your health. Typically, your mood will improve within five minutes of moderate exercise, according to the American Psychological Association.
Researchers also hypothesize that regular exercise can help the body adjust to anxious situations—which often include similar physiological reactions, such as sweating and increased heart rate.
So the next time someone tells you they're pregnant, your body may know better than to go into fight-or-flight mode. You can extend the congratulations that your logical mind knows you want to give.
And remember that deep down inside, you know you'll melt the second you meet that new baby.