17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Friday, January 11, 2008

From the Tales Inbox: Pregnant and My Friend is Not

Here's my dilemma:
My husband and I recently found out that I am pregnant for the first time. We are ecstatic over the news, even if it comes a bit earlier that we were anticipating. We have not shared this news with anyone out of our immediate family, as we are waiting the often-traditional 12 weeks before we share our news. My very best friend (other than my DH, of course) and her DH are having a VERY difficult time getting pregnant. They are approaching the IVF stage, havingtried many other therapies, first, and she is completely broken up about the difficulty they are having. My role in our friendship of late has been to listen, listen, and listen some more about her feelings on the subject--which I am more than happy to do.

The question is fairly obvious. HOW IN THE WORLD am I supposed to tell her that I'm pregnant (which she will immediately know came without hardly even trying)? After our many discussions I feel like she is going to be upset that we--the much younger couple--have "succeeded" in becoming pregnant before them. She is in her mid-30s and she's already very sensitive to the idea that she's the "last" of women we know to get pregnant. How can I share my exciting news while being sensitive to my best friend's feelings?

Trying to be a Good Friend


  • Trying, you are being a great friend because you are concerned and sensitive to your friend and whatever pain she's in. Not everyone is able to do this - it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of your news and forget that it isn't quite as exciting for everyone. So don't feel bad or guilty, you are doing everything you can to lessen the hurt.

    That said, don't necessarily expect your friend to see it this way. :-) It will still hurt, and though she will know logically that this is good news and will be happy for you, the painful roller coaster she's living through right now is kind of an all-encompassing one.

    I'm basing my comments on having been a best friend to someone who was struggling to conceive. When my DH and I decided to start trying, I agonized over being in the position that you're in now - pregnant with an still-non-pregnant friend. I luckily had the option of warning her ahead of time, but even that was hard and I still dreaded what was to come. By a serious miracle (and she would say the same) she did get pregnant first, and so I didn't have to deal with it, but I do understand your apprehension.

    So here's what I'd do. Do it in person, not over the phone. And don't drop it casually into a conversation. Maybe take her out for lunch or ice cream, or if in public isn't a good idea, invite her over for a girls night. Tell her that you know how hard it has been and how much she's been through, and that's why it is difficult for you to tell her that you're pregnant. Tell her you and your DH are very happy about it, but that you understand if she's not in a place to celebrate it with you. And then tell her that you hope she will still feel okay talking with you about what she's going through, and that you promise not to gush about impending mommyhood. And then do that - find someone else to complain to about pregnancy aches and pains, about baby names, to help you decorate the nursery, etc. If your friend wants to do it, great, but don't expect it.

    I know for a fact that there are others on here who've been on the side of your friend, and they will hopefully add a much more informed opinion!
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/11/2008 04:28:00 AM  

  • empathy is not my strong point so I shouldn't be commenting...BUT I think marian put it so well. I might also put similar loving words into a hand written letter and maybe give it to her in person and tell her to read it when she is alone, that way she can do the ugly cry...take a deep breath and maybe pick up the phone and sincerely wish you the best.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/11/2008 05:32:00 AM  

  • i totally agree with what marian said. in person, with compassion, is the best way to go. the absolute worst thing to do would be for her to find out from someone else and not you. that happened to me last year. everyone in the world knew my friend was pregnant except me and when i did find out it was so painful to think that she felt so awkward about the whole situation that she couldn't even tell me herself. it has put a huge strain on our relationship. i actually don't know if it will ever be the same again.

    don't wait. just be honest and sincere like marian said. she might not be ready to celebrate just yet, but if it is important to you to maintain a good relationship with her, honesty is the only way to go.

    eventually she will be ready to celebrate with you. what a miracle that you are having a baby! she might feel sad at first for herself, but i'm sure she's a good person and has a heart, and will eventually be able to be excited about the new life god has blessed you with.
    posted by Anonymous infertile at 1/11/2008 06:47:00 AM  

  • As someone who works in the infertility field, I agree with marian. In person let her know you are pregnant, let her know you are happy, but understand that it may take her awhile to feel the same. Make a point to do things together that have nothing to do with pregnancy, but don't act ashamed or embarased because you are pregnant and she is not. Also, don't try to not include her in things, ask first. She will probably want to come to your shower (if you have one) but if she doesn't try to understand. Just be honest, it's really the best way.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/11/2008 07:05:00 AM  

  • When I was going through infertility, I was embarassed if friends didn't tell me they were pregnant or if they acted guilty telling me their news. I knew it was something that would make me so happy so of course for my friends, I was happy for them even if it hurt a little bit. She needs to know and you are friends to each other, it's not a one-way friendship.

    The only thing that really did offend me when I was going through infertility was when people would make comments like, "I wasn't ready to be pregnant", or "I think I might be pregnant and I just can NOT be pregnant right now!". Of course most of the time people who made those comments didn't know my struggle so I wasn't mad at them, it just hurt inside to hear that.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/11/2008 07:12:00 AM  

  • Having been on both sides, I wholehartedly agree with what Marian said. Do it in person and whatever you do, DONT ever complain to her about pregnancy related issues b/c she would probably do just about anything to "suffer" the morning sickness, aches and pains, etc.

    I would also suggest to let her take the lead in how much she wants to be involved. It is possible that, once the news sinks in, she'll want to accompany you to do some baby shopping, help you with the nursery, and so forth. But also, you must be prepared for her to possibly pull away. It may just be too painful for her to be a close friend right now. It is important that you be understanding if that is the case...and dont take it personally. It has nothing to do with you not being a good friend - and everything having to do with the stress she is under.

    Good luck with everything - I hope it works out for the best.
    posted by Anonymous Ellen at 1/11/2008 07:16:00 AM  

  • I have a good friend, who is also struggling with fertility. I have had to tell her four separate times now that I was pregnant while she suffered miscarriage after miscarriage.

    Her words are these (I'm quoting. She lives too far away for me to speak to her in person, so I've always had to do it over the phone or via email. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, but we're still like sisters):

    "I just have this open wound that gets brushed against a hundred times a day and it really hurts. I just don't know how to handle it sometimes, so I just shut myself away."

    I agree with everything marian said, too. But just know that she might not be receptive and/or excited for you --at first. And don't get offended if she just needs time to digest everything. Even then, it could take a very long time to heal. I have another friend who wouldn't associate with us socially until after they had adopted their first child. It was just too hard for her.

    The fact that you have such concerns for your friend show that you will be able to handle any (if there are any) repercussions of the situation, whether they are good or bad. Good luck!
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 1/11/2008 07:43:00 AM  

  • I would tell her in a very sensitive manner. Excellent advice above.

    However, just be ready emotionally if she totally withdraws. My sister and her husband have been trying for five years and it has taken a real toll on my sister. She tries her best, but she really cannot handle anything more than very casual contact with me and my sisters/sil when we are preggo and have newborns. It gets better when the kids get older. I really try not to judge and make sure to keep her in my prayers. I'm just warning you because it might not hurt as much if you know it's coming. There is nothing you can do about it and it is not your fault.

    Even if she doesn't withdraw, be prepared for a lack of sympathy. Don't complain that you are sleep deprived, that breastfeeding is difficult, etc. She might say something like "You should be grateful for it!". Not fun to hear when you are going through hard times as a new mommy ;) Just find someone else to vent about mommy challenges with and you'll probably avoid the situation.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/11/2008 08:37:00 AM  

  • During the years we struggled to get pregnant, I was so sensitive if the topic of pregnancy or new babies came up at all. And I could not handle being around pregnant friends or friends with new babies. Like anon said, it gets easier when the kids are older, but those round tummies and tiny newborns were just too much.

    Another way you might consider telling her (depending on her personality and your relationship) is to tell her husband, or have your hubby tell him. For me, that was the easiest way to get the news. If my dh told me first, I could cry about it and deal with yet another "oops" pregnancy privately, and in my dh's arms. It was easier for me to then talk to my pregnant friend, having already experienced the intense first emotions.

    And someone else already said this, but please be careful when you talk about your pregnancy around her. Please avoid talking about how you weren't planning this pregnancy, or how easily it happened and before you expected it etc. And complain about your pregnancy symptoms to someone else. She would gladly puke in your place.

    At the same time, when it was me not getting pregnant, it bugged me when people acted nonchalant about their pregnancy. I wanted to hear my friend was excited and happy to be expecting. I know sometimes my friends would downplay their joy for my benefit, but it would just make me feel like she didn't deserve it (because if I were pregnant, I would be over the moon happy all the time.)

    It's so so hard. You just can't know how lonely infertility feels unless you've been there. You are a good friend, being so careful with her feelings.

    Congrats and enjoy your pregnancy!
    posted by Blogger rebecca at 1/11/2008 11:02:00 AM  

  • We just went through this exact same situation. Our best friends told me a few months before we got pregnant that when and if we got pregnant that they wanted us to tell them first out of any of our friends. Their brother and sister-in-law didn't tell her and she found out through the grape vine and it really hurt her. They told us that they would be very happy for us but that they would probably not talk to us for a few days so that they could be sad and get over it. As soon as we found out we had them over and did just that. We didn't here from them for about a week but when we did everything was fine. She even threw me a shower. You see she understood that the people around her can't put their lives on hold because of her infertility but that it was ok to be sad. So she took time to be sad than put it behind her. Just make sure that when you tell her you let her know that you are excited, don't tell her that you hardly tried, don't complain about anything and then wait for her move. Everyone responds differently.h
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/11/2008 12:15:00 PM  

  • Do I even need to reply . . . the advice has been perfect thus far. I have been in both shoes and thought I would share my two bits. My best friend got married 9 months after me and, although she did have a miscarriage, she had a baby before her 2nd anniversary. Then she had another. I was struggling to conceive but I was happy for her. Three years later, I was still struggling. She got pregnant with #3 and chose not to tell me because she thought it would be too hard. I actually got pregnant shortly after and told her and was so tickled to be expecting. She still didn't tell me for a while that she was pregnant too, so as not to steal my thunder (we live in different states). When she told me, it was strange because I felt bad that she felt that way and she felt bad for withholding it. After a weird period, we got through it. We both started trying again after our boys were born and she was surprised at the difficulty she was having, since the others came easily. I got pregnant and was hesitant to tell her, but I remembered how weird it was when she didn't tell me, so I told her. She's been great and loves my boys. My baby is almost one now and she still hasn't gotten a #4. After all that, I guess I'm saying that honesty is the best policy and if it really is a friendship that should be classified as the "best," with a little bit of time, she should be able to celebrate for you, just like you mourn for her.
    posted by Blogger colds1 at 1/11/2008 12:39:00 PM  

  • Thanks for all of your insightful comments. She and I have a "date" tomorrow (lunch), so I'll let you know how it goes.

    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/11/2008 06:56:00 PM  

  • Some dos and don'ts from the other side:

    DO tell her soon, and say something like, "We wanted you to be the first to know", so that she knows this is a big deal for everybody. Let her rejoice, and then let her cry, or do whatever she needs to do.

    DO listen to her whine about not being pregnant.

    DON'T whine back. Whine if you must, but pick somebody else to commiserate about how awful pregnancy is. At some point, every woman needs another one to say, "Yes, I know, pregnancy sucks!". This woman is not that person.

    DON'T tell her that you did such and such to get pregnant, and that if she would just try to relax, or eat right, or spit three times while swinging a dead cat under a full moon, that she would conceive. Those kind of comments make women crazy.

    DON'T feel guilty about being happy you are expecting. Pregnancy is a miraculous thing, and you should feel joy (well, in between barf sessions, that is). What is happening to you does not impact whether or not she gets pregnant (i.e, you did not steal her baby). You are allowed to acknowledge this blessing and be happy.

    Good luck, and congrats!
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 1/11/2008 06:59:00 PM  

  • I was that best friend Marian wrote about. I"ve been on both sides of this (took 3 years with IVF, fertility drugs and surgery for our son - awful time) and was blessed to have some wonderful friends around me who were supportive and loving.

    For me it was better to just have friends "rip off the bandaid" so to speak and tell me they were pregnant. There was no easy way to give or take the news; it always ended with the "ugly cry" when I was alone after finding out. But then I could move past it and be a support to them and find ways to be a part of their joy.

    There isn't an easy way to deliver your good news to a friend who is struggling with infertility -there just isn't. So the best approach is to be honest and open...and keep all of the dr. appt/sonogram stories/"I'm so tired of throwing up" sagas to yourself.
    posted by Blogger Chloe at 1/11/2008 08:13:00 PM  

  • I have a story of a bad way to do it that happened to my friend. "Amy" was having trouble getting pregnant for about 7 years. Her younger brother got married and they were pregnant in about a year. They were meeting for dinner one night at a restaurant and when Amy got there, the wife put the pregnancy test in her drink glass. Amy was so stunned she started crying. She couldn't believe how insensitive they were. Just the fact that you are so worried about her feelings will hopefully, lighten the blow.
    posted by Blogger Alyson P. at 1/11/2008 10:55:00 PM  

  • alyson, wait the pregnant girl put her pregnancy test in amy's glass? The pee stick? Ew. Pee in someone's glass? Let's start with that insensitivity, never mind the whole other part...
    Is it possible that she and her dh didn't know about amy's struggles? She being new to the fam and he being a guy and all.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/16/2008 06:19:00 AM  

  • Those were my exact thoughts Kage, in the same order.
    Pee stick in someone's glass? Pee stick at a restaurant? Did she not know about the infertility issues?
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 1/16/2008 02:50:00 PM  

  • From "Trying" (the poster): So sorry for the delay in following up with this post. In case anyone is reading still, I thought I'd update you on what happened when my friend and I had our tete-a-tete. We had been sitting at our lunch table for no more than 3.5 minutes when she said, "So, I just have to ask, otherwise it will drive me crazy....you're not pregnant, are you?" I actually considered lying. But I was speechless and teary-eyed instead, and confirmed. After that, she was the quintessential friend. She said wonderful things like, "I can't be too sad because it's not MY baby--it's YOUR baby," and "the only thing that makes me sad is that you were unhappy about telling me." So, thanks, ladies for all your sage advice. I'll be sure to come here first if any other troubles arise. Off to tend to the bun in the oven. :o)
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/22/2008 06:17:00 PM  

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