"Dear Infertility" Episode 1: Pregnancy Announcements

Welcome to our very first episode of "Dear Infertility: Finding Calm When Trying Is Trying." Pregnancy announcements can be hard when you're dealing with infertility or pregnancy loss. In this episode, we take real questions from real fertility patients about navigating pregnancy announcements and share research-backed tips and strategies for how to cope.

Published on February 1, 2022

Rescripted _Ep1_Pregnancy Announcements: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Rescripted _Ep1_Pregnancy Announcements: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Hi, I'm Kristyn Hodgdon, an IVF mom, current IVF patient, and co-founder of Rescripted.

Ali Domar:
And I'm Dr. Ali Domar, a thirty-four-year fertility industry veteran, psychologist, and expert in the mind-body relationship between stress and infertility.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Welcome to Dear Infertility, the first-ever podcast that doubles as an advice column for those dealing with the daily stressors related to infertility and pregnancy loss.

Ali Domar:
We're here to answer your real-life questions related to the mental and emotional toll of infertility, while providing research-backed tactics and strategies for overcoming these dilemmas.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Now, let's dive in and help you find calm on this stressful journey.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Hi, everyone, and welcome to our very first episode of the Dear Infertility podcast. I'm Kristyn, your host, along with Dr. Ali Domar. Hi, Ali.

Ali Domar:
Hey, Kristyn, how are you?

Kristyn Hodgdon:
I'm well, I'm so excited to talk to you today all about pregnancy announcements and Ali, we saw some questions from our community over at Rescripted on how to deal with pregnancy announcements while you're struggling to conceive. So the first question is how can I deal with being happy for someone else during their pregnancy while also feeling sad for myself?

Ali Domar:
You know, it's quite a dilemma because I'd actually be pretty impressed with anyone going through infertility to truly be happy for somebody else. I mean, I think that you can be happy, someone's not going through infertility because you know how hard it can be, I think it's, you can be happy that there's going to be, you know, they're going to have a healthy baby, but I think it's really hard to tease out how hard it is for you, especially if the person, you know, got married after you or started trying long after you or if they're second baby or whatever. And I think expecting yourself to be happy during someone else's pregnancy is tough. And so what I tell my patients is you can do what you feel you need to do to be supportive. You know, and I also, I have a patient going through this right now, and I basically, we've sort of talked about, you know, fake it till you make it, you know, you can send cheerful texts and you can buy a thoughtful gift, but, I don't know, I think it's tough to expect yourself to be happy. I think you have to be a little more realistic about how are you going to cope with this other person's pregnancy? I don't know if that makes sense or not.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
It does make sense. And I've been saying lately that sometimes you can be happy for certain people and not others too.

Ali Domar:
Oh, absolutely.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah, I mean, like one of my friends had a miscarriage and then I found out she was pregnant and I was absolutely overjoyed, but then someone else, you know, who didn't struggle at all, I'm like, oh, oh, they're pregnant.

Ali Domar:
Well, you know, it's interesting because, you know, in the mind-body program that we run at Boston IVF, we have peer counselors who are women who've done the program and have done really well, and are there as role models and liaisons, et cetera, and years and years and years ago there was a pregnancy, and I don't remember who was in the group or I don't know, one of the peer counselors said, well, you know, she deserves to be pregnant, and the other counselor said, yeah, she does deserve to be pregnant, and I said, OK, can you tell me who deserves to be pregnant and who doesn't? And they said at least one cycle with needles. So, you know, if someone gets pregnant after a month or two of trying and by the way, you'll hear this from me a lot, I think it's obscene for people to tell you how quickly they got pregnant. I don't care how many times it took you to have sex to get pregnant. Yeah, just doesn't matter, so don't brag to people that you get pregnant the first month. But I think for someone going through infertility, if somebody else has suffered at least a little bit, then it feels, and I know this sounds sick, but it feels a little more comfortable.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Well, I think people need to know that that's a normal feeling to have, you know, I think it can feel icky to be happy for someone because they struggled, but you want to know that you're not the only one, and sometimes complicated feelings are normal.

Ali Domar:
Absolutely. And I think we have to acknowledge that jealousy kind of goes hand in hand with infertility. And, you know, I've had patients say to me, I have never been jealous a day in my life. You know that my friends got A's and I got B's. My friends got into better colleges and my friends got better jobs and they had nicer boyfriends and they got engaged first and married first. Since then, I've been totally fine with that. But then they got pregnant easily and I haven't. And that makes me crazy and it's OK. No one ever talks about how hard it is when other people get pregnant, and I think people are going through infertility, feel ashamed that they're not happy for other people. But in my world and in the thousands and thousands and thousands of patients I've seen, I think it's pretty uncommon to be genuinely happy for a lot of people who get pregnant.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Agreed. So we got another question. My friends are announcing their second babies, while I'm still trying to get pregnant for the first time via IVF. How can I cope with the feeling of feeling left behind?

Ali Domar:
Again, I hear this a lot from people who, as I said, my patients get married first and they're still trying and their friends are on their second, so this happens a lot. You know, it also comes down to a little bit of, I never can figure out envy versus jealousy, but whatever, I mean, yes, your friends are doing things that you're not a part of yet, but it means that when you build your family, your friend's babyhood will be behind you, and so I'm here, I talked to a patient two days ago who's 37 weeks pregnant after I don't know how many IVF cycles and because all her friends are done, she got all the hand-me-downs, so she got, you know, car seats and strollers and all this stuff, so it actually ended up saving her a ton of money, plus her friends gave her all kinds of advice, and they're far more interested in her baby than they would have been if the babies were born at the same time. So there's a kind of a silver lining a little bit.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah, and the age gap sort of closes, I think like I was always wanting my kids to be close in age to their cousins, and I was upset the longer time went on and I wasn't pregnant, but you know, now my niece is seven and my kids are three. And like, it doesn't really seem like that big of an age gap now, you know?

Ali Domar:
Right. Plus your niece play likes playing with them, and can kind of watch them.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Exactly.

Ali Domar:
If they were all three, it would be a disaster.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah, actually, someone asked, I finally had twin boys after infertility and loss. Why am I still upset by pregnancy announcements?

Ali Domar:
I get asked this by patients all the time. And you know, strangely enough, I don't know why it is, but a lot of my current patients are pregnant and, you know, kudos to our lab. I think no matter how infertility is resolved, whether you end up with five kids, like one of my recent patients, or you end up doing donor egg or donor sperm or adopting, or child free or whatever, however it resolves, I think infertility is going to always leave a little tiny scar in your heart, of course. And you know, there's data study out of Sweden, where they followed men and women like twenty or twenty-five years after infertility, and you know, it's a little tiny scar, so I think no matter how this resolves and how happy you end up, I don't think you can go through a crisis as intense as infertility and come out completely unscathed, I think there's always going to be a twinge when someone says, oh my god, we had sex once and got pregnant, you know, obviously, right now you want to slap them, you know, hopefully 5, 10 years from now you have like, there might be a tiny twinge and that's OK.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah, give yourself grace. It's, it really never leaves you. And for those of us who have to go through IVF to have a baby, you know, if you want a second child or a third child, it's going to have to be a part of that journey, most likely. So it's not like you can ever close that door really until you're completely done having kids. But even then, those feelings still creep up.

Ali Domar:
They can't. I mean, I think they they do fade with time. I think those feelings can fade with time, especially as your friends start getting pregnant, having babies.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Mmhmm.

Ali Domar:
And so as opposed to your friends, you know, posting on social media, I'm pregnant with my third kid, they're going to be posting, you know, maybe little league games and, you know, American Girl doll parties or whatever. And I think that will potentially cause less of a pang than being right in the trenches with infertility.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Right. So let's talk about social media for a second because we're right around the holidays at this moment in time and there are a ton of Christmas baby announcements. And, you know, it just seems like way more in your face, I think, during this time of year, and you know, the holidays can mark the passage of time and another Christmas without a baby, and so how do you deal with social media, especially around the holidays when you're struggling to conceive? What do you typically advise your patients to do?

Ali Domar:
I think holidays are a tough time of year, I think a lot of holidays, you know, the Thanksgiving, Christmas holidays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Easter, any time where people gather together, any time there's a focus on children or babies, I think holidays can be tough, and social media, you know, you have to remember that my career started long before there was social media, and so I could tell my patients, well, if an envelope arrives in the mail and it looks like a baby announcement have somebody else open it or, you know, if the phone rings and you suspect it's someone calling to tell you they're pregnant, don't answer the phone, wait for a message. And now of course, you have, you know, Facebook and Instagram and all kinds of things where it's hard to get away. I mean, I think try to shield yourself as much as possible, if you know somebody is trying, then maybe temporarily block them so that you don't have to see the announcement because, you know, honestly, if you know someone's trying, it's an eighty-five percent chance they'll be pregnant within the year. And so, you know, I'm hoping this message will get through this podcast as well as the rest of them is, this is a time where you need to be entirely self-protective.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Mmhmm.

Ali Domar:
And so many of us are so worried about we don't want to hurt other people's feelings and we don't want to look like a selfish person or whatever else, but infertility is a temporary crisis, and so I'm not telling you to be antisocial or block people for the rest of your life, I'm just saying during these months or hopefully small numbers of years that you're going through this, you need to be self protective and, you know, maybe have other people look at social media before you, ask a partner or a friend, you know, can you just quickly look at my Facebook and make sure they know pregnancy announcements before I scroll through or something like that?

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah, if you can't delete it all together. I also am a very big fan of the mute button on Instagram, so you don't have to unfollow the person, but you can mute their stories and feed posts, and so they just won't come up in your feed anymore, and I find that anyone who's triggering me, anyone who just gives me generally bad vibes, I just, I just mute them and then they go away.

Ali Domar:
Yeah, I mean, they're not going to know.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Right, exactly, that's the best part!

Ali Domar:
And to be perfectly honest with someone announces their pregnancy, they are so excited themselves they probably won't notice that you're absent.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Right. What about family functions like someone actually wrote in with that question, do you have any suggestions for attending family events when you know everyone is going to be talking about babies and pregnancies the whole time?

Ali Domar:
So family functions are really tough, especially if there's going to be a baby present. I have several patients right now who have new nieces or nephews, and they know when they go for Christmas dinner, it's going to be pass the baby, and let's talk about the baby, and let's talk about the next baby, and why aren't you having a baby. Family functions are tough, so if you happen to suspect that somebody is going to be announcing a pregnancy, for example, if it's your sister or brother and you have that kind of relationship, you might want to say to them ahead of time, especially if they know you're trying, you know, pregnancy announcements are kind of sensitive for me, can you just give me a heads up as to when you plan to do it, like if you plan to do it, you know, while we're opening gifts or where you plan to do it over dinner or during a football game, just so I'm prepared for it, I'm really happy for you, but this is just hard for me. If you can't do that once there's an announcement, again, fake it till you make it, hey, so happy for you, oh, I got to pee, and then go into the bathroom or go offer to help in the kitchen or something else because you don't need to be there for the next half hour. People losing their minds with happiness over somebody else's pregnancy.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Right, in some cases, do you recommend that people skip the event altogether?

Ali Domar:
I think skipping an event is OK if it won't cause a huge family whatever. This is what I say to my patients all the time, sibling rivalry never dies. And if your little sister is about to announce her pregnancy of the first grandchild and that will make you insane, which I would perfectly understand that would, I would suggest you develop a stomach bug that morning.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Yeah, no one can argue with a stomach bug, really.

Ali Domar:
Or these days you can say, oh, I just found out as a close contact with COVID or I have a little bit of a cough. I think I should stay home, ... I guess stay home. So, you know, people have said to me, you know, are you encouraging your patients to lie? And I'm like, no, I'm not encouraging them to lie, I'm encouraging them to take better care of themselves.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Right! And if it's going to be extremely triggering and put yourself in a bad place mentally and emotionally, it's not worth it, and if you have to fib in order to get out of it, then, that's what we have to do, and like you said, infertility is a temporary crisis. I love that phrase because this too shall pass, but right now it's hard and you have to do what you have to do.

Ali Domar:
You do. Exactly. It is hard. I mean, the data on infertility, most women going through infertility are anxious and depressed. Most men going through infertility are anxious, and about a third of them are depressed. This is hard. I mean, it goes away for the most part, as I said, other than a little tiny scar, but it's hard, and I think you have to just, you know, you're going into battle, this is how you're going to have to act until this is over and you have to be self-protective.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Absolutely. So I kind of want to end our first episode, you know, our company name is Rescripted, we're rescripting fertility. What would you rescript about how people cope with pregnancy announcements?

Ali Domar:
Somebody else getting pregnant doesn't decrease your chances of getting pregnant. You know, I think that, I've said this to mind-body groups like someone will come in and say, oh my god, my best friend's pregnant, and I'm like, but that doesn't decrease your chances. I mean, I can understand if you are, for example, in a very small college campus and there's a finite number of straight single men and one of your friends snags one of those men. Ok, so then the pool for you to snag a guy is slightly lower. So yeah, her snagging a guy before you could be cause for some misery, but somebody else getting pregnant doesn't decrease your chances of getting pregnant. You want to be pregnant just like them, you also don't want to be pregnant with that baby. You know, I have an edge to me, probably picked up on that already that, you know, if someone gets pregnant, if the only thing you can do is say, ha baby might get its father's nose, then just glory in that, that's OK.

Kristyn Hodgdon:
That's great advice. Well, thanks, Ali. This was amazing and thank you to our community members for writing in such thoughtful questions. Until next time!

Kristyn Hodgdon:
Thank you for tuning into this episode of Dear Infertility. We hope it helps you find calm during this incredibly stressful time. Whatever you're currently struggling with, Rescripted is here to hold your hand every step of the way. If you like today's episode and want to stay up to date on our podcast, don't forget to click Subscribe. To find this episode, show notes, resources and more, head to Rescripted.com, and be sure to join our free fertility support community while you're there.

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