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When Pregnancy Announcements Attack, Part II

Oct12

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smackdown_pregnancyannouncements.jpgHi Amy,
I’m hoping you can help me navigate a particularly awkward social situation. Here’s the thing: I am recently pregnant (9 weeks and puking…) which is lovely and delightful and all that stuff. The problem is with one of my close friends. She and her husband have been trying to conceive for a couple of years now and have recently embarked on their first round of IVF. I’m so sorry that conception has been, and continues to be, such a problem for them, and I’ve always tried to be supportive and sympathetic. When I found out I was pregnant I let my friend know by email, so that she wasn’t expected to have a big!happy! reaction to my news in person. She responded with a one line, ‘congratulations!’ and since then… nothing.
She’s definitely avoiding me. We used to see each other fairly regularly but now she makes excuses every time I suggest doing anything, and even avoids group events when she knows I’ll be there. I’m confused as to how I should feel about this. On the one hand, I get that she’s struggling with her own fertility issues and that being around a pregnant friend would be hard. But on the other hand, it really hurts my feelings that to her now I’m just ‘pregnant person to be avoided’, not her good friend who also happens to be pregnant. Honestly, I don’t expect her to be happy about my news, I really don’t care how she feels about it. And I’m not one of those people who talks endlessly about baby and pregnancy things; most of that stuff bores me and I get enough of it from my Mother in Law. I would just like to spend some time with my friend, find out how’s she’s doing, maybe watch some crappy TV together, just like we used to.
I would really appreciate your advice on how to handle this. Should I call her on the fact that she’s avoiding me, and let her know that it hurts my feelings? Or should I just accept that she doesn’t want to be around me right now and leave her be? I really hope our friendship will survive this hurdle, but I don’t know the best way to go about preserving it.
Thanks
Anonymous

You know…I don’t know. I wish I knew something — anything — simply and pithy to tell you here, but I don’t. There’s no guidebook for this, no simple three-step process, and definitely no solution for sale at Sephora.
She could be so singularly focused on her IVF cycle that she doesn’t realize that she’s letting of the “ignore” vibes. She could be wallowing in self-pity or deeply depressed…or maybe she’s just super busy. I don’t know. I don’t know her or your friendship and it’s not like all infertile women have some kind of default reaction to pregnant friends and BEHOLD, I HAVE THE SECRET KEY TO GETTING THEM TO BE HAPPY FOR YOU AND THEN KNIT SOME BOOTIES FOR YOUR EMBRYO.
And I know that’s not what you’re asking, by the way. I know you’re hurt and frustrated because God, it’s not like you went and got pregnant to expressly hurt her or anything, so what the hell?
Should you call her on it? No. God, no. At least…I would be FURIOUS if someone did that to me, back in the Days Of Clomid And Cycling And Crying About The Cycling. That would prompt a huge fit of “YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND” while I turned and ran back to my room (well, probably my office) and slammed the door. I would get defensive (“but I really DID have to go to dentist/visit my in-laws/wash my hair/etc.”). I would get angry that you were assuming that I was being that small and petty, that my life revolved around my infertility to that degree, that I was incapable of being happy for my close friends.
So…not that. I would instead go with patience. And some careful, non-pushy persistence. Call her on the phone instead of email when you’re trying to make plans…and maybe suggest plans that DON’T involve a lot of conversation and how are yoooooouuuuus, like a night of crappy TV or a movie without dinner beforehand. She might be worried that SHE won’t know what to say or do now that you’re pregnant. (You suggest dinner and she thinks about how you can’t drink wine and every sip of your water will feel like a punch in her infertile womb. You suggest shopping and she thinks, Oh God, Maternity Clothes.) (Or not! You know? She could just genuinely be busy or preoccupied. Maybe she’d be down with all of that. I DON’T KNOW. GIRLS ARE WEIRD. I HAVE A HARD ENOUGH TIME MAKING AND KEEPING MY OWN FRIENDS) Stay there for her, swallow any bitterness about her not being there for you, for now. She might just not be emotionally able to deal with it right now, but with time, she will. Keep the door open and keep the dramatics and hurt feelings to yourself for a little while longer.
I mean, you’re NINE WEEKS. I’m guessing she’s been ignoring you for all of…a month? Three or four weeks, maybe? Again, I don’t know the kind of friendship you had before, if you were the talk-on-the-phone-every-night sort or had a standing girls’ night date every Wednesday, but giving her a few weeks of space isn’t unreasonable. Particularly if she’s currently stabbing herself in the ass with hormones on a daily basis for a costly, emotional IVF cycle.
It’s interesting — the last time we covered this topic a few commenters expressed their horror at the idea of pregnant friends handling them with sympathetic kid gloves — that the emailed announcement and zero pregnancy updates made them feel weird, and left out. Like OH, don’t anyone mention b-a-b-i-e-s around the b-a-r-r-e-n person. So with that in mind, I guess the best advice I can give is to not focus on the current situation as a pregnant vs. non-pregnant thing. She is your friend. You are her friend. Sure, it’s likely that she is sad as hell, maybe pretty jealous, and dealing with that in her own way. She is also more than the state of her uterus, as are you. Give her time. Give her the benefit of the doubt. Give her plenty of indication that the door is always open and you aren’t judging her for some early emotional missteps.
(If she’s still ignoring you in say, six months, write back. Then I’ll be all, wuuuuuuut? And come onnnnnnnnn.)
Photo Credit: Photo Mojo

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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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16 Responses to “When Pregnancy Announcements Attack, Part II”

  1. HereWeGoAJen Oct 12 at 11:57 am Reply Reply

    Hehe, did you write pregnant fiends on purpose or was that Freudian?
    _________
    Editor: haha. Good catch!

  2. Jess Oct 12 at 12:44 pm Reply Reply

    OK. I don’t know jack about jack since I’m not preggers and haven’t faced this issue…BUT…I would say that amy is right to give your friend a little bit of time if it’s only been a few weeks…but at some point I would think a little sensitive open discussion about how you’re both feeling will not only help clear the air, but also bring you two closer….but that’s just me…I’m a rational “let’s talk it out” kind of person…which not many women are…especially when they’re pumped full of hormones.

  3. TwinMamaTeb Oct 12 at 4:27 pm Reply Reply

    I was once that IVF friend. And it just hurts to be your friend. It’s nothing you did, but just knowing that you have what I yearn for, hurts.
    Give her time. Continue being her cheerleader, asking how the cycle is going, etc. Even if she doesn’t respond, continue to leave messages. Your friendship may not survive her infertilty- certainly some of mine didn’t, even now that I have twins. You definitely learn who your real friends are when fighting this battle. But keep trying. She is listening, trust me.

  4. Danielle Oct 12 at 4:42 pm Reply Reply

    Any chance she’s pregnant and trying not to talk about it because it’s so early and she’s had so much trouble and she therefore doesn’t want to have lots of conversation with a pregnant friend for fear of letting the cat out of the bag and jinxing it?

  5. kimblahg Oct 12 at 5:13 pm Reply Reply

    This has nothing to do with the question (great advice) and is about the photo. My Mom gave me one of those creepy ass faceless pregnant woman figurines when I was pregnant. I had to turn it around so it wouldn’t look at me with NO EYES. Those things remind me of the freaky creatures in the movie Jacob’s Ladder! Ahh! Freaky no face figurines.
    _________
    Editor: sorry it disturbs you. I picked it, not Amalah. Blame me. And turn the computer around. ;)

  6. Lori Oct 12 at 5:55 pm Reply Reply

    One of my best friends just had a miscarriage after more than a year of frustrating fertility treatments, and she’s in the same situation it sounds like your friend is in. My friend is devastated at the loss, frustrated at the hardship, and right now, jealous of every single woman in her life who seemed to conceive without any effort at all. Which, in her eyes, is EVERYONE – the women in her office, her high school friends on Facebook, the dura-breeding Duggars, and the recent media story of the woman who got pregnant while she was ALREADY pregnant! Everyone. But. Her. My friend, rationally knows that this isn’t an ideal mindset – but it is all she can muster right now nonetheless. So I would be gentle on your friend. She may have been suffering more than she’s let on. If you really want to say something, I think a simple, honest “I miss you” couldn’t hurt. But right now she probably just needs some space and, while it may hurt, I would give it to her.

  7. Nerwal Oct 12 at 7:15 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with Amalah’s advice – she needs time and space and it would be generous of you to give it to her. I also agree completely with TwinMamaTeb, as I was the IF/IVF friend as well (and am finally, currently pregnant, thanks to IVF) – being your friend right now HURTS. And there’s nothing you can do about it. You have become someone else who got pregnant when she didn’t and can’t.
    I would send her occasional (weekly?) emails asking how she’s doing, tell her about yourself and breifly mention how you and the baby are. And leave it up to her. She’ll read them and know you’re there for her.

  8. geek anachronism Oct 12 at 11:17 pm Reply Reply

    My sister-in-law and I fell pregnant at the same time but when I got a scan at 8 weeks because of bleeding and got a heartbeat confirmation? She had a scan as well because of meds she takes and she found out the embryo had died at 6 weeks. It made the entire pregnancy hard on her, between the surgery and the obvious reminders. The worst though?
    As much as I didn’t want to talk about pregnancy around her unless she brought it up EVERY single person we knew was constantly talking about it. Because she hadn’t told everyone about the miscarriage, we’d both sit through endless rounds of OMGWTFBABBBBY!!!! looking stuffed. People kept thinking I hated the baby or didn’t want to be pregnant because I’d try and stifle the fifteenth round of names/sex/mothering before my sister-in-law would get to walk-out point. It never worked. So as much as you might be quiet, remember that not everyone knows and may be making the situation worse (the friend who ‘wisecracked’ that my sister-in-law’s uterus just wasn’t baby-ready yet because she walked away from a baby discussion was probably when I stopped caring how rude I looked when I shut down conversation).

  9. Maren Oct 13 at 9:08 am Reply Reply

    Having had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy this year, here is my experience being the b-a-r-r-e-n one. One of my friends announced her pregnancy at her graduation party, which just happened to be about 3 weeks after everything went to hell – she was only 8 weeks along, which is how far I was. She didn’t know any of this, and it isn’t her fault, and I am happy for her blah blah blah and all that. BUT, I can’t help crying every time I see her belly pics on facebook. Knowing that she is only slightly behind where I would have been, and knowing she will have a baby at Christmas, and I won’t, just nags at that sad corner of my brain. We have talked about it, and I told her my situation, and she was very understanding. I don’t expect her to change or hide anything about her pregnancy, and talking with her did help me. I think timing is really the issue for me and my deeper sad feelings. She was unlucky in that area – I have a friend who just adopted a baby after years of infertility who just found out she is pregnant. I am ecstatic for her. Yet I still cried. We barren ones are an emotional lot.

  10. Julie Oct 13 at 11:07 am Reply Reply

    I agree there is no good way to break pregnancy news to an infertile woman. I have been told in numerous ways of my friends’ happy news, swallowing screams and blinking back tears like a pro during lunch/dinner dates and at large parties – completely unescapable venues. I would have preferred the email in pretty much every scenario. Especially in the midst of my treatment years.
    I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility – several clomid cycles and two failed IUI’s later my marriage broke down before we reached the point of IVF. I spent years being depressed, frustrated and very, very angry at ANY pregnant woman who happened to cross my path. I hated even going to get the mail, just in case there was a freaking pale blue or soft pink baby shower/announcement stashed inside.
    But…it gets better. It really does. Even for those women like me who never get pregnant, despite having a “perfect” reproductive system…(thank my R.E. for that ‘compliment’). We find a way to deal with the path chosen for us and as time passes, find ourselves willing and able to peek around the infertility elephant and rejoin the party.
    Give her time, if you can, and she should thank you for it eventually. If she doesn’t, well, cross that bridge then.

  11. Tash Oct 14 at 7:14 am Reply Reply

    Ahh, yep, I’m that IVF friend right now.
    With the 14-week pregnant friend.
    Who announced (at 4 weeks) during my (failed) IUI cycle.
    I haven’t been able to see her.
    Talking to her, makes me angry, makes me sad. Really, horribly, bone-crushingly sad.
    I can’t fix it, she can’t fix it.
    I know she is starting to hate me for it.
    I know I’m starting to hate me for it.
    But nothing my friend can do will make it better for me.
    I know you miss her, and I can guarantee that she misses you too.
    I think you just have to wait for her.

  12. Alli Oct 14 at 11:19 am Reply Reply

    What about just talking about it? Like any terribly awkward situation, bringing the weirdness to the forefront can make it all so much easier. For instance, when one of my best friends was left by her fiance, I felt like a turd talking about my happy home life and all the upcoming weddings and babies in our circle. So…I told her I felt weird and asked her how we should deal with the weirdness. She let me know that she was hurting, but hearing about other people’s happiness did not make it worse- it reminded her that it was possible.

  13. Meg Oct 14 at 11:35 pm Reply Reply

    I lost a baby at 7 months and it seemed like everyone around me started getting pregnant!
    And of course they all announced they were pregnant when their babies were still in the zygote stage.
    I thought it was so heartless of them to call at all the wrong times. One called and ruined Valentine’s Day and another called at 8 am on a Saturday when normally she couldn’t be bothered to roll out of bed before 2 pm.
    I was so angry with my SIL that I sent her an e-mail explaining how much it hurt me. She proceeded to send me links to local therapists! Incidentally she lost her baby at 8 weeks and nobody told me for months! (They live several states away) Needless to say I have a new husband an 11 month old and another due in March…
    Leave your friend be. Amy is right, what’s it been a couple weeks?
    I find some pregnant women feel so “special” about themselves that they think the earth’s rotation has shifted to them. It hasn’t.

  14. Elizabeth Oct 15 at 4:18 pm Reply Reply

    I’m that “barren” friend too. Unless you’ve been there you can never understand how much it can hurt to see people that you love having babies around you. It doesn’t feel good to feel that way, to be so happy for the other person and yet so sad for yourself. It’s a spiral of feelings. You definitely need to give her some time, odds are she’s just trying to get a handle on her emotions so that she can give you the love and support that she wants to.

  15. laura Jun 10 at 9:15 am Reply Reply

    As someone with fertility issues who is currently watching as friends become pregnant and though feels happy for them the pain and hurt is stronger… 

    I avoid the conversations and avoid them, I do it because while I am going through this emotional journey while I am going through the roller coaster of ivf I can not emotionally handle being around them…

    I cannot pretend to be happy its too much effort it hurts too much and I need to be thinking about myself. I dont want to bring down the mood for them as they have the right to be happy and enjoy the pregnancy and not have to watch what they say around me. 

    Its not fair for my pregnant friends to expect anything from me… they do not understand what I am going through and I am too wrapped up in my grief, pain and longing to be a positive or good person for them to be arround… 

    I am separating myself for my health, last time I was around a pregnant friend I cried for days it was hard to get out of bed and I hardly ate… I became so angry… its just not worth what I have to deal with after, my friends mean a lot to me but this i a very raw and sensitive issue….

    even if you want your friends to be part of the pregnancy you have to understand its not whats best for her, not until she has accepted everything and come to terms with everything.

    I do get angry at pregnant women who want peoples advice on how to get their ivf friend to be involved in their pregnancy… because it shows such a lack of understanding and sympathy towards the friend……

    You have other friends to share the joy with share it with them let the friend know they are welcome to involve themselves and call for a chat about baby or their ivf or whatever and leave it at that, on the days they feel strong enough they know they can approach you.

    I will tell all my friends if I ever get pregnant but I will share my joy and get my support from the right friends and not hurt the friends who I know are suffering so much right now
     

  16. Carole Oct 06 at 5:01 pm Reply Reply

    You just have to accept that some friendships will not survive the infertility process. That’s life. Just because you’ve been friends for a long time it doesn’t mean you’re gonna stay friends forever. Give her time and if she doesn’t want to hang out with you you’re just gonna have to accept that this is her choice.

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