An open letter from a young woman with fertility issues, explaining why she feels guilty about avoiding her pregnant friends.
Dear friends, relatives, and people I sort of know on Facebook. If I’m avoiding you, not interacting much with your pregnancy announcements, haven’t replied to your baby shower invitation yet, or I just don’t seem like myself these days, here’s why. None of it’s you – it’s all me and I’m sorry.
I’ve been struggling to get pregnant for nearly three years now, and it’s just getting harder. If you announce your pregnancy on social media, I’ll like it and say congratulations – and then I’ll immediately mute or invisibly unfollow you. Even if I’ve known you my entire life. I feel like a petty bitch for doing that, and I hope none of you have noticed. The alternative is to quit social media altogether, and then I wouldn’t be able to talk to all the other women who are just like me – raging and sad and determined and ready to pack it all in at the same time. Social media is my lifeline to talk to people who are going through the same crap as me, but I have to run the gauntlet of pregnancy announcements too.
So if you’ve noticed that one of your friends isn’t interacting with you after your pregnancy announcement, she’s probably just like me: crying, but still trying. Everyone getting pregnant and posting pictures of their scans and bumps just makes us cry. It’s constant hurt all the time, seeing everyone else getting pregnant when it’s just not happening for us.
Enjoy your pregnancy and sincere congratulations, and I’m not going to give myself the opportunity to think one mean or jealous thing about the ease with which you got pregnant – because out of sight is out of mind. Of course, you deserve to be a mother. My health issues don’t negate your joy, but I have to avoid you for my own sanity. I hope we can reconnect one day, and if you do notice my absence or lack of enthusiasm, I hope you understand that it’s not you, it’s me. It’s all me.
Another thing I wish you all understood is that we’re not playing the odds any more. This isn’t happening. Infertility seems binary – you’re either pregnant or you’re not. But it actually isn’t like that at all. It’s more like a very long road, and you have no idea how long it goes on for. We only know that we’re long past “Just relax, it’ll happen!”, but we’re definitely nowhere near “Yes, you’re right. Maybe we should consider adoption.”
Where I am on this road right now is a place called “Crying, but still trying.” and I don’t know how long I’ll be here. This is where I’m trying all sorts of invasive and stressful and expensive treatments, and crying when they don’t work. I’d give it one star on TripAdvisor, but if I don’t pass through here, I might never have a baby.
1 in 8 couples are struggling to get pregnant, and there are many women in my position. We’re all stressed out and sensitive, and we just cannot deal with our friends who get pregnant the second they drop their knickers right now. We’re seething with envy, to tell you the truth. We’re bitterly jealous, especially if you don’t want the pregnancy, or you complain about it being hard. We don’t want to be so horribly judgemental; we’re freaked out by the negativity that we feel towards women who are innocently blessed with what we badly want – but we honestly can’t help it. And so we avoid you – unfollowing, muting, not replying, making excuses and not getting involved. You don’t deserve our Evil Eye vibes, any more than we deserve the crap that we’re going through. But we miss you still, and it’s isolating going through this without the support of our friends and community.
Can we call a truce? If you notice someone avoiding you since you announced your pregnancy, could you cut them some slack? Not take it personally or be cross with them? Maybe the women who need to avoid you right now, just because of their own state of mind, can feel more confident about reconnecting with you in the future. We don’t want this distance to be forever, we just want to preserve our mental health while we are going through something extremely hard and unpleasant, with no guarantee of success.
I’ve written this anonymously because I’m embarrassed to be going through this phase where I’m incredibly over-sensitive and petty about other people’s pregnancies. There is no room in society for the anger and bitterness we’re feeling, so we have to hide it, or people will just think we’re monsters. Wouldn’t it be such a weight off all of our friendships, if this were just universally understood? Can we at least start the conversation soon? Here’s hoping, both for a baby, and for an understanding between the women who are suddenly pregnant, and those that are still crying, but still trying.