Infertility and Friendships
Infertility and Friendships
Once we'd decided we were ready to start a family we wanted it yesterday, we were ridiculously fortunate that we only had to wait a few months before we were 'in the family way' as it were.
I then spent the following weeks popping folic acid and nibbling ginger biscuits fending off what felt like a horrendous hangover, I read the emails from the copious number of baby websites I had signed up to sneakily in the office, amazed at how soon our lil' bean had grown finger nails, developed to the size of a kidney bean, apple, pepper...
And then finally came the relief at the scan, where teary-eyed, bounty pack and little black and white images in hand, I became a fully fledged member of the parent-to-be club. It's an incredible time. As myself and the other half drove home we discussed who to call first and got onto it as soon as we walked through the door... and then it came to the few friends who have desperately wanted to experience what we were going through not for just a few months but for years, without such luck. The dilemma - do we call, or take the easy way out with a text. I put it off, I didn't want to 'rub their noses in it', and would struggle to find the right words. The thought of breaking one of my friend's heart makes my stomach churn.
I do believe children are a blessing, a gift and it seems like a growing number of fit, young healthy couples are experiencing infertility. Of my circle of friends, eleven couples in total, three have struggled or are still struggling to fall pregnant and two took over a year. These are good friends and I couldn't help but put myself in their shoes. I certainly didn't want them to hear from someone else in the pub that I'm pregnant, notice my little bump or even worse ...read it on Facebook!
A couple of sleepless nights, a few draft texts, a quick dash around Sainsbury's in case my cover is blown and time was getting on. I needed to bite the bullet. An evening of toying with the idea of doing it over a coffee and a chat turned into me begging my partner to do it. I was scared. I'm sure if my friends had known how much I didn't want to tell them, they'd have been hurt.
For one particular couple my other half told the guy over a beer in the pub - phew thank God that's done I though at first. The outcome? We haven't seen them for 4 years! My friend didn't want to see, speak or hear from me. They had been together longer than we had, they were married and in her opinion 'they deserved it more' than we did. Wow. Harsh? Quite possibly. But they had already been through a long and painful grueling 7+ year journey to start a family, to have my bump under her nose would have been too much for her to bear.
More recently, while pregnant with our daughter. Another couple we were close friends with, got 'the text' and just suddenly stopped contact, almost overnight, I'd hassle mutual friends about what I'd done wrong. None the wiser, I put it down to new jobs, busy work schedules and my hormones turning me into a big round paranoid heap with fat ankles. Edie was born and we didn't hear anything. I was hurt and upset. I'm quite sensitive and hate the thought of my actions upsetting anyone. But I couldn't help but feel hurt myself, there I was experiencing something amazing and wanting to share it with my close friends, and they didn't seem bothered.
It wasn't until our baby was 4 months old when I got a text, she wanted to talk. I felt physically sick. I had no idea what she wanted to say. When she arrived I put the kettle on and we sat, awkwardly, and made small talk. It must've taken everything she had to sit across from me as I held my baby. She tearfully explained how she had fallen pregnant and the baby was due a couple of days before ours was but they'd sadly lost their baby at 10 weeks. To see me at every stage of pregnancy, where she should've been, to buy a baby gift to congratulate us when they were thinking of what they should've been buying for their own baby was just too hard for her. It was easier to shut me out. I sat and I listened. It was very hard, but what do you say, do you apologise?
I explained how she could have come to me earlier, I would have done everything I could to support her. I reassured her I would have understood.
I cringe at just how patronising this must sound. How exactly could I begin to understand how she'd feel.
I remember desperately willing the 'clear blue' stick ...well sticks...to tell me I was pregnant, and for the months it didn't I was haunted by travel systems everywhere, pregnant bumps, cute babies and one born every minute! I can't begin to contemplate how it feels to lose a baby, at any stage of pregnancy. I was hurt she felt she couldn't talk to me sooner, but in her shoes I may well have done the same. The pain must have been unbearable and I have to respect she still needs space and time. If it means our friendship has faded as a result I have to accept that. I'd love to see more of her,of course. Perhaps I'm being selfish?
I do have a great old school friend full of life, she would make the most incredible mother, she has so much to give, an incredible marriage, a beautiful home and its just not happened. She's investigating her options, although like other friends of mine now approaching mid 30's she's worrying they're running out of time. I told her on both occasions about our pregnancies, I played it down, swiftly changed the subject, as the months went by, I tried not to mention this huge bump with limbs protruding in protest, so as not to hurt her feelings. But being the strong woman she is she'd ask me how I was feeling, she made them beautiful gifts to welcome them to the world and is genuinely interested in what they're up to.
This must take a huge amount of strength and I love her for it. But I hate, as for many others that for reasons out of her control she can't experience it for herself. Yet. Children are a blessing, a gift. But a gift that many good women are being put through so much heartache to get, if at all.
I can only hope that the next time she drops in for tea & cake she's holding black and white pictures of her own.
Donna Blogs at Cardies & Crumbs