That familiar loneliness

Man, it was shaping up to be a really good day too.

This whole last week, ever since our ultrasound, I’d been meaning to email some friends in Texas to let them know that we’d finally conceived.  They were one of three friends from back home that actually followed up and wanted to know how things went in Omaha.  I had been wanting to tell them we are pregnant, but after all the progesterone worries I wanted to make sure that everything was going alright.  Well, I finally emailed them back and used words like “busting at the seams to tell you” and “we can’t believe it” etc., etc.

I get a response this afternoon from them.  Basically along the lines of, Oh great, we’re very happy for you!  Now seems like a great time to tell you that we’re 20 weeks along and we’re having a boy.

(Keep in mind I just hit 10 weeks, like, yesterday.)

Heart, meet the soul of my shoe.

I was shocked and I tell you, I would have started crying right there in the office had I not been pregnant myself.  That familiar loneliness that follows you everywhere came rushing back.  Not that I feel particularly popular or anything now (I actually still feel like I’m carrying around a giant secret of my husband and I) but the people I have told have shared stories and bonded with me with a sense of camaraderie that an in-/sub-fertile woman can only get in the blogs.  This is why this place is so important.  I swear, even in real life sometimes other women who are having trouble conceiving just sugar-coat it all and don’t tell you how they’re really doing.  I’ve even had people offer to add me to prayer chains for expectant mothers and heard so many times at mass “We pray for those women expecting.”  What about the ones that can’t have children, people? Do you even think about them??? 

Back to the email, I went from shocked to really, really upset.  I just imagined a very, very likely, alternate universe more like the past 25 months in which I did not conceive and did not become pregnant.  Reading that email (which of course, I wouldn’t have gotten because I would have not sent my own announcing my pregnancy) and finding out that my dear friends, who I’ve actually written about here before and were extremely supportive and understanding and more than I could have asked for, were 20 weeks pregnant and keeping it from me.  Seriously, I’ve had nightmares about this stuff.

It probably sounds like I’m asking for too much.  Like because I’m having trouble conceiving I want the world to bend around me and cater to my every demand.  No, actually, as much as I would have loved a personal email announcing the pregnancy (considering these are close friends that have helped me through the hard times), I would totally settle  for being told just like everyone else on Facebook.  Not being treated like some emotionally unstable, must protect her from herself, crazy woman (because clearly, I am far from that! I hope you’re laughing).

I feel like I did when I told a close friend that my sister was pregnant again.  “So, do you want to kill her or what?”  I burst out crying.  To me that was worse than any other response, worse than the sadness over my own inability to conceive, that my friend would think that I would feel that way about my new niece/nephew.  That these complicated feelings were so misunderstood by people not in it, and whether it was something I said or did previously or the way that people think sub-/infertile women think we handle pregnancy announcements that caused her response.  (Sorry Em, don’t know if you read this but I don’t think I told you that story.)

Being so misunderstood creates such a loneliness that only compounds the pain.  And it hurts that even close friends (in both circumstances) couldn’t understand.  This blog world really truly is a great area where people can share those dark moments without being judged or misunderstood (at least by other women/couples in the same position – no doubt not everyone understands fully).

To quote Hebrews “The pain we feel over a pregnancy announcement, as you know all too well, doesn’t really have anything to do with the fact that the pregnant person is pregnant…it has everything to do with the fact that the infertile/subfertile is NOT. Please don’t feel guilty.”

So, to sum it all up: Please, please you pregnant people out there, please tell that friend who’s having trouble conceiving that you’re pregnant when you’re ready to tell the rest of the world  (preferably individually via email).  I know its hard to do, but really, it has to happen.


Especially when you’ve already asked that couple to be the godparents of your next child.  I mean, come on.


(In full disclosure, I have already already shared these similar sentiments with my friends and they have apologized and admitted not knowing how to tell us.  So I’m not trying to trash them on this blog, I just wish it didn’t happen this way and am maybe hoping others don’t make the same mistake unintentionally.)

10 thoughts on “That familiar loneliness

  1. Thank you for writing this. I have to admit that I am someone who is not sub/infertile and I really…honestly have no idea how to act sometimes.

    Isn’t that horrible?

    When I find out about a friend’s miscarriage, or I find out that someone I love dearly is having trouble conceiving…I simply don’t know what to do.

    You’re right…it’s something that’s difficult to understand for those of us not experienced in those matters. Unfortunately, misunderstandings often cause unintended hurts. And the way one sub/infertile person feels about things at different times can be so completely different from the way another sub/infertile person feels (at least in my experience).

    You’re right though, it’s silly to feel guilty for my fertility in the face of someone else’s sub/infertility. It’s not rational. but sometimes feelings just aren’t rational, if that makes any sense.

    And it’s a good thing you are out here on this blog helping women like me learn about women like you. :)

  2. Oh, man, this TOTALLY strikes a chord with me! I had a friend who also didn’t tell me until she was 20 weeks pregnant, because she knew I was struggling with being single. We’ve known each other since grade school, and I was in her wedding for crying out loud! Not to mention that she’d had a few problems along the way getting pregnant, and I was praying for her the whole time to be able to get pregnant. I was so hurt, because I wanted to rejoice with her, and because we’d gotten together several times once she was to the point of telling people and she still didn’t mention the biggest thing going on in her life. Unfortunately, it’s created a distance between us. I don’t know if she’s aware of it, but I’m definitely afraid to tell her when I’m struggling now because I don’t want her to think that I’m such a delicate, wilting flower.

  3. I think it is really tough to make a happy announcement to anyone who is suffering… no matter what the suffering is, or how you make the announcement, or how long you thing it through, it’s always a delicate situation, and 2 persons may react completely differently to the same announcement.
    Also I am about 19weeks now and we haven’t told half of the family and friends yet.. time just flies! ;)

  4. So true! I feel exactly the same way.
    Then on the flipside, there’s my last Mother’s Day at Mass with our new parish/and priest. I gave him a head’s up, something along the lines of “Oh yeah, could you please remember women who hope to become mothers but are not yet?” and I tell you – – the ENTIRE MOTHER’S DAY BLESSING turned into a prayer for infertile women in the parish, and how we are mothers even if the world cannot see it, and that we should feel proud to come up and receive our special “gift” after Mass (I never ran out of church so fast in my life!!!) I was BEET RED!! OMG, he may as well have asked me to come up to the podium on the altar!!!

  5. It’s so tough. I know people are trying to be sensitive to but sometimes it just really backfires. On my wedding day, my little sister was pregnant but kept it from me and others so as not to “steal” my day. She then told the entire family after we left for our honeymoon, and I got the announcement after we returned, after the entire family had been celebrating all week over the wedding and her announcement and had all gone home. So H and I just got this isolated phone call, the end. I totally see why she did it, but seriously, I wish it had been handled differently. As if her announcement could somehow steal the joy of my wedding day??? C’mon! We just would have had more to celebrate and it’s not like people would be confused over who the bride was, my dress was big enough, sheesh lol. Even worse, she was in a very sick stage of pregnancy and a bridesmaid, and I was completely insensitive to that because I just didn’t know. I had her in charge of feeding all of us!? I dunno… it’s just frustrating when you feel singled out or like people are trying to decide for you how you will handle something. A few months later, a cousin got pregnant and kept it from everyone at another wedding… she too was a bridesmaid, and the bride felt like… ya know, if you had just even told ME privately, I would have been so happy for you and way more sensitive towards your situation and it would have created so much less drama after the fact.

  6. I started to comment earlier, but couldn’t find the right words.

    But, I have them now. Just got a FB message from a couple who got married this summer (was actually the first couple we taught NFP to) saying they were pregnant and wanted a reminder of how to calculate their due date. I’m honestly so happy for them, but my heart is breaking for us. They weren’t really ‘trying,’ her message even said, ‘we should have abstained….but didn’t’, but they are happy now (it’s only been a couple of weeks since they found out).

    So the words I have now are I am so sorry you were thrust back to this feeling. And I’m not glad that you were ‘here’ again, if only for a moment. But I am so grateful for these words today. For this place, for this blog world. Because no one else understands these tears. These tears that look so ungrateful and bitter, but are a mix of happiness for a new life and extreme sadness all at the same time.

  7. So good of you to share this. I’m sure there are LOTS of people who are holding back good news because they don’t want to upset anyone. Now they know it’s more hurtful to keep them in the dark.
    And good of you to let your friends know how you feel so they don’t make the same mistake twice!

  8. It’s really a no win. If they tell you too early and you weren’t pregnant you’re upset. If they tell you to late because they are scared to hurt you, you’re upset.

    I’ve decided, like pregnant women, you just can’t win. If you say “you look beautiful,” the sensitive pregnant woman thinks it means she looks like crap and you’re saying that because you think she needs to hear it to feel better. If you say nothing, another pregnant woman thinks you are insensitive to her need for support.

    If you bring dinner over too early after the baby comes, you’re not allowing the family time to bond. If you bring dinner over too late, you don’t realize how hard it is the first few weeks to manage a newborn and making meals.

    I understand how you feel, but I also understand this is just a mine field of issues and it’s very, very difficult to navigate, even for us that have been through it. And it does not get any easier. If people know you had issues the first time they tiptoe around talking about #2, when sometimes all you really want to do is hopefully and blissfully daydream about your second child, without contemplating the fact that it may not happen.

    And, if you are talking to someone who is going through infertility and you’ve been there too, you come across as a know it all if you say you understand and talk about your experience. Just like women who already have children come across as know it alls to women who are newly pregnant.

    • Stacy, I really appreciate you leaving your comment and sharing your view, but I disagree with you 110%. I agree there will always be the people that are bitter and resentful and take and twist everything you say to be something bad. I’m not sure how to deal with those people other than to realize that they have issues and to not take it personally.
      However, for this issue in trying to act with concern and care to a friend who’s having trouble conceiving, lying to them point blank about the pregnancy damages the friendship and will necessitate repair, unless the woman having trouble conceiving just opts to harbor resentment to the friend (which, unfortunately, does happen since usually people resist conflict.) This is like saying, because the right thing is hard to do, you shouldn’t do it and you “can’t win” – completely incorrect. It is still the right thing to do. Instead of a woman being upset about her own infertility, which I agree, any pregnancy announcement is likely to inflict to some degree, you further isolate her from her friends and the people she is closest to which for me and for many people I know, is the hardest part about infertility. I know people like to think its like any other problem, but its really not.

      • The same thing happened to me. My friend who I’d shared this whole infertility drama with – which I’m still living as further charting reveals no ovulation and irregular cycles – did not tell me when she told other close friends. She told me in her 2nd tri.

        It took me a long time to realize how she told me wasn’t a censure of me, but it was her story to tell and it wasn’t about me at all. Maybe she was worried about telling me because of my issues, or maybe it was because she knew I had an infant at home and was tired, or – most likely – it wasn’t about me at all.

        I know you already discussed it with your friends, and I am sorry it happened. I just think you can’t control what people do, or how they do anything, you can only control how you react.

        But I know for a fact they (and others) can’t win. Because they (my friends) did get pregnant right away and I am jealous. Envious really. And she knew I would feel that way. Even though I was happy for them, I was still jealous. They said they wanted a baby, and right away God answered that prayer. Does that mean they are more worthy? Does it mean anything at all?

        And this time around, as we try for a 4 straight month to have a 2nd, with no luck, with mounting evidence that I will not be able to concieve “naturally”, does that mean something? I like to think not. As there is nothing “unnatural” about my son.

        But only God knows the answer. I can only walk the path in front of me, and accept people as they are, and know that I can only control how I react to things. And I guess what I’m saying is I understand exactly how you feel, and was trying to say the whole thing sucks for both sides. They dont want to hurt you, or make you sad. That’s all.

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