how do I deal with pregnancy talk at work when I’m dealing with miscarriages?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I work in a large-ish department (about 40 people), and the majority of my colleagues are women my same age (20s and 30s). Because of the age range and gender of our department, we almost constantly have a pregnant woman in the office. I think at the moment we’re going on four years with continuous pregnancies! This doesn’t bother me at all – I am always very excited for my colleagues and love celebrating with them. We are a close knit group and tend to share our personal lives with each other.

However, all the pregnancy news and talk has really been wearing thin on me lately. In the past three years, I’ve suffered three miscarriages. The last one was particularly traumatizing, in part because I became pregnant at the same time as a coworker, and she announced her pregnancy about one week after mine had ended. In addition, on my pregnancy’s due date, another coworker announced that they were pregnant. This was in the middle of a meeting and I was barely able to slip out before I started sobbing. When I came back, everyone knew that I had been upset, but I haven’t told anyone why. I only have one colleague I’ve talked to about this, because she has also had difficulty with getting pregnant (although she is now pregnant after IVF, and I’m super excited for her!)

Meetings at work have become very difficult places for me because at the beginning we always allow a few minutes for people to share any announcements…these range from professional to personal. Now, I am constantly on edge in meetings because I never know if someone will announce a pregnancy, and it’s been really difficult to overcome the anxiety that these few minutes of a meeting will induce in me.

In addition, the coworker who was pregnant at the same time as me, asked me point blank why I didn’t make her a baby gift (I am very creative and well-known in the department for knitting, sewing, quilting, etc, and I usually hand make baby shower gifts). I gave some bland answer about how I just haven’t been feeling creative lately, but in truth I couldn’t bring myself to make her a baby gift because it just hurt my soul.

So I guess my question is…how do I deal with all the pregnancy discussion at work when it just makes me want to go home and cry? How do I be a good colleague and team player when working with the pregnant women just makes me sick to my stomach? What do I do to overcome this? I really love my job and coworkers, but work has been a hellish nightmare for me lately.

Readers, what’s your advice?

{ 506 comments… read them below }

  1. ExcelJedi*

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this, OP! I don’t have any advice, but I have to say: no one’s entitled to a gift from you. Especially not coworkers. My jaw dropped when I read that she point-blank asked you that, and I hope you don’t waste another moment thinking that she deserved a better answer.

    1. Roscoe*

      I agree that no one is entitled to a gift. However, if she has made something for every single other person who got pregnant, it can feel pretty personal for her not to have made her one. I don’t see how this would be different than letters where everyone’s birthday was celebrated, yet one person’s wasn’t.

      1. Not Australian*

        Maybe, but you still don’t ask flat out like that. You can perhaps ask a mutual friend ‘Have I done something to upset OP?’, or – better – ‘Is everything all right with OP?’, but apart from that you just accept that your work colleagues are human beings and not automata.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          Or you can ask directly in a way that shows vulnerability. “I noticed that you’ve made gifts for the other people who have had children in the office, and when I didn’t get one it made me feel bad. Was it just circumstances or is there something I did? I don’t actually need the gift, I just wanted to know if we’re okay.”

          But as a maker, sometimes you just burn out on a craft for a bit. So like, everyone should take note that crafting just requires energy that people don’t always have.

          1. Psyche*

            I think just asking “Did I do anything to upset you” is better than saying you felt bad to not receive a gift. Even if it is not meant that way, it can come across as “You hurt me by not giving me a gift” and can feel accusatory rather than inquisitive.

            1. wittyrepartee*

              Yeah, but the “anything to upset you” can be pretty confusing? Like, anytime someone’s asked me that apropos of nothing I’ve been unable to pinpoint why they’re asking, but I know that they’re questioning a specific behavior.

              Like, the person (childish as it sounds) was at least proximally hurt by not getting the gift, despite having no right to ask for it. Care must be taken not to be accusatory though, delivery of the above has to be good.

          2. SierraSkiing*

            I like your script, though I’d leave out the “it made me feel bad” clause. Instead, something like “and I was surprised I didn’t get one, though I know they’re a lot of work and I totally understand if you’re burned out on them!”

          3. AnnaBananna*

            Amen on creative burnout. I had it for the last two months and then this week I suddenly want to make ALL THE THINGS. I’ve never been able to understand creatives that go into work and can force themselves to create. I have a creative role and when I am out of ideas I turn to more administrative work or take a long walk and let my brain marinate, but it’s usually a thing of either: it’s there or it’s not. There is no middle ground, no arm wrestling my creativity into submission. I envy folks who can work past that. My father (painter/photog) gave me advice to change my working medium. Well….that doesn’t work for me. I’m a mixed media artist so literally all the mediums are my mediums. And at work? I can’t just pull out some watercolor (god, I wish).

            sorry…I have totally fubared this thread.

            1. Amandin*

              I’m not even a “creative”, I’m an intense crafter. And I go through months where I want to make and make and make… and I make more things than I can give away. And then I hit a chunk of time when I’m just not into it. I’ll be spending several hours a day on a certain type of craft, and then suddenly be SO OVER IT for a few months until I get that “making” drive again! And I make a lot of different types of crafts, so it’s not burnout on one specific thing… it’s burnout on the whole “making” process in general.

      2. Psyche*

        It is different because the birthdays are an office celebration where the company is acknowledging the birthday. This is a personal gift the OP has chosen to make in the past.

      3. Lindsay gee*

        but there could be a million reasons why she didn’t handmake a gift: not having time, creatively not being into it, money issues, etc. etc. etc. nobody is entitled to that explanation.

        1. justcourt*

          The fact that many reasons exist for not making a handmade gift exist isn’t going to stop the coworker from wondering which one of those many reasons explain why she didn’t get a gift.

          And while the coworker might not be entitled to a gift or an explanation, not being entitled to something doesn’t bar someone from talking about it.

          No one’s entitled to a morning greeting, but if I notice a coworker saying good morning to everyone else and ignoring me, at the very least I’m going to think & wonder about it. If I can work up the courage, I might even ask about it.

          I don’t know if OP’s coworker handled it the best way (I wasn’t there), but wanting to know why you received different treatment than everyone else in a group is understandable.

          1. Sam.*

            I have to point out that OP doesn’t say that she didn’t get the coworker a gift, just that she didn’t make one by hand. Either way, no one is ever entitled to a gift. The coworker can be privately hurt, but bringing it up like this was out of line.

      4. Indie*

        Thats still ridiculous though. If everyone else gets a knitted baby blanket and my turn coincides with a crafty coworkers worst month ever, then thems the breaks. Also, as a grown up I don’t need the same lollypop as everyone else in the class or to know what’s going on in her personal life.

        If she liked them so much then pushy colleague could have asked to pay for one, or for a referral to a fellow crafter. If she has anxiety over not being liked enough she should manage her feelings better and not jump to conclusions.


        1. Roscoe*

          “as a grown up I don’t need the same lollypop as everyone else in the class or to know what’s going on in her personal life.”

          I personally agree with this, but so many things on this website are saying how if one person is omitted for something that everyone else gets, than it is ok to wonder why and people like to tell that person that everyone else is jerks. If I like 5 people in my department, but not the one other person, and I invite everyone to my house for my birthday, people would say I’m a jerk for excluding that one person. I think because we know OPs thoughts and situation, people are acting like the other person is wrong to feel slighted and ask about it. I just don’t think they are.

          1. Indie*

            Hmmmm. The birthday example is a decent comparison of a peer having to play fair in the social treatment of coworkers. I get where you’re going.

            I still think the timing issue makes all the difference. You send out invitations to a party all at once; you give out baby gifts ad hoc over the course of…years maybe.

            You have to assume the best of your coworkers with ad hoc situations; that timing will be bad at some point (it just will!) and that enquiring into people’s personal schedules, spoons levels or reasons for not giving you gifts will simply result in noses pushed out of joint and no future gifts.

            If you’re not blessed with natural tact, then that’s what the rules of ettiquette are for. Not leaving one member of a group uninvited to a party and not asking for gifts are well established rules of ettiquette.

      5. Bostonian*

        I can kind of see where you’re coming from. If that were the case (everyone else got a gift from OP except the coworker who asked), then I can understand that coworker worrying that it was personal. However, given that it was (would have been?) a personal gift, I still think it wasn’t the best idea to ask point-blank. There are so many good reasons for coworker to imagine why OP didn’t make her a gift (that aren’t “OP doesn’t like me any more”) that coworker should have given her the benefit of the doubt.

      6. coffee cup*

        You ask in a less direct, more careful way, because you don’t know the circumstances, especially when pregnancy is what’s being discussed. It doesn’t hurt to be thoughtful even if you’re feeling a bit hurt by an apparent omission.

        1. AK*

          I know we’re taking the OP at her word and I don’t want to derail, but we don’t really know how it was asked or how it came up. “Point blank” does sound like it was rude and I wouldn’t be surprised by that, but it’s also possible that OP is more sensitive about the question because of the circumstance.

          1. Jule*

            I agree with this. If someone has done something for eeeeveryone else and suddenly vanishes, it really might happen that the person who doesn’t get the gift assumes they’ve done something to offend and wants to address it. I don’t think that’s the bad behavior everyone is already assuming. The fact that a “gift” is involved is kind of a red herring for would-be Miss Mannerses. If one coworker gets treated in a blatantly different way, it’s not going to go unnoticed.

      7. CupcakeCounter*

        This was my thought as well – the pregnant coworker might have thought she had offended OP in some way and wanted to know and that is how it came out. I know that when I was pregnant and in the weeks/months after that my emotions were running high and my filter at an all time low and could totally see myself blurting this out. In fact I actually did do something somewhat similar except it was my BIL’s long time girlfriend who had essentially ghosted me the second I announced my pregnancy.
        And point-blank could mean anything from “where the hell is the handmade gift you gave everyone else” to “hey I was really disappointed that I didn’t get the baby blanket you made for everyone else”. I don’t disagree that asking about a gift is on the rude side but the pregnant coworker obviously has no idea what is going on with OP so I am inclined to give her a little slack and assume that she was trying to express her hurt/disappointment to OP in hopes of maybe understanding why she seemed to be singled out.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          I just read OP’s comment below…I take this back. Coworker apparently is rude and abrasive all the time.

      8. another commenter*

        An office (group of people) singling out one person not to celebrate their Bday is different in two respects from an individual not making a baby gift, as presented above. One is a group (collective responsibility) acting in the workplace and the other is an individual acting largely in a personal capacity (assuming the employer did not grant work time to make the gifts).

    2. Alex*

      No ones entitled to a gift but at the same time it’s always hard to be the first person not to benefit from what seems to be an ongoing tradition for what seems from the outside to be no real reason. While she probably could have used more tact I don’t think that there was anything inherently wrong in enquiring if the OP had a reason to single her out in order for her to be able to understand whether she was doing anything wrong in order to change her behaviour if necessary.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, the co-worker was rude to ask, but reasonable to be thrown by it. And this is also a good thing for people who have been passed over in regular celebrations or practices to keep in mind–there is a lot going on in other people’s lives that make it likely it wasn’t about you.

        1. Bostonian*

          “co-worker was rude to ask, but reasonable to be thrown by it”

          I think this is a reasonable way of looking at it. Well said.

        2. Amandajeanne*

          I like this approach because it’s applicable in many circumstances.

          This phrase is also a more elegant version of ‘a lil from column B, a lil from column A, and maybe there’s a column C’, which is one of my go-to explanations for any variety of situations.

      2. Celeste*

        Of course if the person was expecting a handmade item, they will be disappointed. But as an adult, they need to deal with their feelings and not be rude to others.

    3. Sins & Needles*

      In the case of the coworker asking for a gift, I have found honesty to be the most beneficial for me, to just lay it out there and let it sit: “I have lost several pregnancies and am no longer making baby gifts.” And then stop. Let the answer rest. Captain Awkward describes it as “return awkward to sender.”

      It’s not too late to do that. Add, “When you asked me why I didn’t make you a gift, I didn’t know what to say, but, in confidence…”

      The point is not to be mean, but to just get it out of your head, to be able to stop chewing on it. That helps me.

      Also: Could you talk to… your manager? The person running the meetings? Let them know you’ve suffered some losses and could the personal announcements be made via e-mail, not at meetings? Or let them know if you need to slip out before the announcements.

      I went to therapy for my losses. It gave me a safe place to have my feelings without worrying about anyone else’s, including my partner’s. It helped my emotional wound close into a scar.

      1. AK*

        Even if OP wasn’t able to be specific with a large group and share about miscarrying, a more generic “we’re trying but it’s not working out and this makes things difficult for me” should help all but the most unreasonable coworkers understand and be more compassionate.

        1. another commenter*

          That’s a great way to phrase it — less revealing than discussing the miscarriages.

          1. JSPA*

            Except that people can have bad boundaries about sharing whatever IVF worked for them. If OP can see her way to doing so, there can be great value in talking about miscarriage.

            I don’t want to make it OP’s job to talk about miscarriage. It’s medical, personal, hard, and private.

            At the same time, there’s so much value to it. Breaking the taboo on talking openly about miscarriage is a huge kindness-in-advance to those who have not yet faced what’s actually a fairly common experience (and in fact, a huge kindness after the fact for others who have miscarried and kept silent about it). It also resets our frankly pretty shallow public discourse around pregnancy into something deeper and more valuable.

            There’s deep essential sadness with losing a wanted pregnancy. There’s also an additional level of misery caused by isolation, secrecy, and not having had broad context for ALL the paths that a pregnancy can take. And ALL the sorts of support that a person who’s pregnant may need.

            Consumer culture continues to work hard to erase the “downer” outcomes. The miscarriages, the stillbirths, the babies who won’t live more than a few hours, days or weeks. But they’re all as real as “happy healthy baby”–they’re all major life events–and not one of them is a “failure” on the part of the mom. If there’s room in your corporate “sharing” only to share good news, not hard news…that may be a broader problem.

            Also, there are worse things than public tears.

            After all: Add post-partum depression and bad surgical outcomes and dealing with unexpected genetic disorders to the list of “stuff that makes superficial baby chat tough to listen to.” Marriage news can be hard on someone who’s newly widowed or divorced. New house news can be upsetting to someone who lost their house to foreclosure. Others’ vacations with parents (or even the stupid commercial near-spam of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) can be hard, when you’ve lost your parents. College graduations and other “growing up” milestones are very hard on people who’ve lost a teenager.

            We can’t therefore talk about nothing but the weather. Or rather, we can; but it’s probably better to keep celebrating the good things in life. Not because they’re easy and guaranteed, but because we all walk on the brink of infinite sadnesses, and sharing someone else’s joy can provide either secondhand happiness or helpful catharsis.

            You would not ask a happy new parent to hide their smiles or spontaneous laughter. You would not ask an overwhelmed new parent not to sigh and look momentarily exhausted. Why, really, should you ask yourself to mask and muffle your tears? You can cry while saying “I’m so happy for you!”

            1. Hipkat*

              Beautifully put. When I miscarried at 10 weeks or so, I didn’t tell anyone at my very close-knit office because I knew that my immediate supervisor and his wife were trying for their second child. Sure enough, his announcement came two weeks after I’d lost my baby, and their due date was the same week as mine had been. But I didn’t say anything because I did want to hear his happy news. I did want to hope for my own future luck. And it hurt. It hurt when my friends playfully teased me and asked why I wasn’t having my second yet. (I must’ve gone white, because they stopped abruptly.) But I wish I had said something. I wish I had talked about it rather than hiding it.

      2. rubyrose*

        I like the “in confidence” piece. There is a good chance it will not stay in confidence, so be careful about how much information you share. It could actually work in your favor for it not to stay quiet. Others upon knowing that something is up here might be more gracious with you around pregnancy talk.

        1. Amandajeanne*

          It’s feeding two birds with one scone!

          A judiciously dropped but slightly vague statement about a sensitive subject can be very effective.

    4. Indie*

      Who are these people who just ASK why they didn’t get a huge honour or favour from you? This reminds me of a friend being asked ‘Hey why wasn’t I a bridesmaid?” The answer is… ‘because no one offered it to you?’
      Bewildered. Honestly.

      I know OP is keeping a low profile with the personal details, but her coworker would have deserved the honest answer as to ‘why not’ there.

    5. OP*

      To clarify, this coworker also didn’t invite me to their baby shower. We don’t host any baby showers at work (when there’s a pregnancy, usually our boss buys a baby outfit and gifts it from everyone, but it’s not common practice for everyone in the office to get a gift for every pregnant person). I’m not entirely sure why she didn’t invite me to her shower, but I didn’t ask because it’s not my business. I figured that she wouldn’t miss a gift from me, and didn’t realize she would make a big deal about it.

      I also did this with the coworker who announced their pregnancy on my due date…she gave birth a month ago. I wasn’t invited to her shower, so I didn’t make her a gift.

      If I’m invited to a baby shower for a coworker, then I bring a hand made gift. If I’m not invited, no gift. Pushy coworker was just the first to not invite me to the shower (I don’t feel entitled to go to every baby shower, I’ve just been invited to most of them).

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        okay. she’s a grabby mcgrabberpants and you are hereby no longer required to feel bad about this.

      2. AK*

        ah, ok i take back my earlier comment about not knowing how the coworker raised the issue, she’s ridiculous. Sorry OP!

      3. AccountingIsFun*

        Wow OP! What a gimme pig your co-worker is! I’ve always assumed that if I’m not invited to the shower, I don’t have to invest my time in making a quilt or blanket.

        1. OP*

          Yes! She’s very abrupt and at this point everyone around has learned to pretty much just go with it and ignore her or call her out on it. Every time she says something to me my brain just does a mental shrugging-emoji and I brush it off. The comment about the baby gift just hit at a bad time and I took it more personally than other things she’s said!

            1. Zoe*

              I’m certainly curious too, but I totally understand if it’s better not to dig these things up. But like you said, it’s entertaining to hear about rudeness secondhand. Not sure why, but apparently I’m not the only one to think so…

            2. OP*

              I don’t think I have any specific examples at the moment, but it’s understood around the office that she’s a compulsive liar. It took me like two years to figure out that she lies about EVERYTHING, even the most inconsequential stuff. When I brought this up to a coworker, they were like “Oh my god yes, this is my theory and I’m so glad someone else is seeing this behavior.”

              It’s just the little things that are rude, like constant one-upsmanship. Every time you mention a hobby or a thing you did, she has to talk about it, but bigger and better! I mentioned above that I’m crafty, so one time I told her that I was working on a few scarves to donate to a local homeless charity, and she countered that she had knit over 100 scarves for said charity (eye roll). I mentioned to a few other coworkers that I had been working on fixing up an old sewing machine so that I had one to learn on, and she said her husband had just bought her a new $1500+ machine. There are other examples, and some of them are believable by themselves (like yes, I would spend $1500 on a fancy sewing machine if I had the means), but together, all of her lies end up being pretty crazy!

              When she announced she was pregnant a week after I had a loss, I didn’t mention her pregnancy at all, but more than one coworker stopped by my office to ask “Is *pushy coworker’s* pregnancy actually…real? Is she faking it?” because she’s totally the kind of person who would fake something like that for attention.

      4. Blue Eagle*

        That is pretty rude to not invite you to the shower but expect you to give her a gift anyway!

      5. Perpal*

        OK, that makes it extra weird she asked about a gift when she didn’t even invite you.
        (also, if for some reason you had a nicer coworker who did invite you to a shower; if you wanted skip it that’s understandable; if you still wanted to give something maybe something simple like a giftcard instead of a painfully handmade item)

      6. Topcat*

        OP, I really sympathise. I’ve actually been in your shoes.

        One time a heavily pregnant cow0rker was being an absolute cow to me, and I had to suck it up and apologise (for her unpleasantness) because she was pregnant, and you can’t be nasty to a pregnant person, can you? I was privately miscarrying my third pregnancy at the time.

        All I can say is that you will get there. And it probably helps to have confided in at least one discreet manager or coworker whom you can vent to a little bit. Even just having a sympathetic eyeroll from them will make you feel less isolated.

      7. Vicky Austin*

        In that case, all you needed to say was, “I only give gifts when I’m invited to the shower,”

    6. Ada*

      To be fair, we don’t know exactly HOW the co-worker asked the question. Something like “Hey, I happened to notice you made gifts for everyone else’s babies, but not for me. Is there a particular reason for that?” delivered with a gentle, concerned tone (like they’re trying to probe if something is actually wrong) could feasibly fit the description the OP gave, and wouldn’t necessarily be something I’d consider to be rude if done right. Wording and delivery matters in this context, I’d think. (And response. Like, back off right away if it seems like the other person is trying to dodge a direct answer.)

    7. CheshireBoxx*

      I didn’t read it as the person didn’t receive a gift. The OP could have bought her a gift, and the coworker may have asked why she didn’t make one. I didn’t assume that she never received one, just that she was curious why it was from a store.

  2. Polly*

    First of all, who asks for a gift? Your coworker was rude.
    Sorry you’re going through this. As someone who has gone through a similar situation, I know what it’s like. For me, it was trudging through it daily and lots of confidantes who listened. There’s no one good answer but talking about it helps. Take care of yourself.

    1. Blueberrie*

      Yes, if you’re not in therapy, I would recommend that, even just so you have a place to talk about this in whatever way you want to, without feeling guilty or mean.

      1. delta cat*

        I’m so, so sorry, OP. I’m in a similar situation myself right now. On top of everything, my sister is pregnant. With twins. And a due date within a week of what mine would have been. My feelings about all of the babies and big pregnant bellies surrounding me are, let us say, complicated.

        I know that my coworkers and my sister are not having babies *at* me. And I want this for them! I’m happy for them! It feels wrong and unfair of me to resent them for causing me pain. But the pain is real and it’s there. Add to that the feeling of being left out … not just left out of the having of babies, but being left out of the baby excitement and planning. It’s a happy occasion! Everyone is so happy! We’re planning showers and picking out cards and knitting things! I want to be a part of that! But it hurts to be a part of that. It hurts to be a part of that and it hurts not to be a part of that. The analogy I’ve made is that it’s like everyone else around you is sharing a big pitcher of delicious lemonade on a hot day, and you’ve got a fresh cut on your tongue. The lemonade is cool, and it’s delicious, and it’s refreshing … and it’s citric acid in an open wound.

        The thing that’s helped me the most is allowing myself to own my feelings. I’m lucky enough to have a decent EAP and was able to get some online counselling. It gave me a place to let it out. All of the things that I can’t say to my coworkers or my family because I’m afraid they’ll be misconstrued or just revealing too much. Including the anger, that awful, free-floating anger that can’t be attached to anyone because no one is really doing anything *wrong.* It was also reassuring to talk about all of the ways that my experience of grief was normal and, honestly, healthy. So I’ll pile on to the recommendations for therapy, in whatever format works best for you.

        It’s also worth considering if there is anyone at your office you can talk to and if so, what you want to say. My supervisor knows, and she’s been there herself and knows what it’s like, so she has my back if I ever need to bail on something or if I need to take off for a short-notice medical appointment. I haven’t told anyone else, although I know of at least one other person in the office who’s dealt with fertility issues, and I have my suspicions about another person. You probably aren’t as alone in this as you think you are.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          “The pain is real and it’s there” – ayup. And I feel ya – over five years of trying + IVF + … yeah. Jedi hugs if you want them.

          To deal with it, here’s some stuff I did / do:
          1) Therapy therapy therapy . Mindfulness is especially helpful when you have the feels but have to work too.
          2) Pre-meeting prep: is there a small soothing or happy-making ritual you can do before you go into meetings that will have announcements?
          * I run up a few flights of stairs before ones I know will be rough, for a small endorphin rush.
          * ‘Emergency chocolate’ is also a thing, though I have a hard time saving that.
          * A minute or two of stretching
          * A short, funny you-tube video (google ‘whippet jumping fence’ for one of my favorites…).
          * A minute of deep breathing.
          3) Post-meeting self-care: Take a minute to recognize and name the feels. We are many, you may have several, they are all ok.

          1. seller of teapots*

            I love this list. For me, the meeting-anxiety would have a lot to do with fear of how the news will make me feel and feeling a pressure to keep my emotions to myself. I wonder (and this calls on a huge amount of vulnerability, which you understandably may not be down for) if it might be helpful to give yourself some space via transparency.

            “I just want to let folks know that I’ve been struggling through a series of miscarriages. I’m incredibly happy for anyone who’s having a baby, but please forgive me if my initial response is a bit emotional.”

          2. Ophelia*

            I just wanted to second all this. OP, I’ve been in your shoes, and all of these are really helpful. The other thing I found really valuable was talking to a few trusted people at work (my boss and a few others) so that they knew what was going on, and could quietly support me if I needed to take a break from whatever was going on in the office (they also were the ones who would help with covering my work so I could take some days off to physically recover and to grieve privately, and while I so hope you don’t have to do that again, it was helpful for me to know that safety net existed when I needed it).

          3. JD*

            Yes, the pain is real and it’s there… for me, everyday, everything, not just pregnancy, but happy couples, weddings, anniversaries, vacations… Being alone in the world is garbage and everything around me is a reminder of it. The advice above is very good, and all worth a shot. But the bottom line is, other people aren’t going to hide or stop their happy lives for you (nor should they) so you have to get used to it. My coping strategy has been to detach from everyone and talk only about work. Then cry in my car.

        2. Lucy*

          [they] are not having babies *at* me

          This is well phrased and entirely true.

          When I suffered my first mc, an acquaintance was unexpectedly pregnant and openly discussing whether she should “keep it”. I must admit I scream-cried about that in the car. And there were other friends pregnant or newly-delivered and there were bumps and babies everywhere.

          But a very wise friend calmly pointed out to me that none of those women was having my baby – there’s no quota, after all, and we were trying the old-fashioned way in order to get our biological child, not just any off-the-shelf child. They didn’t steal our chance, our winning lottery ticket.

          That was just what I needed to hear in that moment (and to tell myself continually for months and then during a subsequent loss).

          Now, that’s not to say I was suddenly cool with those other babies (I am wrenched with envy when I encounter the children they have grown up to be, and they’re now 8 years old). But it did make it feel less personal, so it was only a reminder of the same grief, rather than a new injury every time.

          LW, I’m so sorry for your loss. A miscarriage is a very big thing and you should take exactly as much time as you need to process it – even if that’s measured in years.

          And you never ever ever have to craft for anyone ever. I say this as a frequent baby-blanket-hooker who currently has 9/10 of a Sophie’s Garden on my knee that’s going to someone else.

          1. delta cat*

            I wish I could take credit for the phrasing but it’s lifted pretty much verbatim from another advice columnist (Captain Awkward maybe?). I’ve found it a helpful little bit of perspective whenever I find myself envious of someone else’s good fortune.

            I’ve always taken it not to mean that I’m not allowed to feel envious or even resentful, but simply that I should be mindful of what I do with those feelings. Which, full circle, is why therapy is so helpful!

            1. Lucy*

              Yes, it says nothing about what you’re allowed to feel, only about other people’s likely motivation. Perspective is really hard when you’re hurting. I really appreciated my friend’s taking the time to help me in that way.

              In fact, I shall go and thank her for it right now.

        3. Your Weird Uncle*

          I’m sorry you’re dealing with this too, and I just wanted to add that I think your response was beautifully worded. Internet hugs from a weird internet stranger. :)

        4. CoveredInBees*

          How does this happen so often. My sister in law and I had due dates a week apart (along with THREE other women in my social circle). The only people in our family who were understanding about my need for some distance were the parents to be.

          The only thing I would add to that list is a support group, in person and/or online. Having that outlet was essential for me.

        5. Robyn*

          This is probably a weird coping thing, but it has been working for me so far. After my miscarriage, each time someone I knew would announce a pregnancy or announce the birth of a child, or I would see someone visibly pregnant and feel that twinge of anger/jealously/grief, I decided to (silently) believe that all these people had previous miscarriages, and the new pregnancies and babies were all the more joyous because of it. It helped me to believe that these parents had been in my shoes, and I was able to share their happiness because I knew how much loss hurt, and how precious these babies were in comparison.

          1. ursula*

            I am floored by how kind and how healing this is. Thank you for sharing – I’m going to use it.

          2. Buffy Loren*

            I am also floored by how healing this is! It is also very likely to be true, since miscarriage is common. Thank you for sharing this.

          3. Ophelia*

            I also thought something similar to this, and it helped me reframe where I was, and where other people are, and to realize that not all our paths are the same path, and that I can handle that fact.

          4. OP*

            It literally never crossed my mind to think of it this way, but you are right. I will try to think about this moving forward.

        6. Hapless Bureaucrat*

          Yes to all of this.

          I’ve been there too and felt that… and while intellectually you know no one’s getting pregnant AT you, well… it doesn’t stop the visceral prickle of loss and impotence.

          I never wanted to talk about it much at work, but my supervisor knew… just in case I had to bail quickly.

          Meanwhile I found support in other people who had experienced infertility and loss. It helped take the sting out of it to have someone to text and say “arg! Another pregnant coworker” who would immediately understand that all I needed was to be told “yeah that hurts” without having to go through the whole “of course I’m happy for them but” rigmarole.

          It’s such a catch-22, because who likes talking about this? And who likes dealing with misconceptions and questions and stay-positives and the feeling that now you’re That Poor Person? But at the same time it’s stifling not talking about it, and it makes you feel more and more alone and warped and weird….

          So, my advice is find outlets that work for you: counseling, support groups, friends who have been through it. Have them help you set up scripts or practice for common events. Practice what you want to do the next time someone announces a pregnancy. Practice polite ways to get out of holding babies or talking about due dates. Practice who you’ll go to if you just need support for a moment, or what you’ll use to distract yourself if you get stuck in the feeling.

          And don’t beat yourself up that you feel this way.

          1. B*

            This is so true. I recently lost a pregnancy and I just can’t with the “I’m happy for them, but” rigmarole any more. I come around to it eventually, and then I am happy, but when I first hear yet another person is pregnant, I need my “this stings” moment.

        7. jes*

          I’m so sorry OP. I have also been in this situation. I was shocked when I miscarried by how many women have also had miscarriages. I think the pain is so raw and real that we just don’t know how to talk about it.

          All I can tell you is that it’s okay for it to be bittersweet. It’s okay for you to be happy for your co-workers and sad for yourself. Every single month is brutal when you are dealing with infertility. I don’t think there is an easy answer for this. Counseling sounds like a great idea. Best of luck and virtual hugs.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        OP, I’m so sorry for all of the pain, and loss, and complicated feelings. I want to echo what delta cat said about owning your feelings.

        There’s some advice I read in another blog (Paging Dr. Nerdlove) that’s mostly about dealing with feelings that are maybe not appropriate for the situation or that you might not want to be having. The advice he gives is to not try to suppress them, because that can make them stronger. But to instead, acknowledge that you’re having the feelings, and then try to put your mind on something else.

        So for you, maybe something like: “Coworker X is pregnant and it really hurts, even though I’m also happy for her. Ok, I’m feeling like that right now, and that’s completely natural because of what’s going on in my life. Now, about that TPS report…”. It doesn’t make it hurt less. But it means you’re acknowledging how you feel as valid and natural, and then…doing something else. It doesn’t stop the feelings, but it might help make them less overwhelming, at least for the moment.

        Therapy is a good idea, as well. Having someone you can talk to, and feel safe doing so, could help a lot. Also, a therapist (especially one with experience working with people who are grieving) could suggest other strategies.

        I want to say this: You are not a bad person for feeling whatever you are feeling, even if you find yourself feeling angry or resentful. You’re human, and in a genuinely hard situation. Complicated feelings are entirely natural, due to your circumstances. If I could, and you wanted one, I would reach out through the Internet and give you a big hug.

    2. Hamburke*

      I think the co-worker was wrong to ask about the gift but it could have been a poorly worded “have I done something to offend you?”

  3. Stormfeather*

    I’m very sorry for you, OP, and the best advice I have is: therapy. This sounds like a very difficult time for you, and a therapist is going to be better equipped than any of us to help you get through it!

    1. Meredith Brooks*

      I have to agree with this. Not because I think your reactions are wrong, but because you’ve experienced trauma and I think therapy can only help you come to terms with it and how to adapt to your experience in a way that’s supportive and strengthening for you.

    2. Dust Bunny*


      I had a friend who was waffling on therapy and I finally convinced her to think of it as lessons. Nobody thinks you’re wrong or broken if you can’t play the piano–you just haven’t learned. So you get a teacher and practice. Ditto therapy: It doesn’t mean you’re wrong or broken, it just means you need the guidance of somebody who has extensive training in this area to help you learn how to handle it.

      1. Not A Morning Person*

        I love this analogy! What a useful way to frame it as just needing some practice at a skill or an experience and getting help from someone with the training and experience to help you through. Thank you for this and I will probably steal it from you.

      2. KimberlyR*

        One of my kids went to therapy for a short time for her anxiety. We spoke about it as building a toolbox. She needs help making tools for her toolbox. Once she had the tools she needed, we were able to stop her visits. But if she ever needs help remaking them, or making new ones, we will go back because therapists are trained in helping people make tools to help them deal with life.

      3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        A related analogy might be physical therapy after a physical injury. You’re not a bad or weak person if you need to learn some new exercises to help strengthen your ankle after you broke it, you just need some expert advice.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Amen. My mom has done PT multiple times for several different injuries and, wow, does it make a difference.

      4. I should be working ...*

        Where were you when I had my miscarriage … I should have gone to therapy, but had many “good” reasons why I didn’t “need” it. This thought process would have gotten through. Mr. ISBW was beyond supportive but he was dealing with the same loss too. Talking to someone non-affected would have been smart.

        I made it out the other side by crying a lot, screaming a lot, falling down a lot, and getting back up. I got lucky, I got pregnant again and now have a 3 year old who is beautiful even when I am pulling my hair out at what she is doing/thinking/saying. I’m sending many, many, MANY jedi hugs your way.

        Oh, and I knit too … the coworker who wondered why she didn’t get a gift can go learn how to knit instead of asking you …

    3. Elgato*

      Yes please don’t be alone in your suffering. This is the worst.

      It’s not easy asking for help but it’s so necessary.

    4. Jen*

      I was going to say this. I dealt with that same thing. Miscarriage and fertility issues and I had a co-worker who had no problem getting pregnant and at my office at one point there were 6 women who were pregnant at once and everyone was always like ‘So you’re next!” and terrible annoying things like that.

      Honestly it was making me super depressed but also super bitter and angry. I was turning into a really really angry person who was not able to be happy for anyone else. It was when I finally told a friend who had gone through the same thing that I was angry to hear that someone else had gotten pregnant because “She doesn’t even deserve to have a baby and I do!” and I meant this with all sincerity – that she gently suggested I see a therapist. I saw someone weekly for a year and while she wasn’t perfect, it really really really helped me out. I figured out how to spot triggers and how to deal with triggers.

      I did eventually get pregnant and had a baby. And I will also say on the flip side – I have a sibling who also dealt with fertility issues but refused to ever see a therapist and dealing with her anger and jealousy and bitterness about my pregnancy was stressful and anxiety inducing for me.

      So it’s not fun to feel shitty. It just isn’t – obviously – but it’s also not fun for anyone around you to deal with you when you’re shitty. So for yourself and for others, see a therapist if you can. Not saying that it’s gotten there for you where others are affected, but it might get there eventually.

      My experience in therapy made me a huge advocate of therapy. I went for a year then and now I’ve been back for 2 years to deal with some other stuff in my life and it’s been a huge thing for me. It doesn’t mean you have to go forever, it just means you have to go right now.

      1. OP*

        Yes, I totally understand your point about anger! I think in 2018 I became a very angry and bitter person, and it was incredibly difficult to not have that bleed into my professional life. I avoided a lot of people at work and tended to isolate myself (whereas I’m usually a very chatty and social person).

        I am looking into therapy, mostly for the anger, because I’m tired of it. I’ve started to feel a lot better in 2019 (I really think just watching one year transition to the next helped a lot, not sure why?) but still feel lingering anger and resentment.

        1. Lumen*

          I didn’t see your reply til after I just posted, but I’m really glad to hear this. The ‘anger and bitterness’ is just another way grief and loss is presenting itself, and you deserve to have that pain tended to and cared for.

          As a lovely crisis worker once told me when I couldn’t deal with my own anger anymore: “You didn’t start feeling this way overnight. It won’t go away overnight, either. Give yourself time.”

          1. delta cat*

            Oh goodness, yes, anger is not unusual. And for me it was probably the hardest aspect of the grief to cope with, because no one had actually done anything really *wrong* so the anger was just floating around, ready to latch onto the smallest unintentional slight and blow it up way out of proportion. Only I’m really non-confrontational so I’d just let the anger stew rather than actually blowing up at anyone.

            It suuuuuucked.

            Therapy helped.

        2. Jen*

          There are also support groups for pregnancy loss and infertility that may be helpful. RESOLVE has a listing of infertility ones on their site. I run one in NJ, and will say that most of my members have also had a loss in addition to their infertility diagnosis. I find there is comfort in knowing you are not alone.

          1. Jaz*

            Informal friend groups can be invaluable too. I have several friends who have been struggling with fertility issues and/or miscarriage for years. I had no idea they were getting together weekly to talk, until my pregnancy ended in an emergency induction and the news that it is medically inadvisable for me to have any more children. My little girl made it, and I’m so grateful, but there was still so much pain at the news. That group of friends pulled me in, and their support helped me heal. If formal therapy or support groups aren’t an option for any reason, you might consider reaching out to those around you in similar circumstances to at least create a safe place for one another.

        3. CanadaTag*

          While I’ve never dealt with your particular situation (childless by very strong choice, for a lot of reasons), I have experienced grief before (like most of us), and will again. There’s a reason why the whole meme/cliché around the Five Stages of Grief exists, and that’s because it’s quite true. Anger and bitterness happen – especially when you’re in a situation where there are other people who (please pardon me if I don’t say this right) are in the situation you were in before what happened (the mc in your case).

          I have to say that I’m glad you’re thinking of going to therapy, because I think it will help you a lot. And do make sure that the therapist you decide to see resonates with you. Anyone using the same set of tools can help to a certain point, but beyond that, there’s got to be a deeper understanding – not necessarily of your particular issue, but in terms of how you relate to your therapist and vice versa. I’ve experienced both, as well as a bad therapist (I don’t care if you’re a staff member of a teaching hospital, don’t dump your patients on your students and just observe). With the therapist who was good but I didn’t resonate with, we were able to get to a certain point, but no further. So just something else to be aware of.

          And Jedi hugs to you.

      2. delta cat*

        Ugh, the “so you’re next.” Gahhhhh.

        One of my coworkers was half-joking about starting a pregnancy pool. They’d had one at her last job, everyone took bets on who would announce a pregnancy next.

        I was one month out from an ectopic pregnancy scare that ended in spontaneous miscarriage. “That sounds awful,” was all I said.

        She thought about it for a moment, and then, much to my relief, agreed that it kind of did sound awful, thus sparing me from having to elaborate on what sounded so awful about it.

        1. HR Jeanne*

          I’m a believer in sometimes being straightforward. I did not miscarry, but struggled with infertility for a total of 7 years. At some point, when someone said again “so when are you going to ever have kids?” in that condescending way, I just blurted, “We’ve been trying for X years.” It is uncomfortable for the moment, but certainly made things better in the long run. I’m so sorry this is happening to you, and wish you all the best.

          1. Burned Out Supervisor*

            I think when a woman experiences a mc, she can feel so alone and broken, especially when women around her are having healthy pregnancies. Sometimes it helps to realize that mc’s occur far more than people are willing to talk about (and they certainly do not have to talk about it) and to share your pain with a trusted coworker or therapist. I experienced an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy 10 years ago that ended in a miscarriage and I had such weird feelings about it. On one hand, I was relieved to not have to make some difficult decisions, but on the other I was kind of sad and surprised that I bonded so quickly (it was extremely early in the pregnancy). It helped to talk to a few friends about it and realize that death is sad and it’s ok to feel sad. It’s even ok to feel sad around others and to call them out when they say insensitive things. Women experience childlessness for many different reasons, but often we’re blind to others’ situations because we filter experiences through our own paradigm. When I get the same question, I just say “a quarter past never, but thanks for asking” and let them stew in their awkwardness.

          2. Burned Out Supervisor*

            I’ve been asked this before (am childless by choice…married in my mid-30’s and too damn tired as it is to chase after a toddler in my mid 40’s) and always answer “quarter past never, but thanks for asking!”

          3. Emily Spinach*

            I definitely see the benefit of this, but I would be unable to say “I miscarried recently” without getting emotional, which could further show the person why their question was bad, but would upset me, personally. So if the LW is in a similar spot, just know you’re not alone.

      3. blackcat*

        Kudos for not saying “She doesn’t even deserve to have a baby and I do!” to the person in question. One of my friends did this to another friend, and she’s never really been able to walk it back, even with me. I witnessed it, and it was one of the most brutal, hurtful things I’ve ever witnessed one person saying to another.
        It’s okay to feel the pain, but lashing out is not okay. If my (now former) friend had done the work through therapy to realize that our other friend wasn’t pregnant *at* her, she’d be up two friends relative to where she is now. As it is, she’s never apologized, and is really mean to anyone from our college friend group who has reproduced (more so with women, but also with men who are fathers).

    5. Lumen*

      This is my thought, too. If something the OP used to enjoy and feel happy about is now causing her unmanageable distress, it’s time to find someone to talk to who is trained to help. This isn’t something OP can solve by being a better employee or finding the right professional script, unless the emotional side is also being taken care of.

    6. Long Time Lurker*

      +1 the therapy. It won’t make your (extremely justified!) feelings go away, but it will hopefully help you manage them so that your frustration and anger and sadness are less overwhelming, and are less capable of damaging your relationships.

      You’ve been through a LOT in the last three years, OP. I’m sending you so much love and support.

      1. Leslie*

        Another voice in favor of therapy.

        Think about what you want to get out of it and look at the websites of local counselors carefully– there’s a lot of variation in methodologies these days, and also a lot of people who specialize in one sort of person vs. another.

        For what it’s worth: I recently had a conversation with my own counselor about a close family member who needs counseling (it’s medically recommended for a condition), but is resisting going because they feel it’s just about venting their feelings with no real effect. My counselor told me that there are a lot of different kinds of counseling, and that trauma healing counseling is different from skill building counseling. Based purely on what you’re saying, I think you could probably benefit from a mix of both. It is hugely traumatic to experience fertility issues, and you probably also could stand to have some professional input on strategies to use when you’re hearing about co-worker pregnancies.

        (And I do also want to say: I am so sorry that you’re going through this. I have a friend who had more than 10 miscarriages before she had her child, and she told no one until long after she’d given birth. And while I got pregnant and brought my daughter to term, there were complications with the birth that had my OB/GYN telling me that I shouldn’t try to have another child. I know that there are other stories with other friends that aren’t even hinted at, but which…there’s a pattern in the silences, if you pay attention. There is so much with this topic that is so hard and so emotional. My heart is with you.)

    7. The elephant in the room*

      I’m going to jump on the therapy bandwagon here. There are MANY ways of coping with trauma and none of them are one-size-fits-all. A good therapist will be able to help you find the one that works best for you.

    8. LilySparrow*

      Yes, some time with a counselor could help a lot! For me, when I was grieving a loss and had no really appropriate outlet to talk about it, therapy was priceless. My friends were far away and my family members were suffering along with me.

      I needed someone who would listen to me without judgement and without making emotional demands in return. I just had to get those feelings out in a safe place. They weren’t so pent up and likely to spill out in inappropriate places.

      It was more like a gym class than like piano lessons. Instead of “sweating it out”, I had to cry it out. (Though literally sweating it out in the gym was helpful too.)

      I’m sorry you’re going through this and am sending best wishes.

  4. Future Homesteader*

    Oh, OP. I don’t have much advice, I just want to tell you that this is awful and hard and it sounds like you’ve been nothing but gracious despite that. I hope you can find a way to take care of yourself. Is there anyone else at work you would feel safe talking to about your miscarriages?

    And also, your coworker who asked about the hand made gift can stuff it. That’s rude regardless.

    1. Jadelyn*

      It’s been my experience as a Crafty Folk myself that people seriously underestimate the cost of handmade creative gifts. Materials, time, effort – it adds up fast. Even if you’re donating the time so the direct cost is only materials, that can still be expensive, especially for fibercrafts, and there’s still an opportunity cost. Time I spend making your gift is time I’m not spending on other things that matter to me. And yes, I’m investing that because I care about you, but still understand there *is* a cost. To get entitled about that…yeah, no, that’s super rude.

  5. Bend & Snap*

    My best advice is just to be gentle with yourself. I’ve been there. I lost my triplets who were due on the same day as my coworker’s baby, and for months I had to watch her sit in meetings smirking with her hand on her belly just flashing her giant diamond and it made me hate her temporarily. It’s very, very hard to watch someone who’s on the same trajectory that you thought you’d be on and not feel bad about it, and then feel bad about feeling bad about it.

    Avoid your coworker as much as possible. Stay away from baby related things. Do what you have to do to protect yourself. And reward yourself for getting through tough situations. You don’t have to be “strong” in the face of something so difficult.

    If it helps, after 4 losses I have my little miracle. She’s 5 now.

    Many many hugs, all the empathy and all the luck to you.

    1. ScienceMommy*

      Aww, OP and Bend and Snap, my heart is breaking for you and all the losses you suffered. I wish I could give everyone who has lost a baby a big hug.

    2. Bend & Snap*

      Thank you! It’s been 11 years so I’m okay. I always share this with the hope that it helps someone. Miscarriage is very isolating.

      1. 42*


        She’s illustrating where her thoughts went when she was feeling her worst. Did you even read her next sentence? Wow that was unnecessary.

      2. KimberlyR*

        That is how Bend &Snap felt in that moment. Her coworker was obviously not smirking and flaunting, but B&S’ grief and anger made it seem that way. A little compassion to the commenters who are sharing very personal and tragic stories would go a long way. I’m a Southerner-I know “Bless your heart” is an insult and I think it is completely unwarranted.

      3. Orphan Brown*

        Speaking as someone who experienced miscarriage and who now has two kids, I totally see how what she illustrated is a reflection of her reality. And sorry but pregnant women are smug. It’s an annoying thing that is true. Bless your heart for the condescension. If you haven’t experienced a miscarriage then you really can’t know.

      4. Eeyore's missing tail*

        That’s uncalled for. While it probably wasn’t Bend & Snap’s proudest moment, it’s a very real thought that others that have been in that situation have. I appreciate her honesty because I’ve had some thoughts like that when I lost my pregnancy and others did not. Am I proud that I felt that way or was it right? No, but when you’re in that kind of pain, you’re not who you normally are.

      5. Bend & Snap*

        Annnnd it’s mean-spirited comments like this that make people afraid to talk about infertility and miscarriage.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          Also, this is a great illustration of how people say things that are breathtakingly cruel when discussing being or not being pregnant.

        2. SlackerMom*

          OP, Oh wow. I am sorry that there are so many judgemental jerks. I guess you can find them everywhere. I hope you are feeling better soon and you have continued happiness this year.

          Best wishes to all who have suffered from infertility and miscarriage. I am sorry for your pain.

          Btw, Orphan you are right. Pregnant women can be smug, and I say that as a former pregnant woman.

      6. Buffy Loren*

        You, too, would be best served by not framing someone’s observations in the worst possible terms. When you experience loss, seeing someone happily enjoying what you have lost is incredibly painful.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        I mean, no. She was doing that beatific pregnant lady beaming look (all the time). It was rough, man. She didn’t know about my MC and she wasn’t doing it AT me. The timing was just tough.

        1. delta cat*

          This is exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of when I mentioned the free-floating anger upthread … on an objective level you know that the other person is not doing anything that you *should* get hurt and angry over, but that hurt and anger is there, and it wants to latch on to something. At one point, I started desperately wanting someone, anyone, to say something objectively insensitive and rude, just so that I could yell at somebody with a clear conscience and the knowledge that they actually deserved it.

          1. Ophelia*

            EXACTLY. I remember one time looking at a pregnant lady who was holding her toddler up, and the sun was behind them, and my brain’s FIRST thought was that she was TRYING to make the sun shine like that. My rational self knew that wasn’t the case, but oh, the anger.

  6. SaffyTaffy*

    We have a colleague here who has been relatively open about her miscarriages, in terms of talking about the IVF, the hope, the disappointment, the physical aftereffects. Everyone at work seems to respect her for this choice and knows that this might play a role in her demeanor. She also does her job well and is known for that. I guess what I want to say is that, if this person made a quiet request, or a hint on facebook, or even something more overt to say “I don’t want to know about baby stuff” we would listen. I think that means you have a reasonable expectation that saying something will be respected.
    The worst-case scenario, if you make a polite request along the lines of “hey, i’m having personal issues with pregnancy and baby talk is really hard on me right now,” is that people who don’t respect you will be glared at by people with better sense. In any reasonable office you won’t lose face, or be punished, or thought of badly.

    1. Hope*

      This is the approach I would take. People won’t be sensitive to not talking too much about baby stuff around you(when that’s been the culture) if they don’t know they need to, but if they know, any decent person will respect that.

      As for the woman who asked about the gift, WTF. Personally, I’d have been tempted to shoot that down with a “I was dealing with a miscarriage, so your baby gift was not exactly a priority.”

    2. HelenB*

      I am so sorry for what you are going through, OP.

      SaffyTaffy’s suggestion sounds good to me. Wish I’d had advice like that and been able to take it. I went through about ten years of pregnancy hell, losses, infertility, IVF failures… and never managed to do anything so sensible because there were people I just didn’t want to know about it. The only people I really felt comfortable with were those I could talk to. If you feel able to talk to anyone and get emotional support from them, or let it be known what you’re going through, that might help.

    3. Prof. Kat*

      I also might add a line requesting that people not ask you about your personal pregnancy struggles, if that’s your preference, OP. It can seem a little off-putting to be that forward with your request, since that’s not how people are generally socialized, but it can be a relief to many people to get explicit instructions for How To Proceed Regarding This Tough Topic.

      A friend’s mother suffered a terrible stroke a few years ago, and he sent an email to friends and close colleagues informing us. In that email, he specifically said something like, “I value our friendship and wanted you to know about this important thing in my life, but it’s also really hard for me to talk about. Therefore, I’m requesting that you not ask me for updates or try to discuss this topic with me.” When his mother passed away more recently, he sent a similar email that specified what types of condolences would be comforting to him (specific stories and memories about his mom) and what wouldn’t (vague pity, platitudes, “but how ARE you?”). It helped a lot to know where he was at and how he was feeling, so that I could avoid saying things that would make him feel worse.

      1. Sam I Am*

        This is a great example of what do with people you are comfortable with. It’s helpful to everyone involved. I had a friend appointed as my communication director when my family member was in hospice, so I didn’t need to update all the people I cared about all the time.

        1. DilEmma*

          Yes — I was coming here to suggest this. If you’re comfortable letting people know, but don’t want to tell them, maybe you could ask a trusted co-worker to tell people and include any of the above language around not wanting to talk about it, not wanting them to talk about baby stuff, etc.

          Also, OP, all the hugs to you. Not being pregnant when you really want to be is so hard, especially if things are not working out. Sending you so much love and hope for the future.

    4. Shirley Keeldar*

      You say you’re a close-knit group at work…is there one trusted friend, or maybe your boss if you’re close to her, you’d be able to talk to and ask her to spread the word a bit? If someone simply said, “Hey, heads up, Jane is struggling with some fertility stuff; she doesn’t want to talk about it at work, of course, but she just wants people to know that baby stuff is difficult for her right now,” then I would completely understand. More, I’d be so glad to be told so I wasn’t hurting someone unintentionally. I think you can be very specific in asking for what you want, too. If you want people not to mention babies around you or to understand that you can’t handle baby showers or that you’re happy for them but might be quiet about it–I’d be so glad to know upfront what is most helpful.

      1. KindergartenCop*

        I was coming to say something along these lines. If you have a good relationship with your boss or perhaps even the meeting leader you could try talking to them. You don’t have to go into detail about your losses but could just say you are dealing with pregnancy related issues and ask if the pre meeting topics could be restricted to professional or business news. As far as outside that setting tell a few close coworkers and have them run your interference.

    5. Vendelle*

      That’s basically what I did and now everyone at work knows that when the baby talk gets to a certain level, I will simply excuse myself and leave the room. I’ve been trying for 10 years now and while I’ve always been quite open about my journey, I work in an environment where people don’t ask questions about my situation. If they do ask, they know they run the risk of me saying I don’t want to talk about it that day and they always respect that.

    6. Quinalla*

      I agree if you are comfortable sharing – and I’d do it in a general way – that might help you to at least feel free to be a little upset about news. Maybe just share that you’ve had several miscarriages recently and while you are happy for everyone, sometimes pregnancy news hits you in a way that is upsetting and to not worry if you seem upset. Or maybe even more general, that you are going through something tough in your personal life and know folks have noticed. You don’t want to share more, but wanted folks to know it wasn’t something they needed to be concerned about. But if you don’t want to share at all, you should not feel obligated!
      I do think therapy is a good idea. Just having someone you can talk to about these situation freely may by itself make it easier for you.

      1. Quinalla*

        Oh, and to add, I did have one very early miscarriage and I didn’t share it with anyone, so I definitely get if you don’t want to share. Miscarriage is something that I wish more of us were able to share about, but sometimes you just feel you can’t or don’t want to. It’s so tough :(

  7. Eeyore's missing tail*

    I am so sorry for your loss, OP. I wish I had a good answer for how to handle it, but I know I didn’t handle mine well. Is it possible to come in your meetings about 5 minutes late? I’m not sure who is in charge of the meetings, but if it’s someone you can trust, would you feel comfortable explaining to them why you need to be late.

    Also, if you haven’t already done so, have you considered talking to someone about your loss? Losing a pregnancy is very traumatic and a lot people who haven’t gone through it don’t understand. I saw someone a few times after my loss and it really helped me.

    And IMO, it’s just plain rude to ask someone why they didn’t give or make you a gift. I think you’re free to ignore her.

    1. Bagpuss*

      This is incredibly hard.
      If you have a manager who you trust and feel able to speak to, then asking them if you can join meetings a few minutes late, and explaining why, might be a way forward.

      Another option might be to raise it with your manager as a suggestion – perhaps suggest that you don’t do personal announcements at the start of meetings because t could be very difficult for people. You could give the example of not difficult pregnancy announcements are to anyone who has suffered a miscarriage, failure of IVF or stillbirth, but also give other examples – for instance, wedding / engagement announcement could be hard on someone going through a separation or divorce or who has been recently widowed. And in each case, it has the potential of putting a person who is distressed in the position of having to try to cope publicly with hiding that distress, or giving more information than they are comfortable with to their co-workers.

      It doesn’t mean that people wont share their news, but it could reduce the number of times that you have to learn something which is personally upsetting when you are in public.

      1. Sally*

        I think sharing personal, non-work-related news at the beginning of a meeting is a little weird. I assume the meeting organizer wanted to use that to “break the ice” or ease into the business of the meeting, but to be honest, I think I’d be annoyed. I’d be happy for the good news from my colleagues, but I’d still be annoyed that we were using meeting time for that. When I want to share personal news with my colleagues, I do that 1-on-1 or in a small group when we’re sitting around taking a break from work to chat.

        1. Washi*

          Hmm, I guess I imagined that people aren’t going around sharing news at every meeting, but if someone did have news that they want to tell the whole group, that’s when they would share it so everyone gets it at the same time. (Which is what my department usually does.)

    2. monica*

      This! Or maybe OP could suggest that the team shift the personal news portion of meetings from the beginning to the end, ostensibly to make sure there’s time to cover all of the agenda items.

      Depending on OP’s relationship with the manager, it might also help to let them know what’s going on? That might be a way to give yourself some cover for any behavior that is perceived as “unusual” related to office pregnancies without having to share your business with everyone. Your boss might also have dealt with this before and have ideas/strategies about how to minimize your upset subtly?

    3. Not A Morning Person*

      Coming in to a meeting late is certainly something that would help OP avoid hearing about any future pregnancy-related stuff at the beginning of the meeting, but also not hear any other announcement. I don’t think I would recommend that as a long-term strategy. Maybe it can be used temporarily for OP while she gets help via EAP or therapy, but avoiding a meeting because one topic is common isn’t an effective long term strategy and might actually make it more anxiety-producing.
      OP, I am so sorry for what you are going through and I can’t imagine how difficult this must be. Please do find support to help you deal with the fact that other people are going to be announcing their life events and some of them will be painful reminders. It may never be pain-free, but I trust that over time you can find ways to manage with the support of a helpful and caring therapist. Warm regards.

  8. topscallop*

    Oh, I’m so sorry, OP. This is really difficult. I haven’t been pregnant or started trying yet, but my advice would be to let one trusted friend and colleague know what you’re dealing with and ask them to discreetly let others know so they don’t bombard you with pregnancy talk. I’d bet someone has at least guessed what’s going on. That is, if you trust them not to bring it up with you or talk in a pitying tone around you.

    Also: it was rude of your colleague to point-blank ask you why you didn’t handcraft her a baby gift. Even if she was paranoid that you didn’t like her or something, because you did it for everyone else’s baby showers, that’s not ok. Don’t beat yourself up about that. You answered as well as you could, put on the spot.

    1. Contracts Killer*

      I second this advice. I haven’t gone through the same thing as OP, but my delivery was horrible and my baby and I almost died. I was told not to have any more children or I risked dying in childbirth. I had one trusted colleague that I asked to “spread the news” that I was not to be asked about my delivery or when I would be trying for a second baby. It didn’t work with everyone, but I think quite a few people who otherwise would have asked stayed quiet. OP, I am so sorry for what you are going through. Sending virtual internet hugs.

  9. DCompliance*

    I am sorry you are going through this. After my miscarriage, I just tried to focus on the next steps my doctor laid out for me. It gave me something practical and logical to focus in an emotional time. I don’t know the route you are taking or if they were able to diagnosis with a reason for this miscarriages to happen, but that is what helped me.

  10. Ladylike*

    Ugh, that’s so hard. I’m so sorry, OP. Truly. The only suggestion I can make is to let the news of your struggles “leak out” through a trusted coworker, so she can suggest to the rest of the team that they dial back the baby talk a little. (And that they stop confronting you about not making them baby gifts! Wow! That takes a lot of nerve, regardless of the circumstances.) I know you don’t want everyone tiptoeing around you, but at least if they could eliminate the pregnancy-related announcements at the beginning of meetings, that would be something. While it’s nice for people to be able to share, it’s honestly kind of a misuse of everyone’s time if it’s happening on a regular basis. You’re obviously not going to be able to avoid the baby talk altogether, but processing it when you’re alone will be much easier than having it thrust on you during meetings.

    1. H*

      Yes, this is what I’d do too – get your friend to quietly tell other people in the office so that you stop being subjected to this. As someone who dealt with infertility, you have nothing to be ashamed of – hang in there!

    2. Student*

      Yes, this, if you’re okay with people knowing but would rather never talk about it. I’d ask your pregnant friend who did IVF to mention that you and she have been in the same boat (e.g., struggling with infertility), so that people generally get the message that your lack of pregnancy enthusiasm is related to your circumstances and not theirs. The specifics about miscarriage need not be shared, just a quiet message that you’d like a baby and things aren’t going your way.

      If the news comes through someone else and doesn’t include details, you may be able to avoid well-meaning people suggesting relaxation or turning in adoption papers or whatever completely unhelpful nonsense that sometimes spills out of people trying to make you feel better.

      When I was doing the infertility/IVF thing, both my sister and my best friend announced pregnancies within a few days of each other. I was just devastated, and I hated that I couldn’t be happy for them. So I don’t have advice for being okay with it, just all the sympathy.

    3. PhyllisB*

      Ladylike, this is a great suggestion. I had two miscarriages before my children were born. The first one I lost very quickly; in fact having the miscarriage was how I found out I was pregnant!! No one except my immediate family and my supervisor ever knew. So when I was pregnant the second time I didn’t say anything until I was four months along. Well, not long after I lost it. I was off work for two weeks to recover, and of course my boss knew but she never said a word to anyone else. Well, my first day back, one lady came running up to me screaming, “LET ME SEE!!!” And ripping my coat open. I said, “see what?” “The baby, of course!!” (Baby bump was not a term in those days.) I just looked at her and said, “There’s nothing to see. I lost it.” Of course she was devastated and apologized so many times. I probably shouldn’t have been so snarky because she was really a kind-hearted person who just tended to get overly enthusiastic. I wish I had thought to have a friend pave the way for me. It would have been so much easier.

      1. Concerned Lurker*

        Frankly, I don’t think your response was the least bit snarky. I would have been tempted to slap and scream-cry at her.

  11. Amber Rose*

    Is therapy an option? It’s possible you’re already there, but if you aren’t, consider looking into it. You’ve gone through one of the most difficult things I can imagine going through, and multiple times. You could really use more help than the internet can provide.

    Aside from that, maybe also consider some leave from work. Sounds like you could also use a few days (if not weeks) of not stressing about baby talk.

    There may also be some local or online support groups where other people who have had troubles can offer some insights.

    1. VictorianCowgirl*

      This was going to be my suggestion and I heartily second it. some time to catch your breath, OP. Many hugs.

  12. Legal Rugby*

    OP, this sounds incredibly difficult. I’m not sure what workplace advice I can offer, but I would strongly suggest you speak to a counselor, or therapist who can specifically work with you on your reaction to those announcements – and any underlying grief issues from your loss. Not just because it will help you process what is going on but because what you describe – dreading any announcement of pregnancy – will continue to affect you in and out of work.

  13. Jake*

    You’ve been through some traumatic events and I would recommend therapy. It doesn’t help immediately but over time it can be incredibly helpful (in my experience).

  14. Just Elle*

    Honestly, having never been through a miscarriage, I can’t imagine how hard this must be.
    But, I think the only way you’re going to be able to affect change… is to let your coworkers know what you’ve been going through.
    People can be very understanding and modify their behavior, but not if they don’t know they need to.

    I’m afraid that any attempts to limit/prohibit pregnancy talk in the office will come across as unreasonable / out of touch / mean, since it seems like this is a group that is historically excited and supportive of pregnancy, and that’s a great cultural thing you don’t want to be known as the squasher of.

    1. Name Required*

      With all kindness and sympathy to the OP, the coworkers here don’t need to modify their behavior (minus that rude person who asked about the gift). Though I do expect they would be more understanding of her need to leave the room and collect herself if needed — is that what you were referring to?

      1. Just Elle*

        I guess that’s kind of what I’m trying to say. There’s a huge difference between “I just don’t think any of you should get to talk about baby stuff anymore, stop it!” and
        “Hey guys, I’m going through a tough time right now, so do you think you could do your best to be sensitive about the topic when you’re around me… and maybe let me know privately in advance if you plan to announce a pregnancy so I’m not always waiting for a bomb to drop?”

        One is a reasonable request and one is not.

        1. Psyche*

          I’m not sure that asking to be informed privately in advance is entirely reasonable. If it is someone the OP is close to it could be fine, but if it is someone who barely interacts with the OP (depending on the size of the team) it could make the coworker feel incredibly uncomfortable.

          1. WellRed*

            I don’t understand how it makes a difference either way. She’s still gotta hear the announcement.

            1. Xs*

              It might be easier to hear it in private and have time to react alone rather than be caught unawares at a meeting and have to process it in front of everyone.

            2. Birch*

              It makes a difference because being blindsided by upsetting information in the middle of a meeting with a lot of other people is more stressful than being able to deal with your reaction to it privately–even though the coworkers are not having babies AT OP, it can feel that way.

              But I don’t think it’s appropriate to ask to be told privately before everyone else. OP can’t change how other people act around her, unfortunately, so she needs to learn how to deal with her reactions, which are totally valid and understandable. This is just sort of the sad and difficult situation that happens when something other people find wonderful and happy makes you upset. Therapy would be very helpful here!

            3. Student*

              A quick warning via email or text is really helpful. It makes a huge difference to have a few moments to manage the bursting into tears part and be ready to offer congratulations with a smile.

        2. Doodle*

          The problem with telling any of her co-workers about her miscarriages, is the one person who will now dig at OP about all the details, is OP trying again, have you tried this or that method to prevent miscarriage, etc.

          And also, OP may not want to talk about her miscarriages or even more generally does not want to talk about her body at work. Although it would probably mostly solve the problem she has now if she does, she may need a solution that doesn’t depend on that.

          In OP’s place I would speak with my manager (if she was trustworthy) to explain why I needed to arrive late to meetings. And I would speak with the co-worker who asked about a gift: I’m sorry I won’t be able to make you a baby gift, I’m just not able to do that any more. If the co-worker pushes back, just say: I’m sorry you feel that way, and then walk away.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            OMG this. It’s easy to think that everyone else will be respectful and respond in a reasonable manner, but if we’ve learned anything from AAM, it’s that there are plenty of them who won’t, and who will use it as fodder for gossip and boundary-violation.

            Personally, disclosing something like this would make me feel worse. I’m not at all convinced it will help mute the baby talk, anyway, and I wouldn’t want to draw attention to myself for that reason.

          2. Just Elle*

            I certainly don’ think OP is obligated to disclose the miscarriage, or that its without its own set of negatives. But in situations like this, you have to choose the least bad option:

            1) Not tell anyone, and control her reaction to baby talk in a way that doesn’t impact others’ opinion of her (aka, smile, say congrats, overall hold it together).
            2) Tell everyone, and hope that they’ll respond like reasonable compassionate adults.

            It seems like she’s been trying to do #1 and its Not Working, so that leaves option #2.

            I really don’t think its reasonable for her to just come to meetings late to avoid announcements. Even if her boss is on board, you know her coworkers will be thinking to themselves “Who does OP think she is, always strolling in here late?” And besides, its not like she won’t be just as blindsided the second the meeting ends, when people rush to congratulate the expectant mom.
            It sounds like the announcement portion of the meeting generally appreciated by coworkers, and trying to eliminate it will have negative consequences of its own, so personally I wouldn’t go that way. I mean, even if there isn’t a dedicated announcement portion, its not like Jane can’t step up and say “hey do you mind if I share some news?” at any time.

            1. CoveredInBees*

              I think option #2 can be a huge emotional risk. Sometimes people say things they don’t realize are hurtful or just say things without thinking. Sometimes people are gigantic glassbowls and you can’t avoid or cut off contact with rude colleagues the way you can with other people.

              Honestly, there isn’t even a good way to predict who will react kindly or not. I had a close, long-term friend who went through infertility treatments around the same timeline as me and we happened to get pregnant at the same time and I lost the pregnancy, nearly dying in the process. This woman should be someone I could expect to be reasonable or compassionate, right? No. She said jaw-droppingly cruel things to me. Multiple times. This is a big reason people don’t share pregnancy loss information.

            2. Ophelia*

              FWIW, I chose option 3: I told three, close co-workers (one was my boss). Two had personal experience with miscarriage (that I didn’t know about beforehand, but that they shared quietly with me). All were people who were in a position to cover for me if I needed to take unexpected leave (OP, I truly hope you don’t have to do that again, but it was good, for me, to know that safety net existed), or to help me change the subject if needed. Telling my boss (YMMV) was particularly helpful because she was able to help me manage my time and my work, and to be my advocate generally. All this to say there isn’t necessarily a stark choice between telling the whole office and grieving alone, though I do realize that depends on the work environment.

          3. Nervous Accountant*

            Yup, had 3, and every single person has asked “What have you done about it?” None of your damn business. I would tell a few truested people, and maybe go a few minutes late to meetings. Aside from that idiot coworker, the rest of the group seems like a nice group of people. |

            (Knowing myself though, I’d easily and openly tell greedy gift grabber ‘1. you didn’t invite me and 2. I had a misc at the same time so I didnt want to make one.” Like someone said above….return awkwardness to sender.

      2. mark132*

        I think you are reading too much in “modify behavior”. If I have a friend/coworker/total stranger that I know a certain topic is going to cause them pain. I’m going to try and avoid the topic to cause pain, and I think that is what ‘Just Elle’ meant by ‘modify behavior’.

        1. Just Elle*

          Yes- thanks. I don’t think a ban on pregnancy talk is reasonable. But I do think choosing not to make pregnancy the center of every conversation with OP is.

        2. Name Required*

          There’s a line, for sure. I just disagree that I see anything in the original post that seems inappropriate or insensitive except for that tacky comment about a homemade gift (which is way out of line). In reading Just Elle’s clarifications, it appears I didn’t read too much into what she meant, we just disagree on how much action the coworkers should take in this instance.

          1. Just Elle*

            Agreed, lol.

            I guess I do want to add – I’m not saying anyone should be ‘required’ to disclose in advance or anything like that, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, and some people would be more than happy to acquiesce.

    2. Just Elle*

      Sorry, should have qualified my second paragraph better: becoming the squasher of pregnancy talk WITHOUT explaining why, might make you come off that way.
      But any rational kind person should absolutely not be upset if you request they be more sensitive about it around you, if you explain why.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I think there is a difference between seeking to limit pregnancy talk in the office, and actively encouraging personal announcements in meetings.
      If people are just talking about pregnancy related stuff in general conversation, it can be much easier to avoid the conversations, you can have urgent stuff to do elsewhere in the building.
      If announcements were made via a weekly e-mail round to staff then you could make sure that you were opening that when you felt able to do so, including making sure you were on your own, for instance.

  15. revueller*

    No advice here, just hugs and positive thoughts, OP. I can’t imagine the pain you’re dealing with.

  16. Foreign Octopus*

    I think that if you’re not talking to anyone (a therapist) than that might be a good place to start. I doubt there’ll be anyway to stop the pregnancy talks because that seems to be part of the culture, but you can find a way to manage your own reactions to this.

    It’s horrible what you’ve been through and talking about it with someone detached from the situation could be a way to find avenues in which to grieve your losses and move forward with less hurt.

    Good luck, OP.

  17. caryatis*

    >When I came back, everyone knew that I had been upset, but I haven’t told anyone why. I only have one colleague I’ve talked to about this…

    This might be easier if you talked to more people about it. You’re not obligated to, but…I don’t really see why you haven’t. Miscarriages aren’t something to be ashamed of or something that anyone would judge you harshly for. Any personal problem will seem bigger if it also feels like a secret you have to hide.

    1. Friday afternoon fever*

      It is fairly rude to say “I don’t see why you haven’t.” The reason doesn’t have to be shame or fear judgment. Pregnancy and miscarriages are intensely personal and people have different levels of comfort and desires for privacy in the workplace. If you don’t want to disclose you 1111000% just do not need to and your not wanting to is the only reason you need.

    2. The Original K.*

      Miscarriages are deeply personal. I recall reading some pretty bad stories here about disclosing stuff like this at work and NOT feeling supported at all. I can absolutely see why OP wouldn’t disclose them at work. I tend to keep the personal and professional separate, so I think my inclination would be to talk about this with trusted friends and family, not colleagues.

    3. Mr. Tyzik*

      A miscarriage is one of the most traumatic events a woman can go through. Personally, you have connection with a potential life and when that connection is broken, the mental pain is indescribable.

      Plus, you have the basic biological need to propagate, and the body’s rejection of a pregnancy feels like failure. You look to excuses as to what you did to cause it and it’s harder to be philosophical about the loss because there was so much potential.

      Understanding that, hopefully you understand why OP has not and does not want to talk to others. Would you be prepared to talk about a traumatic experience with your coworkers?

      1. caryatis*

        OP isn’t obligated to talk about it with coworkers. As I already said. But if her current strategy of keeping it a secret was working, she wouldn’t be writing in. And if she chose to reveal it to a few people, she’d probably feel better (and not have to deal with so much pregnancy talk).

        1. Mr. Tyzik*

          I meant in the context of work, as clearly stated by the OP. She doesn’t owe her coworkers anything in terms of information.

          Does she need to talk to someone from a personal standpoint? Absolutely. I noted that in a comment below.

        2. Buffy Loren*

          You, unfortunately, could not be more mistaken. When I miscarried, everyone at my office knew. I became “the miscarriage lady” and did not have a normal interaction with a colleague or my boss for months. It made me wish nobody knew. External actions don’t always counteract internal ones.

        3. Pommette!*

          I get what you mean , but this is a situation where no strategy is going to work. Even the best option for the OP will present difficulties, and will entail pain and sadness.

          The OP is seeking help in finding the option that will make a difficult situation less so. It could be that in the end, the difficult situation she is in is actually the least bad one available to her. Or it could be that telling some colleagues is. In either case, it’s definitely not a straightforward or easy choice.

    4. Amber Rose*

      You know what sucks more than being judged? Being pitied.

      And if you think there are no people who judge women who have fertility issues then you have experienced a much nicer world than I have. Probably those people aren’t in LW’s workplace. Probably. Then again, we know there’s at least one person rude enough to demand gifts…

    5. anon here (because my colleagues read AAM)*

      I have a heart condition and I don’t talk with ANYONE about it at work except my manager when it might affect my or someone else’s work. (I have a very trustworthy manager.)

      I am not ashamed of it. I don’t think anyone would judge me harshly for it. It’s not a deep dark secret. It is upsetting to me (because who wants to die before they hit retirement age) and work is great because it keeps me busy and my mind off of it. It’s nobody’s business and I personally do not like talking about my health or my body at work.

    6. Cambridge Comma*

      You can’t really afford to tell, because you let your employer know that you (probably) have been trying to get pregnant but you are not at that moment (in any of the countries I’ve lived in at least) protected by pregnancy discrimination legislation. It’s like an invitation to get rid of you before you get pregnant again.

    7. LB*

      I can’t explain it logically, but I couldn’t bear to even have many people know. People’s sympathy felt excrutiating. I’d never felt that way before or have since when people are kind and give condolences. It was just so intimate and painful. I told my two closest colleagues and told them to share but also to ask they not mention it to me or bring it up. I just wanted to never have to talk about it at work in any way.

      1. LB*

        Bad sentence structure, unclear pronoun. I’ll try again. :)
        …but also to ask that they let people know to please not mention it…

    8. Emmie*

      I understand why folks see the “I don’t see why you haven’t” comment as a harsh one, but caryatis’s mesaage is kind in other places. Don’t pile it on to here. FWIW, if OP were comfortable telling her coworkers, it would add some helpful context. I’m sorry OP is dealing with this.

    9. SC*

      OP, I’m sorry for what you’re going through.

      Whether to tell other people, and how many, is a very personal decision. Widely sharing this news brings the risk that OP’s coworkers will not all react in a way that’s helpful to OP. A lot of well-intentioned reactions from nice people–unsolicited advice, personal questions, oversharing or comparing their own experiences, encouragement that everything “happens for a reason” or “you’ll get pregnant again” or “you’ll have a baby one day”–don’t necessarily help. And then there are the clueless people and the assholes who just say shockingly terrible things.

    10. Student*

      Less specific info might be enough. “We’re hoping to have kids but it hasn’t happened for us yet, so I’m sad about that even though I’m happy for you” should be enough to give people the picture, followed by, “Oh, it’s too personal to talk about at work” for any further inquiries.

    11. LotusBlossom*

      ” Miscarriages aren’t something to be ashamed of or something that anyone would judge you harshly for.”

      Well, that wasn’t my experience. After 3 miscarriages and years of infertility, I have had boundary stomping coworkers judge me for being too old, not eating correctly, not relaxing, not doing acupuncture, not trying yoga, for not seeing a specific specialist, etc, etc, etc. My experiences was that I had plenty of people that judge me and my decisions around the miscarriages.

      1. Pommette!*

        Miscarriages aren’t something that anyone *should* judge you for. But there are a lot of people – even people who seem otherwise kind and reasonable! – who think that other people’s pregnancies are an appropriate matter for judgment (whether you should even be trying; how you should live your life while pregnant; how you should feel about your pregnancy…). It’s hard to know what to expect from colleagues.
        I am sorry that you had to experience that kind of judgement at what was already a difficult time.

  18. Mr. Tyzik*

    Do you have friends outside of work who would understand that are available to talk? If you’re not comfortable going that route or if you have so much you might deluge your friends, finding a therapist is a good option to work through your feelings about your coworkers and your miscarriages and help reframe the way you look at these things to cause less stress. It may help your soul hurt less.

    I’m so sorry your rude coworker demanded a gift. You’re entitled to lie when faced with that.

  19. Heshtok*

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. A close relative suffered from miscarriages and she said therapy and talking to others in the same situation helped. She also said “I try to se it like this: there’s not a finite number of pregnancies in the world. Someone else getting pregnant is not affecting my situation”.

    I hope things work out for you <3

  20. TotesMaGoats*

    OH OP. You are me. I’ve had 1 premature/nonviable birth at 17w and 3 miscarriages before I managed to have my son five years ago. While my office wasn’t constantly pregnant between work and friends and family (including my sister and sister in law, both younger than me)–it was babies ALL THE TIME.

    My heart hurts for you so much. This is the worst place because while I know you are totally happy for your coworkers, that happiness is always shadowed by the grief you feel. I will say that the only thing that made it easier for me is that all my colleagues new. I was visibly pregnant when I was induced the first time, so people knew and I was in the hospital. People couldn’t not know that one day I was pregnant and the next not. My boss did a great job of appropriately sharing news. After that when I’d need to be out a few days for a D&C, I was just point blank about it. I had a great support system at work including a boss who struggled with infertility as well.

    I know that sharing that much doesn’t happen in all workplaces or even most (based on what I read here) but it’s worth considering that letting the word quietly get around might help put off the people who wonder about you getting upset or might get miffed about no creative presents. I had to throw my sister a baby shower after 1 delivery and 1 miscarriage–I feel you on not wanting to do it.

    You shouldn’t have to do any of that but I would hope people would be understanding if they knew the reasons why. You don’t have to be an advocate for miscarriage/infertility/infant loss but our “club” is bigger than we know and we all need support.

    Now, I get a lot of “so when are you having another one”. It’s taken me a long time to be chill about it but my response is, to the very persistent “the last time required medical intervention and I almost died in the hospital”, shuts it down pretty quick.

    My thoughts and prayers and virtual hugs are with you.

  21. MuseumChick*

    I’m so sorry OP. I cannot begin to imagine what this is like for you. Let me start by staying you are under NO obligation to tell anyone anything. I have to piece of advice: 1) In this case, I think it might be good to let your manager know what is going on. 2) As others have said, therapy would probably help if you haven’t already started.

    I wish you the best. Good luck.

  22. Non-profiteer*

    Oh my gosh, OP, I just want to give you a hug. I know not everyone is comfortable sharing this kind of information, but if it were me I would share with coworkers what is going on. Could be something as bland as “I am having some difficulty in this department myself, so I’m sorry if I’m acting a little off.” And then if people push you further, “believe me, I’ll be overjoyed to share happy news with you when I have it!”

    With closer coworkers I would probably tell them I’d had miscarriages – it’s such a major health thing, and it’s the kind of thing I would tell them. Reducing the stigma and loneliness and all that. I know not everyone is in an environment where that’s going to be the best thing to do, but – it’s what I’d do.

  23. Rose*

    I’m sorry this is happening in your life. But you should deal with it at work the same as you should deal with it in your personal life.

    1) hold it emotionally together as much as you can.

    2) resist pressure to divulge too much personal info at work because once you talk about it, it will constantly come up and make it more difficult for you emotionally.

    3) know that it isn’t a matter of if (but when) you will become a parent. Either through pregnancy or through adoption, you will become a parent.

    This is written by the happiest adopted child on Planet Earth. My parents are my parents. Parenting is a verb for a reason!! Love has nothing to do with biology.

    I wish you the best of luck WHEN it happens!!

    1. JJ*

      I know you’re trying to be optimistic and kind, but I just want to flag this as somewhat unhelpful to those of us going through infertility or multiple miscarriages. It’s not a “when” you become a parent for everyone. Fertility treatments are only successful 65%-70% of the time, and adoption isn’t right for some people, besides the fact it’s so costly that it may be out of reach.

      I say this as a three time vet of unsuccessful IVF treatments who gets very frustrated at the “everything happens for a reason” and “you can always adopt!” and “you’ll be a parent, don’t worry” statements. I know it’s meant in kindness but please know that someone going through infertility is carefully thinking through all their options and for some of us, the end result may be childlessness not by choice.

      1. Anon for this*

        Ditto. I know Rose is intending to be kind and encouraging, but this is the type of message women struggling with infertility hear a lot, and even for folks who are able to adopt, or who have secondary infertility and have one/other children already, etc., it can be intensely painful to see other women easily experience pregnancy when you cannot.

      2. Poeted*

        Thank you for voicing this, JJ. There are likely many more–like myself–who find the glib “you can always adopt” incredibly painful. For me, failed infertility treatments unearthed a chronic autoimmune condition for which I’ve had to have major surgery removing an organ and alter my entire life’s course. I can no longer survive without certain medicines. Aside from the emotional and financial costs of adoption, my new, chronic, invisible illness means that I may not even “qualify” to parent. So, yeah, I don’t want to hear that this has happened for “a reason” or–worse still–that this is “god’s plan.”

        1. Thursday Next*

          I’m sorry—how difficult. I’m also steadfastly against “everything happens for a reason” statements. If anything, I’ve come to believe how profoundly random most things are.

        2. JJ*

          Nothing burns my biscuits, so to speak, more than “everything happens for a reason!” Unless the “reason” is that some things just suck. Or “it’s all part of the plan” because then I want to have a chat with whoever set up this crap plan!

          That’s honestly the biggest lesson I’ve learned through this which has been kind of freeing, in a way: some things just suck, and the only way out is through. I’m sorry to hear about your illness.

      1. Biscuit*

        This x 10000. As a person who was unable to have bio children, I was then ineligible in to adopt for a number of reasons in my country.

        When trying to give hope to those who are suffering, please avoid making statements like number 3.

    2. Eeyore's missing tail*

      I have to respectfully disagree with you on #2. OP is allowed to share as much as she sees fit. I shared mine with several coworkers I was close to or had to work closely with. after letting them know what happened, it was never brought up again. It helped explain why I wasn’t acting like normal Eeyore or why I needed to have my door shut sometimes when I had to get out the ugly cry.

      And IMO, anyone who would bring something like that up for no good reason is a monster. Even in an office like OP’s, I would hope people would know that maybe it’s not a good idea to go into long baby discussions around OP’s desk after learning about her miscarriage.

    3. IVF and emotionally spent*

      I agree with you Rose. I am 3 miscarriages in and we are in the IVF beginning process right now and I am on the hormones and keeping my emotions in check at work is by far one of the hardest things in life right now. But this will pass.

      I get the comment above that someone may not think this is helpful but it is how life is right now for so many of us at work struggling we were in the IVF office waiting room yesterday and me and the woman next to me were having this conversation about what we are doing at work and this is what we are doing. Holding it together and not divulging any extra information because I can’t handle talking about it at work again if it doesn’t work and questions every day cant happen because I am not that emotionally stable. And I need the hope that it will work, that there will be a way for me to be a mom.

    4. AnonAttorney*

      Yeah, as an infertile person, hearing #3 stings. (And I’ve heard it a lot.) There are lots of reasons that adoption isn’t right for people. Plus, I guarantee you that anyone who’s had unsuccessful fertility treatments has thought PLENTY about adoption; you aren’t suggesting anything new or novel that they might not have considered.

      I know you meant it kindly! But as someone who’s in the thick of it, please know that my struggle is not to maintain hope, but to come to acceptance. Statements like “oh, you’ll be a parent someday!” directly cut against that.

      1. NW Mossy*

        I’ll add from my own experience that the uncertainty of whether or not it’ll happen this month/quarter/year is part of what’s hard – the swing from hope to disappointment back to hope again is a lot to manage emotionally. Some people can cope with this by connecting into a someway-somehow sense of certainty, but for others, the blunt reality of it not happening again and again creates a sense that you’re somewhat misguided or stupid for hoping at all. It’s a very tough spot, and the path through isn’t the same for everyone, just as the destination isn’t either.

    5. LotusBlossom*

      I know you’re intention is well meaning but #3 is not guaranteed. I am not and will not be a parent. You can’t understand everyone’s situation.

  24. Person from the Resume*

    I don’t have a ton of advice. It doesn’t sound extra baby crazy; it is appropriate for your co-workers to make these announcements at work. Your emotional reaction is completely understandable, but it is also understandable that you’d prefer not to share your reasons at work.

    I did what to say your colleague who asked questions about her gift was so RUDE. It’s perfectly fine to discontinue hand making gifts for any co-workers.

  25. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    I think you need to rethink your office as a “close knit group.” You aren’t. You are a group of similarly aged people, with similar interests, backgrounds and life experiences. You don’t share your lives with each other, you tell each other about happy events and then everyone has a smile about it. They still think, “hey, where’s my hand embroidered pillow for my baby?” is something that people say to each other.
    So far, nobody has gone through a divorce, a terrible illness or some other life tragedy and honestly, rock on with all those lucky people, but they are not you.
    You are suffering. You’ve had real tragedy and real pain. If there isn’t one person there that you’d share this with, and the rest of the group dynamic is kid centric and let’s find a reason to celebrate, it may not be the best place for you right now.

    1. fposte*

      This seems like a pretty extreme read. It’s almost certainly not true that there’ve been no divorces, bereavements, or other tragedies in a 40-person group, and it’s quite likely that other people there have even had miscarriages. We also have no indication that they’re not really the close-knit group that the OP says, but if you’re right that they only share good news, that’s all the more reason to understand that you don’t know the tragedies in other people’s lives.

      While it’s up to the OP how private she wants to keep this, I really think it might help to let this information be shared. I see potential gain in sharing and little by keeping it from people.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Lemme tell you, my experience is that telling people sucks. It sucks so much. There are many potential negatives.

        1. fposte*

          That’s fair enough; I probably wasn’t thinking deeply enough about that. But I also think that there’s nothing to indicate the group is the shallow heedless crowd implied here.

          1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

            I agree that I extrapolated a group shallowness to one person’s off hand comment about “where’s my present” but I think the group shallowness is about their relationship, not their persons. The people have a top level relationship, sharing good things. And if OP doesn’t feel that sharing tragedy in the group is going to go well/make her more comfortable than she is now, then it’s not really a close group. It’s a fun group.

            1. fposte*

              We have no idea if they only share good things or not, though. She says they’re close and mentions that they do pregnancy announcements. You can be in a close group that shares the good and the bad and still prefer to keep some personal information to yourself.

    2. Jule*

      “They still think, “hey, where’s my hand embroidered pillow for my baby?” is something that people say to each other.”

      There’s really no evidence that this is how it was said. If the OP is right about everyone being friendly (and why the doubt?), it’s not that surprising that someone would come to her and say, hey, I noticed that you’ve broken your trend here, is something up/did I do something that made you feel uncomfortable with me?

    3. bonkerballs*

      I’m really curious how you know no one at this office has gone through a divorce, a terrible illness, or some other life tragedy. Or that no one in the office has shared those things with each other. You may want to refrain from such wild leaps. Not to mention, you’re factually wrong about there not being anyone OP shares with, seeing as she literally said there is a colleague undergoing IVF she has shared her troubles with.

    4. Thursday Next*

      I don’t think it’s helpful to OP—or anyone—to think that no one else has experienced tragedy or loss. IME, it just fuels anger. It’s been more helpful for me to remind myself that we’re not always privy to other people’s struggles. OP herself hasn’t shared her difficulties, but that doesn’t mean others would be correct in assuming that she has no struggles, simply because she’s never opened up about them.

    5. Marthooh*

      “They still think, “hey, where’s my hand embroidered pillow for my baby?” is something that people say to each other.” One person was rude about a present.

      “If there isn’t one person there that you’d share this with…” …but there is a coworker OP told about it.

      “So far, nobody has gone through a divorce, a terrible illness or some other life tragedy” …as far as we know, but how would we know? Why would OP mention any of that?

      “…it may not be the best place for you right now.” So the OP should … quit?

      This whole comment seems to be nitpicking one phrase while not offering anything kind or useful.

  26. Marty*

    So, here’s my non-professional advice as a mother and someone who has had two losses (including a twin at 20 weeks so if course, the questions were a bombardment).

    The question is.. what can you handle? No talk? Some talk? We need to balance reality (working around pregnant women) and courtesy (gift? WTF?). Ideally, they would be sensitive enough to ask what you need but you may need to be explicit (I can’t hear XYZ right now, thank you for understanding).

    I know we should fight our own battles but it might be worth telling your sympathetic coworker ahead of time for moral support to bring these issues up. Get her in your corner.

    There’s no right answer to this, sorry.

  27. Jennifer*

    First of all, very sorry you are going through this.

    Can you discreetly talk to your boss about keeping announcements in meetings professional? You could say there is “someone” in the office having difficulty getting pregnant and they dread going to meetings because of these pregnancy announcements. At least then you wouldn’t have to be on edge whenever you have to go to meetings.

    Also, take a step back from the baby gifts and the baby showers. It sounds like you’ve already started to do that. You can decline invitations for a while or even plan to be out of the office and do something fun for yourself on the days they are held. You don’t owe anyone an explanation about that. If anyone asks, you can just say, “Sorry, I can’t,” or “I have other plans,” or “I don’t really have time.”

    You can still be a supportive team player without attending every baby shower or even involving yourself in their pregnancies at all. Just be the kind, considerate person it already sounds like you are, while taking care of you. You’re going to get through this.

    1. Break*

      As much as I feel for OP, it really isn’t reasonable to ask for all non-personal announcements to be stopped at work

      1. Jennifer*

        Not at work entirely, just during meetings. That way she doesn’t have to dread going to them or excuse herself to cry.

        At my job, no one really “announces” a pregnancy, they usually tell their boss or maybe one or two people they are close to. The rest of us notice when their belly pops. Same with other life events like engagements. You just hear it through the grapevine or just notice they are wearing a ring.

        1. VelociraptorAttack*

          My office is around 20 people and we 100% “announce” exciting life events. In the past year, we’ve had 4 of us announce pregnancies, we’ve had an engagement, multiple grandchildren on the way, and one of us passed their citizenship test. If OP says the office is close-knit, I think it would probably be very strange to ask for no more personal announcements because if it’s like my office, we enjoy being able to celebrate with each other.

          On that note, I was one of those 4 pregnancies (the first one, actually) but I also struggled with fertility prior to that. I didn’t share about my miscarriage (1 or 2 people knew at the time) but I was open that we were undergoing fertility treatments and hoped we’d get there. For me, being part of a close-knit office made that easier to share even if I didn’t share all the details and when I did announce that I was pregnant everyone was thrilled.

          Long story short – your movement may vary, your office may not announce and celebrate these moments but many do and it seems like OP’s certainly does.

          1. Jennifer*

            I am very sorry about your miscarriage.

            It sounds like your office is a bit different from the OP’s. You felt comfortable sharing your miscarriage. She does not. I’m not going to advise her to start telling people if she doesn’t want to. Like someone else mentioned, it sounds like an office where people feel comfortable sharing good news, but don’t talk so much about the tough things.

            To reiterate, I’m not saying no personal announcements, just none in work meetings. Keep work meetings about work. People can make personal announcements to their work friends separately.

        2. Juli G.*

          The idea of having to guess whether a “belly pop” is because a person is pregnant or because they’re having weight fluctuations fills me with such anxiety! Do you all just wait for them to mention there’s a fetus floating in there before acknowledging?

          1. Jennifer*

            Oh, I don’t say anything to them, sorry if that was implied. I don’t say anything to anyone if I suspect they’re pregnant. I can’t speak for anyone else. Some people here are kind. Some are rude.

            I just got a baby shower invite for one of my coworkers so that was my confirmation. I was pretty sure she was but didn’t say anything because she didn’t announce it to me.

        3. Us, Too*

          I just don’t see how this won’t be weird. For one thing, announcing a pregnancy is really important for a lot of jobs because plans need to be made for transitioning work, etc. “I want to share that I’m expecting a baby . My due date is x, but I anticipate beginning my leave around y time frame. I’ll be working with Susan on a plan for my work while I’m out.” etc. Even if it’s “just” a vacation you still plan for this type of thing in a lot of situations. e.g. “I’ll be out next week so please let me know what you need from me before Wednesday.”

          1. Jennifer*

            If you are announcing because you need to make plans for your maternity leave, fine. That isn’t what the OP said. It sounded like just a personal announcement.

          2. blackcat*

            But many (most?) women show well before concrete plans for leave need to be made. So I don’t see the need to “announce” before one shows.

            But I definitely didn’t say anything about a colleague’s pregnancy until she had the swallowed a beach ball look and started saying “Oh, X will take care of this while I’m on maternity leave.” It was maybe 4 weeks before? Depends on your job, certainly, but often it’s not necessary to plan more than 2 months out.

      2. Jennifer*

        Not all announcements, just ones doing meetings so she doesn’t have to excuse herself to cry and have everyone wondering why she was upset.

        But maybe cutting back on big non-work-related announcements is not such a bad idea. At my job, most people don’t “announce” a pregnancy. They tell their boss and maybe share with a close work friend. The rest of us notice when their belly pops or if it just comes up in conversation. Maybe the office culture needs a change.

    2. foolofgrace*

      keeping announcements in meetings professional

      I think it’s just weird that business meetings start out with a bunch of personal announcements. WTH? I’m at work to work, and I don’t really care to spend business time on matters of zero importance to the business. I know I’m in the minority.

      1. Jennifer*

        Agreed. Even if I was not dealing with infertility that would seem annoying and strange to me. If people want to talk about things like that outside of meetings with people they are close to, that’s fine. I don’t really want to go around the table so everyone can share personal announcements, prolonging a meeting unnecessarily.

      2. bonkerballs*

        I think people are reading a lot into this. We do this at my office at the beginning of staff meetings, and it’s not like it 30 minutes of people talking about their personal lives. It’s mostly updates on work projects with everyone once in a while someone saying “and on a personal note, Booboo and I got engaged last weekend.” After all, a good portion of those personal announcements (engagements, pregnancies, graduations, etc) will affect work in some way.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        On your ‘WTH?’ take: See last week’s podcast on ‘being chilly at work’… Personal announcements are one way to bond.

      4. OP*

        Most of our announcements are related to work (we’re in education, not business), and they’re mostly for people to share things that might benefit our department, but we might not be aware of, like “Hey there’s a cool event going on that’s not on our agenda but we might want to tell our students about.” We have the occasional “Hey I just bought a house!” or “Hey, I’m engaged!”, but they’re mostly work related. They really don’t take up much time.

      5. Half-Caf Latte*

        To your assertion that these interpersonal interactions are of zero importance to the business.

        Search for the Gallup data on employee engagement. Employees who report having a “best friend” at work are more engaged, have better performance, less likely to get injured on the job.

        1. Jennifer*

          “To your assertion that these interpersonal interactions are of zero importance to the business.”

          I never said that. I said cut back on the personal announcements in meetings. You can have work BFF you share that kind of information with outside of meetings. Work chit-chat and socializing can be good and help people be more engaged at work. I never disputed that.

          The OP has clarified that the announcements don’t take up a lot of time in meetings so it may not be a good suggestion at this point, but I did offer other suggestions.

  28. Jump To Conclusions*

    OP, I, too, have suffered with fertility issues – so I feel you. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid the announcement of pregnancies and really all we can do is school our own reactions. That said, these instances have occurred within a short time frame of significant losses for you – have you talked to anyone about this? I wonder if having a safe space to voice things, even the not-s0-nice thoughts you might have, would work wonders on helping you deal with these triggers. Therapy or some reliable confidants would help you. Please reach out for help, you deserve it.

    However, the gall of your pregnant co-worker asking you why you didn’t make her a gift! Do your co-workers know of your losses, I get the sense you have kept these losses private. You don’t owe her (or anyone) a gift, let alone a self-made one. Please take care of yourself.

  29. Czhorat*

    I’ll join the chorus to say that I’m sorry. I can’t imagine how painful this is.

    There’s no real advice for you; it’s impossible to shut down good news from others without coming across as unpleasant. I WILL say that this should be a lesson to the rest of us: we never know with what struggles someone else is dealing, and should be careful about how hard we beat the drum about our own good news.

  30. The Original K.*

    I echo the comments that asking for a gift is straight-up rude. You’re not obligated to give ANYONE a gift – that’s why it’s called a gift.

    I worked on a team similar to yours – about 80% women in our 20s and 30s (the remaining 20% were men), so there were lots of weddings and babies. At one point three women were pregnant at the same time; at another there were two women planning weddings. One of the pregnant women found out that her baby would be stillborn; we all knew because she told us. The other two pregnant women were far enough along that they were “out,” but they just asked her, is this weird or hard for you? What do you need? (And we weren’t a particularly close-knit team – it was just such an awkward situation that it had to be talked about.)

    Is there someone at work that you trust with this information? Is there anyone there to whom you could say “Baby talk is really hard for me right now?” If not, are some sessions with a therapist possible to just have an outlet where you can vent and cry and talk about how unfair it is that other people have something you want?

  31. Mercurial*

    This struck a chord because I too had a mc (but between my two children). I found for me being open about it – not huge amounts of horrible detail, just that it was happening – made it easier. Those who couldn’t deal just avoided me, kind and compassionate folks would gently check in on me, and no one was intrusive (although I had prepared freezing answers in case that did happen). Mainly it made people more sensitive around me for a while, which helped.

    In addition, I like to feel I was doing a tiny bit to destigmatise mc, which is so horribly common but under-talked about. Not to say you need to do this! Far from, you do what feels right for you and the workplace you are in. For me it was strangely comforting to hear so many people just say simply “me too”. I wasn’t alone, and neither are you. Much love and good wishes to you xx

  32. Bend & Snap*

    For all the comments suggesting that OP share her condition at work–that’s not really a workable solution IMO. Having dealt with long-term infertility, higher value is almost always placed on the feelings of the pregnant person than the person struggling. Society values pregnant women and infertile women are often cast as the villain of they do things like, say, refuse to make a baby gift. Plus, infertility is often gossip fodder, which is gross.

    I thought this when I was infertile and then when I was pregnant I realized it was like 6000 more true than I thought.

    In the OP’s shoes, I may tell my manager if trustworthy, but that’s it.

    1. Amber Rose*

      I hate it when I tell people I can’t have kids and they look at me like I just said I have three days to live. It’s the worst feeling. Even worse is people tiptoeing around me like I’m a volatile bomb or made of eggshells.

      I would never, ever put myself in that position at work. Maybe it works for some people, but I would think that’s the exception not the rule.

      1. Caterpie*

        I know it’s not your job to educate people on this, but would you (feel free to say no/ignore) suggest any tips or resources for best ways to how someone could respond more sensitively? I’ve never been in this situation but I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel bad if it happens in the future.

        1. Shawna*

          )Thanks for asking! I’ve been thinking of writing up a little post about this topic – I went through all kinds of fertility heartbreak and dealing with other people’s pregnancies at work was devastating. Everyone is different and there’s no way to know who is struggling – but I’d say the #1 advice is to assume that at least one person in your circle/office is dealing with some form of infertility (odds are about 1 in 8), so ideally all pregnancy- and baby-related announcements could be super optional and low-key. Last week someone wrote about a co-worker who emailed her team an ultrasound photo as an announcement – if I had received such an email while I was undergoing treatment I would have been crushed. Resolve is the advocacy/support organization with lots of great resources for people experiencing these issues and their allies – I highly recommend their site. Best wishes to everyone going through this. After lots of agony and therapy and intervention, I had a happy outcome, but working through all the feelings is an ongoing process that persists long after the family-building is over. If you’re going through this – get help from a professional who specializes is infertility. It makes a HUGE difference.

          1. Caterpie*

            I think a blog post on this would be helpful! When I tried to look online the suggestions were mostly for how to tell a friend struggling with infertility that you yourself are pregnant or just stuff that sounded outright bad (asking really prying questions about the philosophy of what motherhood is or changing the subject to gossip about someone else. No joke.) Y

            Your and Amber Rose’s suggestions are both great and I think framing it as more on the shellfish allergy side vs 3 days to live side is helpful to me. I also didn’t know it was so prevalent (1/8) so when/if the time comes I’ll be sure not to blast any future pregnancy in anyone’s face (or much less ask why they didn’t make me a gift, ffs)

          2. Jennifer*

            Great suggestions. You don’t have to tell people they can’t make announcements, but just keep them a little more low-key.

        2. Amber Rose*

          It’s going to vary from person to person, so I think it’s probably best to be blunt and ask what they need from you.

          As for me, I prefer it if people treat that news like I just told them I’m allergic to shellfish. “Aww, that sucks.” And then we can move on to other topics, because I am not going through life like a piece of glass that will shatter at the slightest mention of babies or pregnancy, I don’t need pity or gentle treatment. It’s ideal if people cut down on baby chat around me, but it’s obviously impossible to eliminate completely and that’s on me to deal with.

          The worst reaction: my dad’s groan of utter despair, followed by intense questioning if there’s anything I can do. When you treat this news like it’s the worst thing ever, it feels like the worst thing ever. When you treat it like it’s just unfortunate, it feels less awful.

    2. Friday afternoon fever*

      Omg but why don’t you just tell everyone with whom you are professional acquaintances at best your most personal and painful struggles and open yourself up to any dumb thing they might ever say!

    3. Mr. Tyzik*

      I never felt more like an object of curiosity than when I was pregnant. So many invasive questions and touches. It was unsettling.

    4. Jennifer*

      She shouldn’t have to share if she doesn’t want to. Plus once people know sometimes they keep asking when you don’t want to talk about it.

      You can share news in a way that is still considerate of the fact that other people may not be in a good place.

  33. DC Cliche*

    Oh, I’m so sorry! Know you’re not alone. I have a few friends who have been, through their doctors, connected to support groups for women experiencing trouble conceiving; that’s one outlet to help manage these emotions and experiences. I’ve also found it immensely helpful in the past when going through really difficult situations, to have one coworker that I make aware of what I’m experiencing, if you have one that you’re close to and is savvy and empathetic. This is less so I have a go-to for venting or to use them as an emotional crutch; it’s more so that I’ve got someone who can cover or block-and-tackle, if necessary. They can also tamp down on whatever rumor/speculation might be happening. When I had two family members quite sick at once and was going through a breakup simultaneously, my go-to stepped in when a manager was over-berating me — something that normally I could have handled myself, but just didn’t have the wherewithal for that week. He also smoothed over some prolonged work-remote situations with nosy coworkers and checked in prior to a few things that would be charged. I felt very self-conscious throughout it all — surely if I felt like a mess, I must *look* like a mess from the outside, and what if people were noticing and judging? — and just having one person there to treat my responses and absences as if they were just a fact of life did go a ways to making them appear that way to everyone else.
    Again, not always a solution, given workplace dynamics, but was something I found really helpful.

  34. Ginger*

    First of all, your coworker sucks. Who asks for gifts?? Rude people who suck.

    I’m sorry, OP. I wish I had magic words to make this easier but I know there aren’t any. It is 100% OK to be upset, it is 100% OK to not make gifts.

    When I feel emotional, I do a mental exercise to keep my face a blank slate. I have a routine of building blocks in my mind, brick by brick and it keeps me focused enough to get through an awkward situation. Maybe you could try something similar to get through that part of the meeting and then you can let out a deep breath when you’re done and continue on?

    I would encourage you to seek out communities online that are people in the same position as you. There are lots of resources out there to vent, “cope” (coping mechanisms), etc. It might help to have an outlet to talk with others who aren’t your coworkers.

    If you want, it is perfectly reasonable to ask people around you to tone down the baby talk. You probably aren’t the only one who is experiencing pain around the topic, including probably some men. Any reasonable person would be more than understanding. I know that doesn’t help when you’re sitting across the table from someone with a bump but the constant chatter about all things baby is hard when you’re struggling so maybe reducing that would help?

  35. Mary*

    Oh LW, so many good wishes to you. It took me and my partner over four years to get to a take-home baby, and it did happen for us, but not until I’d got to the point where I missed my godson’s first birthday because I just couldn’t. It is really, really hard when you’re trying and hoping and you start to think it’s never going to happen.

    I didn’t have too many pregnant people st work, but lots in my friend group. My strategy was to tell a couple of people I trusted so they could look out for me. In my experience more people than you think have been in this situation, and whilst there will also be a small number of people who just have NO tact or sensitivity, most people know that pregnancy and birth aren’t easy for everyone. If you can just let a couple of people know you’re struggling with it, it can definitely help. Just knowing that there’s someone in the room who’ll cover for you if you need to leave or smoothly change the subject if the conversation gets a bit to close to the bone (like asking you when your turn is or something equally rude!) can go a long way.

    So much luck xx

  36. Krabby*

    LW, that sounds so hard. I am going through something similar right now, except my issue is fertility. In my last year of trying, 5 people in my office announced their pregnancies (their’s or their spouse’s). The hardest was one of my teammates who already has two kids and kept saying, “We were so careful, I can’t handle another one,” and then jokingly offering to sell us the new baby.

    I finally took her aside and tried to frame it as, “This could be a difficult thing for other coworkers to hear so much about if they are having issues of their own.” But then I broke down and cried, so she knew it was about me. It felt awful, like I was raining on her parade.

    My best advice would be to trawl the archives of Captain Awkward. She has some great scripts for situations like this with friends, which you should be able to translate into the work world.

    Just know that you are not alone. My heart goes out to you.

  37. lurker*

    I rarely post here but had to chime in on this one, as someone who went through the same thing that you are going through. I miscarried several times and it was really, really difficult to be constantly confronted with pregnancies and baby talk. Aside from therapy & a pregnancy loss support group (both recommended), the best thing I did – though I was reluctant to do it at first – was to confide in a few close coworkers and give them permission to discreetly share the news when they felt it necessary. Not only were they able to run interference for me, but I had several other coworkers who had experienced the same thing come by with encouragement and understanding. I had not known of their miscarriages because they had been quiet about it, and if I hadn’t let my own struggles be known I would have missed out on a huge source of support.

    Also, a book recommendation: I found it helpful to read about other stories in this book-

    It is so, so hard. All the best wishes for you. (BTW – I got through it and now have a second grader and a preschooler)

  38. Hiring Mgr*

    Sorry to hear… I would consider therapy and/or infertility support groups… I know they can be very helpful

  39. DinoGirl*

    Honestly. ..tell them! Or tell one person and all them to. People are kind, they will understand this.
    I had a coworker “out” my pregnancy before I told people, then I had to “untell” a lot of people when I miscarried at 12 weeks
    People were very kind and I actually was glad it was “out” so I didn’t have to hide it. I wanted people to know.
    Unless you’ve experienced miscarriage, it’s impossible to understand how sad and physically hard it is. But many people Have experienced it, they just won’t tell until they know you are, too.

    1. Amber Rose*

      “People are kind, they will understand this.”

      Dude, it was three weeks after my mom died when people started asking me why I wasn’t over it yet. Humans who have not experienced grief or trauma do not understand it, or the different ways people experience it. Not to mention that not all people are kind, and even the ones who are can and will cause unintentional hurt.

      1. Indie*

        Obviously OP has one rude colleague but there might be at least one trustworthy person to run interference.

        1. Amber Rose*

          You’d be surprised. 3 weeks is a long time to be upset about something small, and if you’ve never been upset about something big it can seem like an abnormally long time to hang on to negative feelings.

          People are bad at scale.

          1. Vicky Austin*

            But the death of a parent is hardly a small thing to be upset about! It’s one of the biggest things there is to be upset about! Both my parents are still alive, so I’ve never experienced the death of a parent and even I know that!!!

  40. thin acetate frames*

    I miscarried 11 times (and in all trimesters.) It wasn’t necessarily a pregnancy I wanted but I did desperately want to parent. I shifted my focus to other paths to parenthood. And found some. I have a lot of empathy for this letter writer. I am raising two adopted children. I am a good parent. There are other paths. The only time the adoption process interrupted my work was the day that I received notice of my match and got to share it. There was palpable joy and even though that was many years ago, those coworkers still speak fondly of that memory. Getting older helped a lot and making my personal path to parenting not about “pregnancy” made it easier for me to hear about others. In brief to make it hurt less, I chose to change the way I thought about it. Counselling helped too. Peace to you.

  41. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. If you would be willing for other people to know, could you enlist the coworker who knows to share with others? Something true but not the whole story, like “Jane had a difficult miscarriage, so I’m sure you can understand that sometimes pregnancy talk catches her off guard and is upsetting. I know she’s happy for you and just needs a little space” (or “might need to step away from a meeting/conversation occasionally” or “would love to be told about any pregnancies in private before you announce it in front of the whole team” or “would welcome any support if you have been in this situation yourself” or “would not like anyone to discuss this with her or acknowledge that she has been crying ever at the office” or whatever specifically you need. As someone who hasn’t been in this situation, I think these are all totally reasonable compassionate things I would be happy to do for a coworker.

  42. Celeste*

    OP, I’m just so sorry for your losses. I feel for you as I went through years of infertility. Our culture really doesn’t keep space for miscarriage and pregnancy loss. Announcing losses can perversely make it worse, as so many, many people can’t just stop with a heartfelt, “I’m sorry.”. Some of the things they say that they think are helpful, are anything but helpful.

    I think you’re doing the right thing to pull back from making baby gifts. As a quilter and a knitter, I get the impulse to celebrate with a handmade gift. But not now; it’s really too much to ask of yourself. All you have to say if someone is aggressive enough to ask you why you didn’t make them something, is to tell them you are spending your creative energy on other things right now, without any elaboration. If they persist, turn the conversation back to them.

    As far as how to cope with your sorrow in the face of all these situations at work, it’s just so hard. I think you need to give yourself the space that others may not be able to give to you. If you have one person there you can trust to tell about it, they may help by running interference. Even if they can’t give you advance warning of the next pregnancy, they can run interference if you’re actively grieving. An ally is a great thing, and if you can find one, it helps. If you can’t find one in person, I suggest finding some online. There are lots of support forums and if you want to leave or need to leave, you can do so with no consequences. I found it helped me to have someone who knew what I was going through.

    I hope you will get to be a mother, because you’ll be a great one. xoxoxoxoxo

    1. Celeste*

      P.S. Other ideas for gifts (as long as you still want to give one) are Etsy and gift cards–or even an Etsy gift card! They can still get their handmade quilt, but it’s not going to be handmade by you.

  43. Snark*

    “In addition, the coworker who was pregnant at the same time as me, asked me point blank why I didn’t make her a baby gift ”

    Your coworker sucks. What gall. She didn’t deserve an answer more padded than “Because you’re the kind of person who would ask me point blank why I hadn’t made one, you entitled little drip,” but you’re never required to spend hours of your free time making anything for anyone regardless of precedent, and you are entitled to decline to make one for any reason.

    1. OP*

      Ha, I love this answer! She is definitely my most entitled and rude of all coworkers, but after her pregnancy she took about 12 weeks off so I had three wonderful months where I didn’t have to see her!

  44. Elise*

    Hi OP,

    I am so sorry to read this has happened to you. Infertility is such a personal and almost taboo topic still and I am sorry you’re going through this. I am also so incredibly upset by your co-worker’s lack of tact.

    First, are you talking to someone about this professionally? If you aren’t, you may find this helpful.

    Second, can you speak to a trusted manager or someone in Human Resources a bit more about your situation? Not needing to go into full details, but possibly sharing that you are struggling with fertility related issues and are finding it hard to manage with the regular discussions of pregnancy in the office. It may be something that could be stated as a gentle reminder via e-mail, “While everyone at ABC & Co. loves to hear about upcoming additions to our work family, we also remind everyone to be gentle. There may be individuals we work with who are struggling with loss or their own fertility journeys – it’s always best to remember kindness. If someone has been open with you about their struggles, please allow them the safety to speak with you. Do not take this as not wanting to share in one another’s joy – but to also remember that there are two sides to this coin.” Or if that doesn’t work, as someone mentioned, it could also be you come into these meetings a few minutes late.

    I unfortunately cannot advise you on the belly strokers. I am not trying to add to more salt to your already wounded soul, but I am currently pregnant and definitely do this. I try to be aware as much as possible when I do it and stop doing so, but it can often occur almost subconsciously. I also spoke with my supervisor privately before I announced openly to see whether there was anyone I should be more sensitive with. As this information is private, she wasn’t able to confirm but I have tried to remain as open about my pregnancy as possible, but not making it my only story. It definitely gets harder as I near my own due date though. If you’re comfortable sharing with a manager or HR, they may be able to answer this type of question from other pregnant mothers – even if it was to say there are individuals in your office struggling with fertility.

    Ultimately, I am sending you so much love across the interwebs. I wish I had better suggestions for you and I wish that personally there were better words that could soothe your heart in your overall journey. I am wishing you peace on your continued path.

  45. PM*

    I’m so sorry. Infertility is the worst.

    If you don’t want to find a new job, some things that might help are:
    1. Therapy – there are therapists who specialize in helping people deal with infertility. Some of them run support groups too.
    2. Finding one or two very trusted colleagues at the office to confide in and ask for help when you need it.
    3. Definitely getting out of the handmade baby gift business. You are also free to skip baby showers and other baby related events whenever you need to.

  46. Jubilance*

    The coworker who asked why she didn’t get a handmade gift is rude rude rude and you don’t owe her a gift or an explanation.

  47. M*

    No advice to you, but advice to the commentors –
    Don’t tell people it’s not a matter of when but if they have a child. That is not always true.
    Don’t tell people they can be a parent in another way, adoption is extremely difficult and cost prohibitive.
    Don’t tell people you know how it feels since after your miscarriages, you ended up pregnant.

    These are things that are well meaning. They are situations in which people have head their hearts broken and found a way to have a baby and I feel for that. But not every woman that wants to be a mother will be. And after a few years of hearing it – “you WILL be a mother some day!”, is the worst thing someone can say.

    Stay strong, OP.

    1. Sins & Needles*

      Yes. I did everything I could, but I did not get to remain a parent. I did a lot of work to heal from that, but I still don’t want to hear how “It could still happen” and the use of the word “miracle” makes me angry, still.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      Just because some of us were able to have children after mc/infant loss/infertility doesn’t mean we don’t know how OP feels. We still grieve. They don’t take away your infertility club card in the delivery room.

      1. DCompliance*

        I want to add, that I believe these are two different things: dealing with the pain not being able to have a baby and grieving the loss of your baby.

    3. DCompliance*

      “Don’t tell people you know how it feels since after your miscarriages, you ended up pregnant.”

      Just for the record, having a child after having miscarriages doesn’t necessarily wipe out the pain the miscarriage.

      1. M*

        Of course not. But there are several comments on this thread that basically read “I struggled with infertility… and now I have a baby!” This message is often shared with those in the midst of infertility and I have found it not only unhelpful but very painful. Your success does not gauerentee anothers. Of course the hurt is still there, no one is disputing that. Just that hearing that it worked out for you is not always helpful.

        1. DCompliance*

          The reason I commented was because above you specifically stated “Don’t tell people you know how it feels since after your miscarriages, you ended up pregnant.” If you had said “infertility”, I would have not responded. There is a difference between saying “I know how you feel. I had a miscarriage too” and “I suffered from infertility and it all worked out for me.” I would never say the latter. I would say the former.

            1. DCompliance*

              Not trying to be hard on you. For me, the hardest comments were from people who went through it, so I understand. But these ordeals cause so many of us to feel more and more alone and isolated. Sometimes we turn away people who really do get it.

      2. M from NY*

        It’s not that you don’t understand but YOUR happy ending may not be the same for the person you’re attempting to comfort and that difference when one is still attempting to accept their loss is frustrating.

        Helpful: I have experienced miscarriage and remember feelings of XYZ

        Not Helpful: I have experienced miscarriage but it was all worth it for my precious miracle.

        In the moment when you’re attempting to comfort keep the focus on your shared topic. If conversation continues and person asks THEN you can share “after ## tries we were successful”.

    4. Lora*

      THIS. And honestly, I think you can generalize this to all sucky life events.

      It doesn’t always get better. Sometimes it gets worse, horrifyingly so, and sometimes you just have to learn to live with the fact that this sucks and will never get better.

    5. delta cat*

      Agreed. This may not ever work out for me. I am aware of that. I am not in denial about it. Dealing with other people’s denial is just one more thing I find exhausting.

    6. Anon for Now*

      The “you be a mother” comment is like a knife in the heart everything I hear it. Especially, because it’s usually delivered by someone who is a mother themselves, who means well, but generally who doesn’t understand what it’s like to live in fear that you will be part of the group that doesn’t get to be a parent.

  48. Caz*

    OP, you have my sympathy. I have wanted to have children my entire adult life, and am unable to conceive. A friend who I thought was in a similar boat managed to conceive last year, and is now fast approaching her due date. Being happy for her and supporting her through this has partly meant being angry with her sometimes, ducking her calls sometimes, acknowledging my own feelings and the validity of them (and other times making the time to call her, congratulate her, go over every detail of the pregnany with her and be so happy for her). But that’s easier for me than it is for you, because she’s a friend who I choose to spend time with or not – and not a colleague who I have to spend most of the day with regardless of what I would like to be doing.

    Some principles still apply, though. Take time out for self care. Acknowledge the validity of your own feelings – even when you aren’t wall-to-wall happy, that’s OK, it’s allowed, it’s how you feel. Can you work from home? Can you make arrangements to work from another area at least some of the time each day, to give yourself space? Your colleague is aware of the situation, but can you let your manager know, so that they can support you with a more flexible working arrangement for the good of your mental health?

    Let me let you in on a secret…you don’t have to be happy for your colleagues all the time. When they make their announcement, it’s OK to say “Hey, you must be so happy, congratulations” and leave it there. You don’t have to be excited about every ultrasound, every appointment, every…episode of morning sickness. If people try to engage you in baby conversation when you’re just not feeling it, it’s OK to say “I’m sorry, I have to concentrate on my work now” and then turn away. They will find someone else to gush at. If someone asks you “where’s my gift”, that is a rude person right there that doesn’t deserve a gift, let alone one that you pour love and time and affection into! Screw that lady right there, she can have a store-bought gift, if you have the time, the inclination, happen to be passing the appropriate store, and don’t have something else that you would rather spend the money on. If any of these factors do not apply, they don’t get a gift and they can suck it up!

  49. Celaena Sardothien*

    Oooof, I’m sorry OP. When your coworker asked why you didn’t make her a baby gift (!), I would have told her point-blank about the miscarriages. That’s certainly your information to keep private if you want to, but that would have taught her to think before she speaks.

    As for your office, I’m not sure there’s much you can do. It sounds like this is just the culture you work in, and it wouldn’t be right to ask other women to tone down or not discuss their pregnancies. Plus, it’s going to be obvious at some point so, even if people weren’t talking about it, you’d likely still have to see pregnant women throughout your day.

    However, what I do suggest is you get yourself to a therapist that can help you sort out your pain from your coworker’s happiness. Right now, you’re entangling the two (which is totally normal! We all do it when we experience trauma and it seems like everyone around us is thriving), and a good therapist can guide you on how to grieve for your own children and still be genuinely excited for your coworkers.

  50. [insert witty username here]*

    OP, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Sending my sympathy.

    A lot of people have suggested therapy and if that is available and an option, I think that would be a great idea.

    In the short term, I would go into your meetings anticipating that someone WILL announce a pregnancy or some similar news/update. This might help you re-frame your expectations from “when” not “if” and then you can zone out from listening to the details, but help keep you from being blind-sided. You don’t want to psych yourself up too much about it (easier said than done) but maybe this could help in the immediate future.

  51. Wing Leader*

    Oooof, I’m sorry OP. When your coworker asked why you didn’t make her a baby gift (!), I would have told her point-blank about the miscarriages. That’s certainly your information to keep private if you want to, but that would have taught her to think before she speaks.

    As for your office, I’m not sure there’s much you can do. It sounds like this is just the culture you work in, and it wouldn’t be right to ask other women to tone down or not discuss their pregnancies. Plus, it’s going to be obvious at some point so, even if people weren’t talking about it, you’d likely still have to see pregnant women throughout your day.

    However, what I do suggest is you get yourself to a therapist that can help you sort out your pain from your coworker’s happiness. Right now, you’re entangling the two (which is totally normal! We all do it when we experience trauma and it seems like everyone around us is thriving), and a good therapist can guide you on how to grieve for your own children and still be genuinely excited for your coworkers.

  52. Lemon Ginger Tea*

    Oh lordy, I feel this OP’s pain. :-( I had a miscarriage last spring and it was similar… I had a coworker and one of my best friends announce their pregnancies the same time I was being put through the wringer with medical procedures and bills. The best friend actually called me to tell me she pregnant but asked how I was doing first and so I told her about the miscarriage. When I asked her the same, she told me she was pregnant (eek, such terrible timing, of course no one’s fault). It felt difficult all over again when they both had their babies recently and I kept thinking: mine would have been born around now, too.

    I work in a small and mostly harmonious office, and I told all my women coworkers what had happened. It just seemed like the simplest course of action since I was out a lot for appointments and procedures. I’m a pretty matter-of-fact person and the miscarriage didn’t impact me as deeply as others, but it was tough all the same.

    Depending on your comfort and openness, you might find that the simple truth will help get the monkey off your back. Your coworkers aren’t trying to rub it in but they have no idea what you’re going through. Hugs to you, OP.

  53. Ruralady*

    I’m so sorry – I’ve had 3 miscarriages too (first one the week before our wedding), and now 2 healthy kiddos! It was awful. My first suggestion is to get yourself some therapy, maybe with someone who specialized in grief or infertility. Not having an outlet for these feelings makes the minefield much worse, and might have you anticipating something emotionally dangerous when there isn’t any danger. I was also really open with people that I was dealing with miscarriages, and that helped me a lot. It gave my coworkers the ability to contextualize why I was acting unusual, and made them more careful about sharing their excitement with me (which was necessary for my healing. I’m excited for you! Really! Just…can you please be excited over there while I’m sad for awhile?)

  54. Smithy*

    Recently at our organization’s harrassment/code of conduct training day – someone did bring up that while this in no way was harassment or at the level of other topics being discussed that it was worthwhile to be mindful of pregnancy, discussion of body shapes/weight, and a few other topics. That it might be triggering for those struggling with fertility or weight. It may have even been brought up by someone from HR? Regardless, it was mentioned to the department in a safe space and time for reminding staff how to be sensitive and mindful of colleagues.

    I don’t know if the OP has a relationship with either her boss or HR or if there is any kind of regular office HR style training where this could be included – but it struck me as being very appropriate and kind. It wasn’t asking for office baby showers or anything like that to end – but rather just to remind an office of topics to treat with care regarding our colleagues as a whole.

  55. animaniactoo*

    OP, I wonder if it would be possible to ask for a dedicated break?

    Right now, you’re in a state of hyper-awareness at those meetings and it’s ongoing and constant and you have NEVER had a break from it because the possibility is very real every time. That cycle alone could be feeding your anxiety where if you had a few times that you could go into the meeting knowing you don’t have to deal with it, it could allow you to calm down and get some more stable footing under you and then be able to better manage it going forward.

    So… I wonder if it would be possible to talk to whoever is leading the meetings and just ask for a 2-3 week break where pregnancies ARE not announced at that meeting even if someone is pregnant and ready to announce? You would probably have to explain to the leader why, but you could ask for privacy and just explain – you’re not anti-pregnancy, you’re not asking people who are already pregnant not to discuss their pregnancies. You’re just wobbly and you’ve never had a break from this in the weekly meeting and if there is any chance you could get a break, you’re hoping that it will help you recover your breath and be able to handle it better going forward. Ask for their discretion, and that whatever announcement is made about the temporary break, that it just be a general “someone has been struggling and wishes everyone well but could use a break from possibly hearing about it in our weekly meetings and requests privacy about who they are because it’s a painful thing and they don’t want to be the focus of attention”.

    Granted, that might send people on a witchhunt in your office to figure out who the struggling person is, so you’d have to think about what you know about your office and whether they’d respect a request for privacy and not wanting to be known because talking about it is just difficult at this point and the attention would be just as much of a problem.

    1. OP*

      Thank you for this comment – I have been thinking along similar lines. Luckily, I have an extremely kind, considerate, and caring boss. If I brought this up with her, she would stop the baby announcements immediately. However, it’s just been really difficult for me to actually say the word ‘miscarriage’ out loud, so I’ve been avoiding having this conversation with her. I know people might think “All you had to do was ask and the announcements would stop?” but it really isn’t that simple. It’s mostly been me trying to work up the courage to ask for this.

      For another route, we have a department at work (similar to HR) that brings up confidential issues with directors, so I could also approach this department and ask them to pass this info along to my boss. They would not disclose my identity and we have enough women of child-bearing age in this department that my boss would probably not guess who it was.

      1. animaniactoo*

        fwiw – you don’t have to say the word “miscarriage”. You can say “having some pregnancy-related struggles” or “having struggles getting and staying pregnant” (if that latter wording won’t just do the same thing as “miscarriage” for you).

        If part of the issue is in the sharing with your boss yourself no matter what, absolutely lean on the CI department. [hugs to you] (if you want them)

      2. Rezia*

        Oh, OP, I’m so sorry.
        I totally understand the difficulty in saying that word. Could you email your boss? If she’s kind and caring, she would probably understand if you emailed with, “It’s hard for me to say this out loud so I’m putting this in email instead -…” But of course, you can go the HR route too if you prefer the anonymity.

        Along the lines of a break – if you haven’t had a chance to take time off and you do have vacation days to spare, I don’t know if it would be helpful to take time off, and use it to grieve or to divert your attention entirely by traveling or adventuring in your own city? Just getting a break from the office and feeling like you’re constantly bombarded could be helpful.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      I don’t think you have anything to apologize for. Your comments were kind and relevant.

      Plus 11 miscarriages! You know what you’re talking about <3

  56. JJ*

    Oh, this breaks my heart because I know how you feel. I did three rounds of IVF in 2016/2017, all three unsuccessful, and have made the decision to live childfree. It’s really tough because pregnancy/fertility issues are hard to share, even with people you’re close to. It’s only now, in 2019, I feel more comfortable with babies, pregnancy announcements, and saying “no, we don’t” when people ask me if I have children without it feeling like I got stabbed in the heart.

    If you haven’t found a good therapist, I’d recommend that. Mine saved my life. Looking back, having a safe space to vent every two weeks helped me more then I realized at the time. I also went to a support group for infertility I found through my local chapter of RESOLVE. Finding an outlet outside of work to vent your grief and pain and find women going through the same thing may be helpful for you. Time helps the most, unfortunately. When it’s raw like that, it can be really hard to be around people who seem to be having easy success.

    I’m so sorry for your losses.

  57. She's One Crazy Diamond*

    OP, I am so sorry for your losses. I have also had two miscarriages so I know how terrible it feels, and I know it’s hard to hear about other people’s pregnancies. I will say though, that as much as it sucks, you can’t stop people from sharing good news about their lives. The best thing to do is to find a professional who can help you with regulating your feelings and moving forward in your life, and lean on your family and/or close friends.

  58. OP*

    Hi all! I’m the letter writer, and I just wanted to say thank you for your kind words! Since writing in with this question, I’ve already started to feel more comfortable in the work place. I think just the act of writing it out and thinking about it helped a lot. Many of you are correct – I’ve only shared my miscarriages with one coworker (the one who is now pregnant with IVF), and she is incredibly kind and supportive. She didn’t actually announce her pregnancy in a meeting, and I appreciate her so much for this. She texted me and said she was pregnant and would give me a few days to process before starting to tell others. She is definitely getting a handmade baby gift! I haven’t spoken about it much with others, but I think I may start sharing it. I have been asking myself “why don’t people talk about this more? Why is it so isolating?” before realizing that I can talk about it! I can help with stigma!

    As for the other coworker who demanded why I didn’t get her a gift, I think she’s just jealous of the gifts I’ve given others? I love making things so I tend to gift hand made things, but just wasn’t in the right mind-set for her because we shared a similar due date. You guys are right – she was rude, but she tends to always be rude and abrasive so I just brushed it off. I may just be up front with her about it when I am ready to talk about my losses.

    I will try to respond to some individual posts today, but it’s an incredibly busy day for me. I work in education and with the cold snap we’ve had a lot of class cancellations, so today is mostly for catching up on work!

    1. HumanPerson*

      OP, I’m so sorry for your losses. You may already be aware of these Reddit communities, but if you’re are still trying to conceive, the r/stilltrying and r/ttcafterloss (trying to conceive after loss) are incredibly supportive places for folks in your situation. Should you become pregnant again, the r/pregnancyafterloss community is another sanity saver.

      I think opening up about your miscarriages is an incredibly brave move, and I hope your coworkers provide you with support or at least dialing back the pregnancy talk around you.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      If you feel comfortable sharing your experiences, you can definitely help lessen the stigma. Statistics say that 1 in 4 women suffers pregnancy loss, so it’s entirely possible you aren’t the only person in your office dealing with this issue.

      You may want to consider working through your feelings with a therapist first though.

      Good luck <3

    3. Amethyst Anne*

      OP, I’m so sorry for your loss. What a sad time. I still think about the baby I lost at 16 weeks in April 1981.

      Your gimme coworker is so rude. In one of your posts, you said that she hadn’t invited you to her baby shower. I would say that she shot herself in the foot. No shower invitation equals no handmade gift.

  59. AKchic*

    Oh OP, I am so sorry. Your feelings are valid and I respect your feelings. I have had miscarriages, and to tell you the truth, I’ve had mixed feelings about mine (none of the pregnancies were planned, or particularly wanted at the time, but each one was mourned regardless).

    The one coworker was rude and thoughtless to ask you about a gift. If you’d like to be charitable, you may blame it on her baby-brain, but truly, that is being overly charitable in my opinion.

    I think that if you are not discussing your losses with a support group or in a therapy setting, you really should be. It will help you to discuss your feelings with others who have gone through similar situations, and to find a neutral party who won’t judge you at the office for it (not that anyone should, but you may be feeling that way, which is why you haven’t shared your losses at large).
    It is okay to be excited for other people while still mourning your own losses. I think you are holding up extremely well and just need some more skills or tools in your arsenal to handle the surprises that coworkers may spring on everyone, or the day-to-day baby talk.

    I wish you all the luck in the world.

  60. HannahS*

    I don’t have a suggestion, but I’m so sorry for your troubles. And your coworker was way out of line. I guess the one thing I can say is, you don’t owe them joy. Like, I get that you have conflicted feelings, but if its feeling effortful, you don’t actually have to be happy for them. In the same way that you don’t have to make people gifts if making them makes you sad (well you never have to but you get what I mean), you don’t have to be happy for them. You can just be sad. You can’t be rude, obviously, and you might have to say, “Congratulations! That’s really wonderful!” But you don’t have to mean it. It’s ok for your grief and sadness and frustration to be the main thing you feel with regard to your coworkers’ pregnancies. Take care of yourself.

  61. In the same boat*

    This sounds like me. My due date for my most recent, brutal miscarriage is this Sunday, and I just found out today that my IVF transfer (of my only embryo) was not successful. I’m planning to try another round of IVF, with a new clinic, so I’m focusing on that and the hope that it will still work out.

    As for work, I have a good friend who’s going through IVF too, and we have lunch frequently and talk about what we’re going too. And I’ve shared with a small circle of work friends about what I’m dealing with, and I think it makes it easier just to have people around who understand.

    Hugs to you!

  62. Jackie*

    I get it. I’ve had three miscarriages and a failed IVF. I’m in pain from the miscarriages but also facing I may never have a successful pregnancy. I work with a bunch of men but we are all late 20s/early 30s, so similar situation of constant new pregnancy/I’m going to be a dad announcements.

    Can you sometimes show up to the meeting after announcements? Particularly on mornings that are rough?

    Find a therapist, preferably someone who helps with infertility. I have someone who lets me be angry and sad in a safe place that’s not at work.

    Finally, I encourage you to be honest about your miscarriages. Don’t explain the details but I know when I opened up about mine, I found a lot of people had similar experience and I didn’t feel so alone. I also think it helped people realize why I wasn’t cooing over pictures or sticking around for baby stories at lunch.

    Take care of yourself- physically and mentally. This is hard and sad. But you are strong.

  63. kate*

    wow. this would be an overwhelming amount of baby-stuff at work for me as a childless by choice person, so I truly cannot imagine the anxiety and discomfort it is causing you, OP. I’m so sorry. and of course it’s no one’s fault, and tbh it’s good to see workplaces that recruit and care for this demographic of employees! in fact, if you get the sense that folks higher up really are supportive of parents, it might be a sign that they are thoughtful enough that you might be able to bring this to them and expect support and care. at least, I’d hope so.

    but yeah, the coworker who asked about her gift can go fly a kite.

  64. Lindsay gee*

    I can’t get over your coworker confronting you about not making a gift…how rude is that?!?! You’re really gonna complain that the gift given you by a coworker, who spent money on said gift, wasn’t the right kind of gift?! argghhhh

  65. Episkey*

    If it’s an option for you, you could ask the one co-worker you’ve talked about it with to quietly spread the word if you don’t want to talk about it yourself but are comfortable with other co-workers knowing. I’m sorry, it’s a rough thing. I’ve had one miscarriage and it was harder than I had anticipated it being. (My son is now 15 months if it helps at all.)

  66. Brokenhearted*

    UGH, OP, this is awful. I am so sorry for you and this really difficult and painful time.

    Here are some things I have done in my own similar situation (just had my own 3rd miscarriage, used to work in a office with revolving unintended pregnancies, a good friend, neighbor and coworker got pregnant at the fertility clinic with us this last time and I lost the pregnancy while theirs is continuing).

    -It helped me a lot to be able to tell a few close coworkers. It didn’t completely cut down on the surprise pregnancy announcements (walking into streamers and petit fours announcing a pregnancy just after my first loss was still brutal), but I also then had people who understood why I was abruptly leaving the office kitchen and/or would come check on me later. That helped probably more than anything.
    -I was pretty cold/standoff-ish for a while. I don’t recommend this approach, but rather than pretending everything was okay, I let myself realize it was really not. A close family member also died traumatically during this time, and I treated my miscarriages like deaths, because they are. I took days off, I cut myself a little slack at work, I worked out of the office, etc. I skipped baby showers and suspended my Facebook account. I told my boss I had a miscarriage instead of saying I was sick. Instead of thinking I was just a meanie who sucked all the joy out of life and couldn’t be happy for other people, I tried to remember that I was experiencing an incredible amount of pain and it was okay to put a little distance.
    -I tried to remember that people weren’t getting pregnant “at” me. But it still really really really sucked.
    -After this last loss, I deputized a friend to reach out to a particularly chatty /oversharing pregnant friend and explicitly ask her to knock off baby talk around me. This has only been marginally successful, mainly because the oversharing pregnant friend has gone through her own fertility journey and appears to have amnesia about how hard it is to be the one suffering.
    -Therapy has helped me a lot.
    -This one is weird, but I just assumed all my coworkers were in the first trimester and would be announcing a pregnancy soon. If someone ever told me they were pregnant in person, I had already “accepted” that fact and and wasn’t taken so much off-guard.

    I am so sorry, OP. I hope your message is a reminder to everyone that you never know how someone might be struggling.

  67. ThursdaysGeek*

    OP, I’m so sorry.

    This isn’t something you should do, if you don’t want to, but I do wish more women would talk about their miscarriages. Many people let co-workers know if a family member dies, and we know to extend them sympathy. Our society tends to hide miscarriages, yet losing a born child to death is considered the worst thing a parent can experience. There is a lot of hidden pain. And sometimes pain can be lessened when it is shared, when we see that others have experienced the same, that we’re not alone.

    You are not alone, and you may not be alone even in your office, in spite of the many successful pregnancies.

    1. Buffy Loren*

      I agree with you. I had absolutely zero idea how common miscarriage was until I shared mine with some friends and family. If a woman feels it would help her to talk about it, she should give it a try – there are so many of us out there in the same boat.

  68. Emily S.*

    LW, I hope you will consider therapy. It could help you work through your challenges.

    Sending virtual hugs!

  69. AnotherAlison*

    Honestly, I think the only way for the OP to deal with this is to deal with it herself. I don’t think you can ask the office to change. (Although you can tell the person who asked about her gift to shove off.)

    Everyone has their really tough times that they have to go through. Divorce, death, a loved one’s drug addiction, depression, etc. It’s going through these things that make us human. It IS incredibly painful at the time, but I think dealing with it in your own mind is how you get through it and get stronger.

  70. 2 Cents*

    OP, I’m so sorry for your losses. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 8 weeks, and I only told my immediate boss initially and only vague details. I eventually told a trusted coworker friend after some time had passed, but even 6-9 months later, I was still fighting back tears. I was in therapy for depression/anxiety already (thank goodness), and my husband went too because it can be traumatic. (I won’t share my OBGYN horror story surrounding this.)

    (FWIW, I now have a 10-month-old boy.)

  71. Anita Brayke*

    I am so sorry that this is happening to you! I have been through this. It is hard. This book might help you: I’m not sure how far you’ve gotten in your pregnancies, but if you received greeting cards at the times of your losses or have ultrasound pictures or other pictures, it can help to revisit your experiences, look at pictures if you have them and realize that you ARE a mother, your babies just didn’t make it. It can help to talk to someone like a counselor or a friend who has been through it. And then, do something fun every single day. Without fail. Paint your nails, buy your favorite fragrance or cute earrings, go out for dinner somewhere wonderful, go hiking, take pictures, take trips, go to Dairy Queen and get a blizzard, buy an ornament for your babies for the tree if you celebrate at the holidays, learn to meditate or practice meditation, take classes on things that interest you, visit with friends, find new books at the library, see a movie, go bowling, go roller skating, put on thick socks and make popcorn and get some wine and watch Pretty Woman. Get out there and live! Every day. There is unfortunately no answer to “why,” but try not to focus on why. It just is, and it stinks! If you want to keep trying, do, and if not that’s okay, too. There is no one “way” to get through this, but concentrate on living. Get bubble soap at the store and blow bubbles with thoughts and wishes for your babies. They existed. You are alive, and it may not be fair to you, but I can tell you that after you do this stuff for awhile, it DOES get easier. My daughter would have been 23 this coming June. I talk to her all the time (and yes I’m crazy, but it’s the good kind. I talk to alive people, too!) I will be (praying/sending good energy/thinking about you/sending good vibes-whatever is not offensive to you) for you. I am so, SO sorry. But you will be okay, eventually. Godspeed.

  72. biscuits*

    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. I’ve had two and I know how hard they are. Life is hard and unfair sometimes and it just sucks. Take care of yourself and do what you need to do to get through the day.

    I’d really encourage you to tell people at work what you’re dealing with. You don’t have to tell everyone, but even if you confide in one or two people it can help that at least someone in the office knows what you’re going through and maybe can help protect you from the barrage of baby and pregnancy news. Even if you don’t tell anyone everything, it might be good to at least tell people that you’re struggling so they know and you can lean on them a bit.

    You don’t owe anyone anything – not a party, not a gift, not a thing. You have to take care of you first, and I hope you are getting some help and support.

  73. LD'S Mom*

    It’s been over 20 years but I was you. I worked in an office that was mostly females of child-bearing age so pregnancies were frequently occurring events. There’s really no one “right” answer. You have to do what makes you the most comfortable and don’t worry about offending anyone. Self-care to the max. Only you know what works for you. But I didn’t go to baby showers or “meet the baby” events. I was always busy with a non-work activity, even if that activity was reading a book or taking a bubble bath. The announcements were always difficult but I somehow made it through, even if I had to go have a good cry later. So really, no helpful advice but sympathy and understanding offered. All the best to you.

  74. Mimi Me*

    First, my sincerest sympathies! I can only imagine how difficult this is for you. I’m so sorry.
    I had a similar issue happen when I was trying to get pregnant. The women in my office just seemed to always be pregnant and it was a lot. I was trying everything to get pregnant and it was heartbreaking to hear other’s happy news. I was pretty vocal about my issues which helped my co-workers understand that I wasn’t unhappy for them, just a unhappy for me. They were very understanding about it. I didn’t have to offer a lot of info; I literally said things like “We’ve been trying to get pregnant, but it’s been so difficult.” or “We have an appointment to see the specialist about why I can’t get pregnant.” I didn’t really have to offer up any details but it was able to let my co-workers know that it was difficult to hear that news.

  75. CarrieAnn*

    I am so sorry you’re dealing with this. Our daughter was born 13 weeks early in May last year, and she passed away soon afterwards. I returned to work four months later, just in time for two colleagues to announce their pregnancies. It’s been tough.

    Everyone is different, but things that helped me:

    Stepping out of meetings, or picking up my laptop and working elsewhere when pregnancy and baby talk gets too much. And crying in the car on the way home.

    Perhaps you could need to take a call right at the start of your meetings when the announcements are usually made?

    Being open about what I need (I have a couple of trusted coworkers who’ll pass things on if I ask, could the colleague you’ve confided in do this for you?).

    And don’t pressure yourself to be ok about what’s happened to you or to feel unadulterated happiness for your coworkers. What’s happened is sad, and it’s ok to be angry about it too.

    Sending you a big virtual hug.

  76. TGIF*

    Nothing but sympathy for you and your family in this struggle.

    The only advice I’d give is to cut-off other rude expectations of gifts by saying you won’t be making things for the foreseeable future. Maybe at the announcements, just say that you’re taking a break from your crafting so don’t expect gifts. I became infamous at my last job for making a certain complicated dessert at any celebrations we had that I had to warn my coworkers in advance if I wouldn’t be making the dessert, otherwise they kept questioning me about it. No need to bring up your miscarriage if you don’t want to, but at least it would stop the expectation of your hand-made gifts for the time being.

  77. In The Woods*

    OP, I know the familiar feeling of being bombarded with pregnancy announcements and other baby news while struggling to conceive.

    I have a sister and 2 cousins who are all due within a month and a half of each other starting mid March and it was a super difficult time for me when the announcements were happening since the 4 of us had all gotten married within a year of each other, leaving me the last one to get pregnant of the recently married in my family.

    Last year I started going through the steps of diagnosis infertility and feeling alone in the process, I started participating in an online community for those trying to conceive. I’ve been part of it for about 5 months now and I’m so glad I did. Everyone has been really supportive and it is so nice to have others in similar shoes to talk to. I highly recommend a support group like this so that you have people to talk to without having to say anything to those close to you. I have yet to even say anything to my family and I’ve only told my boss that I’ll be having a large number of appointments for things (I just recently had my 2nd IUI). But I talk so much to those in the community.

    I’m not sure which is worse, being asked by the coworker about a gift you’re not obligated to give, or the time I had a coworker mention that a rumor was going around the office that I was pregnant when the day before I had found out the 2nd cousin was pregnant and had my first consultation with an RE 4 days later.

    Regardless, I hope you find the support you need to get through this tough time!

  78. Parenthetically*

    Just adding to the chorus of support. I’ve recently had a miscarriage and it was a uniquely awful experience. My heart goes out to you having to navigate this at work. *hugs*

  79. Dr. Pepper*

    Would it be possible for you to take a step back, emotionally, from your colleagues? Your letter makes it sound like you’re very “in” with your coworkers and I wonder how much more pain you’re adding by being happy for people and being involved with the baby culture. Is there another facet of your life you can devote that emotionally energy to? Something that you can care about that won’t stab you in a sore spot? It’s okay to take care of yourself, whatever that looks like.

    You’re not obligated to be happy for pregnant coworkers. You’re not even obligated to be happy for pregnant friends. I know that sounds cold and heartless and “unwomanly”, but I’m serious. You’re grieving, you’re dealing with something difficult and personal, and you don’t actually have to care. It’s okay to smile and make positive noises and just leave it there. It sounds like you are wrestling with “being happy for others” as an active thing you feel you ought to be doing. Like you’re wondering what is wrong with you because you don’t feel actually feel overwhelming joy for your pregnant colleagues. Or if you do, it’s tinged with “why not me?” There’s a big difference between “congratulations” and “omg yay that’s sooo amazing! I’m so happy for you!!!!” It sounds like you’ve been doing more of the latter than the former. You don’t have to be so invested. It’s okay and doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad woman.

  80. Jennifer K*

    Dear LW, I’m sorry for everything you have been through, I feel what you are feeling. We are in similar situations. Almost a year ago I lost a pregnancy at 17 weeks. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to stop it from hurting when someone is happy. Definitely talking to close friends helps and possibly if you have a manager that you trust let them know, they can give you some space you may need at work. Sometimes talking to a co-worker if you trust them will help too, they can just be there when you need it. As far as people asking why you didn’t make them a gift, I always think they definitely don’t know what you are facing and don’t mean to be hurtful, and if they did realize they would be embarrassed. Believe it or not, you will meet more people in your situation than you realize, I definitely did. I’m just sending you hope and a virtual hug. It’s a long road but there are others here with you.

  81. Molly*

    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. I also had several losses and it is really hard. And for me it was hard to know if I wanted to share what I was struggling with our keep it private. In the end, I shared with my friends and family (not coworkers, but I don’t have the same work environment as you) that I was trying to get pregnant and it was not going well. Just that amount of information got people to stop asking and be a little more sensitive about talking about babies around me.

    Therapeutically, I went to a therapist for a while after the first loss and when I had my second loss, it felt like nothing had changed and talking just wasn’t helping. So I ripped out the dead lawn in my yard. It took 3 months of back breaking work 3-5 hours per week. And I cried and I ripped out dead foliage. And it felt like I was ripping out all the bad stuff inside. And when it was bare, I planted a lawn. And I watered it and nurtured it and my husband would comment proudly when I had new lawn growth. Now I have a beautiful green lawn and it feels so much better. If talk doens’t work for you, find something that does. It helps to release the pressure!

    1. Lauren19*

      I love this. I’m the same way, need a physical outlet for my pain. I remember a NYE spin class I took a week after my second D&C. There was a lot of talk about showing up in the new year different, leaving everything you wanted to get rid of in the current year on the bike.

      The old yard to new yard is metaphoric — I love what you used your body to create! Hugs :)

  82. ishouldbeworking*

    I am in a similar situation where a large group of my small office got married within the last 2-3 years and everyone talks about babies all day. If someone skips out on happy hour or if they order a decaf coffee, people make baby jokes. I love babies and pregnancies (as long as its outside of my work space–I’m even a birth doula outside of my office job) but I find it all very unprofessional and invasive. Specifically because I know for a fact that one coworker is having infertility issues and another coworker was never able to conceive about 10 years ago and is now childless.
    I’ve found it effective to remove myself from the conversations and change the subject when conversations I am in inevitably lead to pregnancy jokes. It seems to have taught my coworkers not to enlist me in these talks and they now rarely bring it up around me. While actual pregnant bellies are hard to avoid, it is possible to not engage in the discussion around pregnancy and families in a work space, even in a small office environment.
    Best of luck to you and like others have said, be kind to yourself.

    1. OP*

      Ugh yes, the comments when you turn down coffee/caffeine/sushi/drinks, whatever! Everyone always assumes you’re pregnant! It IS super invasive and very uncomfortable. It also happens when I (or anyone else my age) gets sick – everyone ALWAYS assumes it’s pregnancy-related. Have a headache? You’re pregnant! Stomachache? You’re definitely pregnant!

      I really wish people would stop speculating on pregnancies altogether. It is so awkward and awful.

      1. Althea*

        You might want to be on a special diet all the time. “It’s called the “OP” diet. You can’t eat [anything avoiding b/c of pregnancy] + [foods I hate].” Every time food comes up, say you can/can’t eat it because you’re on this diet. Let them fumble around looking it up…

      2. ishou*

        I’m a little relieved/horrified my office is not the only one doing this!

        It almost puts this weird pressure on myself to never turn down a happy hour or caffeine run in order to avoid the painfully awkward joke that will inevitably ensue.

        They think its funny, but its not. Its invasive and I really don’t think they realize how much so until you/someone changes the subject back to something not having to do with family/emotions/BODIES.

  83. kristinyc*

    First of all, so sorry for your losses OP! That’s so difficult. <3

    I'm currently 32 weeks pregnant, and we started trying last January (conceived in July, so within a normal range but felt like forever). During the time we were trying, there were NINE women on my floor in my office who were pregnant (yes, on my floor. There were others. We have 300 employees.). Lots of people who weren't pregnant or trying (because they were older or single, mostly) kept saying things like "LOL Kristin don't drink the water on the 10th floor!" …I don't think they realized that I, a 34 year old married woman who has been vocal about wanting children might not want to hear that. Most people keep their journeys to becoming parents relatively quiet, especially if they're difficult, and other people don't realise what they're saying may be hurtful. So if you're comfortable telling someone what you're going through, it may help to have an ally who can help shut down rude comments.

    So, for the people I was comfortable telling that I was TTC, I joked back with things like "Actually, gimme all of the water!!!" I ended up telling some of the co-workers who were pregnant that we were trying, and they became a great resource for advice. (And by opening up to them about it, several of them told me about how long it took them, and some of the struggles they had).

    As for everyone else – unfortunately, the comments didn't stop after I announced my pregnancy. People say all kinds of insensitive things to women, and don't realize how they come across.

    So, anyone else reading this: Don’t comment on any woman’s fertility plans. Not to her face, not around her. Don’t comment on her body when she is pregnant (or anytime, really. Why are you commenting on a coworker’s body?). Don’t tell her she looks like she’s going to pop. Don’t constantly ask her due date when she gets bigger. Don’t ask if it’s twins if she seems bigger. Don’t judge or question what she’s eating. Don’t ask her about certain personal decisions about her baby or pregnancy (including delivery plans, vaccination plans, circumcision plans, ear piercing, etc. She will research them and probably doesn’t want to have to defend her choices to you). Don’t ask her if it was planned. Don’t ask her if she’s coming back to work after maternity leave.

    Do: Be accommodating and flexible. If you’re managing a pregnant woman and can give her the option to work remotely when she has morning sickness or during the last trimester when getting around is harder, do that. Ask her how she’s doing, but not constantly, because everyone else is asking her every time they see her. Don’t schedule meetings over lunchtime because “it was the only time you had available!” (We need to eat!). Ask her if there’s anything else she needs, and accommodate it if you can.

  84. Khaleesi*

    De-lurking to tell the OP how very, very sorry I am. I’ve been through this and it’s awful. I had four consecutive miscarriages, and it was torture coming to work every day and pretending everything was fine. I would politely smile at well-meaning people asking me when I was going to have a baby, even though every time it felt like I’d been punched in the face.
    In these situations it’s so easy to feel alone. About a week after I suffered my third miscarriage, a colleague’s cat died and the whole office rallied around her, sending her flowers and supporting her, and I remember asking myself why she was allowed to talk about her grief and I wasn’t.
    That was the turning point for me, because I realized that I could talk about it. And I did. And it was awkward sometimes. But I stopped feeling like I had something to be embarrassed about. You can absolutely absent yourself from baby showers or baby talk and tell people why. You can tell your co-worker you didn’t knit her a blanket because it hurt too much. You have that right.
    I know not everyone wants to be so open about something so deeply personal and painful. For me, it helped to know I wasn’t alone. Miscarriages are very, very common, but very few people are willing to talk about it.
    I am so sorry for your losses. Please know that you’re not alone.

    1. Blue*

      I felt the same way when I started talking about my losses. It’s hard and not everyone understands, but I felt so much better not keeping it bottled up inside me like a secret, especially around people I see on a regular basis.

      After the news of my second loss spread around the office, my coworkers gave me a card and a care package, which I appreciated so much. It wasn’t a huge gesture, but having my miscarriage acknowledged as a legitimate loss made me feel understood and cared for.

    2. OP*

      Thank you for this. I’ve seen a lot of people today who are de-lurking to comment, and I appreciate it so much.

      I really feel you about a coworker’s cat dying. In the three years that I’ve had miscarriages, we’ve rallied as a group around a few people who have gotten sick or had sick family members and we’ve made cards and care packages and collected money. So when I had my losses, I started to feel bitter and angry because I thought people didn’t care about me. Then I remembered that I hadn’t told anyone, which made me feel sadder. I know it’s completely irrational to be upset over people not giving me care or sympathy for a traumatic event that I didn’t tell them about, but it’s how I felt whenever we rallied around someone. I cannot explain it except for the bizarre emotions and logic relating to pregnancy and miscarriage.

      1. Althea*

        Completely on board with bizarre emotions. You are hating on someone even while realizing it has nothing to do with them. Then I would feel guilty for hating someone for no reason. Then I would go back to hating/avoiding.

        Our loss was late in pregnancy, so everyone knew. People would rally around you if they knew. It’s why I advocate being more open, but recognizing that your own needs about talking/not talking come first. But I want people to know that if you are open about it, it actually can help a lot – support comes out of the woodwork.

  85. Sammie*

    This brought up some stuff for me that I wasn’t expecting. I was 20 when I was told, in possibly the coldest cruelest way possible, that I was infertile (turns out that despite my gyno being touted as the best in the country she was known in all medical professional circles for her lack of ‘bedside manner’). I felt like an utter failure as a woman, even though I didn’t even know if I wanted kids. The infertility was linked to a condition that exacerbated this feeling. I didn’t think anyone would get the other stuff but I figured most people would sympathise with a young woman finding out that she can’t have babies (I grew up in super Catholic Ireland – procreating seemed like our sole purpose in life when I was young). This was the trauma where I learned how much value there can be in keeping quiet to all but a few trustworthy souls.

    The worst thing was that I knew most people meant well, and I felt I needed to be polite in the face of their good intentions. They meant well when they tried to end the conversation in a hurry by reassuring me that I would one day have kids. They meant well when they told me that I shouldn’t dwell on such things because I was so young. They meant well when they told me there was something out there that could cure me, or I could adopt etc. And none of their good intentions stopped the incredible pain I was in or stopped me from wanting to inflict just a fraction of that on the person.

    Now, I’m at the age when people are having babies and they are also finding that they are having infertility issues. I’m in a position to console and support in a way that others could not do for me. That does feel good. Occasionally, I wish I had had the support that friends and family now get when they struggle with infertility (in truth, sometimes I feel forgotten, probably because I don’t actually wish to have children) but I also know that there are times when they too do not feel supported or the support still doesn’t take away from their burden. It still hurts like little else.

    I don’t know that I have any advice, just so so so much sympathy – and also empathy for not wanting to share. It doesn’t always turn out that well. It certaily doesn’t solve all problems. I did like someone else’s suggestion about maybe telling a trusted coworker or two to sort of discreetly pass the message around. That might work in some situations. And I absolutely agree that the OP should find as much love and support as she can in other circles, if this is not an option for her at work.

  86. peanuts*

    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

    It sounds like you have a good relationship with your coworkers. When there’s pregnancy talk, could you take the person to the side and say “hey, I’m really happy about people being pregnant! but I’d really appreciate it if you could talk about it somewhere away from me, I’m going through pregnancy-related issues and it brings up Stuff for me”. You’d have to do this a few times, but eventually, I think you might be able to build up a wall of No Pregnancy Talk About LW.

  87. Blue*

    I’m so sorry you are going through this, OP. In one year I had an early miscarriage and another loss at 20 weeks. It was difficult to be at work when it felt like my whole world had shattered, and I didn’t even have any pregnant coworkers to face, so kudos to you for being strong and supportive all this time!

    Sharing about miscarriages is difficult, but it can be really helpful to let your coworkers know what you are experiencing, especially when pregnancy/babies are a regular topic at work. Would you feel comfortable asking your coworker that you have been open with to spread the word about your losses? That was the approach I took and it made me feel more comfortable knowing that everyone was aware of the situation.

    One thing I think might help is to talk to your manager about the timing of the announcements. Would it be easier for you if announcements were done at the end of the meeting? I imagine it must be hard to sit through the meeting after such an emotional moment. If they were at the end, at least you wouldn’t be stuck in a meeting around your coworkers for much longer and you would be able to more privately process your feelings when you got back to your desk.

  88. Jenn G*

    Hi OP, I’m an infertility veteran as well as bereaved mum (over a decade ago for the last). Lots of good advice above but I want to echo:

    This is mostly a grief issue, and if you were a widow and people were announcing engagements or any number of other things, your feelings would be of course just as natural. There are a few differences – there’s often a lot more baby/child news floating around, and of course, your miscarriages are private and people are not as sensitized to pregnancy loss for a lot of societal reasons. But if you address your grief, you will probably find your way to handling this in a way that works better for you than the status quo. It is okay to take your grief seriously! It’s okay to look after your mental health at work.

    Talking to your boss is a great idea so that you get a break. You could send an email saying that it’s hard for you to talk about it, but you have been having this difficulty. Don’t be afraid to bow out of parts of the meeting that’s such an issue, maybe skipping the sharing circle part with the support of your boss. If something does get triggering and you can, take a few hours or the rest of the day off to feel the feelings and honour your loss. (And feel angry…boy do people dealing with infertility often have to deal with a lot of that.) And of course if you find a way to share with your colleagues, they may surprise you with their ability to keep you in mind…for a while. About 6 weeks, anyway, that’s the point at which people start to forget other people’s grief. I also think the recommendation for Empty Arms is a good one, and possibly therapy or grief counselling. Maybe look for a pregnancy loss/stillbirth/infertility support group, they will also have coping strategies. There are times (like now) where your focus should be on asking for what you need. And in time, you will almost certainly process things so that it’s not quite as acute. A lot will depend on your journey, and time.

    I’ll share that after my 12 pregnancies, 3 live births, 2 surviving kids, when someone tells me that they are pregnant, my mouth says “congratulations!” and my gut says “DANGER AHEAD FOR YOU.” I have a friend whose daughter is the same age as mine would be, we were pregnant together, etc., and as much as I love ’em, sometimes I go home after a visit and cry. That’s okay, it is okay to have your feelings, it is okay to struggle, it is okay to ask for help. I’m glad you reached out. Hang in there.

  89. Anon for today*

    Can your doctor or a local hospital refer you to a support group for women who’ve also had miscarriages? It might be helpful having a group where you feel safe to share these feelings and they might have strategies for dealing with what you are at work.

  90. Lady Phoenix*

    I send you a jedi hug and a e-cup of hot cocoa.

    I dunno what else to say besides I am sorry and, if you try again, that you have good luck and a happy baby.

    As for thencoworker who suddenly asked you for a baby gift, she is being very rude. Unless she previous asked or commissioned a gift from you, her demanding a gift is super tacky.

    Maybe you should go to therapy, for find some people to talk to and support you so you don’t feel alone (a “Team You”). If you can make a Team You at work, it might help some of the heartache.

  91. Marzipan*

    Advice not for the OP, but for human beings at large: don’t go on about pregnancy. You never know who may have experienced or be experiencing fertility problems, losses, or life circumstances that have prevented them from building the family they might otherwise have hoped for. I’m not saying people shouldn’t be happy about pregnancies – they’re great! – but build into that happiness a core of understanding. That includes not EVER asking anyone questions about their plans for a family unless they raise the subject first, not joking about how they’ll be ‘next’ or might be pregnant. It’s also a kindness to structure baby-related news and events in such a way that others can discreetly have some space from them.

    1. Peaches*

      This, 100%.

      I always have a horrible fear when hanging out with extended family and friends that someone will ask the “when are you having kids?” question, and I won’t be able to hold it together.

    2. cat socks*

      Totally agree. I was at a conference for work recently where there was a lot of small talk with getting to know new co-workers. I never ask someone if they have kids, but I will ask follow up questions (like how old they are, etc) if someone mentions they have kids. I don’t have kids (by choice) but I try to be very sensitive about the topic with others.

  92. Heat's Kitchen*

    I have had two miscarriages, and in full transparency, have two healthy children.

    First, allow yourself some grace. There is no right or wrong way to grieve these losses. Some days will be better than others. Some days the grief will hit you out of nowhere. Just because it hurts to be reminded of what you don’t have, doesn’t mean you can’t be happy for others.

    This isn’t for everyone, but if you’re comfortable, I really would recommend sharing your story. Especially since it seems you are close with your coworkers. (I’m making some assumptions about how you feel based on your letter, but if I’m wrong I don’t mean offense by it) You can say something like, “I wanted you to know that I’ve had three losses in my own pregnancy journey. I am overjoyed for [you/all the pregnancies/whatever makes sense], but please know that when I hear initial announcements, sometimes that is hard for me to deal with. I sometimes need to cope with being reminded of my hard journey. It isn’t personal to you.”

    Most reasonable people will understand. It may be awkward at first, but I’ve found alot of healing from talking through the pain. If it’s true, you can also say, “It’s not that I don’t want to hear about your pregnancy. But some days I may ask you to tone it down.” Or “If I seem upset some day, just know it’s a rough day for me. Again, nothing personal against you.”

    I’m so sorry and good luck on your journey.

  93. His Grace*

    First, OP, let me extend my sympathies. No one should go through what you have to endure. And when you have a department such as yours, I can imagine how difficult that can be.
    Here is what you may be able to do.
    Talk to your most immediate supervisor (if you have not already) and ask if you can arrive to meetings 5-10 late. That way, you can minimize the risk of hearing pregnancy announcements. Or perhaps even better, ask if the staff can withhold such announcements. I cannot guarantee that will work, but it’s something. And if you aren’t already, please consider grief counseling. Self-care is very important. All the best.

  94. None the Wiser*

    I’m so sorry.

    I do not have children, not entirely by choice.

    There is a baby boom at my workplace now. I’d be lying if I claimed that it was not at all painful.

    The only advice I have is to take care of yourself and do what you need to do. If there is someone at work you can trust and confide in, let them serve as your buffer and run interference for you. Let your partner know that you are going through a rough spot.

  95. username*

    OP, I wish I had advice, but I am struggling through the same season right now. My employee actually announced her pregnancy a month after my miscarriage and I had to plan her baby shower and endure happy baby talk while being both sad and feeling very guilty for those sad/jealous feelings. Thank you for writing in. You are not alone.

  96. Dadolwch*

    So sorry you’re going through this, OP. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be. My concern is that you seem to be letting the (legitimate) sadness of your personal situation negatively influence your ability to interact meaningfully with your coworkers. You say you’re happy for your fellow coworkers when they announce a pregnancy, but it’s also pretty clear that it’s deeply upsetting to you. Random expectations about baby gifts aside, this is a deeply personal and emotional issue that you and your partner need to address yourselves. You’ve already mentioned that you’ve had to leave meetings early to cope with your emotional reaction, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it will make your coworkers wonder what’s wrong and if they are doing something to upset you. That can negatively impact your working relationships, no matter how much you try to not let it.

    I strongly urge you and your partner seek out a professional counselor who can help you learn how to work through this difficult time. The circumstances you are dealing with are not trivial and you don’t have to keep trying to figure it out on your own. If a professional counselor isn’t right for you, you might also seek out support groups instead. No matter what, I wish you the best.

  97. The PhD Is Purely Decorative*

    I’m sorry for your losses, OP. I dealt with something similar in myriad therapy and crying-in-the-bahroom sessions. I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it with people I felt close to at work, so I gamed the gossip system by “confiding in” the most gossipy busybody there (who I disliked, but who served her purpose in this case). Because I asked her to keep my confidence, no one at work talked to me about my losses – but it was clear that everyone knew and subsequently acted with appropriate sensitivity.

  98. Kailia*

    Counseling to help work through your grief, frustration, and loss can be immeasurably helpful. Even attending a support group for mothers who have miscarried can be very helpful, even if you just have a safe place to vent what you’re feeling about your coworkers being pregnant. Having nonjudgmental people affirm that, console each other, and recognize that you’re not bad or alone can be healing. I’m just throwing that out there.

    I’m in my 30’s and have had multiple miscarriages. We don’t think a biological kid is ever going to happen. We have a small friend group full of couples, and they’re all constantly at some varying stage of pregnancy. I’m at once both happy for them and angry at them and frustrated and sad. I hate going to showers, where I’m the one who’s oldest and been married the longest, and I’m sitting there without kids or what they see as a genuine family unit. I get very angry when coworkers ask if I have kids, when I’ll have kids, if I’m putting off kids for my career and how that’s so bad (HOW. EFFING. DARE. YOU.). I get very angry when my in-law’s nosy Florida neighbors ask if there are grandkids yet and then get pissy with me when I flatly say, “No” to shut that whole thing down. It sucks. It so sucks. Hugs to you.

  99. MommyMD*

    I think only a good therapist can help you with this. It’s affecting your work day and it’s pervasive. Good luck and I hope you can get to feeling better.

  100. Nervous Accountant*

    As someone who has had 3 losses, there are so many things I can say but it’s taking me all my energy to hold my shit together at my desk to read through anything and type

    Nothing but hugs and good wishes for you OP.

    1. OP*

      Hugs to you, too. I understand about trying to keep it in. I WROTE the letter and am still trying not to cry while reading the replies at my desk! I hope you can treat yourself to something kind today.

  101. CupcakeCounter*

    OP this really sucks. Grief counseling might be helpful to navigate this particularly rough time. I know you probably don’t want to go into a lot of detail at work but a sit down with your manager (if you trust them and they aren’t an asshole) and letting them know that you are going through a rough time in relation to coworkers pregnancies might be in order. They don’t need to know details but it would give them perspective surrounding the incidents you mentioned above and maybe they will help minimize your work related interactions with the pregnant coworkers by assigning different projects/reducing the number of staff meetings/etc…
    Nothing wrong with your feelings and I truly believe that you are very happy for your coworkers and in no way resent them since you are trying to find a resolution. Let yourself grieve and as much as you want these thing to be private, sometimes there is a benefit to a brief and simple acknowledgement that you lost a pregnancy and are having a hard time with all the baby talk will most likely shut a lot of it down (at least around you).

  102. Manchmal*

    Hi OP, just wanted to offer hugs and empathize with what you’re going through. I’m a veteran of two miscarriages, failed IVF, husband’s corrective surgery, resulting in a successful IUI, and then a successful pregnancy with no medical intervention. During the years before we had our daughters, I very much lived the depression and heartache you’re going through and remember it vividly. I wasn’t in the same situation as you in terms of work, but definitely encountered my fair share of envy and then shame over others’ pregnancies, oblivious questions that gutted me, and the indignity that is mothers day when you desperately want to be one but are not. I get it. It sucks. My advice would be to hide what you’re going through much, much less. There’s a stigma about infertility, but it’s also extremely common. I guarantee you that many of the women in your office have also experienced miscarriages before their successful pregnancies. Even if you were to give people a general sense that you’re having a hard time with pregnancy without getting into the details, people would be a lot more cognizant of their own behavior and, I think, gentler with you. Unless you have reason to believe that it would harm your career, or that someone would weaponize it against you emotionally, there’s fairly little risk in admitting what plenty of people go through. I wish you the best in your journey!

  103. Belle8bete*

    I’m sorry OP. this all sucks.

    Taking your strange gift seeking coworker out of the equation, you have to remember that your office can’t read your mind. I know it seems unfair, but I think if you want to not appear as odd but get space to deal with this, you will have to tell someone what you are going through. Normal humans will respect you and be compassionate, and honestly there are probably many other people in your office who have gone through that same struggle. But unless you say something, no one will have any reason to ease off. I’m sorry.

  104. JoAnna*

    I’ve miscarried four times (all while working full-time) so I can sympathize. If you google “Coping with miscarriage at work JoAnna Wahlund,” you can find a link to an article I wrote on my blog about it.

    If you’re comfortable with it, I would encourage sharing your struggles with your coworkers. I think you’ll find you’ll be willing to offer you a lot of support, and it will make any emotional difficulties you have more understandable. Plus, people will probably be less willing to discuss pregnancy around you if they know you are struggling.

    I am so sorry for your losses.

  105. Mirea*

    This is heartbreaking and I haven’t had time to read all the comments but I did want to say my piece.

    LW, be very kind and gentle with yourself. Be patient with your feelings and allow yourself to acknowledge and sit with them for a moment. I have not been in your shoes but I have had dark times when I struggled to hold it together at work. One thing that helped me was telling myself “no crying right now but I can cry all I want on the drive home.” It really, really helped.

    Is there anyone at work you’d be willing to confide in? Someone discreet and trustworthy? It’s a heavy burden to carry by yourself all day. Just knowing someone gets it when you have to hear another pregnancy announcement, who’s willing to be a shoulder if you need one for a few minutes, can help a lot too.

  106. CJ*

    I haven’t read all the comments (and this might get lost after so many!), but I have been in your shoes, OP. I am not a big crier but I 100% cried at work when I told my manager (who I wasn’t close with) that I couldn’t attend an at-work baby shower because I had just gone through a miscarriage and didn’t trust myself to put on happy face for the shower.

    I think therapy would help, but in the interim, just know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. So many women have gone through this and every time you feel alienated at work, know that we all are sending you hugs and supporting you. It sounds like you are genuinely happy for others you work with who are pregnant, which is great, but try to take any unwittingly insensitive comments with a grain of salt. It’s really difficult to understand this type of loss unless you’ve directly experienced it. It can feel like a whole different world when you are in the midst of it. Remind yourself that others don’t have the full picture, and go easy on yourself for however you feel and want to act. Excuse yourself from any celebration politely and don’t feel guilty.

    I’ve had several friends experience miscarriage, too, and we have all gone on to have healthy pregnancies/babies. I know it can be difficult to have hope, but we all carry hope for you. I’m so sorry that you have had to go through this and will be looking forward to reading your update with happy news in the future.

  107. Still Standing*

    This exact scenario happened to me. I had a traumatic second trimester loss, and two weeks later a coworker announced a pregnancy. I was also new to the company, so every time I met a colleague from another location, everyone wanted to know about kids and family. It’s normal small talk for most, but for people like us it feels like death by a thousand cuts.

    I called out sick the day of the baby shower, because there was just no way.

    I highly agree with others who recommend counseling. I did not get the counseling I needed at the time, and didn’t take care of myself. Turns out, you can still have postpartum depression even if you don’t end up with a live birth. I wish someone would have told me that.

    Now, here I am two years later, freshly diagnosed with PTSD and still struggling with my mental health as a result of it all.

    All my thoughts are with you. It’s so hard. I am sorry you are dealing with this.

  108. Anonymous Poster*

    I’m sorry this happened. It’s awful.

    My wife (I’m a man) has suffered multiple miscarriages in an environment where others around her were pregnant. Fortunately they were understanding and knew about her miscarriages, which sounds like a very different situation from yours. I know it doesn’t help answer your question, but they best way to go will really vary with where you are and your workplace.

    For me, we thought everything was fine and I shared with my bosses the pregnancies and then the miscarriages. Oddly, female bosses were much, much more understanding than male bosses, and told me to take sick time. I was really happy they did that because I didn’t realize how I was mourning the loss too. I’m not comparing it to your situation or my wife’s, because they’re very different. What I’m getting at is at least for me, I’ve found female bosses (if you have any) to be incredibly understanding of the situation and able to run superb cover in a way a male boss might not know how.

    As for that one coworker… That’s crazy. And it sucks. I think you’ll handle it best, because frankly no one would really hold against you saying (quite loudly), ‘Oh, I’m sorry, are you here asking me why I didn’t create a handmade gift for you for a shower you didn’t invite me to?’ or anything else along those lines.

  109. Oh no, not another Jennifer*

    I’m sorry you are going through this.

    I want to share what helped me:
    Individual therapy really helped me to compartmentalize someone else’s joy from my own loss to the point that I could go to these functions again. I didn’t really like going to the infertility group I was in but I would still recommend that.
    Even now, I mentally prepare myself by using some of the phrases my therapist and I worked out before a shower or gender reveal and then take a few hours to myself afterward.
    For me, it felt like someone close to me passed away but I couldn’t tell anyone other than my husband. Having a therapist to listen really helped me work through those feelings of grief, loss, shame, and anger.
    On days where I just couldn’t, I would schedule an appointment and put money on a group gift. My mental health was more important.
    Also, people tried to cheer me up by suggesting adoption. We did adopt but it didn’t change the grief. I became a person grieving a loss and a new mom. I’m not disparaging adoption. But I wasn’t the kind of mom I wanted to be because I wasn’t in the right head space. I just wish that I had attended therapy sooner and that someone had said “you have experienced a loss and it is ok to grieve.”
    I hope that helps.

  110. Ophelia*

    OP, I’m so sorry for your losses. I’ve been in a similar boat, and some things I found helpful were:
    – I did talk to a few people about what exactly was going on – these were my boss and two co-workers who I trust a lot. They were able to help me structure some leave (at the time, my company didn’t have any sort of designated leave for miscarriages), covered work for me for a couple of days, and generally did the “oh, family emergency” explanation for me while I was out.
    – I also did focus on the people are not having babies “at me” concept, which, while it’s not always easy in the moment, was a good hook to come back to when I had some breathing space.
    – I also did more self-care type stuff outside of work – I set aside time to go to the gym, I talked to a therapist, I read novels. Obviously what works for you vs. me will be different, but carving out time for something that you personally enjoy (and also a therapist who specializes in pregnancy loss) might be really helpful.

    Finally, and YMMV on this, it just so happened that some other women in my company wanted to improve our family leave policies, and we successfully negotiated to include miscarriage as a legitimate reason to bill bereavement leave time. I don’t know if there’s something comparable for you, but doing something that felt like it would benefit others who were in my position down the line was good for me.

  111. Lauren19*

    I am so so sorry for your losses. I had three miscarriages in 12 months and it impacts every fiber of your being. What people don’t realize is that even when you’re not talking fertility and pregnancy, it’s ALWAYS on your mind. I’m glad you have someone to talk to. That’s what saved me — having a trusted friend in the office I could go to at tough times. The other thing I realized is that you never know what a family has to go through to have children. All we see are pregnant bellies and babies. We don’t always know the back story — how many miscarriages or IVF cycles did it take to get there? How many emotional roller coasters and close calls were there in the process?

    The other thing that helped me was finding a therapist who specializes in pregnancy and infant loss. Miscarriages need grieving , and finding someone to help you through that is so important. I’m thinking of you OP.

  112. ManderGimlet*

    OP I am so so sorry you are going through this! For what it’s worth, I think that your coworkers are being real dickheads. I saw some of your follow up comments and it seems to me that some of them have sussed out what’s up but instead of being compassionate they are choosing to be exclusionary and cruel.

    Given that, talk to your boss. Ask about working from home, support programs that you may be able to access through HR or your benefit plan. If your boss totally sucks go straight to HR and see what they can do for you. There are so many women who have been through this, you do not have to bear it alone. Living the truth of your pain does not have to be a “downer” to other women in the joy of pregnancy; there is nothing wrong with you and you are understandably hurting after such traumatizing experiences. Find your tribe, there are surely others who have gone through what you are enduring now and who can support you. If you aren’t already, see a therapist or support group. You have experienced real, terrible loss, honor that experience and give yourself all the help you deserve.

  113. Najomis*

    OP, so sorry you’re going through this. Your feelings are totally valid and it’s ok to feel them.

    I’m pregnant and in the announcing stage. Your post inspired me to consider how I tell coworkers. When telling friends who have gone through fertility struggles, I told them in writing (text or email) so they had time to process before we talked or saw each other.
    I was going to announce my pregnancy on Monday at our all-staff meeting, but you’ve inspired me to give my coworkers (who may have had their own struggles with infertility) the same courtesy as I would give my friends. I’ll tell them in writing on Friday and give people the space to process rather than announcing in person, probably with a note that says I’m very happy to chat about it if people stop by my office, but prefer not to bring it up at staff meetings or with clients.

    Hugs to you, OP and everyone who is fighting that fight.

    1. OP*

      Thank you so much for this. For the very few coworkers who sent an email or text to announce their pregnancy, it was much better to deal with emotionally because I had some physical and mental distance from the announcement. I don’t want to limit how others announce important news, but I greatly appreciate the coworkers who give us (women going through this issue) space to process the announcements. It was a lot easier to cry in my office after getting an email instead of running out of a meeting to cry!

  114. Infertile Myrtle*

    OP – I’m so sorry this is happening to you. When I went through a similar situation (the worst 6 years of my life), I found therapy very helpful. It took a couple tries to find someone who was actually good for me, but it happened. RESOLVE has a lot of resources on their website, and your local Reproductive Endocrinologist may also host a support group or have therapists they recommend.
    I tended to be ultra transparent about my medical issues, even in the office, because I’ve always thought its a good way to erase the stigma associated with talking about infertility and pregnancy issues/loss; however, I work in healthcare/public health adjacent industries. I would say that ultra transparency is not for the faint of heart though, and if I had to do it over, I would not have been so open about what was going on. For some office busy bodies, I became an unending source of fascination and I f@cking hated it.
    And I can tell you there are other people in your office who are sitting in that meeting dreading the announcements too. Almost 25% of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. (Honestly, sometimes I am surprised humans can get pregnant at all with all the stuff that has to go just right to make an embryo and get it to stick around.) I am now almost nine years away from my loss, and have a 2 year old daughter (conceived with IVF) and I *still* get anxiety (and sometimes jealousy) about other people’s pregnancy announcements.
    One more thing, consider making something beautiful for yourself! I am a fellow crafter who spends a lot of time making shit for other people, but in the middle of the bad years, I made something for myself and it eased my heart a bit. Crafting can be self care! Much love to you, OP.

    1. J.B.*

      Therapy is great, but you have to find the right therapist. Going through RESOLVE (or asking her friend who had IVF to ask around) is probably a good idea. Unfortunately some therapists go with “just relax” which is…not helpful.

  115. Zev*

    Hi, OP.

    I will read thru the comments when I get home from work. For now, I have no advice. But I am on the same planet as you (2 mc last year, now tapped to cover for a coworker about to go on mat leave 2 weeks before my expected due date).

    The most helpful thing my rabbi said to me after my first mc was “I have no words.” Because there really are no words for this, and even people who have been through it too can’t possibly have the words you need.

    The most helpful thing my therapist said to me was, “This is a trauma. You have been through a *trauma*.”

    So I guess just…. remember just because your trauma is invisible to people, doesnt make it not real. It’s a trauma. You are recovering from a trauma. Your feelings are real and valid. Your needs are real and valid. Do what you need to do, and be gentle to yourself.


  116. Buffy Loren*

    Hi, OP. I am exclusively a lurker here, but your letter resonates with me because I have been through a very similar situation as you, and I’d like to offer my perspective in hopes that it will help you a little.

    Briefly: About 6-7 months ago I found out I was pregnant, while I was working in a small, female-dominated, very close knit office. By the time I hit 3 months the whole office knew – my colleagues were so excited they blabbed to our bosses, besides which I was showing too much to hide it (I later found out I was carrying twins). I miscarried at 14 weeks, took a week of personal leave, and had to endure a month of questions, stories, and expressions of concern from my colleagues, and tasteless jokes from my boss (he was not a nice person). I spent a lot of time crying in the washroom.

    What I took away from this was that it was MY experience, not other people’s, and I got to dictate how I handled it. If I needed to cry, I excused myself. If I didn’t want to talk about it, I wouldn’t. You get this right, too. Take a hard line on giving yourself what you need. Meetings and inconsiderate co-workers can wait.

    You mentioned you have confided in one colleague – is it possible to enlist her help? If you need to excuse yourself, can she shut down peoples’ questions? Even a smile from across the meeting room can fortify you. Knowing that someone understands and has your back can make a huge difference.

    One final thought – you are a creative person, which is a wonderful gift. Please use it on yourself if you aren’t already, and please comfort yourself.

    1. CJ*

      Glad to see you use past tense to describe that boss and hope you don’t have to deal with him again. What an awful person to make jokes. I hope you are in a better place now!

  117. Peaches*

    I’m so sorry, OP. I don’t deal with this at work per se (I’m the youngest employee by 20 years), but I’m dealing with a similar struggle in my personal life. My husband and I are young, and have been trying to conceive for 8 months. We’ve both been checked out with no issues, so we’re not sure why it hasn’t happened. In the time we’ve been trying, my sister and several close friends have gotten pregnant (some are now pretty far along). It’s SUCH a tough thing. Lots of tears along the way.

    My best advice would be to talk to close friends or perhaps a pastor (if you have one) about this. I’ve found that openly discussing my troubles with trusted friends has really helped me. My husband and I also have several friends who have struggled with the same thing, and we find them especially great to talk with (especially since they’ve all now had successful pregnancies!)

    Best of luck! I hope and pray you have a bundle of joy soon.

    1. Peaches*

      Also, as much as it hurts me to see so many women going through this, it’s also comforting to know that we’re NOT alone. Infertility and miscarriages are such a taboo subject, and it’s easy to feel so lonely in this journey. Hope you all have successful pregnancies soon.

  118. Erin*

    Disclaimer – I have not suffered a miscarriage, although have had infertility issues, but I thought I’d throw my two cents in.

    I think this is going to be a balance in how comfortable you are sharing versus having to hear all the baby talk. If people knew, I’m sure they would be more sensitive, but of course this stuff is no one’s business.

    But I would lean towards transparency. For what it’s worth, this is a topic that more and more women are opening up about – it’s slowly becoming not as hush hush as it used to be.

    I’d suggest two things, depending on your comfort level:

    1) You could go back to that one co-worker and say something like, “I wanted to let you know, I didn’t make you a baby gift because I’m dealing with miscarriages and it’s just too hard for me. I am genuinely thrilled for you, really, and I don’t want you to feel like you can’t share stories or pictures of your baby at work, but I’m finding I need to distance myself at least somewhat from all the baby stuff here. I just wanted to let you know so you didn’t think it was personal.”

    2) Find someone you click with at work (if it’s the above person, great! One less person to talk to about this) and let them know what you’re going through. Ask them to discreetly let a few other people at the company know, emphasizing that you don’t want people walking on eggshells around you or not announcing their pregnacies, but so people understand if you need to excuse yourself from a conversation or meeting. Then you don’t have to have the same difficult conversation nine times. If that sounds like WAY too much, maybe just let your boss know, so she will understand if you do duck out of a meeting.

    My heart is with you, best of luck!

  119. Mrs. D*

    OP, you have my deepest sympathies. I can only imagine how hard it is to go through this and still try to juggle work life on top of a tsunami of emotion. First off, as others have said, no one is entitled to a gift. Your co-worker was out of line to ask/demand a hand-made gift of you. If, IF you still want to give her something, perhaps consider a gift card to a baby store. It would show you’re thinking of her but is a little less personal, and so perhaps can be given without the deeper emotion that a hand-made gift could entail on your end. Do not feel guilty about taking this option if you choose to. You have to do what’s best for your mental health and someone’s desire to get a gift does not trump that. Give yourself permission to let go of any guilt you may have over that.

    Second, I add to the suggestions about therapy and strongly recommend you consider it if you haven’t started already. From your letter, it seems like you’re struggling with how to handle the emotion your situation is bringing up. Make no mistake, it is absolutely valid for you to feel what you feel. But therapists are the perfect resource to help you learn ways to focus or manage your reaction when these emotions arise. When you feel like you’re at the end of your emotional rope, it’s time to reach out and ask/let someone else to lend a hand. That doesn’t mean you’ll never cry again (that’s a completely normal response to what you’re feeling), but you will learn more ways to regain a more peaceful equilibrium.

  120. Maya*

    I have been in a similar situation and in the end, found it very helpful to be open with my department about my miscarriages. Women often don’t talk about miscarriage, but doing so can normalize it and cause others to think twice about their words or actions that they might not otherwise realize could upset you. It’s gotten to the point where I almost thrill at being asked by a cowkrer when I’ll have a second child (so rude!) because then I can stare people down, explain my medical condition, and make them feel like shit for having asked. It’s their problem, not mine. I also hope that if I talk openly about my history, others will feel comfortable doing so as well.

    I bet if people knew about your miscarriages, they’d think twice before springing pregnancy announcements at the start of meetings, and might instead opt for an e-mail announcement to the larger team. And if not, suggest it to someone.

    1. Nora*

      So true! I hate when people put their nose where it doesn’t belong. When someone looks at my 10-year old says “Oh she would love to have a brother or sister” and I respond with “We lost two, a girl and a boy. We are grateful to have our oldest daughter here with us.” The lshock and embarrassment and apologies are education that they needed, because they just assumed too much.

  121. Maya*

    OP, I’m so so sorry. I am currently going through something extremely similar: 3 women were pregnant besides me and I had not announced yet. I would get comments from my director like “there’s something in the water – you’re not allowed to get pregnant!”

    I wound up losing the baby, my first. And I had severe complications from my D&C that wound up taking months to diagnose, required three surgeries with no guarantee they’d restore my fertility and I just got the all-clear to try again…1 year after I originally got pregnant in the first place.

    During that time, a remote coworker came in and announced her pregnancy (due at the same time as I had been) and held a gender reveal party next to my desk. I was literally blocked in and couldn’t leave. I just faced forward and quietly cried at my desk. One woman brought in her new baby and our coworker looked me dead in the eye and said “maybe this will finally light a fire under you to have one.” I sulked away from my desk and had a panic attack in the bathroom for a hour and a half.

    You can have these feelings of anger and sadness and rage about your own experience, be happy for someone else and still not want to discuss it – they’re not mutually exclusive. It’s important to acknowledge you can feel the way you feel and allow yourself that space without guilt.

    If you’re like me, you may not feel comfortable letting people know what you’ve been going through. Many people don’t respect boundaries and will ask you about it anyhow because they’re “concerned” (read: nosy), and I found the anxiety around that to be crushing. I’ve seen a few women get pushed out of my company because they had to take leave due to pregnancy complications and I don’t want to take that chance either should I need additional treatments. So I didn’t find sharing my experience with anyone at my office to be a viable option.

    Therapy is extremely helpful and one of the only things that’s gotten me through this year. It taught me how to move through these feelings. That and headphones at your desk (if you’re able) to avoid baby talk. Some days you just don’t want to speak to anyone and just want to hunker down to concentrate on work. Rediscover some of your favorite music, explore new artists, or find a great podcast to get in to. It really helped lift my spirits.

    Good luck, and please know you are not alone.

    1. delta cat*

      Oh noooooo. I have no words. Just … no no no nononononooooooo. Your coworkers suck. Glad you’ve found some ways to cope but …. nooooooooooo.

      1. OP*

        I just had a very visceral reaction reading about how your coworkers treated you. I’m so sorry you went through that. <3

        1. Maya*

          Thanks everyone. I know there was no malice behind any of it, but it’s still infuriating. Comments like this would set me off before I was ever pregnant because women don’t have children for a variety of reasons (prior to this, mine were career and lifestyle focused). It sucks being in this weird place where people pressure you to talk about your loss to reduce stigma (which I agree is a completely valid point), but at the same time, you don’t feel like you can talk about it because there are repercussions for your career/you don’t want to be bombarded with a million questions you don’t have the answers to. Will you try again? CAN you try again? Naturally? IVF? Have you considered surrogacy? Adoption? It’s all so personal and overwhelming when you don’t know, and everyone has *thoughts*. Someday when I have an answer – ANY answer – I’ll feel open to talking about it, but it’s too much right now with so many unknowns. You may or may not feel the same way, and you shouldn’t let anyone pressure you to disclose this very personal experience if you’re not ready. Don’t feel guilty for excusing yourself and having a moment to process.

      2. Indie*

        I know, Im in a cold sweat of rage over the ‘light a fire’ comment. Why are some people so deeply, deeply fucked up?

        1. Maya*

          The craziest part is this coworker has been vocal about how she wanted to have children but could not. I’ve experienced that women who have had difficultly with fertility can often be the nosiest. Makes no sense…

  122. Nora*

    I’ve been in sort of similar situation, having been with the seem team for over 10yrs. My coworkers were having babies one after the other, while after having my first child, I couldn’t get pregnant for 10 years. Then I got pregnant and was totally excited. Unfortunately, that pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Six months later I was pregnant with our son, but his heart stopped at 20 weeks. I chose to speak up about my losses. If you think about it, when you lose a pregnancy, there is no obituary, memorial, funeral, etc. All those things that help you grieve are nonexistent. Silently suffering makes it even worse. When I spoke up, people I would have never expected to share, actually shared that their wife/sister/friend had losses and they can relate to it. Miscarriage sucks and 1 out of 4 or 5 women will lose the pregnancy. It is part of life and we need to talk about it. It will help you find peace.
    Shortly after my last loss, I got a tattoe with two butterflies. People sometimes ask about it and I proudly tell them that this is to memorialize my two lost babies. I can’t have any more kids, but because my first loss was made public, it made it easier to take time off after the second loss. People don’t read mind and don’t think about pregnancy loss until it happens to them. Find the courage to speak up, maybe just to a handful of your closest friends and coworkers. It will get easier afterwards.

  123. Pennycrest*

    OP – I feel for you. I had a similar experience, I frequently travel for work and ended up miscarrying at 12 weeks mid-flight, ended up getting robbed en route to a hospital, and was in a random place for medical treatment and then flew home. The next day (yes I went into work, I probably shouldn’t have) my colleague announced she was expecting in a team meeting. I was still fragile physically/emotionally and it tore me up bad. I ended up disclosing my situation to a colleague who I thought would keep my secret, but ended up telling my boss and team. It created a painful and emotional few months.
    As a regular reader, I took Allison’s advice of recognizing the elephant in the room when it exists in a professional and heart felt manner since this was more personal. I planned what I would say to my colleague who was expecting and when there was a chance for us to have a more private conversation, I let her know I was happy for her and hope she understood that I would be supportive but may need some distance from pregnancy talk because of the hard situation. She understood, and felt really bad about the timing. I won’t say it’s been easy because other work related things and I was always anxious at work because the whole office knew, but “didn’t know”. Anyway, I talked to my physician at my wellness exam and she had a complete blood panel run and recommended I go on a low dose of anti anxiety medication. I was not on board with this at first, but I was desperate for a solution that would allow me to be a better wife, employee, functioning member of society. The meds, coupled with the discovery of some nutrient/vitamins deficiencies has put a path forward for me to feel better physically and emotionally. I had four friends/coworkers deliver babies within 3 weeks of my due date, and the holidays were hard. That being said, the medicine and getting refortified with the right vitamins has made it all survivable. I can enjoy their bundles of joy without wanting to mourn the loss of my own.
    Honestly, I would recommend talking to your colleague and letting her know that you haven’t been creative personally because of a traumatic miscarriage during [season]. I’d also really encourage you to make sure you are doing everything to take care of yourself emotionally/physically.
    I wish you healing in every way and sending you a big warm hug to you.

  124. Colorado*

    Hi OP. I don’t have time to read the comments but if it helps, I want you to know you are not alone. I worked in a similar place, lots of woman at the pregnancy stage of their lives. I suffered three miscarriages and lost an infant son at 4 days old over the course of 6 years at the same place. I never attended baby showers, I would politely bow and take myself to lunch or leave the premises (if they were onsite). I was transparent if I felt comfortable with certain people. I won’t lie, it was a terrible time in my life. After the 3rd miscarriage, I went on FMLA for about a month. That helped. I did find some solace in the March of Dimes website chat groups. At least I didn’t feel so alone. After I lost my son, I went on leave again for about 8 weeks. I never did go to therapy, which I should have as it’s been 13 years and I can’t hold my shit together on his birthday, I usually call in sick that day. I’m sorry you are going through this, I have no magic answer or remedy. You have to allow yourself to grieve, be angry, scream in your car, go for a walk when you feel the tears come, take sick time or a leave and keep trying. Just keep trying. My happy ending is I have a 7-year-old daughter. I’m glad I didn’t give up but it’s okay if the pain gets to be too much. Take a break then. I’m going to attach a poem below. It got me through the darkest of days. If it’s too much for this thread, I’ll ask that Alison delete it. There’s a lot of us rooting for you.

    1. Colorado*

      There are women that become mothers without effort, without thought, without patience or loss and though they are good mothers and love their children, I know that I will be better.
      I will be better not because of genetics, or money, or that I have read more books but because I have struggled and toiled for this child.
      I have longed and waited. I have cried and prayed.
      I have endured and planned over and over again.
      Like most things in life, the people who truly have appreciation are those who have struggled to attain their dreams.
      I will notice everything about my child.
      I will take time to watch my child sleep, explore and discover. I will marvel at this miracle every day for the rest of my life.
      I will be happy when I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of my child, knowing that I can comfort, hold and feed him and that I am not waking to take another temperature, pop another pill, take another shot or cry tears of a broken dream. My dream will be crying for me.
      I count myself lucky in this sense; that God has given me this insight, this special vision with which I will look upon my child that my friends will not see.
      Whether I parent a child I actually give birth to or a child that God leads me to, I will not be careless with my love.
      I will be a better mother for all that I have endured. I am a better wife, a better aunt, a better daughter, neighbor, friend and sister because I have known pain.
      I know disillusionment as I have been betrayed by my own body. I have been tried by fire and hell many never face, yet given time, I stood tall.
      I have prevailed.
      I have succeeded.
      I have won.
      So now, when others hurt around me, I do not run from their pain in order to save myself discomfort. I see it, mourn it, and join them in theirs.
      I listen.
      And even though I cannot make it better, I can make it less lonely. I have learned the immense power of another hand holding tight to mine, of other eyes that moisten as they learn to accept the harsh truth and when life is beyond hard. I have learned a compassion that only comes with walking in those shoes.
      I have learned to appreciate life.
      Yes I will be a wonderful mother.

      Author Unknown

  125. M*

    I’m so sorry.

    I’m a boss with an employee who has had multiple miscarriages, and I’m finding these comments really helpful – I love Ophelia’s idea of including miscarriage as a reason for bereavement leave, and will see if I can incorporate something like that into our policies.

    I’m glad that I know and am definitely happy to do what I can, like schedule flexibility for therapy appointments (not that I wouldn’t do that for other employees too!), or emailing or texting her ahead of time if I know someone’s bringing a baby to visit. I appreciate when she communicates about what’s going on and what she needs – I don’t need to know all the personal details, but it helps me do my job to know that it’s something she’s struggling with, and I want to help where I can (but don’t want to be over-solicitous either).

    1. Ophelia*

      FWIW, I think this is a really good approach – you’re providing her with the systems and scaffold she needs to get through this professionally, rather than being too personal/or emotional – it’s a nice way to be empathetic and human in a work context. I’m glad she has such a great boss!

  126. Missouri Girl in Louisiana*

    We all deal with this in our own way and I think many of the answers show that the OP has a community, at least,here who do support her. I have found, even cyber-ly, support and love when I go through tough times.
    I did the infertility thing in the 90s and ended up adopting (even after hearing about having your own baby is really important and you should just keep trying-as an adopted person, i was a bit offended by this on several levels). I did experience a miscarriage after the third in vitro (what a cruel trick, right?) and I struggled until I adopted my baby. I have since learned it’s ok to feel down-but not let it consume you and we all have to find ways to cope with the ‘unfairness’ of life (I’m dealing with one right now after being forced out of a job unfairly), but you cannot remain locked in yourself. If it’s a therapist, if it’s a trusted friend, if it’s a safe internet community, if it’s facebook group that’s safe, if it’s just reading and rereading the amazing and loving comments here…find it. Embrace it. And not all people will understand the miscarriage issue either, so be prepared (I had a dear friend apologize to me several years later because she just didn’t get it but realized how devastating it was. She felt bad that she should have shown more sympathy. That meant-and still means so much to me even today).

    We don’t know what our future will hold but we must not let others or other events dictate our lives. I know it’s not easy. It isn’t and I’m not gonna lie. I know there are those times when you wonder why that person can have a baby on a whim and you just struggle. Think of it this your mind’s eye, step outside of you and your world and get a wider world vision. I know it sounds a bit new age-ish and all but, for me, it helps get me out of my own self.

    I wish you love and peace and sending whatever I can, via the fragile threads that connect us all. You have a lot of love and support from people you’ve never met and you know what, sometimes, that’s a really nice thing to know.

  127. WorkLady*

    OP, I’m so sorry. That’s so painful, and I think your feelings are quite normal.

    I’m more than a little surprised that in a department of that many women of child-bearing age, not one of them can put 2 and 2 together, and figure out why you’d leave the room and show signs of tears after a pregnancy announcement. That’s not particularly hard math and I feel sorry for you that they aren’t thinking harder about why you might feel badly.

    1. OP*

      They might have figured it out, but don’t want to talk to me about it unless I bring it up? My coworker who I confided in figured it out and approached me about it (because she was going through something similar and recognized the signs), which is why I disclosed it to her.

  128. Still Learning to Cope*

    I am so sorry you’re going through this. It never ceases to amaze and sadden me how many women are going through this. You are so much not alone and I really hope you know that. Going through multiple losses is so horrible, and trying to do it silently is so much worse.

    A little background…
    I started my current job about 4 months after a still birth (my first loss). I had been talking to the company for almost a year, and they knew I was pregnant. The offer to come in and chat with President came with an offer to bring my son with me, and I had to start by telling her I’d lost him. A couple of weeks after I started she (not thinking) asked me to cover the accounts of a colleague about to go on maternity leave. I started crying in the middle of the office and ducked into the bathroom. She followed, apologized profusely and assigned the accounts somewhere else. That colleague works 100% remotely (I now manage her), and sometimes I can hear her daughter during our one on ones. I generally like her, but it’s still horrible every time I hear the baby sounds and I have to concentrate to not let it completely derail me — and also to make sure that I’m not letting my feelings about her life change how I manage her. I should say this though – our team video chats a lot, except for her. Our boss clued her in to what I was going through, and I think she stays off video chat because the baby is with her a lot. Every time we have a vendor meeting and they asked how the baby is, she shuts the conversation down quickly. She also won’t put the baby on screen if I’m in the room ever. It’s a small thing, but it’s huge.

    Another coworker had her baby shower on the anniversary of my still birth. I wasn’t in the office that day, but the email announcement — just seeing the date — was a punch in the gut. I asked for the card to not hit my desk, but of course it did anyways, and I had to struggle not to cry in the middle of the office for the millionth time this year. The woman who sits behind me thought I was insane as I waved the card in her face and asked her to put it anywhere else. She caught on after a minute, signed it for me and told me that I didn’t have to explain anything. That was in November… we just passed the anniversary of his due date this week and it sucks so much I can’t even tell you. As an added bonus, I lost my second pregnancy on Christmas Eve.

    I haven’t been open with everyone about what I’m going through, but I’d say a good half of the office and all of the leadership knows at this point. They’ve been incredibly supportive and it’s helped a lot. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that kind of relationship with their management, and I know it can be awkward if your boss is a man, but if being open is an option, I would recommend it. I have absolutely showed up to company meetings late or told my boss I was worried about announcements impacting me. I can’t always walk out, but knowing she’s aware of my emotional state helps. I don’t know if you’ve started any fertility treatments, but I’m about to start my first round of clomid (which I’ve heard can screw with your emotions) and I gave her a heads up. I’ve also talked to her about how I’m afraid travel will impact the different appointments I need through the month, and she’s been so supportive.

    I’ve found so many strange places of support this year. It came up in a client meeting one day, and I found out my client had gone through so many miscarriages that the number still makes my head spin. She gave me the contact information for a local group (more on that in a minute), and every time we talk asks me how I’m doing. She’s one of a small handful of people who know about my Christmas miscarriage and I know how sad she was for me. It’s one of those things that doesn’t make it better, but somehow not being alone still helps.

    I also ended up telling one of the men on my team recently. Holidays are so busy for us and I was such a mess. I was at appointments every few days and the doctors kept telling us the pregnancy didn’t look healthy. Even when I was at work I couldn’t concentrate and I know it really severely impacted one specific member of my team. After it was all over I pulled him aside. I wasn’t planning on telling him everything, just apologizing for the impact my personal issues had on his holiday. But when it came to it, I let him know and he shared some similar struggles that he’d been through with his wife.

    Back to the support group thing… my husband and I never did therapy and I’ve hit the end of my rope with people suggesting it. It’s right for some people, it’s not for others. BUT joining the local support group (which is really a yoga class, but designed for women struggling with infertility), was a huge help. It’s a chance to talk to other women about what we’re going through, share stories, and make connections. My client described it as the best worst club you can ever belong to, because as much as you never want anyone to join, the group of women are so supportive and helpful. Besides that, I’ve learned so much I didn’t know and didn’t know to ask. It’s not for everyone, and I was apprehensive at first, but I would recommend finding someone(s) to talk to, who have been through it or are going through it. I love my friends and they’re amazing, but none of them are trying to get pregnant and they really don’t understand. If there’s nothing local, or that feels like too much, there’s online communities as well.
    If it helps, this is the one I’m a part of:
    I am in both the Nurture and Ignite programs.

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I hope the above helps, if only in knowing that you’re not alone in circumstance or feelings or anxiety in navigating pregnancies at work.

  129. RNL*

    Oh, OP, I’m so sorry.

    I had three miscarriages between 8 and 11 weeks and three chemical pregnancies between 4 and 5 weeks in just about 1.5 years, and it was (and is) agony. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It’s a unique pain, and can be so incredibly isolating.

    My reflection for you is that I have been quite open about my miscarriages, and that has helped immensely. Yes, I have dealt with a lot of shitty comments, but for me having people know about my experiences has been healing and helpful, sometimes in ways I think I don’t even know about. Yes, it hurts to sometimes realize that I have been left off birth announcement lists, but it’s way better than getting those birth announcements. I have also connected with so many people who have also struggled but did not know how to talk about it.

    Being open is not for everyone, and has its drawbacks, but it has helped.

  130. Nox*

    It sounds like you need therapy or a support group to help you navigate the complicated emotions yo prevent yourself from being consumed by the pain.

    People who have never experienced loss like that are going to continue to not give a crud and do whatever so its important to have a network around that understands you.

  131. MyDevon*

    Im so sorry OP. Ive suffered 2 miscarriages and the last one (2 years ago) has a profound effect on me everyday. I work with a much smaller group of people, but get asked if i’m planning on having children. Im very matter of fact about both miscarriages and i usually get the uncomfortable im sorry, and sometimes added God is looking out for you or theres always adoption comments. My coworkers dont act differently when announcing pregnancies and such, which im grateful for, a normalcy.

  132. Cats on a Bench*

    LW, I’m so sorry for your loss. I have been there and endured some of the thoughtless comments. Then I got brave and just told people what was going on. I think it’s unfortunate that we (society) are uncomfortable talking about stuff like miscarriage. Because if we talked about it more, then you would have felt comfortable in the moment to explain to the people who asked why you were upset during that announcement. People could say “oh, i’m so sorry” and move on without you having to deal with any repercussions from it. But really, we do need to talk about it more because it helps those of us who are going through it to heal. At least it did for me. I didn’t need people to pity me or say anything more than “I’m so sorry”. I just needed to be able to say it happened and to be able to cry because I was sad or because it was my baby’s due date and I had no baby to hold, or because I accidentally walked down the diaper aisle in the grocery store. I miscarried a few days before xmas 11 years ago and this past past xmas was the first one I didn’t specifically think about that baby and wonder what could have been. I have other living children, but I still mourn the loss of that one. People don’t realize that miscarriage can have that affect on women because we don’t talk about it. For the letter writer and others going through miscarriage, it does get easier to navigate when it’s not so fresh. But while you’re mourning, and you are mourning, your co-workers should know that you are. They’ll understand your reactions to all these pregnancy and birth announcements better with that context. I would say something. Not to the group as a whole, but maybe to one of them who has asked why you left the meeting so upset. Just tell her. Or the (rude) one asking about the gift, tell her the truth. “I’m happy for you, but I didn’t have it in me to make cute baby things because I just had my third miscarriage and I’m still grieving my baby right now.” Let them spread the info around. Then maybe the office will be more considerate toward you in the future. The more we open up about miscarriage, the easier it will be for future mothers who end up going through it too because they might have more support than we did.

    1. Sam Sepiol*

      My miscarriage was almost a decade ago and I have a kid now and I still HATE any and all baby stuff aisles in shops. Clothes, nappies, furniture, toys: I can deal on a good day but on a bad day if I take a wrong turn, my GOD the pain. It sucks.

  133. BTDT*

    OP – I could have written your post. 3 rounds of IVF, multiple miscarriages here. I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this. It sucks. I took a few days off work after my last miscarriage and the day I came back to work a coworker said to me, “Everyone around here’s having kids. When’s your turn?” I just stared at him because I couldn’t think of a single response that didn’t involve punching him in the face. I stared at him so long that it got really awkward and he eventually turned around and walked away. (He never brought up the subject again, thankfully.) Anyway, my advice to you is two-fold. One, it’s ok to go home (or to the bathroom or your car) and cry sometimes. You’re going through something very hard and it’s not possible to be happy all day every day. Second, is a piece of advice I got from a fellow IFer: Try to be the person you’d be proud of when you get past this and look back on your journey. If you have any role models in your life of other people suffering through health issues with dignity and a positive attitude, draw inspiration from them. It’s not possible to react well 100% of the time so don’t get down on yourself if you need to bite someone’s head off every so often because I know the comments can push you over the edge at times. But for well-meaning people, in the moment, it really helped me to channel someone else that I really looked up to. For me it was a person who went through several bouts of cancer and never seemed bitter. You will get through this. You’re in the trenches now but it WILL get easier. And when it does and you remember all these little vignettes you’re living through right now, you will feel so, so good about the times you looked misery in the face and reacted with kindness (even if you know you were faking it at the time). Play the long game. Best of luck to you.

  134. Colorado*

    One more quick comment. This post brought back a lot of pain for me today but I was also comforted to hear I’m not alone, as I hope OP finds some solace in that too. Then I open Yahoo (I know!) and see another story about a POS who abused a baby. A lot of people suck.

  135. Sam Sepiol*

    My miscarriage nearly broke me completely. It was nearly ten years ago and it’s only int the last couple of years I’ve had bereavement counselling and come anywhere close to accepting what happened. So I feel your pain, and I wish this wasn’t something you had to deal with, and I send you strength.

    Also, bereavement counselling was really, really helpful for me although obviously YMMV.

  136. Sparkly Librarian*

    My sympathies to everyone going through this. I wish I had more advice. Last year I experienced a failed adoption, where we brought the baby home and told everyone at work that I was going on family leave… and then had to retract all that just as suddenly. Monthly meetings with the group of colleagues who really celebrated the baby’s arrival have been difficult since. Even though I’ve done a lot of grieving and am much better in the day-to-day now, once a month it gets spikier. I notice that I am more withdrawn, and am kind of hyperaware of where the pregnant people are in the room (we’ve had up to 3 at a time that I know about), and I try not to be weird. They haven’t done anything wrong. It’s just hard.

    1. TooSadToThink*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. That is absolutely heartbreaking, and I’m literally crying for you at my desk right now.

  137. Roz*

    I’m right there with you OP. I had an especially traumatic miscarriage that involved 12 hours of labour pain. In the aftermath I was convinced that if I got pregnant again everything would be fixed, so I did. 6 months after the 1st one I had my second one. The first one broke me. The second one confirmed that I was a horrible person who didn’t deserve to be a mother. I was numb at that point.

    In the same fashion as you, 2 of my coworkers on our 8 person team announced their pregnancies just after my first and second miscarriage and I had this horrible feeling they had stolen my babies. It was the worst mindfuck I’ve ever experienced, and to be honest, I didn’t handle it well. I spiraled into a deep depression, turned to substances and generally was a walking shell of a woman.

    Somehow I was able to make it through their pregnancies, but I was not mentally well, not sober and my work was okay but not great. Luckily my boss had alluded to her having a similar experience in the past, so one day when I couldn’t stop crying at my desk I decided to tell her because I wanted to go home. Her response was perfect and she said that I could work from home whenever I needed. I strategically skipped all the baby showers, and made myself scarce when talk turned to babies.

    That said it did get to the point where it was becoming obvious something was going on. So I wrote a card to each of my pregnant coworkers before the shower and expressed my joy for them while gently letting them know that I was unable to partake in the festivities because I was experiencing miscarriages and it was just too hard. They were incredibly understanding and supportive. And one shared that before her first successful pregnancy she had also had 2 miscarriages.

    After that, I was able to see the statistics in real life and know that since so many women experience this if I was open in a way that worked for me maybe others would be too. So I started to tell people. Little by little and in gentle ways that were not “too much” or “too sad”. Just matter of fact when I could and when it made sense for me, and you know what? The vast majority of people, men and women, responded with understanding and a shared story. It was overwhelming and a huge relief.

    I also got therapy. I had started psychotherapy before this happened for other reasons but I went into it deeply when the miscarriages hit. And I’ve had some incredible healing and insights as I dove into the emotions that I was trying not to feel. I know it’s pricey so even if you can’t pay for it, try and access some books about psychoanalysis and emotional expression. And then, make a concerted effort to not stifle the tears. It’s hard at first as they come when they come, but as you let them out, you start to notice you can direct them to a better time. Make that time. Seclude yourself and then turn inwards. Cry, yell, groan, shake. Become primal in your emotion and let it out. It will not ever leave but it will become less controlling over your ability to enjoy life again. I’m here 1 year after my last miscarriage and I finally feel healed enough to try again. Be gentle and give yourself whatever you need.

    I found emotional expression and writing out all my fears, worries, anger, resentments, blames and anything else that popped into my mind really really helped.

    The triggers will become less all-encompassing. I can talk about the whole experience without crying now. That’s something I didn’t think would happen.

  138. Roz*

    *I’m sorry if this comes through twice, but when I posted it didn’t go through

    I’m right there with you OP. I had an especially traumatic miscarriage that involved 12 hours of labour pain. In the aftermath I was convinced that if I got pregnant again everything would be fixed, so I did. 6 months after the 1st one I had my second one. The first one broke me. The second one confirmed that I was a horrible person who didn’t deserve to be a mother. I was numb at that point.

    In the same fashion as you, 2 of my coworkers on our 8 person team announced their pregnancies just after my first and second miscarriage and I had this horrible feeling they had stolen my babies. It was the worst mindfuck I’ve ever experienced, and to be honest, I didn’t handle it well. I spiraled into a deep depression, turned to substances and generally was a walking shell of a woman.

    Somehow I was able to make it through their pregnancies, but I was not mentally well, not sober and my work was okay but not great. Luckily my boss had alluded to her having a similar experience in the past, so one day when I couldn’t stop crying at my desk I decided to tell her because I wanted to go home. Her response was perfect and she said that I could work from home whenever I needed. I strategically skipped all the baby showers, and made myself scarce when talk turned to babies.

    That said it did get to the point where it was becoming obvious something was going on. So I wrote a card to each of my pregnant coworkers before the shower and expressed my joy for them while gently letting them know that I was unable to partake in the festivities because I was experiencing miscarriages and it was just too hard. They were incredibly understanding and supportive. And one shared that before her first successful pregnancy she had also had 2 miscarriages.

    After that, I was able to see the statistics in real life and know that since so many women experience this if I was open in a way that worked for me maybe others would be too. So I started to tell people. Little by little and in gentle ways that were not “too much” or “too sad”. Just matter of fact when I could and when it made sense for me, and you know what? The vast majority of people, men and women, responded with understanding and a shared story. It was overwhelming and a huge relief.

    I also got therapy. I had started psychotherapy before this happened for other reasons but I went into it deeply when the miscarriages hit. And I’ve had some incredible healing and insights as I dove into the emotions that I was trying not to feel. I know it’s pricey so even if you can’t pay for it, try and access some books about psychoanalysis and emotional expression. And then, make a concerted effort to not stifle the tears. It’s hard at first as they come when they come, but as you let them out, you start to notice you can direct them to a better time. Make that time. Seclude yourself and then turn inwards. Cry, yell, groan, shake. Become primal in your emotion and let it out. It will not ever leave but it will become less controlling over your ability to enjoy life again. I’m here 1 year after my last miscarriage and I finally feel healed enough to try again. Be gentle and give yourself whatever you need.

    I found emotional expression and writing out all my fears, worries, anger, resentments, blames and anything else that popped into my mind really really helped.

    The triggers will become less all-encompassing. I can talk about the whole experience without crying now. That’s something I didn’t think would happen.

  139. CL*

    I am so very sorry for the loss and grief you’re experiencing. As a manager, I’d want to know if there’s anything I can do better to support my employees. I’ve had several situations with my team in which staff were experiencing various personal stressors that were difficult for them to navigate and impacted their work life. I did my best to give them the gracious space they needed, buffer questions from the rest of the team, and overall support them. If you have a supportive relationship with your manager, they can be the ones to help redirect others when it’s overwhelming for you. You don’t have to give your manager explicit details but enough information so they can take care of reducing baby chatter and maybe reduce your stress. It’s impossible to separate our personal lives from our professional lives. If your manager is the right person, they can help you (as much as appropriate/possible) navigate this time while you’re at work.

  140. VegetableLasagna*

    I’m sorry you’re going through this OP. I had a traumatic miscarriage about 10 years ago that left me infertile and I took it very hard. I couldn’t handle casual discussions about other people’s pregnancies, or being around babies for several years. My tip: avoidance. Don’t talk about it with people you work with. Keep congratulations short, and remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you didn’t attend their shower. My office is the same btw, someone has been pregnant going on 5 years now. I rarely attend showers.
    I get asked quite often why I haven’t had a baby yet and when will I. Only in the last year have I been comfortable telling people that it’s not going to happen (but be prepared: some well-meaning idiots will always give unsolicited medical advice).

  141. Monkey’s Uncle*

    OP, I’ve been in your shoes. At the time I was a preschool teacher, and it felt like every single woman I knew was pregnant. It was hard, and was getting the “so when are you having kids?” questions. It became really difficult to ‘participate’ in the baby showers, group cards, etc. I decided that none of these people who were asking me those questions or talking baby baby baby conversations were hurting me on purpose – they just didn’t know, and would never say those things if they did. I finally let two people I knew and trusted at work what was happening with me, who quietly let others on staff know as well. It cut down on much of it.
    At one point I stopped accepting invitations to baby showers, even outside of work friends, after one particularly tough day at a shower. I had to for my sanity. It’s okay not to participate in these things, your mental strength is more important than their homemade baby gift. Honestly, it is. Ten years from now they won’t remember you weren’t at their shower or signed a card.
    Talk to your gynecologist about testing your progesterone levels as soon as you do become pregnant again, I had to do progesterone shots (we did 4 IVFs) for months when I got pregnant after three miscarriages. I have a few friends who was discovered had low levels after multiple miscarriages. Obviously it doesn’t mean that’s for sure the issue, but it’s something to ask about.
    I wish you all the best.

  142. Jo*

    Sending hugs to you OP.

    Also, WTF is up with your coworker asking why you didn’t make her a gift? It’s one thing to wonder why you didn’t, but another to point blank ask you! I think the way you handled it was fine, although no one would blame you if you felt like telling her straight out the reason why she didn’t get a gift.

  143. cierta*

    Dear OP,

    I really didn’t want my management to know at work when I lost my desperately-wanted baby at 12 weeks. I thought if they knew I was trying, I’d be overlooked for interesting projects etc, and also be pitied by the office if no baby appeared later in the year. I think it was the right choice for me at the time, but it does make a lot of things harder. Things that helped:

    I found Gateway Women, and read Jody Day’s book. (It was back in the days before you had to pay to be in the community, I still have complicated feels about the charging policy.) It made me feel much less alone with my childlessness. (Not sure I’d recommend the book to everyone, it’s a bit hippy ‘get in touch with your inner child and learn to love yourself’, but it was a great help to me). And it helped me to process and reach a happier place about what would happen if the baby never happened, what was my Plan B. I’d got to a point where every single month, all my focus was on ‘did I manage to get pregnant or not’, it was the only thing that mattered to me, and my whole life felt like it was about my failure. Eventually I was able to say ‘if this never happens, what do I want to do with my life?’ And I found other worthwhile things, in my career and my hobbies, and in loving other people’s children and passing things on to the next generation that way.

    Horribly, one thing that made things oddly easier was that my Dad got diagnosed with cancer about three months after the miscarriage, and so if I was a bit off form / under-performing I got cut some slack because of that. (It was prostate cancer, he’s had the all clear, it all worked out). If you can’t talk about baby loss, can you say a more generic ‘I’ve got some hard stuff going on outside of work at the moment, I’m sorry’?

    I ran a lot. Grief is grief, and it hurts, and running is probably a better coping mechanism than alcohol, although I’m not entirely sure it’s a 100% good thing.

    I had a place where I could grieve. I feel weirdly lucky (not that it wasn’t also impossibly hard) that I have a grave I can go and visit and remember, so many people don’t get that with early miscarriage, and going and sitting in nature and crying and leaving flowers helped a lot. Even if you don’t have that, the baby-loss councilor I saw suggested planting a tree or similar. Somewhere you love, where you can find peace and quiet and sit in your grief (unlike a lot of other people in the thread, the counseling didn’t click for me, the lady had had miscarriages but now was a mother, and I was so angry at her for that. Maybe I should have tried a different counselor. But I didn’t, and healed in my own way, and that was fine too. I think the point is you just need people you can talk to honestly, professionals or not.)

    I had a friend at work who did know, and was wonderful for looking out for me, and giving me time and space where I could be sad in the office, and not just putting a brave face on all the time. And I had friends outside of work I could talk to.

    As other people have said, so much of it is time. But I found it very hard to heal when I was still on the roller-coaster of trying. In the end we stopped trying. It’s about three years since that decision now, and although I will always grieve the children I don’t have, I am happy with the life I do have now. The world is full of lots of people worth loving, and lots of ways we can love them other than biological motherhood.

    But oh, it’s hard, OP, just know you’re not alone and it does get easier.

  144. TooSadToThink*


    I was in a very similar situation to yours. I got pregnant within about a week of a coworker, and I wound up losing my baby and she had hers. My entire office knew both of us were pregnant, and after I lost my baby, I had to announce that too. From that point on, my coworker (who hated me) would LOUDLY talk about her pregnancy/baby plans ALL. THE. TIME. And every time, I would get up from my desk, go to the bathroom, and cry for a few minutes. This went on for a couple of weeks before one of the company owners stepped in. The pregnant coworker was best friends with the EA (there were two owners, but only one had an EA). When I got back from the bathroom, face still red and eyes still teary, the owner had his EA and the other coworker in his office, and he was PISSED. I don’t know what all he said to them, but they reasonably shut up about it after that. I didn’t complain or say anything about what they were doing. It was certainly something I could understand being excited and wanting to talk about!

    But all of that to say these few things: 1) you’re not alone. Even in the company full of pregnant women, you are one of the mothers who knows what it’s like to lose a beloved baby. 2) If you feel comfortable telling others, MOST people will be compassionate, and do what they can to help mitigate your pain. 3) It’s not your responsibility to share anything you don’t want to, but as I’ve read upthread, there can be value in that if you choose to do so. 4) It’s OK to cry when hearing about someone else’s news because it hits home for your own loss. Don’t be ashamed of that. Those feelings are what make us human.

    All the cyber hugs to you, from another mom who has lost a pregnancy (and later, I lost my 15-year-old stepdaughter). Losing a child is always hard, no matter how early or late you lose them.

    1. Althea*

      I’m going to go ahead and hate your coworker. I appreciate your boss who stepped in.

      Sorry for your losses and completely agree with your recommendations.

    2. Monkey’s Uncle*

      Your coworker is a terrible person. So sorry you had to deal with that. What is wrong with people?

  145. Robin Simons*

    I used to make stuff for all new babies in the office. At the same time I was going through fertility stuff. It was fine until there were multiple people pregnant including a set of twins. I just couldn’t keep up. Also, it started to hurt. Now I’ve had a baby, he’s 2.5, with a serious amount of money thrown at Donor Egg IVF. Annnnd my knitting is slow now due to carpal tunnel and sleep dep. Even relatives aren’t getting knitted stuff now. I might just be done.

    SO what I’d say is, own what you can, or just call it creative burnout.

  146. 342g*

    you’ll have to deal with people getting pregnant for the rest of forever, so i’m sure you’ll eventually get used to seeing that. the gifts thing was rude and you can just refuse saying you’re saving money by not buying craft things, or you don’t have any free time at home.

  147. S.*

    First of all, I think that is is entirely OK to temporarily hate people from afar who are pregnant when you are not and want to be. I did an excessive amount of glaring at pregnant people while we were waiting.

    In terms of coping, do you have a work spouse or BFF? Because I think you need to know that there is one person there who can cover for you if you have to “take an urgent call” at a meeting where someone’s just announced a pregnancy, or similar. Someone who can potentially deflect things for you and discreetly act as an ally.

  148. Anona*

    I’m so sorry about your miscarriages. My own miscarriage was devastating. Earlier I saw you left a comment that said there are people in your office who would be able to shut down the pregnancy announcements in meetings. It would be good if they could develop some sort of policy around announcements like that (like maybe email only, unless you’re telling your supervisor?). Even if you don’t feel comfortable saying something to them, if you could email them, or talk to the person who’s not your boss, it might give you some peace knowing that you’re not going to be bombarded or surprised at those meetings.

    But I know how sensitive it can be in sharing about miscarriage stuff. I only shared about mine with 1 other person in our office, many months after it had happened.

    Please don’t feel guilty/weird if you don’t handmake gifts for everyone/anyone. In my own life, I felt guilty about not being as enthused about going to baby showers post-miscarriage. I eventually realized it was best for me if I stopped going to them completely, and if I sent a gift, to make it something not baby related. I realized the level of anxiety I had in the leadup/during these showers wasn’t healthy, and my friends (if they knew about the miscarriage) would surely not want me to come if it was causing so much heartache to me.

    Anyways, I’m thinking of you! It’s so hard, especially when you’re getting bombarded at random times. I’ve found this essay to be true, called “Grief Comes in Waves” (will reply with a link). For me it’s gotten easier with time, but there are still triggers. I’m sorry that you’ve had to join this club. It’s a club no one wants to be in, but there are lots of us here!

    1. Althea*

      I’m sorry for your loss, please keep making things easier on yourself to keep control of the anxiety!

  149. Althea*

    I hope you may some time be willing to talk about your situation at work, but it is in no way incumbent on you, and you should keep it private following your own feelings and wishes. I say this because the subject is taboo, yet if it comes up you will see just how common this kind of pain is – and it can be very comforting to feel part of a community that understands.

    I had a complicated late pregnancy loss, so everyone knew about it at work. They would give me condolences at work, I would want to cry or try not to cry – but they all understood. This is not business as usual. If you do cry in front of anyone, “This is a painful topic for me, but I prefer to get my equilibrium back by not talking about it right now.”

    I think if you want to keep it private, you will have to get through it. I actually have no advice for you about this. When we lost our twins, I was bitter about everything pregnancy related. If you have any good friends at work, I think you could share with them, ask them to keep it private, and ask them to help head off any in-depth painful discussions. I once had a close friend do this for me when someone was doing the first-trimester symptom gripe, and the pain was still raw for me. She got the topic changed in a jiff when she saw my face.

    But don’t let it rule your actions. In a subsequent pregnancy, our baby had health issues and I was so anxious I was letting it affect work in ways it normally would not. I wrote to AAM to see if people thought it was ok to announce that the pregnancy was troubled so people would stop asking me about it. The consensus was not to do that! I was letting my anxiety cloud my judgment about what was ok to do at work, and that was really too much. To get through it, I told those I wanted to and perfected bland answers to others and tried to immediately think about/do other things.

    I hope all turns out well for you. We had a lot of issues as you can see with pregnancy, but we do now have kids. The cycle of hope, anxiety, and loss is awful, but you will be out of it one day and heal.

  150. MEH*

    OP, I am so sorry for your losses. I may not be able to add anything new to this discussion, but I would like to be another voice of support and understanding and to share my own story.

    After several years, across three doctors and three states, my wife finally got pregnant, only to miscarry a few weeks later. I had told a couple of coworkers I am close to so they would know why I would suddenly be out for a few days, and everything returned to normal…until a month or so later, when a coworker announced her pregnancy and a due date only a couple of weeks after ours. I made it to the end of the meeting and collected myself quickly enough to jump into a public-facing role immediately thereafter, but spent much of the afternoon on the brink of tears or actively crying in my private office. One of the coworkers who knew about my wife’s miscarriage offered her support and it meant everything to me, in that moment, to have someone say, essentially, “Yep, this is great news for X but it sucks for you.” I offered my congratulations, tried not to stare at my colleague while imagining my wife at the same point in a pregnancy, and pulled it together enough to attend the office baby shower. Therapy helped a lot, particularly as it’s so important to internalize the message that it is okay to feel whatever it is you are feeling, because infertility is a very acute, very private type of pain.

    In an interesting and unexpected twist, I was recently tweeting about our continuing struggles with infertility, keeping the message somewhat vague but definitely recognizable to those in the know, when I got a direct message from this same coworker. After acknowledging that she understood I might not want to talk to her, specifically, about this (which was very thoughtful indeed), she revealed that she, too, had had a miscarriage and subsequent struggles with infertility. I don’t know why it helped me so much to hear that, but it really did. It was such a relief to be able to talk to someone who had experienced the same thing, even if she has since been able to have children. And so many of us have dealt with this; it’s really shocking once people begin to open up about it.

    Upon reflection, I’ve found that the most helpful thing for me, when dealing with all of this, is the solidarity I’ve found with other people who have dealt with infertility and, more specifically, miscarriage(s). As I said, it is a very odd kind of grief, and for me just knowing that other people have a similar hole in their life has made me feel far less alone.

    To attempt to crystallize any of that into actual advice, here is what I have found most helpful.
    1. Having a close coworker who is willing/able to understand that good news for someone else brings up some painful emotions for you.
    2. Talking to/hearing from other people about their experiences with infertility/miscarriage.
    3. Through therapy, getting to understand and grapple with my ever-evolving feelings about my experiences, and internally separating those feelings and experiences from others’.
    4. Allowing myself space to properly grieve. Some days you just need a chocolate bar, and that’s okay, even a year or more later.
    5. Time.

    I’m wishing you the best of luck, and my thoughts are with you. This sucks, and I’m sorry you’re dealing with it.

  151. Lisa*

    This is me. Add to it that I’m 44 and probably won’t have a baby at all (yes, we’ve done IVF, all the powders, pills, potions, and old wives tales). The loss of a baby you didn’t get to publicly grieve is always going to be a challenge. It’s terribly hard. There is no getting around it because it is only you trapped in this sad little hell.

    I have a few coping mechanisms. 1 – I only endure as much as I can stand and at times I don’t engage at all. I say something polite and move on. I don’t extend conversations or interactions if it doesn’t serve me, in this area at work or in my personal life. I just can’t. I can celebrate and talk babies, but not for too long. 2 – I had my year of anger, sadness, pain; and in 2019, I’m consciously moving forward at my own pace. I am internally rebuilding and there is no one directing my participation in life, but me as I reconstruct me, post MC. 3 – I’ve let go of friendships that are oblivious to my pain. If we can’t discuss this, we are associates and I refer you back to #1, lol. And by discussing this, I don’t mean you telling me how you understand. Unless you are in my exact situation, you don’t. Speaking of, 4 – I’ve found new friendships with women who do directly relate to where I am.

    My prayers are with you. Even as I type this, I see an ad for maternity wear on the page. A few weeks ago my employee gave birth. Guess who had to throw the shower? *sigh* I delegated it to other staff and paid $$ for the ability to not be that involved. It’s everywhere, at 30 years old and at 44 years old. It’s a loss you have to learn to live with in your own way.

  152. Heather*

    I am so sorry that you’re going through this. I’ve had one miscarriage and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. A good work friend of mine announced she was pregnant as I was going through my miscarriage (which was drawn out) and she was due the same month I would’ve been. It was horrible. Honestly nothing really made it better but it did help a little to be open about it. I felt so isolated and no one knew what was going on which made it worse. Once I started talking about it so many people had similar experiences and it did help. Perhaps could you tell your friend and have her share with the rest of the office? That’s what I would recommend but I completely understand if it’s too hard for you. Wishing you the very best.

  153. iglwif*

    OP, I don’t know that I have any helpful suggestions but as someone who worked with a lot of pregnant people and went to a lot of baby showers while struggling with infertility, I feel you SO HARD on this. I remember feeling like people were being happily pregnant AT me (which of course they weren’t, how ridiculous, but that’s how I felt) and crying in public when I saw parents doing things like smoking right in their kids’ faces or ignoring screaming babies in strollers because why did those people get to be parents and I didn’t?! I even thought mean thoughts when people I knew complained about their morning sickness or swollen ankles, because didn’t they know how lucky they were??

    None of this was my finest hour, but these are real feelings that people have. I found it helped somewhat to have one person (in my case it was my boss) who knew the real story, because then she could cover for me in situations like the time I got the news of a failed IVF cycle in the middle of a conference and had to go hide in my hotel room and cry for half a day, and was understanding when I called in sick for IVF-related mental health reasons. Of course, that depends on having someone you can really trust with the info that you’re trying to get pregnant, and also trust not to tell everyone :P

    I personally think that there should be way less social stigma around discussing the non-idyllic aspects of trying to have kids–the heartbreaking outcomes, the failures, the frustrations, the sadness–but at the same time, not everybody wants to share all that stuff at work, and you shouldn’t have to. I have found that most folks are more understanding when they know you’re struggling … but alas, that knowledge also brings out the assvice, so YMMV.

  154. New commenter*

    I don’t really have any advice to offer OP but just want to say I somewhat understand what you are going through.

    I have not experienced a miscarriage. But I do suffer from mental and physical health issues that make starting a family difficult. It was a long and painful road for me to even get to the point when my husband and I could start trying. In that time 2 of my co-workers (who I was close to) became pregnant and it was so hard! It’s crazy how you can be genuinely so happy for them and also desperately jealous and upset for yourself at the same time. Neither feeling is able to cancel out the other.

    My husband and I have now been trying for over a year with no joy. I reached the stage last year when every time I saw my friends I was genuinely scared that one of them was going to announce that they’re pregnant. The only thing that I found that helped was taking a step back from trying to get pregnant myself. For the first time in about 3 years I’m not working towards that goal. It has made things a little easier.

  155. FloralsForever*

    Gee, this is tough. While I do not presume to know exactly how you feel, whenever I find out someone is pregnant (at work or in social circles), I feel grief too, because extenuating circumstances prevent me from parenthood. I really, really feel for you.

    I tried to find all of your comments and it seems like you have a good handle on the coworker thing. What I find strange is the personal announcements in meetings. Maybe I’m not used to that type of office culture. Sure, I share things with coworkers, but I would expect that these types of announcements would be used to shift work around, not as a personal update to life, and wouldn’t be made to the whole group. But I am more business than personal at work, so it could be a clash, and I can see where some people would be more comfortable in that type of environment. Is there leeway to have them phase out personal announcements? Or would that shift the culture too much? I also wonder if other people have issues with it.

  156. Emily*

    I know it’s hard and awkward and painful, but can you just tell them about the miscarriages?
    I think you would be surprised by the number of women who have experienced the same. I have had three miscarriages, mixed in with 3 healthy, full-term pregnancies (currently 12 weeks along in pregnancy #7, following a miscarriage last July). People are always surprised to hear about the miscarriages because our kids are spaced roughly two years apart still, it doesn’t seem like there’s time in there! I’m pretty open about our miscarriages with people, and have been surprised so many times by friends (I’ve known for years and talked pregnancy with many times) who’ve told me they’ve miscarried too. But I only learned of their miscarriages after my first happened. I find my telling frees up people to share their hurts in that area too. Even the women who haven’t personally, it’s not uncommon to hear “my mom miscarried twice” “my sister just did last year” or something similar.

    There *are* cringe-inducing comments that come, and some people are awfully insensitive. But in my experience the support and general understanding of people outweighs that. If you are able to acknowledge some people are dumb and let their comments go then I really think sharing what’s going on is the way to go.

    The gift comment, I don’t know how it was said, but it’s possible she was just wondering, and wanted to ask you directly, instead of dwelling on it in private and Making Things Weird subconsciously, worrying you were angry with her or maybe just sad because she counts you a closer coworker and feels a bit rejected. If she *was* feeling hurt or something and counts you as close, isn’t it nice that she came to handle it directly, so you guys could put it behind you? I’m sure she would be mortified to know the whole story.

    1. Elspeth*

      Yeah, but workplaces vary tremendously in how they treat women who volunteer that they’ve had miscarriages. I think we can take the LW’s word for it when she says her coworker asked her point blank about why she hadn’t made her a gift. Asking for a gift is just not something you do (and to me, is kind of boorish, to be honest).

  157. Grack*

    I’d just like to add that in with so many women in your workplace, in all likelihood there are many, many women who have suffered a miscarriage there as well. And like, you, they are probably saying nothing and suffering.

    So if you ever wish to explain your sadness at an announcement, you will be doing some good for the others around you as well. You can even frame it as “I’m sorry to get so emotional, but like many women I’ve lost pregnancies in the past, and so these announcements are always a strange mix of emotions.”

  158. Wheels*

    I’ve been through this throughout 2017/2018 too – first unexpected infertility (I was 29 when we started! I thought I’d have plenty of eggs! I do not) and them several miscarriages through fertility treatment. Work was always full of pregnant people and it was an emotional minefield.
    Here is stuff that worked for me:

    – having quiet one on one conversations with pregnant people who I worked with, when i was comfortable with it. they were all helpful, and one made a deal where I could steer the conversation away from babies at any time and she would always go along with my change of conversation.
    – A supportive manager. I didn’t tell all my managers (I went through a few in this period) but one in particular was very helpful. He gave me a heads up when a coworkers baby was born on the weekend and said I could work from home on Monday to miss the baby talk and photos.
    – On one occasion I also asked a trusted coworker to go through my unread emails and delete the birth announcement and reactions for me.
    – Be okay with crying when you really can’t help it. All the support in the world didn’t prepare me for the all staff meeting two days after my first miscarriage, where the CEO asked everyone to join her in a round of applause to congratulate all the staff members who were pregnant right now. Sometimes crying is all you can do and that’s perfectly fine.

    1. Wheels*

      to add a happy-bit-complicated ending, I’m pregnant now but with a baby who has a congenital defect that means surgery right after birth, NICU and disability. I’m totally happy, but it means work conversations are now a different kind of minefield. Between this and infertility/miscarriage I’ve done a lot of gently deflecting questions and comments. When I’m having a good day, itbfeels good tonrespond to nosy comments with “That’s complicated for me and I’d rather not talk about it” just tobremind people that’s babies aren’t a light, fun topic for everyone.

  159. Lisa*

    @Heather, I appreciate your suggestion. I did share with a friend, who also shared her miscarriage and with another who had infertility issues and ultimately didn’t have children. It helped a lot. They will never know how grateful I am for having that level of comfort with them and having them respond just the way I needed – not as if they knew my pain, but instead with love….then with their stories. I probably will never share with co-workers, they are just too young to understand my individual perspective or they are my age and have children and constantly say how lucky I am that I don’t have to pay for college (although one day, I might have to set them straight from a general perspective, lol).

  160. Erika*

    @OP – I would say that you have every right to feel the way you do, and don’t need to explain anything to your coworkers. That said, since it is still such an emotionally raw topic and you are feeling on edge about these inevitable announcements, I encourage you to seek out a therapist to work through your grief. It’s important that you are able heal and you’ll never forget each one of your angel babies; however you don’t want to be paralyzed in your day to day life either.

    BTW – that coworker asking about a gift – really poor manners. She isn’t entitled to a gift from you regardless.

  161. Opal D*

    I deleted snapchat and groupme specifically because my (immediate and extended) FAMILY would share 12+ baby photos a day on both platforms (the same photos they would also share on instagram and facebook) while I was having miscarriages. It’s FAMILY and I couldn’t stand it… I can only imagine that being worse with coworkers. I have no helpful advice but just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone. 4 miscarriages and 3 years later, I simply forgive myself for passing on acquaintances’ baby showers (I straight up lie about being out of town). Forgive yourself for needing to step out of the meeting. I never wanted to “stifle” anyone else’s happiness so I would never tell them to tone it down or stop talking about their joy, but I would simply remove myself if I didn’t want to be there, and give myself the permission to do so. I celebrate, happily, with my closest friends. Once I went to a baby shower the day after I had a D&C after a miscarriage. One step at a time.
    Best wishes to your journey.

  162. PsychDoc*

    I first want to empathize with you, OP. My wife and I are currently going through IVF, and it is not going as well as I expected, and am finding myself having unexpected feelings towards some of my psychotherapy patients who are pregnant (I don’t have my feelings around them, of course, but they do come up).

    So, recommendations – I suggest having what is commonly referred to as “worry time”, but can also be viewed as “grief time”, “anger time”, or just “feelings time”. Schedule several times throughout the day, 5-15 min chunks of time (say at 9, noon, 3, 6, and 9). At those times, set a timer for 5 mins and have feelings. ALL of the feelings. It doesn’t matter what they are, what they are about, or who they are directed to (an example from my own life – being worried about what if I can’t have kids, being mad at our sperm donor, being mad at teenagers who are pregnant and even more so at their unsupportive families). You may want to write them down, type them out, think them to yourself, or play music that makes you cry. Your feelings don’t have to be rational or logical, they are just feelings, and you won’t be hurting anyone with them. After your timer goes off, stop the writing, music, etc. Get yourself reorganized and continue with your day. When thoughts come up again, remind yourself that you have “worry time” scheduled again at noon (or whenever) and that you will feel that feeling at that time. In this way, you aren’t saying that you can’t have your feelings, you are just pausing them for now. The schedule is also meant to act as a release valve to let off the pressure of feelings in a controlled way, so you have more emotional room to deal when things unexpectedly come up. As you start to feel better, you can decrease the frequency of your “worry time”, but there is no rush.

    I hope this helps and wish you all the best!

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