We have been struggling with infertility for 7 total years now. During those 7 years, we finally got our son via intrauterine insemination (IUI). However, we are still walking the road of infertility, trying IVF to see if we can press our luck and get one more baby. As you can image, 7 years of infertility is a pretty long time. While it is admittedly not as long as many other infertility stories, our 7 years have not exactly been a bright spot in our lives.
During our seven year (and continuing) fight with infertility, I’ve had friends who have gotten pregnant, friendships that became rocky due to pregnancy announcements gone wrong, and anxiety about how to tell our still struggling friends that we had (finally!) gotten pregnant. This whole “I’m pregnant but you’re not pregnant” dance has shown up in my life more times than I care to count. So, what happens when you’re not pregnant but your best friend is, even though she has only been trying for 2 months and you have been trying for 2 years? Or what happens when you get pregnant but your infertile friends are still going through hormone injections and follicular ultrasounds? I’ll tell you what happens – a lot of hurt feelings, grace and if you’re lucky, stronger friendships.
My husband and I were 2 years into our fertility challenges, neck deep in Menopur shots and progesterone cream, when my best friend since 2nd grade called to tell me that she was pregnant. She had only tried for a few months and she was so happy that it was easy! I choked back tears while I was on the phone with her and squealed with excitement for her because I was truly happy for her. But once I hung up the phone, I sobbed for hours, and I wasn’t quite sure why. I was so excited for her, she would be the first of our group of elementary school gal pals who would be a Mama! But it was also so stinking unfair. I had to employ the fake-it-til-you-make-it strategy during her entire pregnancy. I’m still embarrassed by how hurt I was, and how selfish I was to make her pregnancy feel like an attack on me. Since then, we’ve talked about it and we are still besties. All’s well that end’s well, I suppose. But I have had plenty of time to reflect on that situation.
Looking back, I think my anger and sadness about her pregnancy was misplaced on her (obviously). Not only was I blindsided by her announcement (I didn’t even know they were trying), I was also still not sharing our problems with even my best friends like her. I also think that seeing her get pregnant so easily just solidified my feelings of personal failure and loneliness.
Since then, I have learned that infertility only becomes lonely if you let it isolate you. Now all of my friends and family know about our infertility issues and I don’t feel lonely anymore. In fact, the more I talk about, and write about, our story, the more friends and strangers come out of the woodwork with their own infertility mess. Sorority sisters who can’t stop having miscarriages, college guy friends looking for a way to comfort their wife with endometriosis.
A lot has happened since that phone call. My friend’s son is now in the 2nd grade. I have since gotten pregnant and he is now 5. Many more of my friends have become pregnant and I have found that I can much more easily endure pregnancy announcements on Facebook and phone calls sharing good news. I am exceedingly thankful that my friend was the first one to get pregnant and that my feelings were hurt by her good news, and not anyone else’s. She taught me such an important lesson in grace and in celebrating with others that only our 20 year friendship could have done.
If you aren’t pregnant yet and everyone else you know is, take heart. Protect yourself on your sad days by staying off Facebook or returning a voice mail when you are feeling more emotionally ready. Give grace to your friends, because if they know about your fertility struggles, they are probably a bit nervous to tell you their good news in the first place. Most importantly, realize that your very best friends becoming parents is a great reason to celebrate, even if it’s not quite fair.
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