1 November 2010, by Tan Yi Lin
Ever since we started talking about the IVF journey on this blog, many of our friends have come to know of it and have offered their support in many ways, whether it’s just dropping us a message to acknowledge the issue and to say that they’re there whenever we need them. Or delivering the full-blown royal treatment by bringing cakes, games and their company over to our place to alleviate the jitters during the terrible 2 Week Wait during our first IVF cycle.
Along the way, there have been some friends who conceived and are now expecting a baby. I think it’s been a bit hard for people to find a way to break their good news to us, for fear of coming across as insensitive and hurting our feelings. Which is why I think that it is time, in true blue Singaporean style, to launch a campaign to tackle this situation.
It’s called the “We’re OK” campaign.
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because I sponged it off the “Singapore’s OK” campaign launched in 2003. Remember SARS, anyone? Well I’m sorry if it sucks, but hey, I’m just a blogger – I don’t have huge branding and advertising budgets to engage a consultant for branding advice.
The “Singapore’s OK” initiative set out a list of criteria for operators and managers of public facilities to meet. Through participating in the scheme, people could show their commitment towards adopting good hygiene practices for good public health.
Here’s the list of guidelines for our “We’re OK” campaign, which we hope our friends – and friends of other couples trying to conceive – will find useful:
1. It’s OK to tell us that one of you in the couple is pregnant
We are your friends. We are here to share your good news. We will be happy for you. Really.
And at no time will we think you insensitive for simply telling us what – in a few months time – will be impossible to hide anyway. There have been people, who are not even pregnant, who have told us the most insensitive things ever heard – and you are not in any way like them.
A growing pregnancy is not something we can ignore when we see it. And if you refuse to talk about it, it’s like being in a situation where there’s an elephant in the room and everybody is trying to ignore the elephant (Note: any reference between elephants herein mentioned and pregnant people, male or female, is purely coincidental and unintended.)
Please don’t leave it to us to politely enquire whether that rounded feature on your side of the dinner table is a baby bump or a post-30th birthday paunch. Because there’s always the chance that the new bodily addition isn’t a new family addition after all. And look who’s going to end up coming across as insensitive in the end?!
2. It’s OK to break the news to us in front of other people
There’s no need to break the news to us privately.
A good friend recently announced over dinner with a group of friends that she and her husband were expecting a honeymoon baby. We were shocked, simply because it came as a very sudden surprise – even to the couple themselves. But hey, it was kinda fun being shocked together with everybody else at the same time! I’m sure the couple was glad not to have to repeat the same story to us separately too.
If you’re okay with making a quasi-public announcement, we’re okay with being part of the audience. In fact, to do it any other way, by singling us out for fear of hurting our feelings, would be drawing a line (albeit unintentional) between the Haves and Have-Nots.
I thanked my friend after that for not treating us differently from everyone else. I wouldn’t have wanted to hear her good news any other way.
3. It’s OK to ask us about the IVF stuff
In fact, we really appreciate your interest in our lives. That said, no one has to feel obliged to bring up the subject on the pretext of showing concern for us. There are still so many non-baby events going on in our lives – hobbies, travel, family, social events, work, blogging, etc. Not having a kid doesn’t make us or our lives any less interesting and fulfilling. We have loads to talk about!
4. It’s OK to ask us about baby stuff
For example, like whether we think you should name your soon-to-be-born daughter Tinkerbell or Pomelo. Or whether it’s okay for a boy to wear pink booties. Or if we could help you shop for that cute little Baby Gucci (ala Jennifer Lopez & Mark Anthony’s fashionable twins) onesie on our upcoming trip to Italy.
It’s okay to share your worries and concerns about parenthood with us. Like whether the new baby is going to puke and pee and totally ruin your equally-new $5,000 designer couch (not a smart buy, guys!) Or whose middle-toe-on-the-right-foot does the baby’s same toe take after. Or what animal shape can I make out of that angry red splotchy diaper rash. Or simply, isn’t your baby oh-so-cute? (It is!)
We geddit. You are new parents. You have a right to be (over)excited. We want to share your excitement and be part of it. So don’t keep us out (subject to Point 2 in the “What’s Not OK” list below.)
5. It’s OK to let us say “if”
Sometimes in conversations, we may say “if we have kids” – and that’s okay. You don’t have to consciously pick it up and correct “if” to “when”. We appreciate the encouragement and the reminder to think positively. But it makes things awkward for us when people announce “you will have kids someday” with a firm prophetic nod and expect us to agree wholeheartedly. Come on, I really don’t think my womb is sending out any telepathic signals on this subject just yet. So how can anybody know for sure that we will have kids? Most of the time, I respond by going “aaaahhhh…..yeah. Maybe. Whatever. We’ll see. Or we could get a dog.” *shrug*
Yes, we’re trying for a kid – but not to the point of lurking around playgrounds and deciding which child we like best. That’s just psycho. Maybe parenthood is on the cards. Maybe it’s not. Either way, it’s okay.
With all Singaporean campaigns, maybe it’s easier if we just provided a list of what not to say or do to people whom you know are trying for a child.
It’s not OK to:
1. Ask us to hurry up and get on with it. ‘Nuff said.
2. Gush. We love hearing about your newborn but would appreciate some tact and brevity. We don’t need to hear how wonderful it is to be a mother five times a day. We don’t need to hear a full-blown account of how many millimetres of breast milk the baby drank at every feed. And we don’t want to pretend to be interested or excited by such news. Because.it.is.not.news.
3. Send us an invitation to be your baby’s friend on Facebook. Seriously. GET.A.GRIP. Social networks were not created for newborns.
4. Brush us off. We understand that babies can be a handful and that new parents are probably up to their armpits in dirty diapers and half-deaf from burping shrieking newborns over their shoulders.But if we drop you a text message, reply it. If we ask you when is a good time for us to visit, let us know – and don’t only reply 3 days later.
I hope our “We’re OK” campaign helps clarify things a bit. Good friends and strong friendships are something that we hold dear to us. Pregnancy and parenthood – be it yours or ours, be it good news or none – should serve to create tighter bonds between friends – and not push people apart.