Friday, June 27, 2008

The Joys of Dealing With Pregnant People

  • Today I am wondering about the line between supporting my pregnant friends and taking care of myself by limiting my exposure to the swelling bellies around me. I just did some googling on this subject (my greatest new coping mechanism), and found a posting in which a woman shared her feelings of resentment about being surrounded by pregnancies and baby talk. The responses were staggering – other women attacked her and said that she didn’t deserve to be a mother and that she should force herself to share in the joy of others’ pregnancies.

    I am shocked at this. Perhaps I don’t understand as I am not pregnant, but if I was and I had a friend who was struggling with infertility, I can’t imagine coercing her to be a part of my pregnancy. Frankly, I think ambivalence about frequenting Baby’s ‘R Us with my pregnant friends is as natural a human emotion as the happiness that must accompany a positive pregnancy test. Heading the Baby Shower Committee and bringing the biggest gift seems unnatural, illogical and like a dramatic example of a Freudian defense mechanism. I mean, come on, when you’re struggling with fears that you may never actually be able to conceive a child, is it really natural to sit surrounded by pregnant women at a baby shower discussing breast feeding tips? Why is it not okay to own a feeling that is perfect natural?

    I had dinner with a pregnant friend last night. Undoubtedly, our relationship has been rocky since she called me with her news almost 5 months ago. Our situation was further complicated by the fact that she went through a lot of this infertility stuff with me as her baby is the result of IVF#2. One would think this would make her especially attuned to my feelings, but this is not the case. She expressed to me last night how "sad" she is that I haven’t been an active part of her first and second trimesters. She even expressed resentment that when I do indeed get pregnant, I won’t have to worry about hurting anyone with my happiness unlike the way I guess I’ve "jaded" her experience.

    After thinking this over today, I am once again flabbergasted at her response to our situation, particularly considering that she’s been where I am. I suppose that when one is blessed with an embryo, it is socially acceptable for her to feel whatever she wants. Meanwhile, my empty uterus apparently doesn’t entitle me to take care of myself. Let me clarify by saying that I have been congratulatory and as supportive as I can be of her pregnancy. However, emotionally, I can’t handle the day-to-day baby development stuff, designing the nursery, and hearing how her husband sings happy birthday to her belly every week.

    I believe that self-care and self-preservation are key to overcoming infertility. I refuse to believe that the natural feelings that undoubtedly accompany this situation make me an ugly, bitter woman. To the contrary, I think I’m a healthy example of someone who loves my pregnant friends but who loves myself, L., and our unborn child more. What's so wrong with that?


I Believe in Miracles said...

Welcome to the blogging world. Found you through L&F. Good luck with the 2ww!!

Lauren said...

I think your feelings of self-care are totally fine and justified. If you don't feel up to helping someone plan their baby nursery or pick baby names, that's completely fine. I know that IF has changed the way I'll handle married but non-pregnant friends in the future. Not knowing their situation, I'd never expect them to bathe in my future pregnancy glow. That's one good thing that I know will come out of dealing with IF--being more empathetic to others in the same boat. Good luck in the 2 week wait!

Shinejil said...

Ugh. I'm sad your friend doesn't seem to get it when she of all people should. It's strange but just because someone has gone through a lot doesn't mean they've necessarily learned much from it.

I don't do any baby-related stuff. I feel I'm doing enough forcing smiles when someone mentions yet another pregnancy around me. I've always hated showers and such, and do so now with even greater vigor. So I'm in the take care of yourself boat.