MicroblogMondays: Friendships with Super Fertile People

Microblog_Mondays

Friendships with super fertile people are a bit tricky.

I have been friends with these two super fertile ladies for a long time.  They were like sisters to me until these past couple of years.  Life circumstances have drifted us apart.  Chloe, who moved away out of state a few years ago, conceived both of her kids the first couple of months trying.  Leanne, currently six months pregnant with her second child, was the one over whom I cried once learning her pregnancy news in December.  I saw both of them three months ago when Chloe was in town.  I struggled with the pregnancy news but I still went to dinner.

Chloe comes to town maybe every three to six months.  Whenever she’s here, she arranges for us (the four core friends) and some of her other friends to get together for dinner.  Dinner usually happens in the vicinity of her in-laws’ house where she is staying.  So I will usually have to go the distance and drive 40 minutes for that dinner.  Looking at the last couple of years, I have been to every single one of these meals when she was visiting.  Sometimes with our core group of friends.  Sometimes with only a couple of us.  Sometimes with a bigger group of her friends for whom I don’t care much.  I go because I want to see her.

Chloe was once again in town this past weekend.  Like usual, she wanted us to come to have dinner with her.  And this time, in addition to our core group of friends, she also invited one extra friend.  Since I knew that my beta test would be this past Monday, I let her know that I might or might not be up to getting together.  I might or might not be pregnant by this weekend so I might or might not want to hang out with Leanne, our pregnant friend.  Chloe was disappointed that I might not go.  I told her that I have to protect myself and I chose to be honest with her rather than making up some lame excuse. One week ago when we learned the beta results, I let Chloe know that the blood test was negative, and I would see about my emotions before I made a decision about dinner.

Fast forward to Saturday night.  I was trying to be true to myself and my feelings.  I did not feel up to meeting with Leanne, seeing her big belly, and not being able to chat about things freely because of the friend who is not in our core group.  I was not ready to hang out with them for Sunday night dinner.  I told my pregnant friend who responded with, “I am so sorry, Isabelle.  I’ve had you in my thoughts, wondering how things were going.  Please let me know if I can help in any way, Ok?  Will miss you tomorrow but understand of course.  Love and hugs, L”

That night, Chloe and I had an exchange on chat.  This is how it went:

C: Hello! Hope you are hanging in there. I also hope you decide to meet us all for dinner tomorrow.

I: I’m feeling better, but not ready to hang out. Hopefully next time you come or next time we go there.

C: I’m really sorry to hear  this. I’m sorry you are in so much pain. I have to say I’m hurt and disappointed. I can only imagine how hard this is for you. I’m upset because I’m here and you won’t see me. You can’t avoid seeing pregnant women in public unless you aren’t leaving your house. Leanne isn’t pregnant to be malicious towards you. I’m disappointed that you will be the only one missing. I don’t know when I will be down again. When I do come down, I care more about seeing you and the girls more than seeing blood family. You are my sisters and more of family to me than my blood family is.

After seeing what she wrote, I was really upset.  In fact, I was boiling inside.  She was making it about her.  Her comment about my reaction towards other pregnant women and Leanne’s pregnancy was ridiculous, insensitive, and hurtful.  She made a rash judgment about me without knowing how I have been handling myself in the past three years.  I go out.  I see pregnant ladies every single day.  And I am fine.  I don’t avoid going out.  I don’t avoid going to work and seeing my Pregnant Coworker.  I am doing as much as I can to be a normal human being.  I have never said one single thing about our friend Leanne being malicious towards me.  I was hurt that such an assumption  was made without truly trying to know my life as an infertile person in the last few years.  This time, all I was asking for was for her to give me some understanding and empathy as to what I am going through for this one freaking time so I can skip dinner.

And my friend Jo was right.  If she really wanted to, knowing my circumstances, she could have offered to see me one-on-one.  But no… her time is very limited every time she comes, so there is no way she could do one-on-one with me.

Bob was upset that I was upset.  He told me not to respond to her when I was so mad.  But when do I listen to my husband?  😉  This is what I said:

“I am disappointed that you are not even going to try to understand my point of view.  I try to see you every single time you come down.  And the one time that I am hurt and in pain, you are telling me these things.  I don’t know what to say.  I have to do things to protect myself.   Again, I am being honest with you rather than giving you a lame reason.  This is what friends do.  Being honest.  So just please let me heal and get over this hurt before you make a judgment about me and what I am going through.  I hold nothing against Leanne.  I told her that I won’t be there tomorrow and she understands.  I just need a bit of time to heal as everything is still  so raw.”

Then I said, “I am done with this conversation tonight.  We can talk again in the future.”

I was hurt.  I really don’t think I was being unreasonable.  I know I can’t expect super fertile friends to know how I feel.  She must have thought that I could just brush my feelings aside for the sake of friendship and getting together with them.  But I just couldn’t this time.  And my expectation was for her to give me a little bit more room and understanding rather than judging me for skipping one dinner.  I was utterly disappointed that the understanding was not given to me.

Chloe at this point knew that I was mad.  She kept trying to patch things up.  These were the things that she typed:

“I’m being honest with you because I love you.  I’m not trying to be mean or hurt you. I love you and wish you would join us.  I know I can’t understand what you are going through. I can’t be in your shoes.  I wish I could make all of this better for you.  I’m sorry if I upset you.  I’m truly sorry. I love you and just wish you could be with us tomorrow.”

Yeah but please do not try to guilt trip me into coming to dinner.

So to that, I responded, “I just can’t tomorrow. I have learned to take care of myself.  I don’t expect you to understand what I’m going through. but I need some empathy here. So just please let me be.  I love you all too, but I need some distance.”

She said, “Ok. I respect your need for time.  I miss you and love you. I hope I can see you sometime sooner than later this year.”  She then apologized a few more times.  At that point, I just wanted to be done with the conversation, so I said, “Okay Chloe. Thanks. I hope you guys have a great time tomorrow. Night.”

 She just wouldn’t quit.  She wrote, “Isabelle, I wish I knew the right things to say and not say. I wish I could make all this better for you. Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m sorry my words were upsetting and selfish.  I want to see you, but you aren’t up for it. I need to respect that.”

I knew she was still worried that I was upset with her.  So I reassured her that it was fine and now that we knew what we were both thinking, we could move on.  She still went on for a little while until I stopped responding.

Is it too much to ask for when I just want to skip dinner with my pregnant friend and my out-of-town friend for this one time just barely a week after my negative beta results following my last failed cycle with my own eggs?  Is it unreasonable for me to expect that I could just stay home and mourn when I need to rather than putting up a brave face in front of my friends?  I know that she apologized and did acknowledge that her words were upsetting and selfish.  But I think it will take me a little while to get over this one.

I am a little tired of dealing with fertile people and explaining myself.   But I am not worried about our friendship.  We are still good friends.  We’ll be fine.

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27 thoughts on “MicroblogMondays: Friendships with Super Fertile People

  1. The thing is, as you must know by now, some people just don’t get it. Among people who have not experienced infertility, a few will have a remarkable ability to really empathize but the majority will not. What I found helpful is to tell people that we have seen a fertility psychologist (and will continue to do so) and that ALL the research and medical advice indicates that it is healthy and actually preferrable to remove ourselves from these painful situations. That this is not forever, but for now it is what we need.

    As an aside I had my in-laws suggest to my husband at one point that the way to “get over” these feelings is to actually spend time with pregnant women and babies. Just a totally insane suggestion and we quickly disabused them of that notion.

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  2. You aren’t being unreasonable AT ALL. Your friend absolutely needed to be called out on that one, and you said your piece beautifully. She obviously not only doesn’t get it, but hasn’t made an attempt to try and is used to things being all about her. Not exactly the same thing, but I have one friend who I know has come to town to visit her husband’s relatives who she barely knows, and hasn’t even made one attempt to even see me for a quick coffee. She never asked me about how I was doing when I was going through all my IVF treatments, and yet when I finally got pregnant she later pulled me aside and told me how upset she was that other people knew I was pregnant before she did (I told a few close friends early on, but waited to tell most until the second tri). Some people’s friendship is a lot more one-sided than others. I’m just glad your pregnant friend was understanding. Maybe they’ll educate Chloe over dinner and tell her what a prize bitch she’s been to you.

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  3. You’re so understanding of your friends complete lack of empathy and selfishness. Chloe was being completely unreasonable and then insisting that you make her feel better when all you wanted was to be left alone to grieve. I’m sorry that it was such a struggle with Chole this weekend, but I think you handled yourself well and, most importantly, took care of yourself.

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  4. I’m glad she recanted her initial statements. That were harsh and mean. I’ve never been a huge fan of the accusatory, “Well you can’t just HIDE from pregnant people forever!”
    I don’t need to hide at all, let alone forever, but I can’t pretend to be in a celebratory mood right now and I just need my safe space. Instead of being an ass and telling me all the things you think I should do, respect me when I tell you what my limits are today.

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  5. Urgh 😦 it’s definitely not too much to ask for some space given the things you have gone through over the last few days. I often find that even the nicest people, if they are fertile, just cannot understand infertility. They can’t appreciate how it might feel to be on the other side, even when it is explained to them. It’s strange. Unless you have been through it yourself it seems very hard to understand the complex emotions that go alongside it. I’m glad she took back her initial statements once you replied… they were mean and selfish x

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  6. like others have said I don’t think you are being unreasonable. Chloe can be hurt and disappointed that you are not coming to dinner but it does not equate to the hurt and disappointment you feel over your IVF cycle AT ALL. You did the right thing by giving her the message that it’s not all about her. Hope that this does not affect your friendship long term, but the true value of friends is that they can be honest with each other, so you did right by choosing honesty.

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  7. Here from Microblog Mondays.

    This is hard. Very hard. But I think you hit the nail on the head. Chloe lacks empathy for your situation because she’s never been in your shoes. And when you called her out on it, she realized she f*&^ed up big time and was pleading for you not to be mad at her.

    The thing is, you don’t owe her to absolve her of this guilt. Frankly, it’s a good thing that she learns this lesson. In addition, you need to protect yourself unapologetically. It’s great that you’re being honest with your friends and making an effort, but one thing that is equally important is helping them learn how best to support you. That includes allowing them to reflect on situations where they behave badly without absolving them of their guilt.

    I’m so sorry you got bad news. It sucks royal and I wish you weren’t experiencing this. But know that your friendships can survive this trauma, if not grow and blossom in ways you never expected. It has to be a two-way street, though.

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  8. Good of you to stand up for yourself. I have gone through something similar a few times. It’s so hard to feel pressured into doing stuff and to feel judged. do carry on taking good care of yourself! big hug. xx

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  9. You are a better person than me! Boy would I have blown up. I completely agree that you need to take care of you. You are not crazy for feeling the way you feel. Sending good thoughts your way!

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  10. I admire the way you were able to articulate your feelings and the need to put yourself first to your friend. I understand that not having been in an infertile shoes makes it difficult to know exactly what to say or do. But given the fact that you spoke openly to her about why you would not be joining them should have put her on pause. I’m glad you took care of you. Hugs!!

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  11. I am so impressed and proud of your honesty. Whew! It’s so hard getting communications from people who dont understand! I”m also impressed how well you were able to respond and in a timely manner. I’ve had some hurtful emails and texts and I have to take days to let it sink in and come up with an appropriate and helpful response- sometimes I have to recruit others to proofread and help me form non-incensing responses. You handled this beautifully (and I have to say, my heart started pounding and I was cringing/recoiling at her initial response- got my blood boiling). I”m so sorry you had to go through the emotions of this exchange, and so wowed by how well you did. you are an inspiration!

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  12. Nope. Not at all. And whilst it took some time for her to get there I think in the end she did but she really stuffed up and it will take some time to get over it. All of my friends are fertile (eek!) and I didn’t realise how much pain they were in for me until I had Molly. Now I am much more open and honest with them and I know sometimes they still put their foot in it but I know more now they just want me to be happy.

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  13. It would be lovely if life worked out that you were always able to see her when she came to town; setting the timetable. But that’s just not the way life works. Her heart is in the right place; she loves you and just wants to see you. But you had needs, too, that night. Hopefully things will smooth over with a little space.

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  14. Oh wow! Your friend is a complete jerk for saying what she did. And an idiot! Please tell her that straight from me.
    Honestly, you have so much grace and strength, she has no clue! Take care of yourself and take all the time you need. You don’t have to explain your reasons to anyone.

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  15. You handled the situation really well. I feel like so many of my friends get knocked up the first time they try, and I think some of them will never be able to understand the strain of a long and unsuccessful TTC journey. I remember the first months of TTC and they were fun, so I believe some people just aren’t able to imagine a world in which this stops being fun and don’t understand all the physical and emotional pain it entails. But you did what you needed to do for you, and you taught your friend an important lesson in empathy while doing so. Stay strong.

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  16. It sounds like she did get the idea a little bit, at least. When you said you texted back while you were angry, I imagined something very different, lol. What you wrote was absolutely perfect! Also, if I may say so, extremely thoughtfully put. I’m always amazed at how much people seem to put stock in others’ decisions when something like that is really exposed.

    I’ve got some really fertile friends but at least a couple of them that I know understand that they don’t really understand; they basically know that the best thing is to keep their mouths shut on the whole thing other than to say, “I can’t imagine what it’s like to deal with that but I’m sorry.” In fact, we each have something that is hard on the other one–one friend spent most of his early marriage with almost no money, urban-legend-level fertility, and worse than zero support from either family. It left a real scar, such that he still has a hard time not feeling a little bitter when he sees how much help I get from my mom (and another co-worker gets from his family, as well). And he understands that I still have a hard time not feeling reflexively bitter about his fertility, even though that’s not an active subject for me anymore.

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  17. You two will be fine. Fertiles will never understand, no matter how hard they try our how sweet they are. Even fellow infertiles can be insensitive to our exact experience. We’re all very different, and experience the stress differently, even if our problems seem very similar. Your friend just couldn’t stop shoving her entire leg down her throat because she was thinking of herself, not about you. Then she couldn’t dig herself out. Good for you for being so mature with your responses, despite all the hurt you’re feeling right now. You set a very good example. I wish I had been able to keep my cool like you did when my sister and I had a blow out a couple summers ago. Ugh. Everyone is so different. Thank you for sharing. Xx

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  18. What the fertile world doesn’t understand is that it’s not about their pregnancy or kids. It’s about the triggers that remind us that our bodies weren’t able to accomplish what theirs were. It brings up all the inadequacy feelings of being failures. Plus the last thing we want to do is turn a happy moment for others into a sad moment that brings the situation down.

    You did the right thing and even proposing an alternative meet up was more than most people could do. If she really cared she’d meet you half way.

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  20. Next time, I think she owes you some of her precious one on one time. You aren’t a lady in waiting she can summon to her court. If she wants a friend, she can BE a friend instead of summoning a friend next time.

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