How to tell people you're pregnant

Breaking the news isn't always easy .... a scene from <i>Friends with Kids</i>.

Breaking the news isn't always easy .... a scene from Friends with Kids.

When you announce your first pregnancy you are saying that you want everyone to stop for a moment and know this about you and the rest of your life. If you did all this the traditional way - by being heterosexual, getting married, buying a house and cooking meals at home instead of ordering take-away all the time, then people may not be surprised by this news. If you did it differently people will still be happy for you but they may also be puzzled. Either way it is a milestone event. How do you make such an announcement?

When I announced my pregnancy about the only person who did not ask me if it was planned was my partner. I had never presented myself as the maternal type and he and I were not married. We had only just begun cooking meals instead of ordering take-away together, but we had planned this baby for more than a year and we were ecstatic. Turns out I have an excellent 'poker face'.

One of the biggest pregnancy announcements you make is the one to your employer. I told my boss when he called me into his office to talk about concerns of burn-out because they noticed I never took holidays anymore. I have a plan for all that annual leave, I said in an expressionless manner as I went on to announce my pregnancy. He congratulated me and then acknowledged his surprise. His theory had been that I was saving up annual leave for a big overseas trip. I replied, " no, nothing as exciting as that".

Clunk. I do not know what I was thinking when I said that because my pregnancy was everything to me, but I will hazard a guess that I was wanting to keep a 'career woman' image intact, to appear loyal to my job, and to keep private something as tender as the joy I was feeling. I even managed to look a little despondent during the discussion. But I veered right on past 'quietly pleased' and on to 'disturbingly flat' and consequently gave the very awkward impression that I was announcing an 'unwanted pregnancy'.

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Literally any announcement you make to your own colleagues at work will be better than my effort.

How to tell all your friends? My Internet research suggests that the modern pregnant woman is going to tell everyone via Facebook. The Internet also thinks that when you do this you will be very annoying about it. Apparently you will be provocatively cheerful and offensively introspective. I could say something here about how social media chatter connects us all and does not deserve the bad reputation it gets. I could also say that if we can be patient with Facebook announcements about cooking endeavours and favourite football teams then perhaps we can also manage a little patience for the woman posting about the minutia of having a baby.

But instead I will say 'get used to this', because once you become a mother every single thing you do will make you into a 'type' and that type is always going to be annoying to someone. As a mother with a baby you will think you are tired, bored, in-love and a little bit scared, but everyone else will think you are trying to annoy them by being smug. My advice is to embrace it. You could do worse than "I am pregnant and I am annoying" as your Facebook announcement. But do not over do this tone or you will find yourself inadvertently making an 'unwanted pregnancy' announcement like mine at work.

There are two areas where I have some genuine advice about announcing your pregnancy and that is in the event of miscarriage and when you are telling someone who is experiencing infertility.

The possibility of miscarriage or a late-term abortion are reasons why there is caution about the timing of pregnancy announcements. If you have a miscarriage know that they are very common events but no-one talks about them so you and your partner might feel very alone. Secondly, everybody you announced the pregnancy to will now need to be told about the miscarriage. This is not fun. You will unfortunately hear unhelpful condolences like, "it could be worse" and "it will happen when it is the right time". Thirdly, if you did not tell anybody about the pregnancy then you get to experience a different sadness to receiving all those misguided condolences and that is, complete silence. This will feel sad, too. As someone who has experienced a miscarriage my advice is that there is probably no escaping the hurt if this happens to you and you should just go ahead and make your pregnancy announcement whenever feels right.

Finally, how to announce your pregnancy to somebody having trouble conceiving? Having seen a loved one go through the journey of infertility I can confidently say that most of us have absolutely no idea how much hell they are going through. Do not contribute to their pain. Tell them about your pregnancy when they are alone rather than forcing them to quickly muster their 'game face' in front of people. I would advise saying something like "I know you will be very happy for us but I also understand that this might be difficult news for you. Please tell me what I can do to make life easier for you". And then be gentle to them. When your baby comes you are going to need as many people on your side as you can get because that first year is a wild ride and you will have already annoyed everybody else on Facebook.

Now, go forth and announce. Good luck.

 

Andie Fox blogs at Blue Milk.