At 40, I am the fourth youngest woman in my department. The other three run a minimum of 9 years behind me. They are in their prime child-bearing years. One woman has three children and has claimed many times that she is done. She’s my stalker.

The youngest has an 18 month old girl and dreams of becoming a SAHM. I know it won’t be long before she becomes pregnant again and I am prepared to bite back the bitterness that I know I will feel.

The third? She has a newly-teen-aged son who she became pregnant with when she was 16. She married just a few years ago a man who just turned 40 (he is not the bio-father). I remember about two years ago when she took me aside, knowing what Mr. DD and I had been through. What we had been going through. She told me that they were going to try to have a baby.

I recall that I blogged about it because I just knew she would be pregnant within a couple of months. She was only 28 then.

Instead I listened to her each month tell me that she’s still not pregnant. First I listened politely, restraining the desire to roll my eyes. After several months, I suggested she try Fertility Friend as she had been charting her temp on paper, religiously. After several more months, while her cycles were picture perfect, she was still not pregnant.

I then remember the day she stood by my desk, tears in her eyes, telling me that her period started that weekend – and her youngest sister, unmarried and newly dating, announced she was pregnant.

Since that time, her sister gave birth to a healthy baby boy. This co-worker, who I should mention is also a very dear friend, is now helping her plan the wedding. She has stopped tracking her cycle as she thinks that she is only stressing herself out. And a few weeks ago, her other sister announced she was pregnant after only three months (“OMG, I can’t believe it took so long!”) of trying.

This past Friday was a bad day for her. Her pregnant sister, now 14 wks, forwarded her a link to one of those “week by week” pregnancy sites that included what her 14wk fetus is now doing. My friend was in tears and angry.

Her mother, knowing how difficult it has been for her, pulled her aside when her second sister first announced her pregnancy and told her, and I quote, “Try not to be ‘weird’ about it.”

As part of her history, she has not yet been tested for anything, but her husband has had a couple of SAs. While abnormally high in sperm count, did not indicate that they should have any problems getting pregnant on their own, unless there was something wrong with her.

My friend is of strong Catholic faith, and when I struggled and raged and even cursed God, she would come to His defense. There’s a plan, she would tell me.

Now? I am especially self-conscious about my own pregnancy around her, even though she has repeatedly told me that my current state doesn’t bother her like her sister’s. Having been on that side (and still my mind – am still there, no matter my physical state), I know it hurts.

Friday, when she was in tears, she admitted she didn’t want to become bitter about it, but I knew what path she was already on. However, having been there, I totally felt at loss as to how to console her. We’ve all given advice in our heads (via our blogs) to those around us on what they should say, what they should do, but to have the tables irrevocably turned….I was unsure and I felt guilty for being unsure. I even found myself biting back the cliche’, “It’ll happen.” and at the moment I had never been so disgusted with myself.

Knowing how I feel with every pregnancy announcement, I have not “crossed over”, yet I somehow feel like a hypocrite. I feel like a fraud, a poser, and I wish more than anything I had the perfect words to tell my friend that would give her encouragement and hope. Even harder is finding the right words when she and her husband are rather certain they would never seek treatment. While she is struggling to get pregnant, her mindset is somewhere I’ve never been and I feel as if I should have something better to offer then just a sympathetic ear.

19 thoughts on “TURNING TABLES”

  1. Jesh we are sort of on the same wavelength today. I found myself not commenting on someone’s resignation that they will only have one child because I didn’t know where I stood myself.

    As for how you handled it, don’t beat yourself up for thinking those things. You wanted to console her. You knew though and didn’t say it. It’s hard not to automatically say those things. Sounds like you are a good friend.

  2. There are options for Catholics, if your friend wants to look. And diagnostic work should be okay. I feel for you: it’s hard to be a friend when you’ve made it to the other side without feeling like a jerk for being on the other side.

  3. I’m so sorry, DD. It sounds like she’s in a really bad place and it’s one where I’ve never personally been because we always were willing to seek treatment. I know that you’ll be a fantastic friend to her and a good listener.

  4. I feel for your friend. We all know how hard the waiting game is. I also have a co-worker in the waiting game. She was the one who got me started – gave me all the phone numbers and names of doctors, explained terminology. I never would have moved so fast without her push. Now here I am with 3 little ones and she’s still trying to find the money for her first IVF. It’s just not fair.

    I’m also Catholic (but not a very good one). However my husband’s very good friend is a priest. When we told him about doing IVF, he said the church is starting to come around, because they want good, loving people to become parents. He actually blessed each one of our treatments which was wonderful.

  5. I think Aurelia’s comment is spot on as well. I do think your ear is helping her.

    But I understand the frustration of not having the right words for her, too.

  6. I often think that, while I can frequently find some words to say on-line, finding them on the spur-of-the-moment in real life can be next to impossible. But simply being there and listening is often enough, and I’m sure that she is glad to have you for that. She would probably have stopped telling you about her family if you being pregnant really did make her upset.

    Not being of the Catholic faith, I can’t say anything about that but other people seem to have good advice.

  7. I think the fact that you have been there is worth a lot and doesn’t need any extra words of consolation. It is agonising that the Catholic church, who claim to support the family unit, try to prevent so many couples from becoming a family.

  8. Sometimes having “been there” is a comfort itself even if you are now pg and she is still struggling. She has an ear in you that truly gets it.

    I won’t even start on the church’s positions..very little they set in stone has any real life sense. How do celibate men counsel married couples when they have no idea of the struggles in the real world much less sex and reproduction…c’mon. Bitter? yep I am-a story for another day.

    It is funny, after so many years of IF, I did feel guilty at some points that I “crossed over” to the mom side. It was hard being in your position of understanding where she is and being where you are now. The other time that was tough for me is when the baby I had craved forever, would have restless nights, teething etc and I didn’t feel that I had the right to complain. After all, hadn’t I waited years for this? So many feelings, so little time.

  9. It is tough, dear DD, to be on that “other side” and not be able to console. All you can do is listen and be empathetic, and you do that. “I know how hard this must be” is worth much more than “It will happen for you” — because one is the plain truth and the other is just a fond hope.

    If her husband has had SAs, they seem open to the possibility of testing — and I would probably try to put some information out there if you think she doesn’t have it. You know, info on all the diagnostic stuff that does not even dip one little toe into the realm of IVF. But in general, I would try just to be there for her like you have been.

  10. It’s rough.

    I can’t think of anything anybody could have said to me that would have helped. Plus, even pregnant myself, I still find announcements of those who haven’t thrown years of their lives and insane amounts of cash and heartache into achieving pregnancy incredibly tough.


  11. I agree with Aurelia…I hope she at least gets some testing done as it may be something fixable without crossing over into IVF. And I agree with the others, it probably means the world to her that you “get it” and are there for her.

  12. I hardly ever know the appropriate thing to say. So I know how much that sucks. I always want to say something empathetic and helpful without it being assvice or cliche. I’m sure she comes to you because she knows you understand how hard it can be. Maybe she doesn’t need you to say anything at all, just be there for her and not judging her is enough?

  13. Sometimes, “just” a sympathetic ear is enough. I think you helped her more than you think by not saying much at all and not giving advice. When I talked to fellow infertiles IRL, even the pregnant ones, I never went to them seeking advice, but rather I knew whatever I said, I didn’t have to explain myself. I could just express my feelings. I think maybe that was what your friend needed from you and it sounds like that was what she got.

  14. Yes, it’s so hard tounderstand the mindset of someone who is suffering so much but doesn’t want to take things further. There was never any question for me.

    Aurelia’s comment is right on.

  15. Smack’s forehead on keyboard….FUCK.

    From my husband, the former Jesuit priest:

    Okay, the Catholic church has no problem with any fert diagnositics, and some fertility treatment like laparoscopy or HSG or drugs for ovulation or pretty much anything for diagnosis or treatment of very pg loss. Like surgery for opening tubes or getting rid of fibroids? Totally endorses.

    This is one centre that is part of the church and she may find their site helpful. http://www.mbfc.ca/ They do endorse surgery and other diagnostic techniques—I know people who have been there.

    The church only has an issue with IVF because there are leftover embryos and some current hogwash about conception occurring outside the human body. They will likely never change their minds about the extra embryos, but the bit about conception outside the human body is subject to church politics back and forth constantly.

    Your friend could get a diagnosis with no religious issues and at least know whether there is any point in trying any further. For example, maybe she or her hubby carry a balanced translocation, or a clotting disorder and she has been having multiple extremely early losses. Aspirin and heparin could cure her clotting disorder and stop her from miscarrying. Maybe she has a septum which can be cured with surgery.

    Maybe she has endo and one lap will get rid of it!

    Maybe she has blocked tubes and can get them reconstructed so she can get pg with sex.

    As my husband says, “God has given us the gift of Doctors who can diagnose and cure us. God’s miracles work through their hands, through their skills. To not take advantage of these miracles maybe the biggest sin of all.”

    Send her my comment, or give her that site, but please know that her local priest, is full of shit and lied through his teeth. Priests like that—my hubs thinks they go to hell for the sin of cruelty.

  16. Was there ever anything that anyone said that helped when you were there? I never found comfort about my lack of child(ren) from the words of someone else – the best I could hope for was usually that it wasn’t a stupid and offensive comment. So a sympathetic ear might be best – unless you’ve had better experiences.

  17. “she and her husband are rather certain they would never seek treatment.” Is this due to her faith?

    I remember in RCIA Class, Father said that the Church does not condone fertility treamtent as it’s “not Gods plan”
    I immediately thought of YOU & spoke up.
    “What if God gave these Dr’s the Knowledge to unlock the mystery of conception & He is using the Dr’s to HELP women have the babies they so desperately desire? ” He just repeated “This is what the Church has decided”

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