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.