Breaking the news

Fertility treatment
Fertility and infertility

IVF treatment can impose heightened sensitivities. Friends who achieve a pregnancy and want to share their news may be unaware that IVF recipients can be distressed to hear about other pregnancies.

The journey through IVF treatment brings many emotions to the surface. Couples who undertake the journey are often taken by surprise by the demands that IVF can make. Success and failure are always possibilities. In this program we hear about Anne & Alister's disappointment that is not often talked about but can be a very real part of the IVF journey. In listening to this podcast series please bear in mind that Anne and Alister's experience is not universal, it is their story. This podcast series is not intended to replace or replicate medical advice.


Stooping IVF treatment - breaking the news

I think one of the hardest parts of the whole journey for me was people announcing pregnancies.  And I think it’s probably the thing that even now it can be a bit of a trigger six years after we’ve finished treatment.

I once counted how many people had announced a pregnancy.  People who were close to either in our families or amongst our friendships groups while we were going through IVF and infertility.  And it was just an enormous number.  And I think what I found most hurtful and most difficult when people did that badly, or from my perspective badly, was if someone would just throw it in there in a way that minimised the chances that they were going to have to then deal with my reaction. So I had one do this to me twice, she was a lovely person. I think her sensitivity was part of the problem because I think she knew it was going to be hard.  Whereas some people were just oblivious and just announced it and not think.

But this particular person twice told me in front of other people or told a group of people I was part of, even though she knew I was going through this and didn’t give me any warning beforehand.  And that was difficult.

I can think of several people who did... who made a much better job of telling us that they were pregnant.  And there was one particular friend who actually emailed us a couple of years ago.  This was about three or four years after we finished IVF and she knew it was an ongoing major issue for us.  And she emailed me and just said, I’ve got some news and I just wanted to email you rather than phone you because, you know, you might need some time to deal with your own reaction, we’re pregnant. We’re sort of excited but scared. She was very honest about her own feelings at that point and that there was some ambivalence there.  We really want you to be part of this next phase of our lives.

What was lovely about it was that she gave me space.  She was also very affirming of our relationship.  It was lovely, because after that I emailed back, I spent half an hour in shock and then speaking to Alistair on the phone and kind of calm myself down a bit. I emailed back, and was very positive, and thanked her for being so considerate. I think it’s sort of set the tone and paved the way for a new way for us to be with friends that are pregnant and that’s probably partly because we’re now a third of the way from the whole infertility part of our lives but also because she was so lovely and how she did it.  And so we ended up driving her to the hospital to have her baby which was weird.  There was a long story about that.

I think what came across was her care for us, and that was nice. And we were also the first people they told outside our families.  They are close friends. That was really good too.

I think sometimes  people didn’t think. They just thought well no matter what they are going through of course they’ll be happy for me.  And all that. They’re so caught up in the happiness of it they don’t really have the mental state to think about how it would be.

But I certainly know from some things people have said that some of them have felt awkward about telling me.  Which is horrible.  It’s a horrible thing to feel as if you’re this kind of bitter who can’t take any pleasure in other people’s happiness.

I was always honest though.  A lot of people in the infertility support group would say things like; “of course I was happy for her”.  And I was like I wasn’t really happy for her.  If that’s me I’m not happy for them because I’m so unhappy for myself.  But I’m sorry but I don’t have any space to be happy for her.

But I don’t know, maybe a lot more people are just a lot more saintly than me. But I think they are in denial about their own reactions so...  For me I was OK acknowledging that I wasn’t actually happy for that person because for me, it felt like they were tormenting me, doing it on purpose to make me feel worse than I already do.  Which obviously they weren’t.

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