I’ve written my fair share of “What NOT to do” pieces on this blog. I’ve often wondered why it seems to be so hard to think before you speak, or to consider your audience. Pregnancy announcements are an uncomfortable subject to broach when you’re sharing the news with a loss mom. There are good odds that a loss mom will come away from the conversation thinking it was handled poorly. Remember, I wrote this gem about sucky pregnancy announcements.
Here’s the text she sent:
So, I wanted to let you know before social media, that I’m pregnant. Only 7 weeks. I thought maybe telling you over text would be better than in person because there is no pressure for a reaction. I don’t need or expect any congrats or follow up questions – we can literally not mention it again until the baby is here (early June). But not telling you felt weird, too. So, that’s it 🙂 can’t wait to see you!
And here’s what was perfect about it, at least from this loss mom’s perspective:
It was via text
She was right when she said she thought it would be better over text because there’s no pressure for a reaction. I’ve had plenty of experiences where someone hits me with some surprising or hurtful news. When this happens, I have a fraction of a second to try to process and formulate how a “normal” person should be reacting to said news, when on the inside, I am reacting in anything but a “normal” way. I’m not good at masking my true feelings, so this usually has a poor outcome.
“I don’t need or expect any congrats or follow up questions”
Phew, I’m off the hook. There are a lot of situations where I feel pressure to give a disingenuous response. Do I lie and offer congratulations? Or do I say nothing, and come across as a total B? It’s a tough decision, and neither leaves me feeling very warm and fuzzy. Adding this to the text allowed me to react (or not), without pressure to conform to those pesky social norms.
My response to her contained the words “I’m happy for you”, and those were my genuine feelings. This exchange marks the first time that I have been happy for a pregnant normy. At the risk of sounding like Donald Trump, in the world of bereaved parents, this is bigly huge. (Side note: “Normy” is a term my therapist uses to refer to non-loss moms. I’ve adopted it because I like it too.)
“We can literally not mention it again until the baby is here”
Sure, it sounds funny, but it’s also nice to know that there’s no expectation that this becomes THE topic of all conversations moving forward. Reading between the lines, it’s saying that I can choose to bring it up (or not) when I’m comfortable.
“Not telling you felt weird”
If I had heard about it first through social media, I might have felt a little left out. There’s this weird paradox about being a loss mom – hearing other women announce pregnancies can hurt, but I also don’t want to know that I’m being left out of conversations. Because of how thoughtful this particular message was, the announcement didn’t sting, and I felt included.
While this particular friend did everything right (like seriously, I wouldn’t have changed a thing), part of my positive reaction also has to do with the amount of support and empathy that this particular friend has shown me, both while Brady was alive, and after he passed. You could copy and paste this exact text when announcing your pregnancy to a loss mom friend, and not get the same good result if your friend feels that you haven’t been a very good support through the loss of their child. So, the moral of the story is A) be a good friend, and B) be thoughtful and considerate when sharing news that’s tough for a friend in a delicate state to hear. It is, indeed, possible.