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

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Two Friends; or, How to Handle a Preggo

Yesterday after my session in the library, I had drinks with a Grad School Friend whom I've grown very close to since the beginning of the year. She's the friend I took to the opera a few days after learning the m&m had died, and since she learned about the miscarriage she's been incredibly supportive. She is yet another Recently Trying Friend, but as she's 38 years old, I'll be much more okay with her getting pregnant first (plus she several cycles in now, so not another first-time-lucky friend to deal with).

I wound up telling Grad School Friend all about last weekend's pregnancy announcement from Girl Formerly Known As Recently Trying Friend-- whom I would call Recently Pregnant Friend, except that she's almost five months along, so that's not Recent at all, and she should really be called Clueless Preggo for being so clueless and so pregnant.

Where was I? Oh right, drinks and conversation last night.

Grad School Friend (who has done her time in the therapy trenches) had an interesting perspective on my situation with Clueless Preggo. She suggested that my desire to be the strong, competent, together friend who helps other people--the friend who listens to everyone else's relationship problems while she basks in the glow of her own drama-free decade-long union--my desire to always do the "right" thing in each situation, and my fear of being a big downer all the time has placed huge barriers to intimacy between me and some of my closest friends. It's true that I'm much more comfortable in the counselor role than the sad and needy role (unbelievable as that may seem to readers of this whine-fest). It's true that I have rarely brought up my anxiety and sadness and jealousy and all-around crappy feelings to my friends with babies since the miscarriage. I also had not spoken to Clueless Preggo about the above in months, so perhaps she is to be forgiven for not assuming her pregnancy announcement would hit me like a house falling on my head.

So Grad School Friend suggested a phone call to the Clueless Preggo in which I am (amazing as it may sound) honest. That I just tell her that I'm glad this has been easy for her, but I'm so sad for myself and hearing her news brought up a lot of painful feelings that were hard to deal with. That talking to her about her pregnancy is more than I can handle right now.

It seems so simple. Why would someone have a problem with those feelings? What sort of person would object to my struggling with grief and disappointment?

And yet the thought of making that phone call terrifies me, and I'm not sure why. I'm not sure what exactly scares me so much. I know I'm afraid that I'll push people away while I'm struggling and they won't be there anymore when I come out on the other end. I know I'm afraid that my friends will think I'm selfish or morbid or self-absorbed or fixated on my own problems. But the ultimate fear is even beyond that, and I'm still not sure what's at the root of it.

Any thoughts on what to do in this situation would be most appreciated, because I'm doubting everything I think and feel these days.


  1. It's great that you have someone to talk to about all this IRL. It would be tough to make that phone call, especially since it's out of your comfort zone. Plus, you have no idea how she'll react. What if she doesn't get it? What if she doesn't reach out to you? What if she isn't supportive? I'd play out all those scenarios in your head and make sure that you'll be ok, no matter what the end result is.

  2. Well, it depends how close you used to be with Clueless Preggo friend. If you used to be close and want to remain friends, then I think you ought to give her a ring and let her know what's going on with you. I saw who my real friends are while going through IF. Those who gave me space and yet let me know there were there for me are forever in my heart. Others, well they just never understood. They would still send me ultrasound pictures -- great thanks! You need to open up and you might be surprised to find a whole lot of supportive people around you. Keep us posted.

  3. Such a hard situation and question....I think there are so many things to consider.

    How close are you to this friend? Was she in your wedding? How does she react to painful and difficult situations? Is she capable of supporting you in the way you need to be supportive?

    If you're close and she's a possible source of support and understand and won't ignore your call for help, I think it might be a good idea to make the call and let her know you were hurt and also talk to her about how you want her to handle the situation, if she's willing (no ultrasound photos, etc). If she reacts poorly, you will know where you stand....and to avoid her until the situation changes.

    Of course you could always just avoid her and not make the phone call and when you do have to see her, play happy and excited. Sometimes it's easier to play that part than show your pain if they're going to be callous about the situation anyways.

    Let us know what you decide and how it goes. xx

  4. My college roommate got pregnant and told me about it excitedly, and when I explained my situation, she ran away and I haven't heard from her since. Granted, we weren't at all close anymore, but it sounds like you aren't that close with this person either (I consider a close girlfriend one who tells you that she's pregnant around the same time she tells her parents, if not before)... So I don't know if it is worth the... i don't know, putting yourself out there and making yourself vulnerable. Unless you feel it would be really cathartic FOR YOU.

    On the other hand, when I told my old roommate about our troubls and she ran off, it was sort of a relief. I don't have to pretend and now I know her true colors and don't have to bother about her ever again.

    You can always just avoid this person until you are ready to deal with her. That way you don't have to pretend OR put yourself out there. I think that's totally justified!

    My mom has an exercise for when you don't know what to do, you envision various scenarios and then go with the option that produces your emotional best response during the visualization process. I find this a very handy exercise in situations like this. To me, it doesn't sound like the idea of this phone call is giving you a very good emotional response.

  5. I'm also glad you have someone to talk to about this. Sometimes, an outside perspective is just the thing. It's a hard situation. And a hard post to comment on. I think because I saw myself in GSF's assessment. I'm usually the calm, capable one who takes care of other people, who helps other people deal with the drama in their lives. I don't like the shoe being on the other foot. I do not like it one bit.

    I'm not sure what I would do in your position. Probably, at some point, I would broach the subject. Get it out there. Acknowledging that it has been difficult for you does not negate her own happiness. But it's a very, very tough one and somehow the fact that she held off on revealing the truth makes it feel tougher.

  6. this one's tough. i have a close friend who i think is about to tell me she's preggers also, so i've thought about this long and hard, and i'm gonna flat out tell her that while i'm happy for her, i can't really talk about pregnancy stuff with her bc i'm too vulnerable right now. bc what's the alternative if you don't say something? you'll *have to* meet up with her from time to time and she'll go on and on about pregnancy, yes? that sounds like sheer torture to me. or i guess you could go mia as well, something i've done many a time as well. sometimes i think i'm schizo. i'll either be very confrontational, or i'll do a 180 and put my tail between my legs and just disappear. sorry this isn't very helpful. just do what your *gut* tells you and whatever you're comfortable with :o)

  7. Hmmm... interesting question, and one that I should probably not answer right now, since I just tried very hard to be honest with a close friend, and she just. didn't. get. it. And then I felt (feel?) worse.

    So here's my half-assed advice: imagine all of the possible actions you could take and then the possible outcomes for each one. Since you can't control the outcomes(frustrating, I know), use that as a way to choose the action that will cause the least potential pain to you.

    But again, I'm scarred by my recent experience, so you should probably discount this.

  8. For me it also comes down to a question of how much you value this friendship. If a lot, go for it. If a little, keep things shallow. If you decide to do it, consider a medium that won't force her to react immediately. I mean, you never know, she might be in the middle of a conference when she picks up the phone and it might ruin her dinner with the bigwigs!

    GSF's comments sound pretty insightful. I know that part of my reluctance to share with my best friend had to do with not wanting to admit to my fallibility. But that tends to feel like shame, not fear. I think you should definitely figure out what the major fear is before going forward.

    And I guess the last thing I wanted to say is this. I find it far more probable that sharing your pain with your friends will result in them still being there for you on the other side than hiding your pain from them. Even if they can't get it and don't support you in the ways you need, aren't you just going to end up feeling isolated and resentful if you just keep it all concealed? And you're in for some really tough months as the baby madness ramps up...

    All that said, there are people in my life I am not interested in being open with, so I totally respect that choice as well.

  9. I'm a big wimp and horrible at confrontation and really private about being hurt/feeling pain/being scared. All that said, I was feeling like a depressed island and last Fall I confided in a couple of VERY close friends. One is very supportive but equally clueless (and she's 2x first-time lucky so despite being a nurse, she doesn't "get it"). The other one was CRAZY clueless and keeps giving me "just relax and it'll happen" advice to the pt that I lied and said we're taking a break from treatments. It was a big downer. For me, opening up has brought me some heartache. Tho, like blogging, the actual act of unloading this horrible weight into the ether (of friends) is cathartic. I guess this is a rambling way of saying I think our friends mean well, but that doesn't ensure you'll get the support or intimacy of friendship you might want by being honest. I know I sound horribly jaded! This is just my (jaded) two cents. Going forward I choose to keep our struggles private.

  10. I don't have any advice - because I feel like I could have written that post myself. *hugs* I hope if and when you make the call that it clears the air between you and your friend and she supports you.

  11. It's tough. As others commented, it depends on how much you care about this friend(ship), and if the process of telling her would help you.
    I have told a few people that we've been trying unsuccessfully, and the reactions are mostly like "but you still have time" -- probably with good intentions, but I feel not taken seriously in my pain. Most of them aren't trying yet (or if they are, they didn't tell me), so the situation is different from yours in that I haven't had to see them conceive on the first try... yet. I still prefer to be open about it (at least with close friends) in hope that they are more sensitive if they get pregnant and we're still not. It might have the opposite effect, as you saw with your friend, that they avoid telling you... so I don't know if this is the best way to go. In this particular situation, I'd probably rather write a message than call, but calling in general is not my preferred way of communication (esp. on difficult issues), so that may just be me.

  12. This is a tough one hon. I went through this with a close friend and chickened out about talking to her. My husband then took it upon himself to tell her husband that I was feeling uncomfortable around her when pregnancy "stuff" would come up. She did not react well to this, and I in turn took it out on my husband b/c I had decided not to say anything. Ulitimately, it turned out fine. She got over it, I avoided her, she had her baby and now we are fine-- you just never know how one will react. I have a frind who is getting ready to make the big annoucement any day and I know I will be faced with this again. It's an ugly situation and one that I hate being in.

  13. I struggle with these very feelings. I am scared that by sharing my struggles I will alienate myself even more than I already am from my friends. I also worry that if they know what's going on, they'll stop being my distraction when I need them. I have shared our struggle with very few people. And the people I have shared with are mostly clueless and annoying about it. I don't want to be pitied. I don't want to be told to relax. I don't want to be gossiped about.
    Sorry for the rambling comment, but I guess my only point is that I understand. I personally am more comfortable sharing my pain/sadness with only my husband, mother, and you guys. Let us know what you decide.