Thursday, March 27, 2014

you ask, I answer.

I almost thought that I wasn't going to blog today (again?! What is happening to me?!)...but then I remembered the slowly-shrinking Q&A list! Unfortunately, most of the questions that are left are there because a) they require digging up lots of pictures at home, which I never seem to get around to, or b) I don't know the answers yet (take a wild guess which ones that applies to!), or...I don't know. I just don't feel like answering them. Ha. But! I have an hour to kill, so let's see what I can accomplish.

The Travelling Trio asked:

If I were to visit where you live, what is the one thing I must see? Sometimes I don't think we play tourists in our own town often enough.

Well, it might be cliche, but if you were to come to Athens and you did not go spend some time exploring the University of Georgia campus (on foot) wasted your trip. I could make a few exceptions: like, if you attended another large, ancient Southern university (Auburn, Alabama, etc.), then maybe you could skip out because there are probably a lot of similarities between our campuses. But even then-- really, you should at least drive by. I spent four years as a student on campus and have lived in (or near) Athens ever since (almost 10 years!) and I still love love love walking around campus. Matt and I walk around North Campus several times a week during our lunch break. It's just gorgeous. The architecture, the landscaping, the quintessential collegeyness (surely that's a word...) is perfection. So if you ever make it to Athens...a foot tour of UGA most definitely needs to be on your to-do list.


Nikki asked:

What ONE grammatical error offends you the most (you must pick ONE)?

Obviously it's really hard to narrow it down, but when FORCED like this, I think I'll have to go with the disgusting attempt to use apostrophes to do something that THEY NEVER DO: make things plural. This is a tiny sub-issue of the much larger Apostrophe Misuse Epidemic that I'm slowly raising up an army to fight...but I think this one irks me the most because of its blatant ALWAYS WRONGNESS. Remember in November how I even made a graphic to help spread the message? Some people still haven't gotten it. Ugh.

My November rant mostly focused on misusing the apostrophe to try and pluralize last names (for Christmas cards). Obviously that is a huge pet peeve of mine. But it's merely a symptom of a worse problem: WHY ARE YOU EVER EVER EVER USING AN APOSTROPHE TO MAKE SOMETHING PLURAL?!?!?! Why are you inviting your friend's over for lunch? Why are you planting seed's this weekend? Why would you get a new bookshelf for your book's?!?!! YOU ARE BURNING MY RETINAS AND I NEED YOU TO STOP. 

It's still terrible to see apostrophes abused in other ways, but most of the 'other' ways they get misused are in good-faith attempts to show possession or contract words or something. So I can extend forgiveness because I can recognize that the person is TRYING to do the right thing...and just kind of failing. But that's much more forgivable than this. Because when you just toss an apostrophe into the middle of an innocent word thinking that it's gonna help it become plural...well, the only reason anyone would ever do that is to personally offend me. And it works. Every time.

Now I'm all worked up in a tizzy again. I need to go run laps or something, excuse me.

Liz K. asked:

How is the "best" way to break the news you are expecting to someone struggling with infertility (for going on 3 years)? A good friend of mine is having a really hard time, and I just want to be as sensitive as possible.

Good question! Luckily, I have over 5 years of experience with this very issue, so I feel like I am super qualified to answer...for myself. Ha. 

My immediate answer would be not in person. DEFINITELY NOT IN PERSON. Basically, you want to give your friend the freedom to receive the news and digest it and react however she needs to react BEFORE she responds to you. If you're standing right there, then her only option is to either a) look like a crying jealous freak in public, or b) perform an Academy Award-winning act of pretending that it doesn't bother her at all and she's nothing but brimming with enthusiasm and excitement for you.

The thing is, she probably will be happy for you. It's just buried under a couple (dozen, maybe, depending on how long she's been waiting) layers of hurt and jealousy. Give her a chance to work through the yucky stuff before she has to respond. So. NOT IN PERSON. (Plus, you probably don't even want to tell her in person, so this works out better for everyone.)

I should probably put in a few caveats before I continue.

I'm assuming here that you are GOOD friends, the type that would be expecting to know about major life events before the rest of the general population. I mean, if she's just a 'fringe' friend/coworker/church member, don't feel like you need to give her a special news delivery just because of her infertile status. That'd be awkward for you both. 

I'm also assuming that you are not ALSO an infertile. That would definitely change things. If you are ALSO experiencing long-term infertility and this has been something you've both bonded over for years and years, throw all this out the window. You might be one of the only people she could ever possibly be excited about getting a pregnancy announcement from, so do it however you want! We make bitterness exceptions for our comrades in the trenches. Also, there's a much higher likelihood that she's half-expecting the news if you're doing IVF and she knows you're going for a beta that're not really going to shock her if it ends up being good news. So share away!!

So, assuming 'in person' is now not even on the list of available options, here's the rest of your ways. I'll list them in backwards order, from worse options to best options.

-By phone (talking, not texting). This is better than in person, but not much.
-By private FB message. The only reason I list this separately from email is that FB will mark the message as 'read' (for the sender), which puts a little extra pressure on responding.
-By text. Texting also has the potential to mark as read, although that's more a personal setting preference...but is still a risk. Also, a text with the news will just BAM, APPEAR to your friend, and it may not be a good time/place for her to receive the news. So take that into account. Is it 9 a.m. on Tuesday? Don't ruin her whole work day. Is it Friday night at 6 and you know she's on a date with her husband? Have a heart. Don't send it just then.
-By email. At 9 p.m. on a weeknight when her favorite show comes on (so that if she reads it, at least she can pretend she didn't (because of the show!) and/or she can immediately distract herself with said show. And because I'm so nice, I'll even give you a little script that you should 100% be sure to include.

I know that this is not easy news to hear, so PLEASE don't feel like you have to respond. You absolutely don't need to reply and tell me congratulations. 

That sentence is key. And mean it, while you're at it. Don't get offended if she takes you up on it. And then if you REALLY want to be awesome...the next time you see her in person, don't act weird. AND don't act like **OMGBABYBABY!!!** either. I mean, chances are you're only a few weeks along. Surely you can think about SOMETHING else besides nurseries and strollers and morning sickness. Don't wait for your friend to have to awkwardly either broach the topic or try to avoid it-- throw her a bone and talk about SOMETHING normal/non-baby. What you heard on NPR that morning. The weather. Whatever show you both like. Make it normal, which will pave the way for much smoother conversations (that will inevitably include your pregnancy) later. 

(PS. If this all seems like too much, the obvious solution would be to not get pregnant. Then you never have to have this conversation! Everybody wins!)

In conclusion, tell her via email. :) Sorry, I write too much...


That's all I have time for for now!! Now...go forth and send grammatically correct and emotionally sensitive emails.


  1. I think that is perfect advice for sure!! I love that you said "we make bitterness exceptions for our comrades in the trenches" that is so true!!! When it randomly happens to someone 16 on a drunk night as opposed to someone that has been struggling for a few years it's tough to swallow.

  2. Agreed on all accounts on the pregnancy announcement approach! I had a co-worker who accidentally got knocked up by her boyfriend (so they were 0% trying) when I was doing fertility treatments to get pregnant with Davis, and she emailed me and asked me to come chat with her in her office... THANK GOD another co-worker had learned the secret before me and warned me it was coming, or else I would have been finding out IN AN ENCLOSED OFFICE WITH WINDOWS, taking the options of sobbing and/or punching her in the uterus off the table. Instead I was able to give off my best, "Wow, I had no idea, that's so exciting and don't worry about me!" speech.

    Alright, probably didn't need to waste the space on your blog telling that story, but... hitting publish!

  3. I, too, couldn't agree more on the pregnancy announcement approach!

  4. Love the announcement approach. Still loving the q&a.

    In other news I saw a really funny and highly inappropriate grammar meme and thought of you. Sadly it was via someone else and I can't find it now.

  5. So when I'm talking about my babies, I shouldn't refer to them as the "twin's"? I don't see what's wrong with that.

    And ditto to the non-confrontational pregnancy announcements. A lot of my friends actually told Allison and asked her to break the news to me which she probably hated but helped me because I could actually give an honest response, ha!

  6. Best advice ever on the pregnancy announcement advice. I couldn't agree more!

  7. Excellent advice on the pregnancy announcement question! Last year a good friend of mine told me she was pregnant while she and her husband were at our house for dinner. She had struggled with her first child and had warned me that they were trying again, but I was so wrapped up in my own stuff (it was 3 months after my miscarriage, which occurred after a year of fertility treatments and a year of trying on our own) that I didn't see it coming. I was so caught off guard and I had to plaster a smile on my face and act like I was feeling nothing but happiness for the rest of the evening. I couldn't tell you a word that was said the rest of the night. All I kept thinking was "please leave so I can cry in private!"

    I would definitely have preferred an email or at the very least that she'd taken me out for coffee and told me without our husbands present. And of course, I really was VERY happy for her. But there are just so many other emotions that come up when an infertile hears that someone else is pregnant (as you said, layers of hurt and jealousy) and it takes some time to process it all.

  8. I agree with all of your pregnancy announcement recommendations. Well said!

  9. 1) Thanks much for answering my grammer question. I feel like such a "cool kid" when my name is mentioned in your blog

    2) LOVE LOVE the pregnancy announcement advice. I can not even tell you how much time, energy, and thought I put into announcing my pregnancies to friends and coworkers that are currently struggling with infertility. What is hard for me is that I just don't know what the other person is feeling and I so badly don't want to cause them anymore more pain. I really appreciate this advise.

  10. UGA is gorgeous! I was stoked when Andrew applied there for his PhD and practically had the new address labels made, but lo and behold Texas gave him a fellowship and snagged us away. Also, UGA never got back to us when he was wait-listed, but that's water over the bridge :)
    I still refer to your appropriate apostrophe usage blog post in class and have all my 5th graders using the oxford comma as well. Sure they're crude and loud, but at least they have good grammar!
    Your pregnancy announcement advice is spot on. I hate being caught off guard and having to pretend like it's the best news when it feels like a kick in the stomach. One of these times I'm just going to be honest and say "I don't care that you got pregnant while on 3 types of birth control when you weren't trying. I hope your kid has colic and that their diapers smell really bad." And walk away. I'm mature like that. This is why no one ever ask me for advice. You, on the other hand, give EXCELLENT ADVICE!

  11. You will be pleased to know that, thanks to you, the Oxford Comma, is now permanently engraved on my brain. And I think of you every single time I use it. Grammatical errors drive me nuts! They're almost as bad as spelling ones.

    And I was super-tempted to throw in every single grammar error I could think of in this e-mail but I'm too tired and it would make my brain hurt, make my eyes bleed, and put me on your hate list forever and ever.

  12. Can I repost this on my blog? It's so perfect. Maybe not the apostrophe section (I'm probably a repeat offender), but the "announcing a pregnancy to someone struggling with infertility" section. It was beautifully answered and so right on in every sense of the word. I laughed outloud at "We make bitterness exceptions for our comrades in the trenches" Indeed I did.


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