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Meet the Meyers: On Being Told
It seems we’re in the midst of a baby boom. If you look at birth rate statistics, there has been a steady increase each year since 1997. Every single day someone is telling someone else that she is pregnant. As an older-than-average-aged child bearing couple (we're both 37), we have watched as most of our friends and family add new members to their broods. Getting news about someone else’s pregnancy can be a sobering and downright depressing experience. Just as every single relationship is unique, so are our responses.
Will there ever be a day when I will say, “Oh, I used to get so upset when someone told me she was pregnant?” because that day is NOT today. Dealing with baby news from friends is a minefield of emotion. Convention (and manners) tells us to be happy for the parents-to-be. But more often than I care to admit, I actually feel really crappy after those conversations. Because infertility is inherently painful and alienating, there’s no right way to handle the news on either side of the conversation.
Exhibit A: A really good friend calls TO TELL me she's pregnant. Talking to me as if I were made out of glass, she tells me her story. Then she slips. “I just never expected it to happen on the first----.” She cuts herself off, but we all know how that sentence ends. I am so sad because she's trying to edit herself; which makes me even sadder because somehow it validated all of my fears: that I really have a problem. And I was sad because she was pregnant and I was not.
Exhibit B: Friend DOESN’T TELL me she’s pregnant, I get the news on Facebook. As I read through all of the congratulatory messages from her other friends, I feel a little knife turn inside of me. How could she leave me out? Most likely, she was sparing my feelings. Or maybe she didn’t want to worry about me at all. Why should she? This is the happiest news of her life, right?
I guess that is the essence of true hardship: there’s really no getting around the bad feelings. There are days when the feelings are bearable and days when you are so jealous of your friend that you never want to see her again. Like, if I get one more jaunty e-mail from someone in my support group (“22 weeks and counting! “), I’m going to scream: “I’m not happy for you!”
If there’s one thing I have discovered about myself during this time, it’s that I’m resilient. Sure, those initial conversations can pack a punch. But as I allow myself to get used to the new development, I soften, I open up.
I allow myself to be happy for my friends—just as I know they would be for me.
I have trouble with this topic. I understand where the emotions come from, and I would be lying if I said I didn't feel them. I just don't allow myself to harbor emotions of jealousy and resentment (yes, I believe that is what we are talking about). When I hear a friend is pregnant, I do my best to be supportive, excited and---oh who am I kidding?
Joy is right! Why do they get to be happy? Why do they get what they want? It's not that I'm jealous of them. I am happy for them and sad for myself.
There’s no point in blaming myself or my friends for what is happening. But I want to go outside and yell into the wind and curse the hand of fate which so indifferently messed with my hopes. I want to get beyond these emotions because I don't want people to feel sorry for me.
Bottom line: I hate feelings. I don't want to get caught up in these conflicting emotions. Can't I just leave that to Joy? I want to make a plan and get busy with it. Oh yeah, there's not much I can do to change the outcome of what is basically a roll of the dice. That's what it is, a gamble, chance. I'm sick of losing.
So when I hear close friends are pregnant, I'm excited for them and at the same time I see myself losing a little more. Falling a little further behind. I see my siblings’ kids getting older and the hope that my kids will play with them gets a little more distant. That is a tangible loss that I cannot ignore.
So let's recap: a little happy, a little frustrated, and a lot sad.
I think that's what I'm feeling . . .
Did I mention I hate feelings?