So you are two, three or maybe even seven years into this fertility thing. You are up to your eyes in supplements, acupuncture appointments and trying to ensure you eat enough green leafy veg every day.
After spending yet another tenner on ‘Pregnacare Conception’ and staring longingly at the alcohol aisle (which naturally you are avoiding to try to boost your fertility) you see your friend has sent you that dreaded text:
“Hello lovely. Are you around to meet up at all this week? Be great to sort a time/day”
To the untrained eye this is an innocent enough sounding text but you know the signs. You start to trace it back obsessively and realise that YES she DID have soft drinks when she was out last weekend.
And you know. You just know that she is pregnant. That you have another nine month sentence to serve out while you witness it.
I think one of the most unfair and awful things is that when you are struggling to conceive you are already amidst a battle – already using up a lot of strength just to exist and do what you need to do. Then, when a person close to you announces they are pregnant it is down to you to put in the energy to make it ok. They can’t do anything – they can’t make themselves un-pregnant and they have the trump card of not wanting to do or say the wrong thing so they hang back. The ball lands in your court because you are the one who has the ability to make it either ok or not ok. You are the one who will react or not react.
So how can you keep your friendship without getting hurt? How can you get through it?
Well it’s not going to be easy I can tell you that much but it can be done. Here are my top tips for managing friendships in this situation.
- Accept that you will be acutely upset for a few days or even a couple of weeks. This is a natural and understandable reaction, and much as it breaks my heart to know that for you, finding out a virtual stranger is pregnant can reduce you to tears for the rest of the day you have to ride this bit out. Reign in, and stay close to people of trust (partners. parents, friends who aren’t pregnant and preferably don’t want to be).
- Be honest with your friend. Explain to them that basically this is lovely news, that how can it not be a wonderful thing for them to be having a baby? Tell them you are not sad because they are pregnant, simply sad that you are not. That sometimes when someone close is pregnant it only reinforces how hard it is for you. Explain that the friendship means a lot to you and if they can, then giving you a couple of weeks to get used to it and allow you to lay low would be much appreciated and then you will be back on track.
- After the shock and initial upset has eased a little make sure you instigate communication with them. I promise you that your true friends will want desperately to make it ok and they will be willing to do what ever you need to make it easier. They don’t want to lose you. If you avoid them for nine months you will find it almost impossible to rekindle that closeness. So bite the bullet and say to them you value them and love them and want to be a part of this, but some days you might feel ok to talk about it and other days you might prefer to stick to subjects that you chatted about before they got pregnant. Your true friends will understand this.
- If it is a colleague or a friend you aren’t that close to then buffer yourself with a mutual friend. There will always be a person in the group or office that is a closer friend and if she knows the situation she will have your back. She will look out for you, especially in those situations where everyone is talking about it in a big group and you can’t escape. Knowing someone there is aware of how this might be making you feel will make a huge difference, and they will probably check in on you from time to time and if need be have a quiet word with the slightly over zealous scan picture flasher.
- Don’t rule everyone out. The lady who seems friendly at work who has two kids isn’t forbidden territory because she has kids. There are many compassionate lovely people out there who will get what you are going through and will also make lovely friends. Not all people with kids can only talk about their kids. Just don’t single yourself out as being the odd one out. You are all still women – all with your own thoughts, ideas, dreams and likes. Additionally you might find if you give yourself the chance that although there are lots of sad moments when you see another person having what you want, there may also be some lovely moments if you can be a part of that child’s life. You and your friends will always grow together if it is meant to be, and if you do drift apart remember that this happens to all people not just people with infertility. There are some lovely people out there and I sometimes find the universe drops people in my path just at the right time.
- Don’t decide that it will be awful before you get there. If you are out in a group and you feel like the only one not pregnant or with kids you will be on high alert for ANY comments or gestures to do with kids. Follow rule 4 and apply a buffer person to ally with and then try instead to look out for conversations and comments that aren’t to do with things that hurt you. Sounds crazy I know but if we change the direction of our thoughts and expectations we can experience different things.
And last of all – just stick to what you are doing. Remember your plan is coming together and your baby is coming they just haven’t got here yet. You might be surprised at how much your friends envy other things about you. That in fact once your baby comes you have everything set up for a lovely life where as for many of them they are still struggling with stuff like unhappy work / life balance, financial struggles, house that is not meeting their needs. We all have struggles and challenges with different areas of life and at different times. Maybe your struggle is about to turn into having it all.
If you are swamped with that feeling that everyone else seems pregnant and are totally fed up with waiting and you just want more direction and answers then The Fertility Haven will bring you ease, comfort and all the answers you need to create the best possible way forward (in a very digestible way).