Ugh (Cont'd issues w/ friends)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

By some weird coincidence, my college friend #1 called me a couple weeks ago when I had just found out about this baby. I was kind of caught off guard- it has been since probably early November since we'd talked on the phone! I was actually heading to an appointment, so I asked her to call me another night.

She called last night, and because I find it particularly sort of annoying when people talk to me when they're pregnant and don't fess up, I decided to tell her about our news.

She was very, genuinely excited for me. After all, she is one of only two of them who ever actually called after I shared our struggle with them in October, and one of only three who have been consistently supportive ever since. It warmed my heart that I finally got to share such precious news with her.

But there were a couple times in our conversation that just made me sigh, to the deepest infertile corners. (I hope no one is offended at my wording- infertility is a huge part of my journey, even though I'm pregnant now, and it still stings when I am on the receiving end of disrespect towards those who suffer its cross.)

Exhibit A: {After telling her to please keep this news between her and I because I don't feel comfortable sharing so early with the other girls, given how unsupportive they seemed in past months..."} She says , "Well you know, I think it just made them feel uncomfortable- they have never dealt with that before- they didn't know what to say."
Exhibit B: She says, "Wow, this is great! We can talk more often!"

Okay, Exhibit A.

I will use my Grandma as a counter-argument to hers. My Grandma has Alzheimer's. Do I have Alzheimer's? Nope. Have I ever known someone with Alzheimer's? Nope. Do I just cut my Grandma off, and not talk to her anymore, and tell everyone else updates about my life except her because, hey, she probably won't remember it tomorrow? Nope.

I read about it online, to find out what types of things Alzheimer's patients love to talk about (e.g., old memories are retained more than new ones). I try to remain in more contact with her now because, from what I have read, having Alzheimer's is a very isolating sometimes-scary place to be. (Sound familiar?) And for heaven's sake, I tell her everything that I would tell anyone else, and if she forgets the next day, I'll just retell her! (She was SO excited to hear about our baby! She did suggest we use some awful family name for the little tyke, which I, myself, might forget!)

It is a human tragedy that people who struggle with infertility are forced to carry their own cross, but that they also have to go around making sure their cross doesn't offend or make other people uncomfortable. Other (fertile) people should be falling over themselves trying to make sure we are just as loved and included and valued. Maybe there will be times when it's just too hard to accept an invitation for lunch from your mom-of-three-under-four friend, but the invitation should always be there. And if you email them the link to RESOLVE's "How to be a good friend to an Infertile", they should not make excuses for their lack of stepping up to the plate with you.

Now for Exhibit B.

Um. I get that her life is consumed with her young son and her baby girl due in late March/early April, so she is really into baby stuff. But why are we going to be talking more now? Even though she may not have realized it, and despite my failed attempts at trying to update my "friends" last year with things that were going on in my life, we had things in common a year ago, and six months ago, and two months ago. I think it validates my feelings that my friends really do have crazy mom-blinders on them that render things like cooking and gardening and exercise completely devoid of meaning. Who cares if I cooked an amazing dinner- the only thing I can talk about is my baby's new {whatever}!!!

I think it is kind of sad that she said we're going to talk more now. I mean, there are good things, like finally feeling like I belong and that they will now think I am a worthwhile human person, but after my struggle with infertility, those feel so superficial. I fought many nights to convince myself that I was a worthwhile human person even though our IVF failed or our first month of acupuncture didn't magically plant a baby inside.

Because if you are good friends. And I mean, really good friends with someone, your friendship (and communication) should transcend circumstances. If your good friend gets cancer, and her life is filled with medications and appointments and new realities while yours is filled with sippy cups and laundry baskets and diapers, does that mean you can't talk as much? I say that if you are truly good friends, you will talk exactly the same amount, despite whatever personal war is raging or whatever joyful song is being lifted.

(And yes, I realize that people with similar likes/interests tend to gravitate towards each other because they are concerned with the same things, but the true lifetime friendships that are there for you no matter what shouldn't vary based on what exact spot you are in today. And if people aren't willing to be your friend through thick and thin, they shouldn't kid themselves about the quality/nature of their friendships.)

(And for what it's worth, I found out that the "friend" who told everyone else except me about her pregnancy after I specifically asked them all to include me on all their emails (see link above), is due in April, and she has still not told me. Can you believe that?!)

I made the decision last November to just keep in communication with those who have been supportive to me, and this baby does not change that at all. Although I have zero desire to share our news with those who have been unsupportive (mostly because I think their sickeningly sweet emails and subsequent including me in all their updates will make my skin crawl because I was so blatantly excluded before), I will tell them....eventually. I promise before September ;-)

PS. I imagine some people might tell me to just get over myself and be happy that they are going to be happy for us and include us and all of that. I am sure they will be happy, and maybe time will heal things, but I was so hurt by them last fall that I think it is going to take years, if it ever happens. They have no idea how their words (and/or lack thereof) have hurt me. And while some may say I'm being selfish or unforgiving or considering myself to be the center of the universe, I say it's all in the name of self-preservation. Which is something that you get schooled in after struggling with infertility for so long.


runnyyolk said...

No, no, no--I understand EXACTLY what you're saying. I am SO sick of people (namely my mother) excusing everyone around me for their crap behaviour because "they don't know what to say."

Bridget said...

I have some crap friends out there too. It's ridiculous that people act this way.

Holly said...

While I haven't experienced this personally, I know it sucks and hurts a lot. The perspective that non-IFers have is so example - I was driving with my SIL who had a baby a couple months after Elijah was born, and she said, "Being a mom is like being part of some worldwide club, where all of
you have something in common, and you can talk with anyone! It's so cool that there's that sisterhood there, just having a baby and going through it all!" And I know how she meant it, I COMPLETELY know, I've always known that group was there and what it meant to be included, because I felt so blatantly EXcluded for so long. I tried to delicately explain to her how I love and hate it at the same time, that it's great to feel a connection with people, but at the same time it hurts because these are the same people who felt they had so little in common with me because I hadn't given birth and had a newborn. I don't know how much I was able to open her eyes to it, but I had to say SOMEthing, because she never perceived anything wrong with that "group" or "sisterhood."

fertilelychallengedblacksheep said...

The line about women who struggle with infertility having to carry their own cross, was so dead on I don't think anyone could have phrased it better.

I am sick of this notion that we're contagious or that we make others uncomfortable with our struggles. It's very upsetting and I'm deeply sorry you were treated this way. Not to sound too harsh, but it were me, I'd seriously consider talking to this friend a lot less.

Mrs. Lydon said...

I completely understand the way you feel. When i got pregnant and shared it with some family/friends all of the sudden i was "in the club" and now lets just say i am not. I dont get phone calls anymore and you are right. They should be bending over backwards not the other way around. >hugs<

mrskateski said...

It sounds exactly like some conversations I've had recently! True friends will always find something to talk about no matter what stage of life their both in.

Maegan said...

I don't have the same experience, but it occurred to me recently that maybe the reason it's been hard to make friends here (we've lived in our new city 5 yrs) is because I'm not part of the 'mommy club'. I think that when we do have kids, friends will come out of the woodwork (some of the moms at our church), and I don't know whether to look forward to that or be a little resentful.

Coco said...

Yeah, I don't think you're off base at all. Real friends are with you through it all. And while I think sometimes people don't know what to say... usually I think it's more that they just don't think at all. Seriously, they have no idea, and don't really want to have an idea. You know that almost anyone COULD understand if they took the time and made the effort. If they don't think the friendship is worth that effort, then maybe it's not.

Adele said...

It's strange how badly some people handle this. I think your Alzheimer's analogy is a really good one. That's what empathy is about - putting yourself in someone else's shoes. We're all capable of it.

And, yeah, the "spending more time" comment would really annoy me, too:)

AL said...

The comments would really get to me too and I hate the excuse "I didn't know what to say to you." How about saying just that? That's what I hated about my BIL / SIL drama "we thought it was best to say nothing at all". No, they thought that was EASIEST for them, not best for me.

I don't know if it will ever get easier.

lowfatlady said...

I don't think you are selfish, I would feel the same way. your friends comments irked me and I support you 100%

Trisha said...

Wow, I can't believe someone would say that. I'm sorry that you have to deal with these kinds of things but I know you will make the best decision about what to do. It's funny how people respond differently to you (like I can't tell you how many people have spoken to me since I'm pushing a stroller now).

Slackie O. said...

You're not being unreasonable at all. This business really shows us who our true friends are.

I'm sorry you're in this position, but your reaction is totally understandable to my mind!