When I started TTC, I only had one friend who had a baby. Now I only have a few left who do not have babies. So, I’ve had time to go through lots of friend’s pregnancies and baby arrivals. Which is not always easy, since it is often a reminder of my failures.
One thing that makes it harder is to hear friends complain about the one thing I want the most in my life. And I hear LOTS of complaints: “It sucks that I can’t smoke”, “I can’t even drink at my 30th birthday party”, “my feet are so swollen I can’t wear shoes anymore”, “I’m fat”, “this baby needs me all the time”, “I haven’t been to the hairdresser in ages”, “my boobs are too big and annoy me”, “I haven’t slept in ages”, “I can only sleep on one side”, “I’m tired”, “I look awful”, etc.
Sometimes these complaints really piss me off, like I have no tolerance for complaints about cigarettes and alcohol. I also get really annoyed by comments like “I’m fat” when you can see they are said just to get compliments.
But I am still happy when I am treated like a normal person and being infertile has not made me completely insensitive to pregnancy and baby problems. I could actually really feel for a friend the other day. She has a beautiful family with a recent new addition. I do think she’s very lucky but I also know it’s a lot of work. I also know that when she says she’s tired or that she feels fat or not sexy, it’s because she’s struggling or having a bad day and not just to get compliments. I’m happy to be there for that.
It’s also much easier to be there for someone who has been there for me. Once I opened up to a friend about my infertility issues and the only response I got was “Sorry, got to go make dinner for the baby”. I never got any questions or messages after that. So I wasn’t too sympathetic when after baby N. 2 she complained about not even having time to go on facebook. Similarly, it’s easier to be there for people I love, and harder for people like colleagues who I don’t really care about.
But sometimes things can be hard, no matter how much I care about a friend. A friend, who is now about 7 month pregnant, has been seriously depressed about being pregnant. She has called me a lot to get support and I was happy to be there but it has been really hard at times. Once she said that if it carried on being this bad she would ask for an abortion even if it was already 4 months. That was not easy to hear, even if I knew she wouldn’t do it. Another time, after days of complaints on how sick she felt, she finally sounded happy to have found a massage lady who worked exclusively with pregnant women. I was happy for her until she suggested I should go see this lady too (failed to notice I am not pregnant??). And after my last failed transfer she told me she understood my pain because she was struggling with her pregnancy. I had to focus real hard to see the connection.
Hearing all these complaints and having all these discussions has certainly helped me realise one thing: we all have different lives and we can support friends without fully understanding them or having gone through the same experiences. They cannot understand my pain after an IVF cycle, or my anxiety before an adoption meeting, but they can feel it, be with me and support me. I cannot fully understand their worries and challenges, but I can see when something is wrong and be there for them. What I cannot do is to provide support for fake problems or listen to silly complaints on e.g. fags and booze, but as it turns out my good friends are smart enough to not have a problem with this (or at least to avoid talking to me about it…).