When Claire found out she was pregnant, she was happy and wanted to tell everybody—or did she? She decided to wait a bit, to be sure, and to relish the news privately with her partner, Mike.
After several days they told their parents, who were very happy for them and for themselves, too. A baby was joining the family! Claire’s mother was a little nervous, though, about being a new grandmother. Mike’s dad cried. Everybody hugged.
Claire began telling her friends, most of whom jumped up and down with excitement, but Claire was worried about telling Ann, who wants desperately to have a baby but can’t get pregnant. She told her gently, privately, while eating lunch in their favorite place. Ann was glad for Claire, if a bit envious.
Mike and Claire talked about how to tell their good friend Frank, who was terminally ill with cancer. How could they express joy when he was in the depths of illness? Their lives as parents were beginning while his was ending. But he would want to know, so they told him gradually, slowly, so he could take in the news. He’s glad for them but also sad for himself; he doesn’t have children, and it doesn’t look like he will.
It can be hard to share good news when some of the people on the receiving end of that news may be in a bad spot and may not feel joyful themselves. You might feel guilty for being so lucky, which is how Claire and Mike felt—an odd mix of joy, guilt, sadness, and regret that not everyone could feel as happy as they were. You might back away from people who are struggling, as though their circumstances might be catching somehow, as though walling yourself off may protect you. Or you might simply not know what to say or how to say it.
If you stay tuned into the moment, you will figure it out.
Then there are the “crazies.” Two of Claire’s friends warned her about the “pregnancy crazies,” people who feel free to walk up to a pregnant woman in public and dole out advice and stories about pregnancy and childbirth, all in the guise of helping. What’s the deal with these people?
It can be hard to share good news when some of the people on the receiving end of that news may be in a bad spot and may not feel joyful themselves. You might feel guilty for being so lucky, which is how Claire and Mike felt—an odd mix of joy, guilt, sadness, and regret that not everyone could feel as happy as they were.
The pregnancy crazies, of course, are simply training you for the baby crazies—people who walk up to you and your baby and tell you what they think you are doing wrong.
Consider what happened to Claire’s friend Linda as she was walking down the street on a beautiful spring day, carrying her new baby in a chest pack. Suddenly, a large man ran up to her and started shouting that she was smothering her baby. He ordered her to remove the baby from the chest pack. Linda, though upset and scared, ignored him and kept walking.
Another friend talked about the problems she had at work once her colleagues knew she was pregnant. Her boss nagged her and subtly threatened her job security, even though that’s illegal. Claire debated when to tell her boss she was pregnant. On the one hand, she wanted to delay as long as she could because she, too, was scared she might lose her job. On the other, she wanted to deliver the news personally before her boss found out from somebody else. U.S. law protects pregnant women from being discriminated against, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
Claire shared her fears with her mother, talked things over with her friends, and decided to wait a bit before telling her boss. But not too long. She was very scared for a while, but now it looks like things will work out and she will keep her job.
Remember the game “Truth and Consequences”? We’re all playing it all the time. Claire and Mike just got advanced training.
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