Email Announcements Can Land a Sucker Punch


There are good surprises and not-so-good surprises delivered through email.

The good surprises arrive like little gifts dropping in via Google alerts. Ping. Someone has written nice things about my blog. What they say makes me positively blush.  I’m unaccustomed to such high praise.

In recent days there are a few alerts that stand out — revealing full blown posts that offer additional insights about my peeps, those living the infertility experience. For more on recent reactions to The New York Times profile, I give you the following: Jackass by Deathstar at A Woman My Age.

Unexpected Email

Now about those emails that fall into the not-so-good surprises category. In the past 24 hours two birth-related announcements, sent via the workplace email alias, landed — not with a ping but a KABOOM — in my work inbox.  My first instinct was to reply to all with the subject heading: STILL NOT PREGNANT and include some details about my latest endometriosis-induced cramps.

Thinking better of that idea and emboldened by your recent comments and recommendations about showing some sensitivity to others by curbing mass emails containing birth announcements, I finally strolled over to talk to my colleague responsible for HR. I say “finally” because in the eight years that I’ve been a part of this office and trying to conceive no less than 25 babies have been born to those around me Monday through Friday — the vast majority, in fact, all if I remember correctly ’cause it’s hard to forget the sucker punches that accompanied them — came announced via email. That number becomes all the more eye-popping when you learn that there are just under 40 people in my workplace. Yes, there’s been a veritable baby boom taking place.

See also  Barren, Not Beaten

Constructive Feedback

In the nicest way that I could, I pointed my colleague to the recent NYT article and explained that as hard as I’ve tried to come to terms with my situation and much as I try not to dwell on my infertility, there are moments at work when I’m caught off guard, as in birth announcements arriving while I’m in the midst of a work project. Distracting in a not-so-good way? Yes. They remind me of my negative pregnancy (BFN) betas during our IVFs.  Do the chirpy announcements (quite a few of which included pics of glowing, proud parents) undermine my productivity while I try to regain my composure? Yes.

So, can I please recommend that a new email alias be formed for personal announcements — with my email NOT included? Can I enlist his help in asking that we reserve the general work alias for work-related announcements. If I’d like to get an update on so and so’s new pregnancy or baby — and I will when I’m in the right frame of mind — I’d like to be in the position to initiate that dialogue. Thank you very much…

He said he would act on the new email alias idea promptly.


26 Responses

  1. meghan

    June 19, 2008 5:13 pm

    Good for you. Earlier this year, after the 2nd announcement in two days, a good friend of mine who is also IF replied just to me with one little word “unsubscribe”. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all hit that button sometimes?

  2. Tricia

    June 19, 2008 5:31 pm

    I just read both of the other posts, and loved them. Manda is on-target that the comments came from a place of complete ignorance, and may I add, a lack of humanity.

    Good for you for going to HR.

  3. Manda

    June 19, 2008 5:31 pm

    I really truly AM famous now! You mentioned me in your very own blog. No, no… No autographs please.

    Anyway, I am completely behind your “STILL NOT PREGNANT” email. I would actually draft one to keep in your drafts folder that is a record of all your treatment to this point, including any photographic evidence you have – ultrasound images, surgery pics, the whole deal… If we have to look at their squirmy little runts, they should have to look at our scarred up uterus, cyst covered ovaries, or in my case, a picture of a blank slide with not a single sperm anywhere near it.

    But I’m not bitter.

  4. Freyja

    June 19, 2008 5:59 pm

    Might I recommend that he inquire if other’s actually WANT to be on said list. I could be wrong but I would guess that out of 40 people it is unlikely you are the only one with IF…

  5. Phoebe

    June 19, 2008 6:54 pm

    I was wondering how you were doing with all those nasty NYT comments.

    This was just the straw that broke your back, or at least motivated you to act. I’m glad you stood up for yourself and did it in such a classy way. Some people just SO do not get it. I wish I would stop getting invitations to co-workers baby showers!

  6. Deathstar

    June 19, 2008 7:29 pm

    GOOD FOR YOU! You took care of yourself! How many times have I read about your work email being infiltrated by pregnancy announcements and the like and how you had to pull yourself together and swallow your emotions. FINALLY you said enough is enough.

  7. Jennifer

    June 19, 2008 7:44 pm

    Came here via Tricia’s blog. Just wanted to commend you for your strength (and grace). And, offer some (((hugs)))).

  8. babystep

    June 19, 2008 10:42 pm

    I read the article but I guess it was after the comments were removed? I just read the blogs that you referred to, and the comments listed there MADE MY BLOOD BOIL. It is so easy for these people (presumably fertile people) to make such comments. It made me sick. And the comment that there must be some genetic reason that people like you and I cannot get pregnant — but what about the thousands of drug addicted, alcoholic, child abusing whores that have babies every day? There is a reason they can get pregnant, and we can’t? Ugh. I am just sick.

    Good for you: talking to HR was a great idea, and the new e-mail list is fab.

  9. luna

    June 19, 2008 10:44 pm

    good for you for speaking up. I feel veritably assaulted by those announcements when I’m a captive audience. bravo.

  10. Summer

    June 19, 2008 11:07 pm

    What a great idea to separate out work-related and personal announcements! So simple, yet win-win on both sides. I think all work places should adopt something like this.

  11. jc

    June 19, 2008 11:32 pm

    Good job PJ! I’m sure it isn’t just the infertile community who will appreciate losing all that personal clutter in the inbox. It will be interesting to see how many people in your office don’t bother reading any of the emails in their work-personal inbox.

  12. docgrumbles

    June 20, 2008 2:02 am

    Wow – I just read the Blincoe article for the first time – I got mad! I guess I am just another whiner, after all.

    FYI – It won’t come up on Google alerts, but I printed your article and added it to the IF and loss awareness propaganda on my office door.

    • Pamela Jeanne

      June 20, 2008 8:03 pm

      Thanks, Doc Grumbles! Very much appreciate your willingness to spread the word…

  13. Kim

    June 20, 2008 3:17 am

    What a great guy. I agree that those mass surprise announcements are not a good idea. Much better to open then on your own time and when and if you want and are ready. nclm

  14. DC

    June 20, 2008 5:18 am

    Good for you for being assertive! I’m so glad the HR department was responsive to your (very reasonable) request.

  15. Wishing4One

    June 20, 2008 9:10 am

    Good for you P! I think its great that you asked for alternative email for personal announcements. And even better that HE will get right on it!

  16. shinejil

    June 20, 2008 3:47 pm

    Good for you! No need to suffer in silence, when you can get thoughtless things like that taken care of. A good model for the rest of us, longing for more insulation from IF trauma triggers (esp. at work).

  17. Calliope

    June 20, 2008 10:35 pm

    alias e-mail is a BRILLIANT idea. & more places should use them.

    I have no emotion but sadness for the meanies that leave comments. Sure I wanted to flick them in the face upon the first scan, but the longer I thought about it the more I realized that people that actually take time out of their day to be hurtful must live a pretty sad and base life.

    Lots of love for you!

  18. CharmingDriver

    June 22, 2008 1:10 am

    Hi there, found you by way of Niobe.

    My story is similar to yours (and yet different, of course) in that while I had a (full term) son in Sept 2006 he spent his entire life in NICU and died in Nov 2006. We subsequently were advised any further children would meet the same fate. Even being ridiculously careful, I became pregnant again the following spring and mis-carried. My husband then got a vasectomy to prevent any further trauma, so to speak.

    So. No bio-kids for us, ever. Nothing any RE can do, no fancy petri dish tricks, just no mas, no bueno, ALL DONE.

    And as you know, that shit hurts. It cuts like glass is what it does and there is no way to ”hide” forever; life goes on, others pro-create and sadly, there are some people unable to ”get it” that it just cannot, will not happen for us, ever.

    Gawd, I had a point when I began this comment but for the life of me, it escapes me. I really just wanted to say thank you for putting yourself and your story out there for all of us at the mercy of fickle fertility/life circumstance.

  19. Bea

    June 28, 2008 3:03 am

    Nice! I think one of the great reasons it worked is because you came up with a workable solution. I have to admit to often not knowing what I wanted the other person to do. Glad the internet is here to share these solutions.


  20. marinax

    June 17, 2010 7:40 pm

    HR on my company does that: the secretary to the HR director sends all the “non-work related” (?) information to every employee.

    so, i’ve created a rule on my outlook: to mark those e-mails as read and delete any one with subject “birth” in it.

Comments are closed.