Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Don't think of pink elephants

Ever have someone say don't think about the pink elephant and then of course all you can do is think of the darn pink elephant?

When our most recent friend announced they were expecting a baby that's the exact thought that popped into my mind.

 Now for some context, the latest friend is at least number 14 on the list of people that I know who have had a baby since June or are expecting a baby in the next nine months. We're not talking a friend of a friend of a friend. Most of these are co-workers, family members, or dear long-time friends of mine and my husband.

Before I go any further, let me assure everyone that I am truly happy for each and every pregnant person I know. The announcements of pregnancies are becoming more frequent and I now can guess what the call is about based on the tone of the pregnant person’s voicemail message asking me to call back. Yes, I’m surrounded by so many babies and pregnancies, but I get excited when I see each first photo of the new baby or hear some pregnancy stories. And I get antsy wanting to go see the new baby immediately.

With so many people in our lives expecting babies, it's not so much someone saying not to think of the pink elephant, but more along the lines of 14 pink elephants dancing around me all the time. A few weeks ago, I blogged about the kid-related questions that come immediately after you get married so I won't go into that here. Amazingly enough though, in the intervening few weeks since I wrote that post, the frequency at which any random comment is being interpreted wrong is increasing. I have a weird dream, I must be pregnant. I'm stressed and upset, have I taken a test? I'm in the mood for a particular food, I must be having cravings.

These comments and questions aren't anything new, but the impact they're having on me is changing.

So what's different now? I personally am dealing with a torrent of emotions. Because see the thing is I very much want children. My husband and I play many what if games: we will/won't name our kids this, we won't do that with them, we'll read them this book, we can't wait to do this with them. I can vividly picture how my husband will be in X, Y, Z scenario with our children some day. Because of that I'm very curious about the things my friends and family are experiencing. I want details and I want to celebrate with our loved ones. The downside of all that though is that I seem to be surrounded by babies or pregnancy ALL THE TIME.

So while part of me longs to hold newborns of my friends or to find the perfect baby present, and loves it when I get to participate and hear the stories, another part of me is crying out for a break. We have a very good plan that will work for us, God and Mother Nature willing, and I don't want to deviate from the plan. But that said, holding and smelling a newborn or seeing photos or heck hearing cute kid stories, makes a part of me ache to move onto that stage of life.

I've never been one to ask prying questions or tease anyone but my very closest friends about if they're pregnant mainly because I firmly believe that you never know what others are going through. Are they battling trying to get pregnant? Are they wanting to have a baby, but the stars haven't aligned yet? Or do they just not want kids? I don't want to cause anyone any pain. I'm someone who will do everything in my power to help my friends be happy and that includes cheering along pregnancies while my heart cracks wanting our own. This latest announcement though has me wondering how many others are in the same station in life as I am – stuck between knowing what you want and being at the point where you can fulfill that desire.

I suppose it comes down to how do you strike a good balance between helping others, wanting to be a part of such an important time of loved ones' lives, and basic self-preservation. At least that's the tightrope I'm attempting to navigate. Please tell me I'm not alone. Have you experienced this? How did you adjust? And if you aren't at this stage in life yet, or have it in your rearview mirror of life stages, whatever you do, don't think about the pink elephant.

Jennifer Erickson
Sr. Public Relations Specialist
Texas Health Resources


  1. I know how you feel. I had a miscarriage 10 years ago, and all I saw was babies, babies everywhere. I had a very hard time being happy for my friends who were pregnant - even though I had decided to then delay our plans for a family until we moved and settled into a new city. I didn't want to be pregnant at that time - but somehow, I didn't want anyone else to be either! I wanted to be happy for them, and knew that I needed to be (and would regret it later if I wasn't excited for them) but it was really tough.
    The best advice I can give you is to plan some things that you know you have to do now because they'll be difficult to do later after you have kids. If you want to go to Europe, do it now. It's the perfect distraction. Find something fun and good and positive to fixate on to distract yourself, if nothing else!

  2. Thanks, Robyn. We're definitely trying to do that. I'm looking forward to the first vacation my husband and I can take alone together since our honeymoon that we've scheduled for May. Glad to hear I'm not alone.