Thursday, November 18, 2010

P-A-I vs. F-F: Battle to the Death?

Lately I've been thinking about the relationship between the Pregnant-After-Infertility woman and her Fertile Friend. This thinking was inspired mainly by my own relationship with the only fertile friend I've got, BFB. (Most of my very few friends don't want kids or are men, so may technically be fertile, but don't count.) But also by Trinity's Baby Shower Series. The issues she was grappling with are very different from mine, but there are some common threads. Because issues have threads. Love me, love my mixed metaphors. And by a post of Sienna's about a friend who is due shortly after S. and is so excited to share the experience. But I don't want to make any assumptions about their thinking, so we'll just focus on me.

I've been struggling with the fact that I still resent my best friend for getting pregnant so instantly, for the pain I endured while watching her be pregnant, and for the pain I endured while watching her be a mother. I don't want to tell her about my pregnancy, I don't want to hear about her baby. And because those are the major things going on in our lives, we have nothing to talk about. We've been making a good effort via e-mail, but she wants to talk on the phone and I'm thinking...what's the point?

On the surface, there's nothing much to ruminate about here. IF = baggage, friends with babies = hard to navigate, pregnancy ≠ magic cure. But then there's the part of me that thinks I need to get over myself already. I mean, am I seriously never going to open my heart to her? Am I trying to punish her by holding back on the details and keeping her out? Am I trying to make sure she remains "other" so I can shore up my identity as someone who has Been Through Something? Is it just that I don't know if I'm going to have a baby for reals, so I'm protecting myself? I know if Anonymous were here (not the nice Anonymous who just happens not to have or want to share her internet identity, but the Anonymous who is CRAZEEEE) she'd say u shud get over ursel you stupid inferil cow you don't diserve a frend at all b/c u r 2 self involved and unable to see beyond your own petty, artificially magnified sense of your own suffering. Or something like that. And she ain't entirely wrong.

When I last posted about this intensely fascinating relationship, y'all mainly advised me to give it time and accept that relationships change. Excellent advice. But...what do I do while I'm giving it time?


  1. I know that it's frustrating to want this relationship back in a groove, old or new, just to know where it stands would be nice. But, I think you creating a boundary of email and doing a good job keeping in touch will suffice. Until this pregnancy and baby seems real, there's no end to the amount of worry that you will have and BFB makes that worse. Seriously not her fault, but it doesn't mean that you don't feel like it is.

    In the meantime I recommend sleeping kitten videos and watching Star Wars ASCI at your desk between classes. Or sleeping. I hear that works. Rip Van Bunny? We'll nudge you when you have to go to class or prenatal appointments. Sound good?

  2. This is such a complex issue, Bunny, and clearly one that has me completely sunk in so many ways. As soon as I think I've made heads or tails of it, the landscape suddenly shifts and I'm all confoozled again. Sometimes? I just get fucking tired of thinking about it.

    There is something in this post that really sang out to me personally--your question about shoring up your identity as someone who has been through something.

    I know I mentioned the issue with my SIL (with secondary IF), the one who has completely ejected me from her radar because it's too difficult to be around a pregnant person, even if said pregnant person is an infertile gal herself. I've started to feel a little chaffed by her reactions lately (those she continues to document daily on her blog--it's so weird to read about yourself in such a way). It's like she has completely forgotten that N went through two surgeries and that we ultimately went through IVF to achieve our pregnancy. I suddenly feel so defensive about my experience, and I'm angry that it's not acknowledged--that we've "been through something" is being completely dismissed. That we went to her baby shower and supported her surprise natural first pregnancy while failing time and again to build our own family. That my husband babysat her infant at night while she went to grad school, all the while we were struggling with failed cycle after failed cycle. That we underwent really invasive shit for our bean. That it was expensive, both emotionally and financially. And on and on.

    It feels like it should count for something. Not that we deserve some kind of grand badge of honor or something for living through infertility--but to ignore that kind of life experience altogether? It fucking hurts.

    So, I guess my self-absorbed point is that I completely understand the desire to have one's IF experience validated and valued. And it seems like most of the fertile peeps just can't muster the warranted amount of validation and meaning.

    I wish I had some magic insight about your friendship with BFB as you navigate your pregnancy... I've been a royal failure in this department myself! :(

  3. I'm still having a hell of a time trying to connect with my SIL during this pregnancy. I find that talking with her about my fears only makes me more crazy and she's not really a helpful support to me. So, I don't talk to her about it unless she asks me and I don't ask her much about her kids b/c I can't relate.

    I think this will all change once a baby actually comes and I actually need advice on how to care for a baby, but right now, we're in very different places just as you and BFB are. Maybe when you get into the third tri you'll want to talk with her about birth or the essentials you'll need for day 1.

    For now, I like what Misfits suggested in keeping it an email only relationship for a bit longer. It's a long transition period, but once you have bun bun in your arms, the relationship will transform once again..hopefully into something healthy for both of you.

  4. I don't think I could express my feelings about this any better than the ladies who already posted before me. It makes complete sense that you'd have this underlying need for validation of what you've been through. It's weird to have to suddenly play nice with the fertiles once you've finally, after tons of pain and heartache, gotten pregnant. It's not wrong to feel what you're feeling and the best I can say is what's been said already--give it time.

  5. I agree with Trinity here -- this is really hard and I am still struggling with friends who got pregnant very easily as well as with one who struggled far longer than I did (oddly, it's today's topic, if I ever get to finishing the post!). On the one hand, I suspect you kind of miss her as a friend, but on the other, I'm guessing you don't want to feel like you are compromising what you need and want just to remain friends while she is blissfully unaware of your internal struggle. So frankly, I've got nothing useful to say at all, except that I get it and that I think that you should keep the space you need if you think you need it.

  6. this one's tough, bunny. fertiles just don't completely get where we're coming from, and i think that now that we're pregnant, they think the chip on our shoulders should go away and that the bfp erases all the misery and heartache each of us has experienced. i just came back from lunch with 2 good friends who both had their babies in july. we all started trying the same time, and i avoided them for the large part of the last year, but thought i could stomach lunch *now that i'm preggers* myself. they each apparently hated their babies for the first few months and told me that the beginning would be rough. to which i was about to say "do you not realize what i've been through? YOU ungrateful b*tches might've hated your children bc you weren't even ready to get pregnant when you started trying, but I AM DIFFERENT". luckily, i didn't have to say that, bc they both quickly said "actually, i think you'll be different". um yes, i AM different, thank you very much. and it made me feel better that they realized that. seriously, in what fucked up universe is it fair that the 3 of us started trying at the same time, but they both weren't ready at the time (but their hubby's were, so they "gave in"), yet i was desperate for a baby, and then they EACH get pregnant asap whereas i had to go through hell for my bfp?? someone better acknowledge that shit, and acknowledge it repeatedly!!!!

    ahhh, now that i've gotten that out of my system ... keep bfb at arms length until you're ready. one day you might be able to put this all behind you. i hope you can, but if you can't, i think it's bc you are sooo totally normal. no need to force yourself to talk on the phone or nurture a friendship that still feels a bit raw. at the end of the day, i know she *tried* to get it, but either she didn't try enough, or as a fertile, she just didn't get it, so it is what it is.

    me ... i'm avoiding the friend who's due same time as me bc her NT scan was monday and i don't wanna talk to anyone until i know that MINE comes out A-OKAY tomorrow. i'm *sure* hers was fine, so i don't need to hear about it until i'm in the clear as well. *knock on wood*. i wonder if this makes me a selfish b*tch?? i'm not sure i care even if it does. my sense of entitlement is still set on "very high" at the moment :o)

    i think a medal (a big fat one) would possibly make me feel better. or

  7. ugh, my post got cut off and now i'm tired and confused :o)

  8. such complicated stuff, bunny. I do not think this makes you a bad person, just points more to how hard all of this is and how this IF stuff doesn't just go away.
    I think maybe you need to give yourself some time. Even though things feel hard now, that does not mean that it will always feel that way.
    Sending lots of love your way.

  9. Just to echo what Sienna said....about anyone who knows about our troubles assuming the chip should be off our shoulders now. I guess I expected/wanted that for myself, too. But it turns out it's not true. I still feel regret and resentment and all of the dark emotions IF triggered inside of me, and they show up around fertiles and every time I see that stupid stroller (two now) in my apt building that haunted me for so long. I am MUCH MUCH MUCH happier as a person...I would say getting pregnant ended a situational depression. But those feelings are still there and I feel like I will forever be working through them. I don't have a bestie who has a baby tho, and I can't even imagine how that complicates the emotions it sounds like we all feel. Hang in there. xo

  10. Despite being pregnant, the wounds of infertility remain deep. That is for sure. I suppose we never will be the same as our fertile friends and pregnancy will not be the same experience.
    I think your reaction to BFB is totally normal and understandable. Maybe the continued space will help heal the hurt from her pregnancy/motherhood, but I don't think you should expect the two of you to bond over your pregnancy as if you never struggled in the first place.

  11. Just chiming in to say you're not alone. I don't really have more to add to the already excellent comments, but clearly a lot of us are thinking about this topic these days.


  12. Oh bunny, this is one that rattles me to the core. And I'm not even pregnant. I want to say that the resentment towards bfb will go away and you will go back to being kindred spirits, I really hope that does indeed happen. But the fact is I completely identify with your feelings of wanting to be acknowledged as someone who has worked hard and suffered long to get pregnant. I don't like the idea of being bundled into the same category as those who got pregnant easily as I feel like they can't possibly understand how much of a miracle it is to be carrying life inside them. How can they understand when they never lost or struggled for it? They can't. I don't think i'm helping you much here because its something that I muddle with a lot. I guess we just have to hope that at some point your pain will become duller. And you will be less sensitive to the things that trigger your pain now. I read on someone elses blog that it took until her baby was 20mths old before she could make peace with the fact that the pain is behind her. I guess that timeframe is different for everyone.
    You're not a bad person for feeling these things and one way or another you and bfb will find a way through this. I think keeping the relationship at arms length for now is OK. You gotta do what you gotta do. Always remember you are the most important thing to consider here so if it feels right for you then thats perfectly fine.
    And I will be eagerly reading all your comments to see what pearls of wisdom are unveilled because I am sure you'll get more positive and constructive advice than what I've managed to come up with!

  13. Man, Bunny, I don't know. I am still pretty mad at her. Can't we just let her marinade in her own filth a while longer?


    I am sorry, but I am insanely over-protective.

    Perhaps if the call is unavoidable you try it. If it gets stale and forced, have an exit planned. Odds are most people on the other line would sense it, but I am not banking on Sister Insensitive to have a clue on what you are so clearly laying down.

    Sometimes it takes a long time for relationships to be repaired. It is possible that distance can facilitate this.

    I am not much help. I feel like if anything would have changed with her, she would have reached out or sent the receiving blanket of peace aka olive branch. Has she even checked to see how your progressing? Hmpf.

  14. Yeah, I can see where it would be great to be able to have your friendship with BFB go back to "normal" (whatever that is). But, dang, you had to listen to her SING to her baby, sitting in YOUR awesome chair. I'll never forget reading about that. Being inauthentic doesn't do anyone any favors.

  15. The pain of this stuff doesn't dry up overnight. Actually, it probably never will entirely and you're entitled to that. You may start to feel differently as you progress through the pregnancy, and after the baby is here (or you may not).

    But I think your feelings are valid. In other words, it's not that you're selfish or broken or whatever. It's just that you've been through something. And you're not a jack-in-the box who can jump up with a huge grin now that you're pregnant.

  16. It's one of the most painful things - the end of relationships. Whether it's a love relationship or a friendship or whatEVER, the fact that love is not enough has never ever sat well with me.

    Love SHOULD be enough. Where would we be without it. And yet, relationships change and we reach impasses and they end or they change- sometimes drastically. And the change is really hard and painful. I've been on the receiving end and the "ending" end of terminal friendships, and they make you feel pissy and judgmental and rude and bitchy and guilty and hurt and sad and, above all, childish. All of which are probably true.

    And yet, this is real life. Not utopia. So maybe there was just too much pain associated with the friendship and maybe love won't be enough and maybe it'll have to end and you are grieving the process. I don't know....

    But, as you know, I've been grappling with the same issue and have come to zero conclusions myself. So I'm basically not providing any helpful advice but just letting you in on my own little mental masturbatory exercise; what I have just written is probably more a reflection of my own situation than yours. Certainly, your friendship may weather this storm. I hope it does because new friends are hard to make. And old friends are hard to keep :).

  17. I am struck by your question: "am I seriously never going to open my heart to her?" The way I read your post, I glean that the answer is "I don't know". Can you let that be the answer for now? Can you allow yourself the space not to answer that question at this moment? In the mean time, pick up crocheting.