Humans, fallible, naturally

I’m not supposed to be writing this post. I’m supposed to be writing a charming, happy, congratulatory, excited-and-delighted email (to be followed by card and gift) to a friend who has just given birth.

Eh. The regular Gentle Readers will understand why I’m finding this hard on basic principles. Me = bitter twisted infertile bitch with Uterus Of Doom, after all. Other people just, you know, hauling off and having babies like it’s a) normal and b) no biggie, make me sweaty with envy. Sad, pathetic, and massively undercutting my persona of Totally Ace Rimmer About It All, but there you go.

But wait! There’s more! This particular friend is the friend who got pregnant a few weeks before I did, back at Christmas, had a bit of a scare, but then proceeded to have a perfectly healthy contented pregnancy, with me limping behind all the way, thinking of Zombryo.

When she announced her pregnancy to us, back in March, I was, well, I cried, but I was frankly relieved that her Avoidant with a Capital A behaviour towards us was due to her own scare and worries, and not because she was being a dillweed about our miscarriages.

Since when, from her, supportive communications, nil.


Not one fucking word about our losses, not one question as to how we’re doing, where we’ve got to treatment-wise. Not one word about bloody anything, in fact. We communicate on f*ckb**k. No letters, no emails, no phone-calls. Just, the odd f*ckb**k remark about swollen feet or wishing the baby would turn up early (ARGH). To which I responded, I hope, with empathy and grace.

To be fair, I haven’t been emailing or phoning her either. And how is a person supposed to know a friend needs a little support and sympathy if said friend crawls into a cave and goes silent? If you want help and sympathy you have to ask, right? Right?

Anyway, she was probably embarrassed, and English, and uncomfortable with emotional messy stuff, and didn’t know what to say, and was scared of saying the wrong thing.

Which would be fair enough, apart from the bit about her being a friend for a dozen years, and our seeing each other through any amount of messy relationship crap as young women. Apart from that. Ignoring your friend who has had several miscarriages while you gestate a lovely healthy infant, that’s kind, really, isn’t it? For the best? I mean, who gives a fuck if you lose the friend in the process?

H and I had a horrible row about this on Sunday. Not that H doesn’t have some sympathy with my position, but he doesn’t feel particularly hurt or abandoned by V’s behaviour, and said so. Alas, he chose to say so in terms which came across a bit ‘what the hell is wrong with you, May?’ and I was so angry I screamed at him and then I cried and cried. I’ve lost my babies and I’ve lost a dear friend and I feel full of guilt and anxst that this is, after all, my fault. I could have done more, stayed in touch more, explained myself better, or, indeed, got over myself and thrown myself whole-heartedly into celebrating the arrival of her child and left my own heart-ache out of it. And now H was, seemingly, impatient with me and unsympathetic.

Actually, H is not unsympathetic. He feels awkward, I gather, because he’s less bothered than I am by V’s withdrawal, but because he feels loyal to me, he is annoyed with her for upsetting me (cognitive dissonance). Being an H, he detests feeling annoyed with anyone, and so acted impatient out of sheer discomfort. He bought me pink roses, to say sorry.

And then, later, confessed he was worried that were he in V’s position, he’d do exactly the same thing, i.e. be too embarrassed and uncomfortable to ever mention ‘it’ (whatever ‘it’ was in this case) and edge away. So, he felt almost got at, when I was bitching vigorously about V.

Ah. Oh.

Dammit. And I know I have been shitty to friends in need, ‘forgetting’ to get in touch, failing to ask how things were. Damn damn damn damn damn damn.

7:31 am GMT: Edited to add: Please, please, please, for the love of God, Gentle Readers, stop telling me to rise above this and give this relationship one more chance, and stop explaining and excusing V to me. If you read the post, and previous posts, you’ll see I have been excusing and explaining V to myself for the past five years. And if you read the post, you’ll notice the first thing I say is I’m in the middle of writing to V to make sure she knows I am happy and delighted for her and her baby, and that I want to stay in touch and rescue the relationship and be a friend to her.

Please, people, can’t my very own, fairly anonymous, fairly unknown little blog be somewhere where my feelings come first? They don’t bloody come first anywhere outside this blog.


25 responses to “Humans, fallible, naturally

  • a

    I have some sympathy for V (and, by extension, H) too – friendship goes both ways, and I’d bet she’s thinking that you’d feel like she’s flaunting a successful pregnancy in your face if she contacts you just now. So, I kind of have to say…If you want to save this friendship, you’re going to have to be the one to open the door. Pregnant women don’t have much else going on, so other than pregnancy, she probably doesn’t feel much like she has anything to say. And bringing up your status might make you think she’s looking for an opening to talk about herself.

    Anyway, I wish you luck with your email and card.

    • May

      Exactly. Friendship goes both ways. I was there for her. She was not there for me. And hasn’t been since the BEGINNING of the whole not-getting-or-staying-pregnant saga.

      • a

        OK, but you have manners and tact, and are a nice person. Clearly, she is…different? Sigh. That’s when you get to evaluate whether it’s worth your effort to maintain the friendship. If you’re not getting anything out of it, you shouldn’t have to suffer just because you’re more empathetic and compassionate. And it sucks to have to waste 5 years learning that lesson.

        So, my revised opinion is: you don’t owe anybody anything. Not even a nice note/acknowledgement.

        I apologise for minimizing your feelings.

  • H

    It may be worth adding that I was friends with V for a year or so before May, so should be taking some of the responsibility.

    It bothers me slightly that our last email correspondence from V, back in January (before we knew she was pregnant) was all ‘please talk to me about it whenever you want’. Why should I burden someonone who should (hopefully) be ‘enjoying’ the experience, however, with reminders of our trials and tribulations – that would be so comforting and not at all anxiety inducing…

    On the other hand should we have to make all the effort of talking about a very difficult and sensitive subject? On the third hand I feel bad that I haven’t been more of a bridge too because of the long-standing friendship. I haven’t made contact either through the last six months of her pregnancy and for similar reasons of awkwardness.

    • Hairy Farmer Wifey

      If she’s an intelligent girl – and as a friend (of whatever current standing) of you two both, then I assume she probably DOES have the odd brain cell or two kicking about- then the potential for two-way discussional awkwardness must have occurred to her. Must.

      The question is… is that the reason for her bout of friend-fail? I know what YOUR reasons for friend-fail are, and they are damn fine and laudable ones! Christ. She’s not only done the unthinkable and lapped you, but there’s also only so much joist-talk anyone can be expected to take, regardless of DIY-likingness! That’s ample reason to be hanging up the metaphorical phone, it seems to me. But WHY all the joist talk in the first place? Why was she talking to you about her bloody house during Pikaia & Flash, when, if she was a proper, dyed-in-teenage-wool mate, despite English reserve, she should have been carting a trolley-load of booze and sympathy to your front door? By the time Zombryo came and protractedly left, I can completely understand why you would be so disappointed with her, on a number of levels, irrespective of her own scare. And I’m sad for you both, because good friends are rare in this life.

      If you’re looking to give this one a chance at resuscitation – email, card & gift suggest so – then perhaps she might feel less self-conscious about the Awkwardness now her belly isn’t protruding, and be prepared to have a proper conversation (or even decent email exchange!) with you both as befits proper friends? If she can only stonewall you about stone walling, then… I’m really sorry about your friend.

  • L.

    Similar to a., I am guessing that she probably does feel awkward, and thinks that she is going to offend you by the mere fact of getting in touch. She may understand that it’s deeply painful for you, but not the complexities, what makes you angry or sad and what sets you off. (Unlike relationship crap, where she would have had a common basis for comparison.) As deeply difficult as it is, and perhaps enraging now as well, I would give this email/card/gift your very best shot at rising above, one more time. Then you can gauge where you want to go based upon her response, with no later regrets hanging around.

    Spoken by someone who has some regrets about friends she let go.

  • Claire

    Feel whatever you feel babes. You are entitled to feel it. x

  • Illanare

    A probably does feel awkward. But, you know what? WE (who lose babies we have had such trouble conceiving in the first place) live in HER world. All the time. Every day. All around us people get pregnant, stay pregnant and are safely delivered of a healthy baby. And we have to be happy and gracious and dignified and give gifts and dandle on knees and grimace sympathetically at tales of sleeplessness and regurgitation and potty training and generally keep infertile / loss heads below the parapet. Talk about awkward. Given all that, a gentle “so, how are you May?” I reckon would be quite nice.

  • nh

    You feel, what you feel – you are only human afterall.

  • Twangy

    I’m sorry about all this. It’s so hard to know what to do. It’s quite horrible that the experience of infertility can divide us from the Other People in so many ways – as if it wasn’t painful enough on its own. I am having difficulty thinking of any aspect of life that it doesn’t poke its horrible greasy fingers into.

    (Also, not to make it about ME, but thanks for this. I think I am more H-like, (in this instance) whereas the JB is more May-like, and since (though we met at a fountain! hee!) we are not joined in matrimony, it is very helpful to hear (more dispassionately) your point of view.)

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    Hey, a new ‘like’ button. Coolio.

    Damnit, V. Tad more empathy and insight, yes?

  • Solnushka

    It does seem a bit much that you have to be the one to make the effort, I know that much. Although it’s useful to be reminded that just because things are going well in my life, I don’t have to hide from people for whom life isn’t so rosy. I can ask after them, not talk about myself. Novel idea that.

  • Christine

    Oh do not feel obligate to rise above. Who established that bar in the first place? What is – is! Your feelings are your feelings. Don’t put any judgements on them. They are what they are. You are what you are.
    I have gone through the IVF process and it is excruciating – only those who have done it know how it really feels.
    Confession – when a friend going through the same process came to visit me from out of state, proudly PREGNANT, and the ultimate indignity, SHOWING, I huddled on the tile of my bathroom floor and DID NOT ANSWER THE DOOR!
    Feel no guilt. Do what you have to do to get up the next day and be yourself.

  • Melissia

    Kick her to the curb.There, I said it. You are so gracious to people that you know on the internet. The comment where I whine about my only “having” 4 children, really should have my dreams of a larger family were cut short by the fact that the inherited disorder that they all have includes daily pain. What a lovely thing to gift your children with.
    But you didn’t call me to the carpet for having four live children, and being sad. Actually you were very sweet, as you are.
    If your friendship is one sided, then it is not really a friendship is it? It seems to me that we who have lost babies live in a new reality, those who understand and those who do not. Sometimes it is okay to let old friendships go if they no longer feel like they are matching up with the people that we have become since we have started this process. Perhaps she is one of these people.

  • Erica Douglas

    The last three days in a row, I’ve found out that friends are pregnant.

    One knows I’m struggling with infertility and so she sent a sweet email announcing her pregnancy that I could read privately and get myself together before congratulating her in public. Honestly, I’m thrilled for her. She’s been trying for two years and is very lucky to have a healthy surprise pregnancy over age 40.

    Another friend who knows about my wanting babies gleefully announced her pregnancy to me in front of dozens of people. Worse, she announced it by saying that she was “knocked up.” Really, we need cutesy names for this? I congratulated her politely and now I’m just bitter every time I see her, which is often, as her office is adjacent to mine.

    And last night on f***b**k, another friend announced a pregnancy. I cried bitter tears of jealousy. It’s just too much, all at once, all these women getting pregnant EXCEPT FOR ME.

    When I explained to my husband why I was bawling, he suggested that I need therapy, because it’s ‘not normal.’ Well, honey, it’s not normal to be infertile either, but thanks for your support.

    I think men just don’t always understand that it’s an emotional issue. And that anger is okay, and so are tears, whether they’re tears of sorrow, rage or bitter jealousy. I’m so grateful to you for sharing your struggle. I too struggle with this.

    • Hairy Farmer Wifey

      *hits Erica’s husband over the head with an inflatable comedy hammer*

      I know chaps can get awfully upset and frustrated when a loved one is crying and miserable because they can’t *fix* it – I used to accuse John of simply wanting to stop the whimpering noises, in fact – but I’d forgotten until I read this how bloody perjorative it can feel when ‘counselling’ is suggested by your other half. My resentment at his implication was very profound, and actually delayed my seeking help. I’m sure your husband would tread gently around any sadness you were to show over the loss of a friend or family member – yet chaps often seem to take a while to grasp that ongoing grief over a not-happening-for-us-yet baby is just the same.

      Honestly? Instead of biting his head off (although I see your temptation!) I would bite his hand off. Take him up on his offer – and take him along, at least to one session. In truth, therapy failed to make much of an impact on John’s understanding, in my view, but I *did* find somewhere I could talk freely about my grief, find perfect understanding for my individual situation, and not be dismissed as neurotic, over-emotional and self-indulgent.

      And if any other pregnants pop out of the woodwork this week, you have my official permission to bop them – gently – with the comedy hammer.

  • Betty M

    Why is it people can’t deal with bad stuff in their friends’ lives? Isn’t that what friends are supposed to be for – being there when shit is hitting fans. People with good stuff going on need to be there for the people who don’t. That’s the way round it should be not the people with bad stuff rising above. Although cos bad stuff tends to make one more cognisant of the need for people to really be there for their friends in my experience the people to whom shit happens tend to do more of the rising above because they value the whole concept of empathy into another’s situation more through bitter experience of not getting that empathy. Sounds like v has squandered plenty of opportunities to show her worth and should now be downgraded into friend you can’t rely on.

    This whole thing is why I kept most of my procreation misfortunes a secret to the offline world for most of teh time and why only some people have got to know of things after the event. I was scared that too many of the people I knew wouldn’t step up when I needed it and it was easier just not to have that disappointment on top of all the rest. I doubt that is a healthy way to do it mind.

  • The Sheila

    This is a tough one. My view of people I find unhelpful in respect of infertility is to insulate myself from them – I have to concentrate on keeping myself well and strong enough to get through the next round of whatever infertility is going to throw at us. That doesn’t mean I cut them off completely, but I don’t make an effort to contact them and generally just step back. In my head, I’m taking a “time out” until I’m strong enough to be able to deal with them again. I have great intentions to go back to them, just not yet…..

    The other question I have is whether you’ve actually missed her as a friend over the last couple of months or not? You mention the excuses you’ve made for her over the last five years and I just wonder whether your friendship has been going through a natural ebbing away phase anyway?

    I really feel for you but you have to protect and look after yourself in this situation.

  • womb for improvement

    Tough. very tough. Part of the reason I told my friends about my blog was to ensure they knew how, when and why to support me. Mostly its been great. I post about a disappointing appointment (or lack of) and I get inundated with supportive emails / calls from them. But it does curb what I write, your comment about your anonymity allowing you to put your feelings first for a change (and good on you) is why I have a lot of unposted posts on my less anonymous blog.

    But regardless friendships do ebb and flow and I hope that you recapture what was good at some point.

    More port dear?

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    Annnnd my posts have slowed up to a dribble because everyone found out about the blog and John has always hated it like poison anyway. Pseudonyms GOOD, folks!

  • katie

    Nah, don’t rise, just shred (by which I mean de-friend, sorry, in-crowd slang).

    I’ve de-friended someone on FB who I’ll happily talk to in person but who’s smugly had 3 children in the time we’ve had – erm – none. But like Ex-Infertile So Now Nothing Can Go Wrong couple who told everyone at about 6 weeks, I’m not getting on the topic with her in person, and I’m not above changing the subject loudly or making POINTED remarks.

    Thankfully Mr Spouse is with me on both Smug Pop Them Out and Now-we-aren’t-infertile couple.

  • Erica Douglas

    Just found out a FOURTH friend is pregnant – this time the girl who announced her pregnancy by telling me she’s “knocked up” was the one who told me last night about our mutual friend. Am bitterly jealous, despite embryo transfer scheduled for next week. They’re *already* pregnant, naturally. I’m still infertile. I’m still waiting.

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