Thursday, 18 August 2011

When Newly Pregnant Friends Say Stupid Things

What do you do when someone close to you says something completely insensitive? That's the question I've been asking myself ever since my lunch with the girls today.

I had a lunch scheduled today with three friends, two who I know very well and one who I am just getting to know. It's been planned for a while now and even though I did just get the bad news yesterday that my donor egg IVF cycle was a bust, I was looking forward to it.

To help make this story make sense I'm going to give them nicknames and also give you a bit of background.

  • Friend A- Is a close friend. She's been with me through my pregnancy and the death of my son. She knows all about my struggles with infertility and the fact that I was doing an IVF cycle. She knew I had my beta test yesterday but I had not told her the results yet. She is also newly pregnant and I knew but the 2 other ladies did not. I am absolutely thrilled and happy for her.
  • Friend B- Is also a close friend. She met me after my son died but is well aware of my loss and my struggles with infertility. She also knew about my IVF cycle. Unlike friend A, she already knew my test results were negative because I told her a few hours after I found out. She is an infertility veteran as well. She now has two beautiful children but only after years of struggling. 
  • Friend C- Is new to town and we are all just getting to know her. She does not have any children. We know through a mutual friend that she has had an ongoing struggle with infertility. Apparently it is a very sensitive subject and she has never spoken with any of us about it.
So basically you've got 3 infertiles and 1 newly pregnant fertile sitting at a table. What could possibly go wrong??

Anyway, because I don't know Friend C very well I didn't want to talk about my failed IVF cycle in front of her. Partly because I know she has her own issues with fertility, but mostly because it's private and I don't share my struggles with just anyone. So conversation during this lunch was mostly small talk and chit chat. Not that there's anything wrong with that,, in fact sometimes it's nice to simply enjoy light hearted conversation.

Near the end of the meal, Friend C left the table to "powder her nose." I took this opportunity to tell Friend A about my negative pregnancy test. She expressed her sympathy and asked how I was doing and what we're going to do next. I quickly told her about our frosty and how we can try again as soon as I get my period this month. Friend C came back to the table and we changed the subject.

A few minutes later Friend A decided to share her pregnancy news with Friend B and Friend C. Of course they were happy to hear this wonderful news. They offered their congratulations and asked all the normal questions. After sharing how far along she was, when she's due, and telling us how she is definitely going to find out the sex of the baby she throws out this gem.

"Yes, well we weren't going to start trying until August, but it was our anniversary night and we'd had a bunch of wine and it just happened a bit earlier than we had planned."

Just like that, she throws out one of those flippant comments about how "oops" we got pregnant without really trying. To a table full of women who have all struggled to get and stay pregnant.

She says this to the group and to me,,,,, not 5 minutes after I just shared with her that my donor egg IVF cycle had failed. The first time I had tried after losing my son. I was in shock and felt like she punched me in the stomach and then slapped me in the face.

Is she serious? Did it not even occur to her for a second that it might not be appropriate to comment on how easy it was for her to accidentally get pregnant a few months before she was going to start trying for real? Did it not occur to her that I was only 1 day away from my own bad news? Did it not occur to her that Friend B and Friend C have both had issues with infertility? Did it not occur to her that a comment like this could really hurt our feelings?

You could justify it a little by saying that she may not be fully aware of what Friend B and Friend C have gone through. I don't actually know what she knows about their struggles. But I do know that she if fully aware of mine. She has been there for a big part of it. And yet she still makes such an insensitive stupid thing?? I would expect this type of comment from someone I don't know very well. But I would never have expected a comment like this from her. Someone who is supposedly a good friend.

I just don't get it?

What would you do?


  1. I'm so sorry and wish I could give you a real life hug! Fertile people are so clueless. My sister sounds very similar to friend A and no matter how many times I tell her the things she says hurt she continues to say them. I think they really just can't put their selves in our shoes. Unfortunately the easiest thing for me is just to steer clear of her when I'm having a tough time, which stinks, but some friends are better suppport systems than others.

  2. I hate her...I wish I could "accidentally" get pregnant. I haven't had to struggle with IVF so I don't know the extent that you do, but it took a year of serious trying to get pregnant with Addison and each month I am not pregnant after doing all the "right" things at all the "right" times is so hard. Must be nice to be in her blissfully ignorant world. Sorry she said that and sorry it's her and not you expecting...ugh.

  3. Oh...WOW. I am so sorry. You have every right to be upset. I think people who have never had to struggle with it or faced tragedy really don't "GET" it. There have only been about 5 other women in the world with my disease (Cystinosis) that have been able to have children, and two of them died as a result. My daughter is 18 months and I already have insensitive, clueless people asking me if I can have another one. Some people just don't get it and don't know how to cherish miracles. Big hugs to you.

  4. When my sister told me of #3 it was right after my 1st dh and I started our IUIs and had just found out we had our 1st IUI resuled in BFN. I screamed at her on the phone and thru snot & tears told her she did this on purpose to hurt me. She was adamant that it wasn't true, but she would never make me believe it. But that's what kind of fertile sister I have. It's the only thing she 'has' that I don't and believe you me she rubbed it in (still does at times) whenever she could/can. That was 14 years ago and thank GOD she got her tubes cut, burned & tied after that baby. She is not mother material AT ALL.
    I went thru most of my 20 years of IF battle with absolutely NO support whatsoever-so flippant remarks like this was 'normal' to me. I'd go home and cry my eyes out.While DH didn't know what to do or say to help. Now, however, I have become a mouth. Even though (now 2nd dh) we are no longer actively ttc (we adopted our son almost 5 years ago-not without drama, of course), I will as gingerly as possible put people in their place when it comes to remarks like that. I realize that most ppl here are not at the point where I am, but sometimes, you just gotta say something. IF nearly destroyed me-and I am sure it had alot to do with having no support whatsoever.
    I'm so sorry that you had to hear that though. It's so incredibly unfair and I'm sure she didn't mean to stab you, even though that's exactly how it feels. #IHATEIF

  5. That is a bit of a mindblower. People are clueless, though, what can you do? A friend of my aunt came to my grandfather's funeral, and actually said "So, what is it with your family and cancer anyway?" Really tactful. Some people just don't seem to think one second about what comes out of their mouth. You could tell her flat out that her comment was inappropriate, but why waste your breath? :) Sorry you had to be there when one of the clueless opened her mouth.

  6. Ive learned most people just dont think before they talk. Sometimes they are full of emotion/excitement in their own lives and dont realize not only what they are saying but Who they are talking too. Even us blogger mothers of loss dont always relate to one another. Its no excuse though, I now take things with a grain of salt but add in a dash of pepper for the ones that really annoy me.

  7. I'm fertile and I'm not clueless. But I'm a BLM. So I hardly think things just happen swimmingly for me in this department of mayhem.

    It was insensitive and I would tell her. Okay, maybe I'm lying. One very good friend of mine has said some God-forsaken things to me because she seriously doesn't get it. It's impossible for people to see through our lenses of loss and struggle. It really, truly is I think. Not that it is justified or acceptable, so at this point, I think she should be confronted and just told kindly that it hurt your feelings that she would say such flippant comments knowing that you are struggling and continuing to struggle with fertility. She HAS to accept that. And someone needs to tell her. The more people we set straight, the better off we are. It will eat away at you otherwise, I think.

    I'm so sorry. And I am so sorry about the negative beta test. :(

  8. I'm still not sure why people think accidentally getting knocked up--or pregnant on the first try--makes for an entertaining story. It's like they're bragging except disguising it as something else, and it's really information that nobody else needs to know. Plus it's so freaking smug.

    Anyway, obviously your friend wasn't thinking at all. Some people are really good at empathizing and imagining the world from someone else's perspective. Other people, even though they love you and care about you and know everything you've been through, still can't bring themselves to see the world from another perspective and as a result end up being totally insensitive (one of my best friends from college falls in this category). If it would make you feel better to confront her, I think you've got every right. If getting it off your chest online is enough, then I hope she manages to not be a total jackass in the future.

  9. I agree with Brooke.

    It was just so completely insensitive. And she's obviously smug about it. Maybe there are other things in her life that she's insecure about and trying to compensate for? Not an excuse, just trying to figure out why she would be so careless with your feelings. Not cool. I probably wouldn't say anything though - if she's trying to be hurtful, it will just give her more satisfaction. : /

  10. I have been on both sides of this. I struggled for years with infertility, was told by my specialist I would not get pregnant without in vitro. I was depressed, my marriage wasn't strong enough to handle it and we divorced. With my life in shambles, I accidentally got pregnant. It was mind blowing. A friend of mine was also experiencing fertility problems and she didn't speak to me for months when she learned about my pregnancy.

    Here is what I learned. My getting pregnant is not something I did to my friend to hurt her. It was something that happened to me. My story. I refused to feel guilty about it. Some people accidentally get pregnant. It is just as much their story as infertility is for others. They are not doing it to piss you off. It is just what happened to them.

    Just know your friend was not being insensitive. She was telling her story. It is different from yours, but she shouldn't be called stupid for telling it.

    I know it is hard. I've been there. That's just my perspective on the situation.

  11. I don't know that I agree with the poster above... I mean, I totally get it re: getting pregnant really easily being as much their part of the story as your struggles with infertility.. I too was one of those people who became pregnant right off the hop with my Jack... And I definitely said that when people would ask me... and I was proud... But I was also stupid.

    I didn't realize how emotional this struggle to ttc can be. And now that I'm trying *so hard* to get knocked up it's just not working... And some friends are insensitive and it's "all about them", yet others are so incredible despite having no concept of what trying for a baby means.. So if she's been so great, and *now* just shoots off at the mouth, it's infuriating. Don't try to be sensitive if you're just going to f it all up. Make sense?

    I'm rambling.

    I'm sorry this round didn't work for you. :( Truly.

    I hope these frosties work out. xox

  12. I read your post, walked away, came back, read it... well - you get the drift. Does she read your blog? Because if she does - you won't even need to talk to her :) As someone who hasn't struggled with fertility, but ... Alexander's struggles sometimes overwhelm our lives - it is so hurtful to hear people say, "I want a girl or I want a boy." I just wanted healthy. And ... alive. I know. Big words. And we just met. If she was a casual friend, I might write her off. If she was a close one, I would pray for forgiveness ... and maybe tell her a list of 5 things that you are really "raw" about - so she has some boundaries. I'll be praying for forgiveness for your friend and for try #2. And... for your heart.

  13. Honestly, she just doesn't know any better. As someone who has not struggled with infertility, I wouldn't have known either were it not for a discussion forum I participated in where people who struggled were very open about how these types of comments made them feel. Unless for some reason someone is familiar with how deep that struggle is (experience or honesty from someone who has) it's just impossible to know.

    If I were you I would talk to her - gently - and tell her how that made you feel. And don't take it personally - she honestly didn't mean it that way.

  14. Maybe the only reason your friend could be so insensitive is because she perceives you as being strong and coping well with your awful news. Doesn't excuse her behaviour and you have to call her on it.
    Whatever the situation with the other two friend, to say what she did in front of you is unforgivable. If you say nothing she will assume what she said was ok with you and will share every future detail of her pregnancy with you.
    If she is a true friend she'll listen and acknowledge your feelings and apologise. Good luck!

  15. I'm sorry. I also feel that the vast majority of people who haven't struggled with infertility simply don't get it, no matter what most of them say. My husband and I learned we could never have children of our own and there were days I couldn't believe the things some people would say to me...

  16. I would have felt exactly how you feel by that comment. She could have said that, bragged about her super fertile self, in front of women who have kids easily but not in front of women struggling, hoping, for living healthy baby to take home. That was really insensitive.

    I think about this sometimes but your post just reminded him of what my cousin did. My baby had died a week ago ; Im still in my mother's home. A cousin who was 5 months pregnant and has 4 year old girl comes to visit me. Am sad, broke, devastated by my loss. I tell her how beautiful he was - just the way I had imagined. I had dreamt. She calls me stupid that I had built so many dreams about a baby I hadn't even met. 'you should have waited to have a healthy baby in your arms first, before having any ideas' she tells me. She tells me that's what she did with her daughter and now with her second one, and it's working for her.

    Stupid arrogant woman. The reason she easily has two kids is because she's plain lucky. Not because she is doing something drastically right and am doing something drastically wrong.

    I wish we didn't have to go through this!

  17. I think that is great that she great pregnant without trying, don't we all wish we could get that lucky. I do however find it very insensitive for her to do it in the manner that she did. Especially with your recent no prego test or knowing more about the other girls situations. She clearly didn't think that one through.
    I hope you called her out on that. I think she needs to know that her comment was hurtful.

  18. It's just something you have to get used to. Most people, as you know, get pregnant the old fashioned way, which seems like nothing but a complete miracle to us. I'm always thinking jealous thoughts, but I try to keep my jealousy in check by quietly thanking God for their new baby and praying that mom and baby are happy and healthy (then adding the same prayer for myself).

  19. I'm so sorry about your cycle outcome and I'm very sorry about you friend's insensitive comment. There really is no excuse for that.

  20. I agree with Bonnie James - it is something you get "used" to. Although it never stops you from wanting to slap their faces ... Seriously, it seems like there are only two options: (1) friends who say stupid and insensitive things, but at least they say something, or (2) friends who stop talking to you. Because they see it as "they have gotten on with it" so "you should be getting on with it". Amazing, but true. It all sucks of course.

  21. Some people just haven't got a clue!

  22. I'm going with 'doesn't know any better' and 'uncomfortable as the fertile person and stuck her foot in her mouth'. that doesn't mean she might not need a talking to about how it might have been hurtful.
    I've heard so many of these things i'd like to say it rarely phases me, but truthfully it will always sting. <3

  23. She is a fucking Fertile, what else can we expect? Things come easily to them and they rely on the cheap joke to make light of the attention they are receiving.

    You could let her know how it hurt but honestly, she just wont get it. My own sister told me to "just pop another one in" after our fresh DE cycle failed.

    Fucking Fertiles.

  24. Wow, as a Fucking Fertile, I really feel I need to defend my people. Fucking Fertiles have absolutely no clue about the struggle infertile women go through. It is a mystery to us and in our defense, most times we are not privy to all the details because it such a sensitive topic it's kept private.

    We are not trying to be smug or insensitive, we literally don't know what else to say when we tell you we're pregnant. Yeah, we got pregnant on the first try. We didn't do it to piss you off. We're not throwing it in your face. We're excited and we thought you'd be happy for us just like we'd be happy for you if you got pregnant. No matter how easy or how difficult it was to conceive, a pregnancy is still a miracle and a cause for celebration.

    She just wanted to share the news with you and like all women she wanted to share her TTC story. Women are sharers. We overshare and hurt feelings, but I'm certain your friend wasn't trying to be smug or hurtful. If you told her that's how you felt, she'd be devastated. I think you can GRACEFULLY speak to her and let her know it hurt your feelings, but on the flip side, give her a break too. Even though she's a Fucking Fertile, she's human too.

  25. Hey. Hope all is well. Some people don't realise the consequences of what they say, and when they say it. It is regrettable that in life often you have to go through the bad times to appreciate the good times even more so. Some people I know live charmed lives but everyone is different. I'd be cautious about de-friending this person though or make any too-knee jerk reactions. If - godforbid - something bad was to happen to her or her pregnancy, then she might come to appreciate your experiences and benefit from your wisdom. You are entitled to your opinions too though... so if you feel like telling her that not all pregnancies lead to a happy ending, just remind her! HUGS anyway.

  26. Sorry, but in my honest opinion, you way over reacted about friend A saying they decided to try early and got lucky. You being "offended" is your jealousy getting the best of you.

    I think you should forgive and forget. EVERYONE says something before they realise it may be perceived as insensitive. She's not perfect, and neither are you. no one can say everything right all the time.

    Let it go, stop being petty, and accept that friends will make mistakes.