When Pregnancy Announcements Attack, Part II
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.
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 by virexmachina