Monday, 13 December 2010

Elephantitis of the Topic

On Saturday we went round to dinner with a couple of mates.

Good friends. Old friends. They have a daughter who is a year and a half.

Within moments of entering their house my pregno-dar was off the hook, beeping like a Geiger-counter at Chernobyl.

It wasn't so much the refusal of wine, as the protruding stomach that gave it away. I'm guessing she is 3/4 months in.

We chatted all night, about work, mortgages, student protests, the state of the nation, Nigel Slater, the voice over man from Come Dine With Me - normal middle-class London chatter. What we didn't talk about was our infertility (they know, they've known for a couple of years - although don't know about this blog), or their pregnancy (I don't think they thought we'd clocked it).

It became almost a challenge. I engineered several openings for them, from asking how her work was going and how long she thought she'd stay where she was - the perfect opportunity for maternity-leave talk. To a discussion about their two bed-roomed house and if they were thinking of moving, she even went as far as talking in vague terms about if they, as a family, expanded. This, as she was expanding before my very eyes.

For me, the whole night was dominated by this elephant in the room. (A metaphorical one, she isn't that big).

It was almost painful. I wanted to say "So have you any news ... " trailing off and leaving a pregnant pause for a pregnancy announcement. But I've been at the other end of that kind of statement so I didn't. I just waited. And waited.

And they said nothing.

I presume they feel awkward telling us, knowing full well that we had already been trying for a couple of years when they (easily) conceived their first. But they must know we'll find out soon enough.

Obviously what they should have done was emailed or texted in advance. But as they hadn't I was a bit lost as what to say or do. Which prompted an idea. We need a James Bond-style code, one that is revealed on a strip of pregnancy test paper with the application of urine imbibed with the hCG hormone, (a which would denote a positive test, for those not in the know).

So we'd say, "The Salmon are migrating."

And if they are pregnant they'd respond with the revealed response "Yes, they return to where they are born to spawn."

And if they aren't pregnant they say, "What?! What the fuck are you going on about? You don't fish do you?"

So GSK, Unilever, and other manufacturers of pregnancy tests, do you reckon you could sort that one out for me?



  1. Of all things I hate, awkwardness ranks somewhere at the top. And dining with an enormous elephant in the room is very awkward. I suppose it was discomfort, knowing that you've been trying to get there. But the honest approach really is the best one. For all parties.

    I like the idea of that code. We could even develop it further to coomunicate amongst ourselves: the stupid salmon have forgotten which way to swim?

  2. Yuck. Awkward. One of the few advantages about not telling anyone about our issues was we didn't have any such elephants. I just had to perfect my "oh that's lovely" speech whilst wanting to rush to the loo in floods of tears. Both methods are shite. Roll on the codes.

  3. Eww! What a crappy position to be in! Why didn't she take the opportunity to tell you guys when you led the conversation that way?? So frustrating! Perhaps because she isn't a fellow infertile she thought that keeping it from you would be "easier"?? Boo. I too think the code is a brilliant idea. . .you come up with some of the best ideas ever!

  4. Maybe, just maybe, she'd started Christmas early and seriously overdosed on mince-pies... Bah. I doubt it. We all develop such amazingly accurate baby-radars after a year or so of this infertility horse-shit.

    Sorry about The Awkward. Argh. I'd've probably swigged my way through most of the wine solo and then blurted 'seriously, you're pregnant, aren't you?' over the coffee and After Eights.

    "Yes, they return to where they are born to spawn," is a great idea (I shall steal it and say it gnomically to annoying coworkers tomorrow).

  5. Oh I am sorry that is so uncomfortable. What is with the radar - when you are trying it just seems to be magnified x 1000. In fact I can tell when I haven't even seen them it can be a slipped comment by a third party. Maybe when you are finally up the duff you can parade around and not let anyone know and have them ask YOU if you are pregnant for once.

  6. I love your code! Although, the advantage to being old is that I don't actually run into this problem. I probably would have just asked, because I'm tactful that way.

  7. Sorry about the awkward evening. But your code did just crack me up. xx

  8. Ugh... people need to learn, JUST SEND AN EMAIL. Maybe we could pool our funds and come up with a public service announcement for this and air it during primetime TV.

  9. I absolutely hate it when people assume they know how you are going to take their news. Just tell me, damnit!! I love WannabeMommy's thought about PSA's for idiotic fertiles- the world would be a better place.

  10. How could they think skirting round the massive pink elephant filling the entire room would be the way to go?
    I despair.

    Emailing you beforehand - yes. Yes. In the name of all that is sensible, YES.
    Forewarned is forearmed.

  11. I don't know about you, but for me, I prefer honesty, getting it all out in the open. I liked it when friends told me early that they were pregnant. I could deal with it and just be happy for them without the awkward silence shouting quite so loudly that they were pregnant and we were not.
    But without the gushing about baby names etc.

    I find now it's a bit like people avoiding the topic of marriage or of my husband. I feel like screaming at them "it's OK, talk to me about it. Don't be afraid of reminding me because I haven't forgotten that he's dead. You can't make me feel worse than I already do".

    Perhaps you are right - some sort of code to cover these awkward situations...

  12. what is it with these people, so many times you hear the same sort of "we didn't know how to tell you" story when all it takes is two words. I'm pregnant, or three - up the duff... really any of a million euphemisms.

    Confronted by the belly is just about the least appropriate way to let us know they're in the family way. The only way worse I can think of right now is confronted by the sproglet.

    seriously, it drives me absolutely nuts

  13. Argh, that is so annoying. Perhaps pregnancy tests should come with instructions on how to communicate this (email, salmon) and that since this isn't an easy issue for everyone the lucky ones should show some respect...


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