Infertility is an emotionally isolating experience. One’s thoughts and feelings are difficult to put into words and even harder to share with others. Many women turn to support groups to find kindred spirits or find themselves drawn to another woman in shared social circles who is also experiencing infertility. Strong bonds often form and the emotional connection can sometimes be so strong it seems the two women speak a language all their own. A friendship like this, based on open sharing of intimate thoughts and feelings, can be a godsend as both friends learn to cope with the inevitability of infertility.
Pregnancy, however, has a tendency to happen when it’s least expected and it often happens as the result of active participation in infertility treatment. Both friends know pregnancy is the desired outcome of their common bond but what happens to the friendship when one of you gets pregnant and the other is still trying to conceive (TTC)?
The pregnant friend may feel the pain of a double-edged sword - elation at the impending arrival of a baby, tempered by full awareness of the pain the good news is sure to bring to the friend. One friend’s pregnancy announcement will undoubtedly bring joy to the still-infertile friend, but it may also deepen her thoughts of despair, hopelessness, frustration, and loneliness.
The news may be so hard to bear that the friendship suffers or dissipates. This doesn’t need to be the case, however, if both women continue open communication with full understanding of the profound effects that the pregnancy has on both friends. It’s also important to keep in mind how valuable the friendship has been and find a way to make it even stronger now.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare to share your good news with your friend:
- Announce the pregnancy to your friend in private, not as part of a gala announcement party or in any public setting.
- Expect tears of joy, as well as pain; allow time, privacy, and conversation for both.
- Acknowledge the value of the relationship and identify the moment as a turning point, not a crossroad or dead end.
- Let your friend know you want her to be there during your pregnancy and beyond, but let her determine how involved she wants to be. Comfort levels are sure to change over the course of the pregnancy, delivery and motherhood. Allow room for adjustment without expectation.
- Understand that your friend may opt out of standing “dates” you share - the movies, lunch, walks in the park, or whatever you routinely do together. She needs a period of adjustment and will probably experience grief that requires solitude. Give it without remorse and let her know you love her, you will be there for her, and will welcome her back into your daily routine at her own pace.
- Don’t regale her with every intimate change your body is going through. You know her well enough to know she’d gladly claim your queasy fatigue if it meant she, too, had a baby on the way. Use discretion as you develop new boundaries.
As friends, you learned to cope together with the heartache of infertility. Continue to work together as kindred spirits as you both welcome a wondrous new life into the world. The two of you together means the child will be doubly blessed.
Source: Malavé, Anne F. "Pregnancy Between Infertility Friends." Resolve: The National Infertility Association. 2009 Winter. Web. 17 Sept 2013.