Beyond the Egg Timer

An insider's guide to having children in your thirties and forties.

Pregtiquette, Part 1

Handling awkward social situations during the holidays

Many people love Thanksgiving for its neutral tone, tasty side dishes, and lack of gift-giving pressure. It’s kind of like the Canada of holidays: even if you don’t love it, it’s pretty hard to hate.  Trying to conceive adds a whole other element to how we experience holidays.  In this Pregtiquette post, we offer some helpful tips for sticky situations.

Scenario 1: You are early in your pregnancy and not ready to share the happy news.  Your entire family knows you adore brie and wine.  What to do when Uncle Sal hands you a glass of Chianti?

Response Option 1: Graciously accept the glass, then quickly slip away and give it to your husband/partner to finish.  If you must take one sip, it will not hurt the baby, we promise.

Response Option 2: Lie.  Generally, we don’t encourage lying about anything, but this is a little different. It’s to protect your child after all! Something along the lines of:  “I’m such a lightweight; I don’t drink at all anymore if I have to drive. ” Or, “I have a bet going with (my co-worker, best friend, etc.) to see who can get through the holidays without drinking”. 

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Response Option 3: This trick works well especially at a holiday happy hour.  Fill a rocks glass with ice, seltzer water, and a slice of lime.  It will look just like a vodka or gin tonic and is quite refreshing.

A similar problem is that pregnant women are also supposed to avoid certain foods. Remember that most people won’t notice you are avoiding the soft cheeses and most families don’t serve sushi or steak tartare for Thanksgiving dinner. Similar with the drinking, you can fib about the reasons behind your sudden gluten-free or paleo diet.  As a distraction, fill your plate with a lot of foods that you can eat. 

Scenario 2: You would like to announce your pregnancy at Thanksgiving dinner.

In many families, the members go around the table sharing something for which they are thankful.  Anticipating saying something like “My growing baby” may make you giddy with excitement.  This is fine, if all the women present are teenagers or postmenopausal.  However, there is nothing worse for a woman trying to get pregnant then being trapped at a table as you joyfully proclaim you have the one thing she is desperate for. 

If you know with certainty a relative has been trying for a while, consider taking her aside before the big announcement and telling her privately. Something along the lines of: “I know you have been trying, and I wanted to share that we have been trying to and I’m now pregnant.  I’m going to tell everyone later.  I don’t mean to be presumptuous; I just didn’t want to take you by surprise in front of everyone. ” Of course, this really depends on the person and your relationship with her.  If it’s a sister or sister-in-law, she really deserves this courtesy.

All families have their own dynamics, and all women trying to conceive have their own feelings about other’s pregnancies.  Therefore, we can’t tell you with absolute certainty the best way to handle this situation.  You have every right to celebrate your pregnancy with your family; just keep in mind the feelings of others. 

Scenario 3: Your cousin Lauren announces she is pregnant with number 3 and giggles: “We just look at each other and I get pregnant”.

Response Option 1 and only: Smile and congratulate her.  There is honestly nothing else to do here. Any other public reaction will not change the fact that she is pregnant, and you are not. If you feel tears approaching, tell yourself that babies happen and that you could be next. Think about something funny. Whatever it takes, be gracious.  You can have a good long hard cry later on.

Scenario 4: Questions about where you are in the fertility journey

If relatives know that you are trying to conceive, than asking where you are in the process is simply a way of showing interest or concern.  Rarely is someone asking to hurt you or use information against you. 

Response Option 1: If you feel like sharing, by then all means share.  Keep to the basics and keep it brief. No one in your family wants to hear about your well-timed intercourse. 

Response Option 2: If you are more private, then a simple “Thank you for asking, I appreciate your concern.  I’m not in the mood to talk about it right now” and change the subject.  If the relative persists or offers advice, simply thank them and again change the subject. One way to redirect someone is to throw the conversation back on them.  Here is an example:

Aunt Mary: Your mom said you and David were trying for a baby—how wonderful, how is it going?

You: Thank you for your concern, I appreciate it but it’s not really something I want to talk about right now.

Aunt Mary: Oh, I understand. It took us months to conceive your cousin Jim.  I think what worked for me was eating tons of radishes, I really craved them back then and we had so many in the garden.

You:  That’s so funny!  You used to be really into gardening, right?

Now Aunt Mary will tell you all about her garden.

What kind of pregtiquette dilemmas have you experienced? Share them in the comments, or let us know your thoughts on handling holiday pregtiquette.

 

Sharon I. Praissman is an adult (medical) and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Emma Williams is a public health researcher and writer.

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