Time again for Unpregnant Chicken Answers! This is an advice type column so if you have pressing concerns you’d like my take on please drop me a note about it! I respond to your email the moment I get it and post answers to the blog within a week. I won’t leave you hanging! Our question today comes from Rosie.
“Hey, Chicken…Have you any advice for a sister who is infertile and has been trying for 2.5 yrs (2 miscarriages, 3rd Clomid & IUI, I am 36) and a brother and sister-in-law who are five months pregnant (first time they tried) who have already had baby showers, named their baby boy, send scan pictures across on WhatsApp readily, but never ask how I might be? I have found it so so hard to be all smiles for their good news, but not welcome to share anything of our news. This resulted in me saying/asking if they could stop sending through scan pictures without warning (once I received one on the day we found out we were not pregnant again). The result now is radio silence and she has blocked me from seeing any posts of hers on facebook. Not even her holiday snaps or work photos. I messaged my brother to ask directly if we’d been blocked on facebook (which he said was his idea to protect us). Good intentions although not the way I would have executed it. Not sure where to turn. He asked if I could separate the two things in my mind, sadness for ourselves but happiness to be an aunt to our nephew/their son. He didn’t seem to get it when I said they are just too inter-related. And that I do try hard, it’s just that I sometimes need a bit of time to acclimatize to the positive news they have, and when it pops into my world whilst I’m having a terrible day, then I can’t really react as positively as I would like. I feel so upset that they don’t get what we are going through, haven’t tried to find out how we are and instead are feeling hurt at what they perceive to be my selfish behavior. It’s just great being judged on top of already feeling like a failure in every other way! Now I’m a crap sister/sister-in-law too.
First, let me say I’m sorry you’ve had to endure so many losses and cycles. Hard luck, my friend! I hope that you’re being well supported from other sources in your life since your sister-in-law needs a kick to the junk… I’m kidding! Do not kick the pregnant lady in the junk. Society frowns on that kind of thing! Actually, it sounds like both parties here are trying very hard to connect and interact over something that is messy and emotionally challenging! Kudos to you all for being willing to try. Now, for the nitty-gritty, how does one deal appropriately with family/friends who conceive easily while we are still in the TTC trenches. You are not alone, many women struggle with situations like this when dealing with infertility.
The best place to start is honest-to-goodness open communication! There is no substitute for this. It can be hard to be honest and vulnerable with each other but it’s what will help move you through it so you can continue to enjoy each other’s company. It sounds like you’re already willing to talk to your brother and his wife about what’s going on (BRAVO!) so here are a few pointers for when you do:
- Tell them up front how much their relationship means to you. How hard you are trying to make this work and how much you love them. Doing this at the start really defuses negative feelings that might be brewing on either end.
- Next, tell them how much you appreciate them trying to accommodate your requests to not see any scans or photos without prior warning. That you are so lucky to have family that is willing to work with you, but that you really are missing out on lots of things now since being blocked. Ask them if it’s possible to unblock you from Facebook and have them shoot you a private message before any baby related pictures hit your newsfeed. If this is too much work for them, honestly some people post daily about the baby and/or the bump and warning all the time would take over their life, then perhaps a better solution is for you to simply unfollow her? That way you can choose when to look to get your updates and they don’t have to navigate possible situations that are happening for you.
- Once that’s settled it might be great to mention how much you like to be updated on their journey to parenthood but that you are feeling a little left out. Like a party you really wanted to attend but weren’t invited too. You’re feeling like your news is less welcome and valid and that you really wish they could ask more about how you’re doing as well. Everyone likes to feel welcome and included and that it really should go both ways. Ideally, siblings are like friends… friends ask after each other! Maybe they just need a gentle reminder.
- Finally, regarding his request that you compartmentalize your feelings better and just be excited to be an aunt, suggest that that will come. The hardest parts, in my experience, are the pregnancy and the first few months of life. Once the baby is a few months old and you can interact and play with them you might find that you’re able to get past your negative feelings because the love of that mini person will override it. It’s easier to enjoy being an aunt when there is a niece/nephew to be an aunt to! You don’t aunt to her pregnant stomach (at least I fucking hope not!). So, ask him for patience on this part. Tell him that you anticipate the rush of love for their baby will be intense and deep and that you look forward to that.
Most important of all is to reiterate how hard you are trying and that you do so because you love them and want to be involved with their growing family. Let him know you’re willing to work together to make sure your relationship comes out the other side of this pregnancy healthy, happy, and loving. If they are any kind of family at all they will be willing to do the same!