Friendship Strained due to Infertility/IVF

Ez - posted on 07/10/2009 ( 16 moms have responded )

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My best friend in the whole world is about to undergo IVF treatment after being diagnosed with some fertility problems. The exact nature of these problems are unbeknown to me as she is too embarrassed about her body failing her to even share these details with her closest friend.

She started trying for a baby just after I found out I was pregnant and I feel like the problems she's having conceiving is hurting our friendship as she shows little-to-no interest in my daughter. I fell pregnant while on The Pill, by complete accident, so I have no idea what it feels like to want a baby and be unable to have one. I can only imagine how disheartening and frustrating it must be, but the bitterness and resentment is starting to put a serious strain on our friendship. She BARELY calls (lives interstate) and actually changes the subject when she does and I talk about Milla. She's also told me she doesn't like talking to her sister anymore either because all she talks about is her two boys. I've tried gently explaining that we're not doing it on purpose - that when you have children that's just what happens - but she still gets pretty aggravated by it.
And even though I love her to death and and am sorry she's having to go through this drama, I'm starting to get thoroughly pissed off. Is that unfair?? I just don't feel like I should have to censor my conversations! I can acknowledge that she's having a hard time, but I still think she should want to hear about my daughter (who she calls her niece) and her sister's boys.
My friend's returning from overseas next week and the treatment starts then, so I'm thinking things are only going to get worse. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Mary - posted on 07/11/2009

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Oh, Erin, this is something I sadly understand all too well! In my fisrt marriage, I went through years of "unexplained" infertility...3 IUI's, 5 IVF's over a 7 year time span. It is difficult to accurately convey the heartache, pain, frustration, and isolation that this inflicts upon you unless you have lived it. Compounding all of this is the insane mood swings that all of those hormones bring about...being pregnant doesn't even begin to compare with how hormonally unstable you are...and you have no control over it. Actually, I'm not sure how aware I was of it until I was a bit removed from it all.



Sadly for you, your friend's reaction to you and her sister is fairly typical. I remember being plagued by a jealousy that I could not control when trying to interact with friends and family who conceived without effort. I could not bear to go to baby showers...I had to skip my sister's. I could not stand the well meaning sentiments of those who knew, nor tolerate the "when are we going to be doing this for you' comments from those who didn't. It wasn't that I wasn't happy for them, and God knows I would not have wished this misery on my worst enemy...I just couldn't stand to interact with the happy mommas of the world. It was like they belonged to a club that I desperately wanted to join, but I lacked the appropriate credentials to belong. It was so very isolating and lonely, and I felt like nobody could understand. I knew that everybody felt badly for me...but that just pissed me off even more...I didn't WANT to be the girl everyone felt sorry for...and I knew that I was. Trust me, there is a large amount of free-floating , irrational anger with this as well. There were times when I was terrified of errupting on one of my friends who really didn't deserve it...I just couldn't always contain it. As a result, I often chose to avoid them, rather than risk an unmitigated outburst.



Another thing I clearly recall about that time, and talking with friends of family with children, is thinking that they just didn't appreciate how fortunate they were. Whether you mean to or not, there are times when you might sound like you are complaining...whether it be about a lack of sleep, a day where Milla is particularly fussy, or you are justifiably feeling overwhelmed and need to vent. As a new momma, I now get it...but when I was where your friend is...I remember thinking "my God, I would sell my soul to have those issues. Does she not understand just how frickin lucky she is?". Despite how close you two may be, you are both in places where you just cannot always "get" each other...and it is frustrating for both of you. I am sure that she does love both you and your daughter...she's just in a place right now where it is inexplicably hurtful to interact with you as well. Trust me, this upsets her, and I am sure she is angry and disappointed in herself for not being able to be be a better friend and aunt...it is yet another way in which she feels she is failing, but is unable to overcome her own issues to be the person she wants to be.



I did have one friend who really "got" it when I was going through this...about 2 years into my infertility, Michelle got pregnant with my goddaughter, Kate, after 1 round of clomid. I was thrilled for her, and insanely jealous at the same time. Michelle somehow knew this...I remember her being afraid to tell, and her guilt at having succeeded so easily where I had failed. Cannot tell you why, but this seemed to make all the difference to me...she was able to convey her joy at being pregnant, as well as really understanding that this would be hard for me to deal with, and all the while not judging me for those conflicting feelings. Somehow, she gave me PERMISSION to be both happy for her, as well as angry, jealous and sad all at once. She accepted that I had conflicting emotions, and also understood that it did not mean that I didn;t love her or her baby. Erin, it made all the difference in the world. I went with Michelle for her sonogram, and cried with genuine joy when I saw Kate's little toes. I was with Michelle when Kate was born...I remember Michelle looking at me as her head was coming out, and saying "I wish this was you...if I could, I would give this to you". It is a day that I will never forget...next to Molly's birth, it is the single most cherished moment in my life, and always will be. She somehow made it possible for me to be happy for her, and involved in her daughter's life, by acknowledging that it was dificult for me, and giving me permission to feel whatever irrationale feelings I had. Funny thing is, by doing this, I never once begrudged her her happiness, and truly WANTED to be a part of her & Kate's life in a way that I truly couldn't with anyone else, even my own sister.



Sorry to ramble, this is just such a topic close to my heart. You are justified in your feelings...I was just hoping to give you a little perspective on where your friend may be at. I believe that she does love you and Milla...it's just a love that also hurts her right now as well, through no fault of yours. My best advice is to be patient with her, and try not to get angry with her shortcomings. If all of you are lucky, you will come out of it in the end as close as you once were.

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Ez - posted on 07/14/2009

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Mary you are awesome. x Thankyou...

The problem has been that while I understand 'intellectually' how hard it must be for her, and that she doesn't mean to be so dismissive and distant, I haven't been through it myself so I can never really 'get it', you know?? I've talked to my mum and one other close friend about this, but they (like me) only have to look at one to get pregnant (lol) so they weren't able to offer the perspective that you have. Your analogy of infertility being like a disease is spot on... and you've helped me realise I need to lower my expectations of my friend for now. I promise you I have been trying to understand for months now, but when you're so emotionally involved it's hard.

Mary - posted on 07/14/2009

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Quoting Erin:

Thankyou Megan - what you've suggested I say is exactly how I feel! I just don't want to have to say it I guess. I don't want to do anything to add to her stress at the moment and if I could make things better for her I would in a heart beat. But I do feel it's unfair to expect me, or anyone else in her life who have children, to pretend our lives don't include our babies. I just don't feel like I've got much of an option. I either force her to discuss things, which she absolutely DOES NOT want to do, or back off and hope, as you do, that once she gets her family started we can be close again. Sux really :(



Oh, Erin, I've been mulling this over in my head for some time now, and trying to think of a way to gently convey to you how to best remain close with your friend as she embarks down the IVF road.  Understand this...you ARE justified in your frustration and disappointment with her response to both your daughter, and your challenges as a single parent, but...how important is it to be "right" in this situation?  I can't speak for her, but I can tell you that when I was where she is, I did avoid those friends with babies...I hated myself for it, but I just couldn't bear it.  ANd, when I did talk to them, I resented it when all they did talk about was their children.  Whether we realize it or not, us new mommies do have a tendency to ramble on about our little ones!  Don't know about you, but other than the days I work, my life right now IS all Molly, all the time, so, really, what else am I going to talk about?  If I went back in time and tried to talk to my infertile self, well, that IVF girl would STRANGLE me! 



 



Maybe it would help if you viewed infertility as a disease...like cancer, it is an all-consuming affliction that robs you of your true self.  She is not in a place right now where she is capable of being your support system, and if we were being honest, you probably wouldn't expect it of her if she were undergoing chemo right now, would you?  I guess I'm trying to convey to you just how devestating, demoralizing, and all-consuming infertility can be for some women.  ANd honestly, the further it goes on, the worse it gets.



 



There is no absolute right or wrong here...and as someone who has come to care about you, I am only trying to guide you in what I think is the best way to treat a friend going through infertility based on my own experiences. 

Mel - posted on 07/12/2009

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your not being unfair you have every right to talk about your daughter so its nothing to do with you why she is acting how she is, and dont feel bad about anything you have done. you do have a right to be angry. however i may only be 20 but i do know a little about how it feels to have fertility issues it took exactly 2 years for me to conceive my daughter so i was quite shocked by my pregnancy at 18, its not that i was fully trying i just asumed i couldnt have a child, after i gave birth when she was about 5 months i went off contraceptives because i was worried it would take me ages and shes 15 months now ive just been disaapointed again this month. so when you have difficulties conceiving it is hard and upsetting especially if she does not have any children already. its a stressful process and i wouldnt act the way she has myself but i still can imagine i would feel a little down hearing others talking about thier children if i had not been able to have children naturally

Ez - posted on 07/12/2009

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Thankyou Megan - what you've suggested I say is exactly how I feel! I just don't want to have to say it I guess. I don't want to do anything to add to her stress at the moment and if I could make things better for her I would in a heart beat. But I do feel it's unfair to expect me, or anyone else in her life who have children, to pretend our lives don't include our babies. I just don't feel like I've got much of an option. I either force her to discuss things, which she absolutely DOES NOT want to do, or back off and hope, as you do, that once she gets her family started we can be close again. Sux really :(

Megan - posted on 07/12/2009

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Quoting Erin:

Thank you everyone :)
Just wanted to clarify I have no intention on giving up on the friendship - she is my oldest and best friend. I hope I don't come across as being insensitive to her plight. It's just REALLY hard right now. I'm trying to understand how much she's struggling and I want to support her as best I can. It's just that I sometimes need her support too. I'm a single mum trying to encourage my ex to have a relationship with his daughter, and I have my moments when I NEED HER. I can imagine that infertility can be all-consuming, and it breaks my heart that she's having to go through this, but does that mean our friendship needs to be one-sided until she gets the baby she so desperately wants? Will it just be easier if I accept that??


bing a somewhat young mom with very few other mom freinds... i have experienced a little of the same wants... My best freind hates to hear me talk about my baby and husband because it upsets her... being that she cannot work things out to be stable with her fiance. I want to play with baby ans she wants to go out for drinks. I cant talk to her anymore about "domestic" stuff and so we go out to lunch every once and a while and thats it.



If i am 100% honest- i cant stand to here my freind complain about "little" stuff all the time any more than she wants to here about poopy diapers and the order to introduce solid foods. We will probably pick back up when her life and mine are better aligned. I love my freind dearly... but forcing the relationship just makes it harder.



So i would offer support... drop the issue... and stop worrying. As harsh as it sounds if she gets on your case about talking about milla just say "Hey, i am willing to hear what you are going through and i feel deeply for you- and i'll give you an ear for your suffering! HOWEVER- I DO have a baby... and she is MY LIFE! I cannot act like i dont have her just to make you feel better- we are a package deal!" And leave it at that- sometimes when you are in such a hard situation you just cant hear yourself- and need someone to lay it out to ya bluntly.

Sarah - posted on 07/11/2009

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Hi Erin. Don't think i can be much help really, but i think you're being a great friend!
It must be really hard for you and for her. It's sad that she is struggling so much it's affecting your friendship. I think maybe things will get better in the future, you may just have to patient for a while i guess and just be there for her.
There may be times in the future when it will be the other way around.

I hope things get easier for you, and don't feel bad about the way you are feeling! :)

Ez - posted on 07/11/2009

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Thank you everyone :)
Just wanted to clarify I have no intention on giving up on the friendship - she is my oldest and best friend. I hope I don't come across as being insensitive to her plight. It's just REALLY hard right now. I'm trying to understand how much she's struggling and I want to support her as best I can. It's just that I sometimes need her support too. I'm a single mum trying to encourage my ex to have a relationship with his daughter, and I have my moments when I NEED HER. I can imagine that infertility can be all-consuming, and it breaks my heart that she's having to go through this, but does that mean our friendship needs to be one-sided until she gets the baby she so desperately wants? Will it just be easier if I accept that??

Christa - posted on 07/11/2009

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I am a fertile myrtle and it has only taken me two cycles each time to get pregnant. And unfortunately I am surrounded by wonderful women who can't get pregnant. Most of them are pretty good about showing a good face, but I can only imagine how hard it must be for them. It was always my biggest fear that I wouldn't be able to conceive. So I try and empathize with where they are coming from, though I will never truly understand their pain. I do censor my conversations with them and I haven't told people how easy it was for me to get pregnant this second time because there's no need to “rub it in”. I understand your frustration with her, but try not to take it personal. I'm sure she is trying her hardest not to resent you, but I imagine it's hard. Just be there for her and try not to over do the baby talk. Obviously you don't have to act like your daughter doesn't exist, but keep it to a minimum. I hope you all are able to work it out and I hope she is able to finally get pregnant.



I had a friend who had unexplained fertility for 6 years, so they finally decided to adopt and sure enough she got pregnant. She just had her second child. Also my mom was on clomed for a year trying to get pregnant and nothing, finally she had some surgical procedure and she got pregnant with me. Then when I was 10wks she had an eptopic pregnancy and didn't know it until her tube burst. Then after that she went on to have my sister but not for 3 more years. Then they tried again and after 2 years, nothing so they went to the Dr. where she was told she needed a hysterectomy, they decided to pray and give it two more months, sure enough that second month she got pregnant with my other sister. Then two years later she got pregnant without even trying and had my brother, all on a shotty uterus and one tube. So tell her stranger things have happened and sometimes God's plan is different from your own. And though it is hard to wait sometimes we have to. :-)

Christa - posted on 07/11/2009

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I am a fertile myrtle and it has only taken me two cycles each time to get pregnant. And unfortunately I am surrounded by wonderful women who can't get pregnant. Most of them are pretty good about showing a good face, but I can only imagine how hard it must be for them. It was always my biggest fear that I wouldn't be able to conceive. So I try and empathize with where they are coming from, though I will never truly understand their pain. I do censor my conversations with them and I haven't told people how easy it was for me to get pregnant this second time because there's no need to “rub it in”. I understand your frustration with her, but try not to take it personal. I'm sure she is trying her hardest not to resent you, but I imagine it's hard. Just be there for her and try not to over do the baby talk. Obviously you don't have to act like your daughter doesn't exist, but keep it to a minimum. I hope you all are able to work it out and I hope she is able to finally get pregnant.



I had a friend who had unexplained fertility for 6 years, so they finally decided to adopt and sure enough she got pregnant. She just had her second child. Also my mom was on clomed for a year trying to get pregnant and nothing, finally she had some surgical procedure and she got pregnant with me. Then when I was 10wks she had an eptopic pregnancy and didn't know it until her tube burst. Then after that she went on to have my sister but not for 3 more years. Then they tried again and after 2 years, nothing so they went to the Dr. where she was told she needed a hysterectomy, they decided to pray and give it two more months, sure enough that second month she got pregnant with my other sister. Then two years later she got pregnant without even trying and had my brother, all on a shotty uterus and one tube. So tell her stranger things have happened and sometimes God's plan is different from your own. And though it is hard to wait sometimes we have to. :-)

JL - posted on 07/11/2009

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Quoting Sara:

I don't really have anything to add here except what a wonderful group we have! These responses have been so heartfelt and honest and helpful, it's so nice! :)



I second that!

Sara - posted on 07/11/2009

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I don't really have anything to add here except what a wonderful group we have! These responses have been so heartfelt and honest and helpful, it's so nice! :)

[deleted account]

I have to reiterate what everyone already wrote. It's just such an emotional hard time for a women dealing with constant reminders of your body's failure to get pregnant, or maintain a viable pregnancy. For me it was so hurtful because we had a string of 8th graders getting pregnant at the school where I taught. Yes-8th graders! Instead of planning slumber parties, they were planning baby showers. (Mary, I am sure you have some 'oh-so-lovely' stories about 8th graders!) While your friend might be outwardly resenting your baby and status of a mother, she is also hurting so much inside because she feels alone. Your friend may not have a message board support group to network with other women going through the same thing. Your friend may not wish to discuss her exact diagnosis with you. For all you know, it could be an issue with her husband's sperm. Like others said, give her time and space. If you feel that the friendship is drifting apart and moving on to separate paths, it's time for a good long heart to heart talk with just both of you. Perhaps a girl's night out without your daughter will give you the opportunity to chat. Tell her you know she is hurting. In the meantime, there are websites out there on what to say to infertile couples, and what NOT to say. I had a bunch of them bookmarked on my old computer, but let me try to find some sites. I'll post the links if I coudl find them.

Abby - posted on 07/11/2009

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just be there for her, support her when she's down, and be overjoyed for her if/when she gets pregnant. she doesnt mean it im sure, it's a form of jealousy, especially as u got pregnant by'accident' and she's been trying!

dont feel guitly or anything like that becasue it is not ur fault. maybe a girly night out, no talk of babies may be what she needs? even if it's just a meal. im not saying u should censor what u say at all. but a night out is gonna do u both some good!



i hope this helps. xxx

[deleted account]

I can understand both of your views. It took us over a year to conceive and we ultimately had to use infertility treatments. During that time I remember seeing women getting pregnant all around me. Like it was in the water. When you can't conceive - it seems the entire world is pregnant... everyone except you. Even women who don't want children were getting pregrant. It sounds like you have a tight bond with your friend and there's a very strong relationship there and that's worth saving. What I can tell you is that she has not lost interest or love for your daughter. She doesn't want to talk about them because that's how much it hurts. Children (regardless of whos) are a constant reminder of her struggle, of her desire to be a Mom. She's not trying to isolate you or be mean or disrespectful . . her heart is just hurting that much. I would advice you to try to help her through her struggle and if that means finding something to talk about besides your daughter, that's what you do, for now. And I know that will be hard because all of us proud Mommy's want to talk about our kids. Just as they consume your world, her current infertility issue consumes hers. When she does conceive the two of you will be gabbing up a storm and I'm sure she will be asking you a million questions about your experience being pregnant. And when the baby comes she'll call to ask how you handled this or that or tell you stories about her baby. And you would listen and be happy she called to share her story.. because you've shared so many with her too. Do you want to miss out on all that?

Emily - posted on 07/11/2009

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I struggled with unexplained infertility (which was frustrating since nothing was wrong with either of us). I was surrounded with people who were getting preg as I was struggling. I was so happy for them know I would never want them to go through what I was and sad/frustrated for me. I had my moments but most of the time I had my head together enough to be happy for them. I never felt awk but if they did that made things a bit odd.



Maybe you need to give your friend some space. Please don't get pissed at her. Respect her struggle. That is the only way you can be there for her. There is nothing you can do or say that will make it better (including censoring your conversations...the fact that you have a baby and she doesn't is out there no matter what). There were a few people that I avioded during my ordeal (more cause they stressed me out about getting preg) and I stayed away from them except for a few conversations that I had to maintain the frienship. Now we are close as usual.



As for the "treatment" once I decided to seek help and do something about it the whole IVF thing was a breeze for me. It sounds like your friends outlook is quite different from how mine was...I hope you don't choose to end the friendship...maybe just a little space will do both of you good.

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