Wednesday, May 6, 2009

That's what friends are for

In addition to the obvious suckage of preventing parenthood, IF has numerous unwanted side effects. One being its uncanny ability to slowly erode away even strong relationships, from marriage to family to friends. Fortunately, I know of this mainly second hand from reading other IF blogs and can't speak much from personal experience. My marriage can still lift 100 times its weight and leap tall buildings in a single bound. And my sibling and siblings-in-law are younger, unmarried, not TTC, and were largely unaware of our struggles the first time around anyway. Let's hope for no *ahem* accidents while we are dealing with this a second time, huh, guys?

Any repercussions of infertility on my friendships have been relatively slight, compared to what I've heard from others. (Although you, my IRL friends, may have a different story. Which you can kindly keep to yourselves, because it will ruin this entire post. I appreciate it!) Shortly after we got married, DH and I moved away from all of our friends and landed in beautiful St. Louis, Missouri. During those first few years, we were both working full time, attending graduate school in the evenings, and recovering from the four years we had a long-distance relationship in college (read: lots of smoochy smoochy). So although we made new friends with some awesome people there, we didn't really have the time to be as social as we should have been. And I did keep in touch with friends from high school and college who were scattered everywhere from San Diego to Boston, but again the time factor plus my undeniable and totally uncool aversion to using my cell phone meant that contact was sporadic and mostly via email anyway.

Then came our infertility. In the "old" friend category, the baby bump fairy was busy. I was of course thrilled for my friends when they started reproducing, and as a bonus, I had a built in buffer of distance so I could share their joy without being overwhelmed by reminders of my personal pain. I didn't have to watch the bellies grow, listen to constant pregnancy chatter, or pretend my heart wasn't wilting at baby showers. Meanwhile in St. Louis, although we finished our degrees, DH and I were just too spent from our frequent doctor visits to grow any sort of social life. Something about pouring all of your money, energy, hopes, and dreams down the treatment toilet doesn't really make you the best company for happy hour after work. We kept up the friendships, but we hid at home a lot more than we would have wanted otherwise. And when we finally did get our BFP, it was time to move again: we were Seattle-bound.

One of the hardest things about a major relocation (aside from finding out your new grocery store doesn't carry Count Chocula or caramel apple Toaster Strudels) is missing your old friends and having to start over in building a social network. Finding people who appreciate tolerate our dry sense of humor, our obsession with the local teriyaki joint, and our inability to keep our nerdiness entirely in the closet.

Now let's just pretend that I don't get really nervous when meeting new people and say things that may sound humorous in a blog but come across as awkward, confusing, and esoteric in real conversation. (Hell, let's also pretend I'm 15 pounds lighter and a couple million richer, too, while we are at it!) Now that this thin, wealthy, hilarious, confident version of myself is meeting lots of other moms through various activities, I worry how secondary infertility will affect our ability to find a new crew of friends.

So far, none of the local moms we hang with has announced her next pregnancy. A handful are done multiplying altogether, in fact. But I know a few are trying, and it's just a matter of time. What happens when DH and I are heading back to the RE and descending into turkey baster madness again, and the women around me are giddily making room for their newest additions? My bonds with them are still fragile, and I'm afraid I'll pull away to protect my heart and end up alone with Bean at the mall every day. (Okay, so that doesn't sound entirely bad now that I say it out loud...)

While, in a way, it's comforting to have IF as a scapegoat for any lack of new friendage after our move (certainly it's not us! we are witty and charming!), I'm hoping it doesn't come to that. If anyone on either side of the IF fence has any thoughts, I always love to hear. Just be sure to type your response via comment or email, as I don't answer my cell phone.


  1. I have never had to relocate my life except when I went to college which is completely different. I can understand why you feel timid about these new friendships and how you will handle their second or third pregnancies. Maybe with time you will find one woman who you feel especially close with to open up to about what you are going through. I believe that having this outlet will free up some of your pent up emotions and may help you deal with hearing other people's "good news."

  2. You and I both know (first hand) that you don't always know other people's stories - so many are not willing to share and so I try to keep that in mind when I don't want to become dark, grim and bitter. One area where I find I still am a bit sensitive is with the fact that not only was I screwed in the pregnancy department (both before and during), but I did not even get the joy of taking my baby home with me when I was discharged. I had to pass those new discharged Moms holding their baby with their cart of flowers sitting behind them every day when I went to the NICU and THAT hurt. Sunday we went to church and the Pastor started the service with the story of his premature son, who had a twin that died at birth and his son was airlifted to another hospital across town, away from his wife. Needless to say, I cried through the entire service and once again I was reminded that I am often wrong when I think "why did this only happen to me".

  3. Being 'on the other side of the fence' (except in the last week where I have had a taste of the not so happy side) I think it might be wise to wait a little while before opening up to new groups about IF.

    IRL I know one lady who is very open about how hard it was to conceive her first and who has been trying for 3 years for #2. Maybe they wouldn't have been great friends anyway, but I do feel like a few of the Mums at playgroup have pulled away from her when they fell pregnant (presumably easliy). I am sure it was becasue they don't want to hurt her feelings, or maybe it was subconcious, but I noticed it regardless.

    I think that once you have some solid freindships, it would be a good idea to share with some of your closer friends.

    I'd let the freidnships develop naturally and then whenever it feels right you, it could be really bonding to open up to someone who you trust about something so close to your heart.

    I actually find that Mums open up to each other quite quickly some times. Maybe it is the feeling of being 'in the trenches' together that gets the comerardere feeling flowing. I am sure that you will knwo when the time is right to talk about it with people.

  4. Just this week, friends who had a baby two weeks before Jillian, announced #2 is due in January. We're not trying (not preventing but not trying) but somehow I still find myself jealous. I'm not sure why exactly. Maybe it is because I can't stand their effortless ability to gt pregnant by accident. I don't know.

    The only advice I have for you is NOT to go to the mall. And especially not target. Large bellies are inevitable at those places. Maybe a bar would be better provided beer bellies don't bother you too much :)

  5. This is one of the reasons that I like the pomegranate bracelet- I seriously need to wear me one! It's that way of letting people know - inconspicuously, that you "get it". That even though you may be a mom now, and may be pregnant again, but it wasn't always that easy. I can't say I've ever seen anyone wearing one in person, but I'd know in an instant that they were somehow in the same boat with me.

    I don't have any advice per se. In my own experience I still have a tendency to blab to everyone I know about how long it took us. I don't want to be off-putting to people I've just met, "Oh she's that crazy 'infertile' woman" but I also want to be realistic with people and want others to feel comfortable talking about whatever A/L/I issues they may be dealing with.

    I can say that the relocation thing doesn't seem to make any of this any easier. For me, it's hard enough to make friends without layering the IF thing on top. *sigh*

  6. Nearly all my IRL friend already have 2 or 3, and most are finished having babies, so I don't anticipate a lot of that sort of heartache while TTC #2. They had all those babies while I was trying to get #1, and that was hell. I hope it's all behind me. The one bump in the road may be if my brother and his wife achieve #2 before we do. Their babe is 7 mos younger than Z, and I don't know when they'll start for #2, but I can definitely see it becoming a race (at least in my mind). That could get sticky.

    I'm afraid I have to agree with Red, though, about being selective who you share with. A good friend of mine was critical of a good friend of hers who had secondary infertility. My friend (who had two easy conceptions) pulled the old "she should be happy with what she's got" line. Grrr.

  7. Hi CJ,

    Thank you for sharing this experience. Hope all is well.

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  8. "Keep smiling,keep shining, knowing you can always count on me...for sure...that's what friends are for!"
    ALWAYS here for you
    (and I promise not to make any "I'm so sick of being pregnant" comments this time. (sticking foot in mouth.))

  9. Even though I have not gone through infertility such as you have, I can very much relate to this posting. I have many friends who are going through it and now that I am pregnant with my second, I see that they are pulling away from me. Little do they realize, that I was also pulling away from my friends with their large growing bellies when I lost our second child. So in a way, I can relate, and know NEVER to take new life and pregnancy for granted. Even though I, of course, wished the best for my preggers friends and their additions, I hated the fact that I wasn't right there with them again. Add to that the immense desire to "replace" the child and not having immediate success, it was horrible. I noticed my mommy friends not telling me their exciting news of a second pregnancy as well because of what I experienced. In some ways I thought that hurt even more even though I bet they thought they were protecting me. I didn't have the swine flu, I miscarried. But I will admit, I still don't like seeing all the pregnant women around me with earlier due dates. It's crazy, I know - but hormones to it to me!


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