Over the last 12 years I have found myself repeatedly making excuses and comforting others because of how my infertility affects them.
It started after my first miscarriage when on my return to work I had to explain why my mother had been the one to telephone my work for me. They were confused as to why I hadn’t called in.
I witnessed the call – it was clear enough to me that she told them I had lost a baby, at that time I was curled up in my bed waiting for the pain to pass. Not particularly wanting to continue breathing much less speak to my manager. So instead I had to sit through a meeting feeling like I had let the company down.As time went on and my friends started their own families around us, I always knew when someone was pregnant because I could feel the awkwardness in the conversation. There have been times when I have just out right asked:
“Are you pregnant?”
I can honestly say, even though I did feel jealous, I was always happy for them. At first I would say, “Oh don’t be silly, don’t feel bad telling me! I am fine!” Finding myself comforting them through the experience of having to tell their defective friend they were getting their bundle of joy after only a couple of months of trying.
I never felt angry at first, I was genuinely happy for them. It was only as time moved on I started to feel a twinge of annoyance. Not at the fact they were pregnant, but at the fact I was the one that had to brush it off like it wasn’t a massive thing. To make them feel less uncomfortable with the conversation, like it was my fault.
I would hear that things being said about us like, “Well we can’t stop living our lives just because they can’t have a baby” and while this was true, we would never expect anyone to stop their lives for us. I felt like I wanted to scream out – YOU DO GET THAT WE HAVEN’T ASKED FOR THIS?? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT THIS HAS HAPPENED TO US, WE HAVE NO CONTROL?!
I know that it is an awkward thing to do, to tell someone that you care about you are getting the dream they are being tortured to try and achieve. If I could go back and talk to those friends now, having come out the other side of my grief. I would encourage them to talk to me as they would any other friend. To not just drop the news on me without any warning, give me time to process the possibility.
I am not suggesting that anyone in my life should share their plans with me about starting a family, no. I am talking about those close friends that you normally share everything with. I feel that knowing it’s likely to be happening soon somehow lessens the blow, and in truth if I had known that I would have reacted badly to the news when it eventually came, it would have given me time to prepare.
It’s no one’s fault, but me feeling like I had to make excuses and act like it was all ok made it worse. Sometimes it isn’t OK and if your friend is a good one they will understand if you have a few tears with them, they will know that you are happy for them and that you will love their baby just as you love them. But that in that moment, just for a few minutes you might feel the need to feel a bit sad.
Everyone else in their life will no doubt be excited by the news, is it so terrible to let you react how you need to? To give you a hand to hold and be honest. Being pregnant is often a daunting and scary prospect and I wanted to be there for my friends. It was hard to do that when they were looking at you like you might have a breakdown, or even worse steal the baby!
We aren’t handed a “How to Guide”, we don’t know how to handle these situations any more than the rest of the world. I do know that I don’t feel the need to make those excuses anymore, I am not overwhelmed with making sure that other people don’t feel uncomfortable because of our infertility, like it was a choice we have made.
One of the reasons I talk so openly on the subject, is that I want it to be less awkward for people. There is so much taboo surrounding fertility, miscarriage and loss. People don’t know what to say but I believe that’s largely because we don’t talk about it so how could they know?
So, if you have a close friend like me that you share your world with, please be honest with them. Let them in on the journey and if you can, let them know it’s OK to feel sad. Let them deal with the information in their own time, if there is anger don’t take it personally. Give them time to be happy for you. They will get there in the end, because they love you!