Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Friendship Put To The Test

A friend of mine, J, called me yesterday. I have known J for nearly 20 years and she was the matron of honor at my wedding. We are the same age (43) and her two kids are 13 and 11 years old. J and I go all the way back to undergrad. We've been pretty close all these years, even as the phases of our lives have changed.

Another friend, M, is a personal friend of both J and me. M is a hairdresser and has done J's and my hair for years. M is 60 years old and, like some hairdressers, she is a great gossiper.

Back when my DH and I were first ttc....you know, when you thought it would just happen and you never considered guarding the information like a secret...I told both M and J that we were ttc. I wondered if M knew of any natural hair coloring products to use during pregnancy (she did not) and I shared the news with J because she was my friend.

It took 8 months before we got our first BFP. During those 8 months, J said all the things infertiles loathe to hear. "Just relax, it'll happen." "Just give it time." "At least all this practicing is fun." M would just ask bluntly, "So are you pregnant yet?"

When we got our BFP, I told J (I never told M). J was happy for me. My first prenatal appointment wasn't scheduled to happen until the 10 or 12 week mark. I forget because I miscarried at 6 weeks.

I miscarried on a Sunday. The day before, Saturday, my DH and I attended an associate picnic at the home of a co-worker of mine. As their 1 year old toddled in the yard, I delighted in her, thinking how in a year's time we too would have a little one.

Early Sunday afternoon, I drove my DH to the airport. He had a week long conference in southern California beginning the following day. I spent the rest of the day home with the dogs, relaxing. At 10 pm I turned off the TV and the lights, locked up the house, and went to use the bathroom to get ready for bed.

There was blood. Enough to worry me. Enough to make me think, yeah, I thought I had been feeling mild AF type cramps that evening. It was 10 pm, I was alone and it was my first m/c. I was panicked. I know, I'm a nurse, but this was personal and I was in uncharted territory.

I called the telephone number of the advice nurse listed on the back of my insurance card. She was so kind and gentle. She let me know that if in fact I was miscarrying, there was no way to stop it from happening. If I bled too much I should go to the ER. Was anyone with me? I sobbed, telling her my DH was out of town. She encouraged me to call a friend to stay with me.

I called my DH who immediately made arrangements to come home first thing in the morning. Then I called J. I cried, telling her I thought I was miscarrying. It was weird. She said, "I'm so sorry" but then she just asked questions. Was I bleeding? How long? Could I try to sleep? Would I be seeing the doctor the next day? Just....questions. I couldn't bring myself to ask her to come over. She never offered. I felt weird about the whole thing.

Alone that night, I miscarried. I cried. I knelt on the bathroom floor under waves of pain. I saw the clots pass. I took care of myself.

The next morning, Monday, I called in sick to work and my DH and I went to see the OB. That was my first internal ultrasound. She confirmed the miscarriage. My DH was wonderful and supportive and everything I needed him to be.

I went to work Tuesday, verging on tears all day. You know, an associate attorney wants to prove how dedicated she is and not take too much sick time. The co-worker at whose home we attended the picnic on the prior Saturday made some joke to me about how I looked fine when he saw me Saturday and I must have wanted to enjoy a long weekend. This was my introduction into the world of incredibly hurtful but ignorant comments.

When I got another BFP just 2 months later, we were less excited and more cautious. We didn't tell anyone. That time, I miscarried at 11 weeks, although that U/S revealed that the fetus had stopped growing at 7 weeks. No heart beat.

Both J and M periodically continued to ask me whether we were still ttc. I told them yes, but ended the conversation there. I never ever raise the issue. I just always felt like their questions were more about digging for juicy bits of gossip rather than supporting me.

So yesterday J called. I cancelled a hair appointment with M that was scheduled for May 23. I cancelled it because we were supposed to have our FET on May 21 and I would be on bedrest through the 24th (of course the cycle was cancelled on the 19th). I did not reschedule the hair appointment because, well, I am going to try (try!) letting my hair grow out and see what the natural, gray-tinged color really looks like. Plus, if we do get pregnant, I don't think the chemicals are good for the baby (although after the m/c my OB assured me they think the chemicals only absorb into the scalp and are not systemic).

Anyway, in yesterday's telephone call, J said she spoke with M. M mentioned that I cancelled and did not reschedule my hair appointment. J said, "M asked me if I thought you were pregnant."

The whole thing bothers me. That M wouldn't have the balls just to ask me herself. That J, who is obviously dying to know the answer too, is asking on the pretense that it is M who wants to know. That J revealed what M probably thought was a private conversation between she and J. That they are both just still digging for something to gossip about.

All I said was, "Nope. Not pregnant." It's true. Although I hope to be soon. I'm sad though, that I don't have much respect for these friendships anymore. That after so many years, I derive so little from the relationships. That whatever it was we had in common has been obliterated by my journey through infertility. That I find them to be shallow and gossipy and uninteresting. And that I find so much more support and understanding and get so much more from my bloggy friends than these IRL friends.

The phases of life, and of friendships, I guess.


butamoment said...

{Hugs} to you. I hope you don't mind me tossing my two cents in but I don't really think that people belive they are being too personal when they talk about who is pregnant or ask if you are pregnant. I know that it is special and private for us but to the rest of the world it is common information.

My 83 year grandmother would die before the words sex, penis, or vigina crossed her lips. But she has no problem asking EVERY SINGLE time I see her about pregnancy. It is just viewed differently by the rest of the world. So sorry.


just me, dawn said...

I am sure there could be a perfectly reasonable reason for them chatting about you....but I can't come up with one. I have only let a very few people know and one of them has to ask EVERY time I talk to her...it's like give it a rest, please. but fortunately, the people who know, don't know each other...so no gossiping :)
hang in there!

K said...

Hmmmmm...yeah. See my comment under your pet peeves post? Exactly the kinda thing I was talking about. Only my IRL "friends" don't even call anymore. It's like having a major virus or something that no one wants to catch. I'm sorry for you. And I'm sorry for your horrible m/c's. And being alone. And I would come over if you called me.

K said...

BTW, was looking at your profile again. Wondering if I can ask you a question about your clinic and also embryo adoption. If so, please email me speclk2@hotmail.com

theworms said...

Here from ICLW. It's sad when friendships drift apart and you feel like you can't count on people. (((HUGS)))

If bloggers get it and it is so nice to have someone get what you are feeling.

Anonymous said...

well, if there is anything you value left in the friendship, it is worth keeping - maybe just on a new level. you just have learned that certain support shouldn't be sought from certain people. but maybe there is still something in the relationship of value to you. only you can judge that, of course.

it is disappointing to find out that certain people just don't have it in them to be the friend you need when you need it.

sad, too.


IVF 40+ said...

I used to have no problem chatting away but just like you - I now keep it all close to my chest. And like you there are friends are that just wont let it go. its a tough journey is so many ways

tireegal68 said...

Hugs to you. The story you told of your miscarriages was so vivid and so immediate I could picture you even though I have never met you. That sounds like such a painful experience to go through alone. I am so sorry for all you have been through and all the things that people could have said but didn't, instead choosing shallow, or hurtful or unhelpfuul or thoughtless comments.
I don't know what to tell you about the friendships you have with these women and what to do. Part of me thinks that people should know the effect they have on us - they should be accountable somehow - and the only way for that to happen is if they are psychic or if we tell them ourselves. Part of me thinks - let them rot in their own stupidity.
It's so hard for us to "educate" these people when we are so vulnerable ourselves.
Take care:)

Anonymous said...

Its funny - Im also friendly with my hairdresser and I say v little to her for fear of my whole life history being discussed over highlights!

Its also sad how friendships change, Ive seen that happen alot lately. Im sorry for your loss of friendship. I too get alot of support from my bloggy friends than I do IRL, its just that everyone in the blogoshere understands and "gets it" whereas fertile real life ppl just dont.

looking4#3 said...

Empathy---I find MOST people (IRL anyway), just don't have it. The ability to atleast "try" and put yourself in someone else's shoes. Sounds so simple, but I think for most it's not.
I can't relate to the hairdresser, as mine Steven, is now Ashley---full change and all!!! But she is a hoot and great person!!!
As far as the friends go, that I can relate to. My own cousin went through IVF and was totally unsupportive with our struggles!! Most of my friends IRL have NO clue. I just don't dicuss it, I just don't share it. I know they won't get it and it will only cause me more pain. And hey, let's face it, for the past year and a half, it is all about what comforts ME!!
Sometimes (I finsd), you just have to be willing to walk away, even for a little bit!
Wish I lived on the West Coast, I would have been there---all night for you!!!

Inlocoparentis said...

I can relate to so much of what you've said here. When I had a miscarriage last year, I also found that the only one who was there for me was my partner - that friends were mostly just insensitive. It's hard. I guess I just take comfort in the fact that somebody gets it, even if they don't live in my real life.

stillhopeful said...

So sorry that your friend J wasn't there for you when you the way you needed. That's gotta hurt. And I find the same thing with the gossip, but it's among my step-family. Very annoying when you know people just want to talk about you...

I also struggle with the opposite issue. One of my friends is 42, and a few years ago, we were both single and hoping we would meet a great guy, marry and have children. She has not found a good man, and is basically facing the likelihood that children are not a possibility for her (at least in the traditional way). I am trying hard to be sensitive to her and how much she wants to hear about my daily issues, without feeling like I'm excluding her. From this perspective, I can see how it can be hard to balance the two.

Anonymous said...

First, I have to say how sorry I am for your losses. And second, I understand how frustrating it is to have friends that do not understand. I once had a friend, who I considered one of my closest. She got pregnant while single and I despite the fact that Husband and I had been TTC x 1.5 yrs at that point, I put my sorrow aside and pledged to help her!
One day I was trying to offer up some advice to which she replied "what do you know, you've never been pregnant".
That comment killed me and I couldn't bring myself to talk to her again until after the baby was born. She knew about all our heartache and for her to make such a heartless comment was just absolutely horrible.
She eventually apologized but our friendship suffered and we now have little comment.
So while it might be hard to cut friends loose, in the long run it might just be easier and emotionally beneficial for you to just cut ties. I feel for you hun and I'm hoping this next cycle works for you.