Ask AF: Feeling Depressed When Friends Announce They're Pregnant

"Does anyone else feel jealous, weepy, depressed, and even a bit angry when friends or family members share the joyous news that they're pregnant? I am truly thankful for my daughter, adopted five years ago, but at the same time, their news reminds me of how little control I have over growing our family."

Q: Through the years of infertility, and while we waited for our daughter, I avoided people I knew with a baby bump. When someone shared the joyous news that they were pregnant, I swallowed hard, smiled…and privately felt jealous, weepy, depressed, and even a bit angry. Thankfully, after we adopted five years ago, those feelings no longer surfaced…until two years ago when we began our second adoption process. I even know some people who have had a baby, then gotten pregnant again in that two-year period. My husband says I should be happy I’m a mommy at all and just change my attitude. I AM thankful for our daughter, and I know that, deep down, I am truly happy for those who can get pregnant. But I guess their news just reminds me of how little control I have over growing our family.


Members of respond:

“I think your feelings are so normal. I definitely go through stages of this, and it strikes when I least expect it. I am genuinely happy for our friends who are pregnant, but I recognize the differences between the ways that we’re growing our families. You can’t just change your attitude and, as amazing as our husbands are, I don’t think they understand the lack of being pregnant in exactly the same way we do. We will never receive a positive pregnancy test, my husband will never place his hand on my pregnant belly to feel our baby kick. I also understand what you are saying about people being on their second child while you’re still waiting. We started trying to conceive at the same time as our friends. Their child is now almost three years old. Ouch. And we had friends complain to us that they’d been trying for ‘two whole months and no baby yet’…yeah, it was very hard to have sympathy there. What can we do except experience our feelings without shame? It doesn’t mean we aren’t thrilled with our adopted children and our families.”

“For me, I found much greater joy in the adoption journey than I ever had at the thought of being pregnant. There is an element of jealousy that I experience when friends announce pregnancies, but it’s not jealousy over the pregnancy so much as jealousy that their family building comes so easily to them.”

“I feel your pain! Your husband just wants you to feel better, but I think the part he doesn’t get (and took me a while to understand) is that you are not being petty or selfish or emotional, you are grieving. Grief is about loss. In infertility, the losses are many: loss of building a family easily, happily, romantically; actual pregnancy loss; doing an IF treatment that fails; loss of innocence and the feeling that life is good and good things happen when you just put your best into things; loss of sharing the journey with your fertile friends; you name it.”

“I get very sad when friends complain about aspects of being pregnant, as they are things I wish I had a chance to experience. I would do anything to be a mom and it seems that some people just take it for granted….”

“Hearing that women are pregnant is painful for me. I’ve had five miscarriages over the last three-and-a-half years, and now we’re waiting to adopt a baby domestically. This past week has been incredibly tough. My closest friend at work is pregnant, and she’s been chatting in the hallway (our offices are next to each other) with all the other moms about the details of her pregnancy—from her doctor’s appointment yesterday to foods she’s craving to the wait list at the daycare. I know that our baby is coming too, but I have to admit I feel angry that hers is coming by way of pregnancy and she gets all the outward positive attention that comes with a healthy pregnancy, and that I don’t. I do feel guilty for feeling this way, and for not feeling more excited and happy about my own impending motherhood.”

“I also felt very frustrated and even mad when others could not grasp the adoption process. There was one incident in particular—a large family picnic. We were about three months into the process and just starting the wait. I brought our profile to the picnic because I thought it would help people to ‘see’ the adoption process a little better. At the time, my sister was pregnant, and it seemed like that was all anyone could talk about at the picnic. When I showed people our profile, I even got some comments like, ‘Oh, that’s right.I forgot you’re trying to have a baby too. But is this going to be one of those adoptions where the mom comes back two years later and takes the baby?'”

“I am so glad you asked. I have had so many of these feelings, and felt terrible for having them. I am genuinely happy when I hear that a friend is pregnant, but, for the longest time, I would have to excuse myself from the room to keep myself from embarrassing everyone with my tears. What I am struggling most with now are the reactions I get when people find out we are adopting. I think most mean well, but I have heard (as I’m sure most of you have) everything from ‘Well, you should really try ____, because that’s how my friend’s cousin got pregnant’ to the famous ‘Now that you’re adopting, you’ll get pregnant‘ to the silent consoling nod and ‘I don’t know what to say.'”



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