A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Course of True Friendship; or, Being There

I had a couple posts in mind for today: one on the two-week wait and how I'm so over it, I feel like I was never under it; one on Suor Angelica, the opera I heard on the radio this afternoon as I was returning home from teaching (an opera about a woman who learns her child has died-- and also the opera I coincidentally went to in the week between learning we had lost the m&m and my d&c). But instead I'm going to write about something happy and something surprising.

I've blogged before about my best friend--let's call her Doctor Lady--and the complicated emotions sparked by her conceiving so quickly and giving birth to her son in January. There's joy, there's sadness, there's even some bitterness, and there's relief that she lives 3,000 miles away and the baby isn't a constant presence in my life.

Doctor Lady and I have been best friends since we were 11 and are truly kindred spirits. In some ways, she's my soul mate: that one person who shares and understands everything. We shared our life experiences, like awkward junior high dances and first crushes and first kisses and first boyfriends all the way up to choosing a career and slogging through grad school and finding men we wanted to marry and deciding we were ready for babies.

We also share a host of intellectual interests, particularly in terms of literature and history (thought she leaves me far in the dust on science and math and I can write imaginative literature, which she cannot). And we have a love of the same movies and music and plays, a fondness for the same kind of joking wordplay and absurdities.

She was already in her third trimester when I miscarried. She was preparing her home and her life for her son, and I was gearing up to start over and trying to make sense of what I'd lost. And while she was always there for me whenever I called, with inexhaustible patience for my sadness, we also discussed her pregnancy and baby plans more than I wanted to then, a fact I sometimes stewed over.

Now, nearly six months after the miscarriage, we talk about the baby, and her and her husband's upcoming move, and how she copes with being back at work so quickly (she's in the Navy and could only take 8 weeks of maternity leave). We talk about my graduate studies, Lawyer Guy's work, our families, my birthday party, my summer travel plans. And sometimes we talk about the miscarriage or trying to conceive or jealousy. But not always. Not even, these days, often.

At times, I've resented this: her--and my--ability to focus on other facts, to pretend that this isn't the single most significant aspect of my life right now, to pretend that everything is normal. "Can't she tell how much I hurt?" I've wondered. "And if she can, why doesn't she ask me about it?"

But today I realized: she calls. She calls me every week. Sometimes twice a week. Even with the time difference, and the work schedule, and the 3-month-old baby, and the fellow doctor husband, she calls me far more frequently than I call her. Far more frequently than any of my other friends do, babies or no babies, jobs or no jobs.

What's that we say we want our friends and family to do for us? To be there. Not to make our problems the center of our lives, not to fix them, not to grieve and mourn like we do, but to be there.

She was there all the time and I didn't even realize.


  1. Doctor Lady sounds like a good friend. Like you, my best friend and I do a lot of pretending about The Thing That Is There But Must Not be Mentioned (Often). Some days I think it means the end of our friendship, some days that our friendship will survive even this.

    Like you say, the fact that she has been there, that she has called - even if she's not asking the explicit questions - is worth a lot. This is a lovely post.

  2. ahh, the *that which must not be named* thing happens an awful lot with me the few friends who know. they kinda tiptoe around me, not wanting to ask, but not wanting to ignore either, but kinda prodding me, but not really, to talk about it if i want. and usually, i don't want. so then we fake talk about other stuff. lately, i have no more to say when someone asks me how i am, other than "good. i'm good." and then the "what's going on with you?" then i'll say "not much. not much". REALLY. BORING. CONVERSATIONS. can you tell?

    your friend sounds quite lovely! her frequent and consistent phone calls to check in make her sound like a keeper for sure :o)

  3. Awww...that's sweet. I'm glad you have a person in your life like that. I have a couple, and I'm ever-so thankful for them.

  4. Thanks for writing this post and sharing your reflection of your friendship. It's beautiful that you can look back and realize that she's been a listening ear for you every step of the way and every way that she could be for you as you've healed and continue to heal from your miscarriage.

    I can see a lot of what you're saying in my relationship with my sister, even though my sister's delivery isn't the best, she calls me every week to check in and just talk to me about what's going on with her. She never really brings up the pain of IF and PG loss without me bringing the topic up b/c she doesn't want to upset me. I finally figured that out on Tuesday and it made me feel so much better to know she was thinking about it and was just trying to be there for me if I wanted to talk about it. I thought she had trying to avoid the issue when all along she was just trying to protect me.

  5. Such a lovely post, and your bestie totally sounds like a keeper. I have a bestie much like yours and she's been there for me through this whole process. And you're so right, sometimes I appreciate that she doesn't make my ttc journey the topic of all our convos...but when I do feel like talking about it she's ready to listen. So yes, just being there is sometimes the key!! Thinking of you this tww!!!

  6. That kind of had me tearing up a little. Thanks for such a sweet post. What a good friend you have.

  7. I am so afraid for this day for myself-- it is coming soon. I also have a 3000 mile away best friend (in Brooklyn, actually- we could theoretically swap besties, for convenience's sake :)), who will start trying in September. She keeps saying that she hopes we get pregnant together, and every time she says it, I get this feeling like someone is ripping my gut cavity open with their bare hands.

    Riiiipppp.... gush... oh!

    And you are already there. PAST there. Well, my friend, you will be the one I lean on (and Bunny, she's got the BFB right next door!) when it happens to me.

    Hearing it put this eloquently has me a bit prepared, but I just don't know... sometimes I fantasize about her future baby to prepare myself, and this tear-laden fantasy definitely qualifies as melodrama, but I can't know what the real emotions will be.

  8. This post really touched me. I love how, in the end you realize that (despite everything) she's been there for you all along. I recently went through a similar epiphany with my best friend. It's a different situation because she isn't married nor does she have children, but I would get resentful at times because I felt as though she was neglecting me. It took me a lot to realize that this wasn't the case--that she really was one of my biggest supporters through infertility. And I am so grateful to have her, as I am sure you are just as grateful for your friend.

  9. Awwww, that was lovely! I feel like with my BFB there's no real solution. If she asks me how I'm doing, I don't always want to talk to her about it. 'Cause how could she possibly understand? And I guess I resent her in some ways (while understanding it's in no way her fault) so she's the last person I want to discuss it with. On the other hand, if she doesn't ask, I feel like she's a selfish cow. And TOTALLY, I had to talk about things I did NOT want to hear about just to try to be there for her. Just like she had to NOT talk about things she was probably brimming over about for my sake. I figure it all comes out pretty even. Though I also figure having a miscarriage makes it a million times harder...In any event, it's clear you've been a stellar friend to her, and I'm happy you're feeling like she's been supporting you too!

  10. It's awesome that you have her in your life. I am currently dealing with how to relate/interact with my friend who lost her IF battle--(no more money/tapped out). I'll try to take pointers from your friend and just be there more often.

  11. I wanted to let you know that this brought me to tears. You have a wonderful friend. I'm also going to tell you that having that friend is a tremendous blessing. I fear that my high school bff has a baby and has kept her distance after. We both had miscarriages but one worked out for her and it's a bit too fresh for her to keep up with my now *many* failures. Also, a funny story where the only new woman I've met in real life was just fired. I was hoping to find a new friend but it turns out she was just a new crazy. (I guess throwing yourself at all males married or no on a business trip to Vegas can hurt your career. Yes, what happens in Vegas most certainly does not stay in Vegas.)

  12. That sounds like a wonderful friend. I'm missing that a bit, my friends are all miles away, and we're not in touch that often. My fault as much as theirs, though...