My infertility makes people feel uncomfortable

Since we started trying to have a baby, I’ve seen lots of friends get pregnant, received lots of pregnancy announcements and I’ve been there during some of my friends’ pregnancies. Only a few though because some people disappear after they get pregnant. Because they are busy of course. But also because they feel bad towards me and thus prefer not to talk to me.

This process has actually made me grow a lot as a person. The first pregnancy announcement I got since the start of my infertility journey hurt really bad. It was a badly done one, so harder to digest. But I didn’t handle it well and had all possible negative feelings: jealousy, anger, despair, feeling that I deserved a baby more, being mad because I wasn’t told before the 4th month, etc. I had tried my best not to react badly but I physically couldn’t pretend I was ok. I hold back the tears till I left my friend but I’m sure it was clear I wasn’t overwhelmed with joy for my friend. I still remember sobbing so much in the bathtub that my husband had to come get me out of there. My friend was disappointed in me and I almost lost her. I am not proud of this. But unfortunately I think I had to go through it to grow up and accept our infertile status better.

Now if a good friend gets pregnant I feel happy for her. Of course I wish it had been my turn too, but I don’t feel angry, mad, or in despair. I also quite like being updated on the pregnancy and hearing about the problems and issues. I understand some problems more than other and do not appreciate excessive complaints on aesthetic stuff. I don’t mind hearing about nausea, tiredness and other feelings. I have experienced a tiny fraction of it while being on progesterone in the TWW and didn’t even like it then. So I can imagine it must be tough to go through the first months. I also don’t mind hearing about fears and organisational issues since I can well see how these need to be dealt with.

What I have a hard time with though is when the pregnant lady feels uncomfortable in my presence. I do understand why she may feel uncomfortable but I find it is all too easy to let it show. I am very convinced (but please let me know if you do not agree) that it is easier for the pregnant person than for the infertile one. Same as it is way easier for someone who has a great job than someone who’s been unemployed and desperately looking for years. And if I’m ready to do my best to be there during my friend’s pregnancy, she should also do her best to not behave in an extraordinarily weird way.

My husband keeps repeating that it is though for them. I can see it is a hard, but really – what the heck – it is much harder for me! It’s like when you go see a sick person. It’s a tough thing to do but growing up you know you need to try and be strong, avoid pity looks and concerned questions and find ways to make your friend feel better.

Last night we went to my hubby’s best friend’s place. His girlfriend, who’s now a good friend of mine, is pregnant. I knew and was in a good mood despite this. But then she kept asking me how I was doing and if I was ok with big pity eyes. When other people asked her if she was feeling nauseous and other questions of the sort, she said yes but when I was there she kept repeating that it was good pain and that she was happy. Of course she was making an effort to be nice to me and that’s really sweet of her. But she did a bit much of it and it looked weird. The worst if that it showed she felt really uncomfortable in my presence and tried to completely avoid my husband.

Now I simply wonder what to do… do I talk to her telling her to relax and not to worry about me? do I write her an email trying to explain how I feel so that she understands? Or do I just let it go and pray that after vacations she won’t act so weird? Because if she keeps this up, it won’t be easy for me and I may have less straight to deal with it once I start treatments again…

Why is it so hard? Why am I such a pain? When people act like assholes, I feel bad. When people act too nice, I feel bad. But I know there are people who understand this and who can act great and with whom I feel great! It’s just they are not very many… I really wish there was a manual to handle friendships through infertility…

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7 Responses to My infertility makes people feel uncomfortable

  1. I think emailing is a great idea. She’s acting the way a lot of people (myself included) would want her to..maybe she’s even has an issue of her own and is more sensitive to it for that reason (if I’m ever lucky enough to get pregnant, I can’t see myself complaint in public about it). She won’t know what you need unless you tell her. An email is a good way not to put her on the spot.

  2. barrenbetty says:

    I think part of your problem is that you are just too darn nice!!! You are worrying about everyone else’s feelings while they are quite happy to trample all over yours. I think with your friend, as she is obviously trying to be sensitive with you and is concerned for your feelings you could try and explain in person or email where she is going wrong. It sounds to me like she would understand, especially as she is obviously aware your feelings might be hurt by her pregnancy?

  3. allison2206 says:

    I agree, try talking to her, I bet she’d get it and at least she’s trying to make an effort and to spare your feelings even if it’s a bit akward. I have a pregnant friend also and I cannot, repeat cannot stand it when she’s complaining about the few kilos she’s put on like it’s the end of the world (she knows about our situation) so I’m not even trying to explain things to her… unfortunately this leads to us seeing her less so when you feel there’s something you can do to make things better, give it a chance 😉

  4. dogsarentkids says:

    I would be blatantly honest. Be like – look, knock it off. I can be sad for myself and happy for you at the same time. It’s not YOUR fault I can’t get pregnant.

    The worst situation for me so far (aside from the time a Starbucks employee asked when I was due) was at a “reunion” with some friends in high school. Three of them. All pregnant or with kids, of course. The conversation started with their families, pregnancies, babies, blah blah. I just sat there smiling, looking genuinely interested. Then one of them noticed I was silent and looked at me, tilted her head, and with the most painfully sympathetic voice said “So what about you? How are you doing?” Now the words are harmless, but the way she said it was like, well you don’t have kids. So what’s your deal.

  5. Kitten says:

    In one of my recent blog posts, I talked about the pros and cons of being “out” as an infertile. The looks of pity from others was on the cons list. I used to appreciate them, as they said to me, “I recognize that you’re hurting and I hate that you’re going through this.” Now, it can be annoying, mostly because I’ve learned to cope better, so being around pregnant friends and family members isn’t as devastating as it used to be. I like dogsarentkids’s advice.

  6. E v e l y n says:

    I think I’m pretty terrible at standing up for myself so I would probably just let it go. I’m not really sure what’s worse, her behaviour or if they would have just ignored you. But if she does it again it might be worthwhile letting her know she’s making your uncomfortable.

    I’m also pretty terrible a knowing what to say to people who are in a terrible situation (getting much better since dealing with infertility thought). I do agree with your assessment that it’s harder for the preson dealing with the issue and that a manual how to deal with people going through a difficult situation (illness, infertility, death) would be great. I think most people’s responses and reactions are due to the fact that they are afraid to say or do the wrong thing.

  7. I agree that an email is a good idea. I can see how it would be annoying, but at the same time how nice that she cares enough to be sensitive about your feelings! I have so many friends/family members who can literally talk to me about nothing but their pregnancies and babies, even when I have asked them not to. The bottom line is that everyone of us infertiles has a different level of comfort when it comes to dealing with other peoples’ pregnancies, and the only way to let people know how we feel is to tell them. I’m glad that you are able to be happy for her and that, over time, dealing with others’ pregnancies has gotten easier. Man, I wish that was the case for me. Sometimes I think it’s actually getting harder.

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