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Friday, June 30, 2006

Breaking the News--SQ style

I love babies. I love it when a new parent asks if I want to hold their baby (why, yes, I do). I like celebrating with people and baking cakes and sending cards. 9 out of 10 days, this is the state-of-mind where you'll find me.

Unfortunately, you never know if you're hitting me on that 1 day out of 10, therefore I encourage all people wishing to tell me their happy news to use my SQ method for passing on information that is Potentially Heartbreaking for the Listener (otherwise known as a PHL). The thing is knowing when something may be a PHL or when something is considered ordinary news. And that's the thing about SQs and SPJs--every person has a different threshold AND that threshold changes based on the relationship to the person.

I don't want people to walk around on eggshells around me. I'm not a china doll. I won't break if you tell me your good news. In fact, once I process the information, I will be very very happy for you. But the mantra of the non-infertile (and all people in this world) should match the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors: first, do no harm. And the comments on this blog have spoken--face to face communication is not the best way to break the news.

When we were trying to conceive, we knew some people were also definitely trying and others fell into the possibly-trying-because-I'm-making-assumptions camp. We warned some people in both categories that the best way to tell us would be to send it in an email or letter. It may not have the warmth and energy that comes with telling your happy news face-to-face, but it allowed us time to process our feelings, set them aside, and jump into the celebration. I didn't do very well when confronted with the news (especially in a group) and expected to instantly jump over the processing part into the celebrating part.

I still prefer to receive news about pregnancies in this fashion. My one exception to the rule is when the news comes from SQs and SPJs. Is that totally biased and hypocritical? Of course. But we all have a sliding scale of happiness.

Other things I prefer not to know: that it was an accident. That it happened on your first try. That you didn't even know you were pregnant for the first two months. These things may all be true, but you don't need me to know them in order for me to be happy for you.

Other things I prefer not to hear/read: how you hope I one day get to experience motherhood. How I'm "next" (because y'all know that G-d has a pregnancy roster and he's just calling down from Heaven: "get in the bed and baby dance because you're neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeext!"). How I'm so lucky that I'm not pregnant because you already feel fat.

Things I do like to hear: "I understand that this may be hard for you to hear so take your time with the news and let me know how much you want me to share with you." "I'm going to be sending out email updates about my pregnancy and wanted to let you know about it so you could read it if you wanted. But I won't be offended if you ask to be taken off the list." "When the baby is born, how do you want to be told?"

And this is just me, but once a SQ always a SQ. Yes, I want to celebrate with you. Yes, I'm happy you're having children. But tell me my way if you want my first interaction with you to be one of big hugs and laughter rather than stunned silence. The rest of the pregnancy will be all-about-you. Just let this one piece of your happiness take into account my situation too. After all, you wouldn't call someone recently widowed to crow about your engagement...

Keep those comments coming.


Anonymous said...

SQ -

I think your last sentence hit the nail on the head. Any FP (Fertile Person) should understand this. Perfect.

Nicole M.

Anonymous said...

I like the way you think about this issue... you aren't just bitching, you are advocating a way to do something to avoid the hurt. I like it.

I had the unfortunate experience of sitting a an office Thanksgiving Dinner an having 5 of the six women I used to work with ALL announcing their pregnancies - one by one. It was like some sort of infertility Twilight Zone.

I was sitting in the middle - staring at them in shock. I tried to look happy - I passed out hugs - and I wanted to sink into the floor. They were all due around the time my child would have been due if I hadn't miscarried.

Most of them were not close friends, so they didn't know of my trials... Whew, it was a mind-blowing experience.

For the ones that did know of my situation, they looked alternatly chagrined and happy. I think some people caught on, because those two people kept looking at me furtivly.

Can I link back to this from my blog? I've been thinking about writing on this very subject.


Anonymous said...

I know that you wrote this awhile ago, but I just have to say how much I agree with you. I'm reading this and thinking, "Wow!" I couldn't have said it better. Thanks so much for advocating and expressing these thoughts so well. I wish some of my friends could read this too. Maybe then, they'd understand better...