Playgroups, Pregnancies & the Pain of Secondary Infertility
Hi there, Amy.
I’ve read your column for a long time and love your advice. I even live in the same county and my daughter (who is 6 months younger than Noah) was in (frustrating) early intervention too. Super helpful to read your account. I need some help and I hope you might be able to give me a perspective that I just can’t find.
It took me 2.5 years to get pregnant with my 3-year old. After trying for #2 for a year, the RE [Reproductive Endocrinologist] says the chances are slim at best. I’m a neurotic mess/heartbroken over this for many reasons but what I’m trying to deal with now is my play group – 15 first-time moms who get together ~2x/week. I’m not close friends with them all individually but the group is still my saving grace for dealing with being a SAHM of a sometimes-difficult kid.
In the last year most of the group has had kid #2. The remaining 3 who weren’t pregnant just announced that they are (after trying for a total of 5 months between them all). I thought the hard part would be knowing that they’re all pregnant. It turns out, instead, that it’s the mundane chatting (no sushi! I’m so tired! should i buy a new crib?) that’s killing me. I don’t begrudge them their happiness but they have no idea how hard it is to listen.
I don’t know what to do. I want it to not matter and move on. But instead I’m the life of the party – I make snide comments around them (you’re 22 weeks? so you’re not due for over 4 months? you know that’s means you’re almost 5 months, not 6. months don’t actually have 4 weeks) and cry when I’m alone. I miss it when I don’t go but am miserable for two days after I do go. But I, um, don’t have other friends, at least not in this state. Too melodramatic to just move on after 3 good years together? They’d notice but wouldn’t miss me terribly. I couldn’t possibly tell them to not discuss the main event in their lives simply because I’m there. If it were just a single event like a baby shower, I just wouldn’t go and be done with it. But since it’s my main calendar filler, I need to find a balance between the ‘why can’t I just suck it up’ side and the soul crushing other side.
Balance? What is this “balance,” you speak of? The whole trying-to-conceive business left me so jaded and bitter and cranky that I STILL have trouble dealing with other people’s pregnancy news sometimes, even after having baby #2. I distinctly remember being nine months pregnant with Noah when someone I sort-of secretly disliked announced their second pregnancy (we JUST started trying last month! isn’t that HILARIOUS?)…and hiding in my office for an hour to irrationally seethe with jealousy while simultaneously cursing my endless Braxton-Hicks contractions. I knew I was being beyond crazy, and yet…those feelings of failure, disappointment and envy over what comes so easily and naturally to other people are REALLY hard to shake.
So I wish I had an actual SOLUTION for you, something beyond a sympathetic head pat and a lament over how difficult it can be to find a group of mom friends in the first place — so difficult that I think we’ve all maybe tried to force ourselves to enjoy someone’s company now and again, and suffered through awkward playdates with crazy people, or had our hearts sink after that super cool woman we chatted up on the playground turned out to be only visiting from across the country, or show up on that night’s episode of COPS (Dammit! And we had so much in common!)
If I were you, I guess, I’d take a really hard and long look at the pros and cons of sticking with the group. On the one hand, pretty soon all of those pregnancies will be over and done with. On the other hand, the pregnancy talk will turn into baby talk, complete with actual delicious little babies, which might not be any easier. On the one hand, you need the outlet and miss it when you don’t go. On the other hand, you’re “miserable for two days after [you] do go.” Yikes, dude. I know we mothers get a lot of pressure to keep our children constantly and properly socialized and all, but two days of misery and funkitude seems like too much in exchange for your kid to get the chance to bang around on someone else’s kitchen set.
Yes, wherever you go, whatever you do, there’s going to be someone else’s pregnant belly waiting for you. (Heh. HEH! Sorry.) You can’t run away sobbing every time you see one, but you also don’t have to walk into Fertility Central every week with a big fat smile on your face just to prove that you’re a “bigger person,” or anything. I gather the news from your RE is pretty fresh and you are still coming to terms with staying a family of three. Give yourself time to grieve that fact. Wallow a bit. Formulate a plan, whether that be a second opinion from a different RE or simply pledging to embrace being a mother of one.
Maybe try going to the playgroup every other week and trying some new social outlet on the off weeks: go to the most popular playground, a new music class, a kiddie concert at a local coffeehouse. Volunteer at preschool or camp. Scour the Internet for a local mom’s message board or blogging ring that has get-togethers. Check BigTent or Meetup.com or propose your own outing on Facebook. If you don’t find anyone you click with, well, you head back to the playgroup the next week as usual. It’s kind of like a really immature breakup from high school — don’t ditch the playgroup until you’ve got something new and better lined up. Maybe the time away will be good for you, maybe you’ll really miss it and learn to tune out the negatives over time. Maybe you’ll enjoy the time away more than you think or realize that you’d rather break off and stay friends with just a couple of the moms individually. I don’t know, but I do know that I don’t see anything wrong with what you’re feeling or your need to maybe step back from it all while you lick your TTC wounds for a bit.
Photo by jaaron