“Cow!” I uttered as we walked past a heavily pregnant lady one day. My husband turned to me, asking why I said that about her. “Because she’s pregnant!” I responded snappily. My husband is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met and gently said to me, “But you don’t know what she’s been through to get pregnant, so it’s not nice to say that about someone”. It was at that moment that I realised how pregnancy-envy had taken over my being.
It’s something that many of you will be familiar with – when family members, friends or work colleagues tell you that they are pregnant, or you find out that someone has just had a baby – you want to be happy for them, but instead, your heart feels like it’s been ripped out and you think, “Why them?”, “Why not me?”, It’s unfair”. I’ve had moments when I’ve not been able to speak to or look at a close family member because it hurt so much, but I couldn’t tell them how I felt as I didn’t want to take away their joy.
But when my husband told me that, it gradually brought everything back into perspective for me. I realised that I wanted to be happy for someone when I hear their pregnancy or baby announcements, but I had no idea how to change my feelings.
Shortly after that incident, I saw something that read, “You don’t choose your baby, your baby chooses you”. It made me think – what sort of person do I want to be to attract my baby(ies)? Some of you may have heard of the ‘Law of Attraction’ – you attract what you put out there. So, If I want to attract a baby, I should show only love and positive emotions, not envy or anger at another’s joyous event.
If you’re reading this now, you’re probably thinking, “But how do I do this when all I feel is pain in these situations?” It took me a really long time to get my head around it, but here is what I did:
Feel the love
I had to recognise the negative feelings and intentionally alter my thought patterns. I can’t say that this wasn’t hard, or that I didn’t feel the negative emotions at all; but I learnt how to re-programme my brain. Every time I thought a negative emotion (e.g. “When will it happen for me?”, “What am I doing wrong?”, “Maybe it’s not meant to be”), I instead imagined myself as the one that was pregnant – thinking about the positive emotions I’d feel in that scenario (e.g. how I’d feel at the time of finding out I was pregnant, how I’d tell people, feeling the baby move, seeing your baby for the first time, etc), and the deep love I already have for my children-to-be. You have to really feel the strong, powerful emotion of love – this may take some practice in your own time and space.
Have an attitude of gratitude
I realised how important it was to appreciate everything that you have in your life right now. We often fall into the fantasy of how amazing life will be ‘once we have kids’, but in reality, it’s damn hard! The sleepless nights, the crying about something or nothing, the early mornings – babies change your life completely… ask anyone with kids and they’ll tell you that life will never be the same again! So, instead of just thinking about how great life will be when those children arrive (which it will), also be grateful for the wonderful life you have right now – the freedom and independence to do what you want when you want, the weekend lie-ins, the wonderful relationships you have with your partner, friends, colleagues. An attitude of gratitude is a marvellous thing!
I never hesitated to decline invites to baby showers, christenings, or any such events that would bring about those negative emotions again. You have to sometimes be selfish in these instances, especially if you’re feeling vulnerable to that negativity, or when it’s that time of the month.
- Be honest with the person that’s invited you, especially if it’s someone you’re close to. Tell them that you don’t feel you can face it because you’re hurting, but you don’t want them to feel hurt and want them to enjoy the day despite your absence. Communication is key to avoid any misunderstandings or upset.
- Don’t feel guilty about not attending these occasions – you’re doing the right thing for you at the time. Spend that time doing something you enjoy.
A problem shared is a problem halved
Often, we have all these self-defeating thoughts and feelings, but we keep them all bottled up and neglect to talk about them. I eventually opened up to my husband about how I was feeling and we quickly established that we both felt exactly the same way – it was equally hard for him as it was for me, we just didn’t show it for fear of upsetting one another. This was a turning point in our relationship – we had each other’s backs when confronting the world! I appreciate it is difficult for us to pour our hearts out, but would really encourage you to talk to your partner, good friend, sibling or anyone close to you about how you’re feeling and the kinds of things that would help you to get through certain situations. People care about us and sometimes we just need to be brave enough to let them in to support us.
Slowly, and with consistent action on all these points, I could eventually say those positive words that everyone expects of you when sharing pregnancy and baby announcements – “Congratulations”, I’m so happy for you”, “How exciting” – and really mean them…even if I was imagining myself in their shoes at the time!
I sincerely hope these tricks work for you. I understand the hurt that is felt in these situations, but it’s so important to overcome the negativity and focus on the positivity. Good luck to you all in your quest to focus on love and gratitude!