We have all been in a situation with a friend where we are both going for the same thing, whether it be a job, a promotion, a boy we both like, or in this case, a baby. I have been the friend who was left behind when I was the last one who wasn’t pregnant or had a child in her group of friends, and I have also been the one who had to softly break it to a friend that I was finally pregnant, while she was in the middle of an IVF round. I don’t have to tell you which side is worse to be on. However, from being on both sides, there is some advice that I can offer.
Don’t text it to her.
Sometimes the timing is terrible and it feels like the only way, but please don’t. My friend who had gone through two unsuccessful rounds of IVF and was told that she would never be able to conceive without an egg donor had become pregnant, on her own, without trying. This was something to celebrate as it was finally happening for her. It was also right when I miscarried at six weeks after my first round of IVF. Looking back now, I can see how uncomfortable she thought it might be, and that there would never be a good time to tell me, but texting only made it worse.
I can still recall the stinging feeling as I was reading the message, the tears flowing down my cheeks and feeling like I had been punched in the stomach. Would this have been my reaction had she told me in person? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t have felt like a social pariah that needed to be told from afar. As uncomfortable as you think that it might be for you, it is definitely more hurtful for her.
Don’t stop inviting her to things that you think might be too hard.
My friends started going baby shopping together, and then having lunch on a regular basis. Sure at the time going shopping for baby things would have been gut wrenching, but not being invited to lunch afterwards was just as bad. I felt like an outcast, like someone who understood infertility as much as I did, had abandoned me. This may sound whiny to some, but yes I would have liked to be invited. At least let me decide for myself if things are too hard for me. Being excluded out of pity just made me feel even more alone.
Check in with her.
Yes it is a busy time once you become pregnant and you want to celebrate that you are finally going to have a baby. There are a ton of appointments, and the possibility of crippling morning sickness, but you know what it was like to be in the maze of infertility. When you go through infertility and make a friend, you forge a different kind of friendship. The kind of friendship where you bond over things like LH levels and the best way to inject Menopur.
Friendships where you can complain about the frailty of the paper wraps at your clinic, and how many days straight you have been going in for blood work at the crack of dawn. Just know that while you are finally out of the maze, she is still trying to find her way but now without one of her greatest supporters and feels more alone than ever.
Include her in your “new” life.
She was there for all of the ups and downs while you were trying so to leave her out now that you finally found success seems odd. She will want to hear about how you are doing and how your baby is doing. While she is probably not going to want to help you pick out nursery colours, or choose high chairs, she is still your friend. She is still the same person that you would have late night texts with, agonizing over a waiting period, or compare symptoms with during a round.
She is the same girl that you would laugh with about fertility flubs and cry with about failed rounds. If she is uncomfortable or needs a little time, she will tell you, but please don’t make that decision for her. Don’t assume that she cannot handle your success, and that a once strong friendship is now more a casual acquaintance.
Everyone is different and processes things in their own time and way, but the friendships that you form in the sisterhood of infertility are incredibly strong. The friendships that I have made are for a lifetime and I hope that the friends that I have made feel the same.
By: Sarah Cheltenham