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The Vine: February 13, 2013

Submitted by on February 13, 2013 – 10:58 AM37 Comments

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This time last year, my husband and I decided to try and get pregnant. For the first few months, we decided to "Not Try Not To Try" (I go off birth control and we see what happens…) and at the start of this year, we went for it and actively started to get pregnant.

During this time, I joined an online trying-to-conceive group. It was made up of ladies that I already knew from previously through blogging. One in particular, Betty, was someone I had a fairly good relationship with. We've acted as internet pen-pals, previously sent each other silly little gifts in the mail and generally have been long-distance supports for each other over the past three years or so. She already has one child, a girl, and was trying to get pregnant with a second when I joined the group, so we commiserated about the difficulties and stresses of trying and I felt happy to have someone who understood what I was going through.

Cut to when I find out I am about six weeks pregnant. My husband and I are thrilled and when I announce it privately in the group, the rest of the ladies are openly supportive and happy for me. Except Betty, who says nothing to me about it and generally acts like I don't exist.

During this period of time following my announcement, however, she does update her personal blog regularly and talks about how difficult the trying process has been on her and her husband, which I totally understand…until she starts griping about how "other people" are "rubbing [her] nose in their pregnancies" and how she doesn't understand why it gets to be them and not her.

The thing is, I do totally get how hard the TTC process is. We were lucky to get knocked up as fast as we did, but we had a false alarm before we officially got pregnant and I know it was heart-breaking. I also know that sometimes when you desperately want to get pregnant and you're not, you can feel jealous of other people's successes. I have had multiple conversations with my TTC friends about that very fact, some of whom have been trying for close to three years, and I am supportive of the idea that someone should be able to come out and say, "You know what? This sucks!" But when someone you are friends with is openly griping in a public forum over multiple days with increasing vitriol about your good fortune, it feels a little shitty, like your happiness is less important and less valid than theirs.

Now to be fair, she never mentioned me by name — or pseudonym — but considering these posts went up not too long after I got pregnant and we were close enough for me to reasonably assume she was referring to me, I felt a little targeted by them, and disappointed and hurt that someone I considered a friend couldn't be happy for me being able to experience this exciting thing for the first time. So I stopped reading the posts and put my energy into my pregnancy and supporting the rest of my friends as they tried to get pregnant.

Anyway, last week after an extended absence from the group, Betty returns and announces she is four weeks pregnant. I still feel a little cautious about her, so I "thumbs up" the news and send a generic congratulations message to her as I know that this is exciting for her and her family. But then three days later, we get news through one of the other girls that Betty miscarried. This is obviously very sad news and I would never in a million years wish for this to happen to her, but now they are taking up a collection in the group to send a bunch of condolence gifts to her and I just…I just still feel a little raw about her and I…kind of don't want to contribute.

So to cut to the essence of my question — am I being a jerk here? For not talking to her about this stuff when it first arose? For not wanting to contribute? For still feeling a little attacked by her? Should I do anything or say anything to her at this point? I don't want to be petty, and I genuinely do feel bad that she is going through this right now, but there is part of me that feels like, if I gave money, I would be doing it begrudgingly and that that wouldn't be great either.

Please help a lady see through the haze of potentially bitchy pregnancy hormones and do the right thing here.

Yours sincerely,
Potentially Malicious Mama-to-be

Dear Mama,

Just contribute. Bitch about it if you like, to other group friends or to your husband, and if we're talking about $100 a head, that's a bit much regardless of your current feelings about Betty — but if it's something nominal like $10, consider it a keeping-the-peace tax, PayPal it to whomever's in charge, and get on with your day. It's not worth having to explain — or having to worry that you should explain, or that the rest of the group is judging you — that you aren't in a gift-giving place with Betty. You might regret dropping money in the hat, but you'll definitely regret not doing it, because it will cause drama and nobody needs it.

Does it make you a "jerk" not to want to? Not really. Betty behaved passive-aggressively, and you feel betrayed; you can feel however you want, and that includes resenting her handling of your announcement and wanting to keep something of a distance between you. But…we do a lot of things "begrudgingly" in life, and no one really has to know (and shouldn't know) that it's reluctant on your part.

As far as addressing it when it came up, I guess you should have asked her what was up with the bitter comments, tried to clear the air, but…I mean, I know zero about the community protocols, as it were, for TTC communities, and everyone's different, but it seems to me that this is a highly personal situation and set of reactions that at the same time you can't take personally. Not that it's wrong for you to be stung, and not that struggling with conception gives Betty an excuse for acting dicky, but I suspect that anyone else would have gotten the same angry response. And, you know. Struggling.

Give to the gift fund, and then consider taking a step back from the community. I know you want to continue supporting your friends, and I know you're not gloating; you didn't do anything wrong. But Betty probably isn't the only one grappling with envy, and the fact that you empathize with it doesn't make it easier for the others, really. It's probably time for the "if anyone needs me, I'll be over here" post on the message boards — and maybe a "no need to reply, but I'm thinking of you" email to Betty.

And mazel tov! (And/or knock wood.)

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37 Comments »

  • Megan says:

    In a rare turn, I'm going to disagree with Sars here and then make a different point.

    If you don't want to contribute, don't contribute. I've been going through some rough stuff around fertility this past year, and it has been extremely demanding. There have been stretches where the very best I can do is nothing. I can't fake civility; I can't mouth the least of a congratulation. It is all I can do to leave the forum without being mean. If I manage that, I did OK. Which is why I'm inclined to give your friend a pass for disappearing after your announcement. Maybe saying nothing was the best she could do. I get that, and that's why I would also give you a pass to do nothing. Things got rough, she did what she could authentically and now you can do what you authentically feel. That's good by me, so long as it doesn't go below 'nothing'.

    My different point is about her later blogging about "rubbing it in." *sigh* Doing nothing is a low bar, but she didn't make it over. That's a shame, but I promise you that it wasn't about you. You happened to be the one who triggered her (if you were, you don't know that it wasn't someone else), but if it hadn't been you, it would have been the next person who got pregnant on the trying to conceive forum. When you're lost in the infertility swamp, the resentment and search for justice (why does she get a baby when I am more virtuous!) is overwhelming. She'd have felt it about anyone.

    It is the hardest thing to remember during infertility, but each path is independent. There isn't a fixed quota of babies; there's no justice in how they arrive; there's no lessons to draw from comparing. No one owes you joy or a gift; no one's resentment is valid. So detach without guilt. You are on your own baby path anyway.

  • DMC says:

    This is a great opportunity to take the high road and be the bigger person. Betty's not herself right now, as you have realized. While I think your feelings are completely valid and understandable, as her friend, try to just come at this from a place of compassion. Hopefully someday you two will get it together and move forward.

    Also, I want to second Sars' advice to step back from the board. I know well how easy it is to get wrapped up in online community drama – it's just a distraction at the end of the day. Put your focus on your IRL life for now to get some perspective. When the baby comes you'll be glad to have already broken that habit, and subsequently have more quality time for your growing family.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Megan's point is a good one. I'm not going to climb to High Dudgeon if you decide you'd rather not. I do think it nets out to less drama if you just hand over a tensky and don't make it A Thing, but on the other hand, if you're going to peace out on the board for a while anyway, maybe not contributing IS less drama.

  • Elissa says:

    I'll throw my vote in the 'just contribute' camp. You don't know specifically that she was blogging about you — she may well have been, but she could have just as easily been talking about her fertile second cousin her mom always brags on, or whomever. Fertility is *such* a sticky issue, so I err on the side of being nice. I don't meant at all to shame you and I totally get being annoyed. I just mean that in the long run it comes down to this: she had a miscarriage. It sucks. Why not pitch in?

  • Cat (from Canada) says:

    I agree with stepping away from the board. It's a TTC board, which you aren't anymore, and you see these women around on other blogs so it's not like you're cutting them off completely.

    If you still want a specific board, you could search out a board for babies due in the month you are due. These women are in the same place you are and going through the same things you are.

    If you are pregnant, a TTC board is not where you should be. As Megan said, infertility is a difficult time, and having someone around who is pregnant probably isn't perceived as supportive. (though if other women from the group who got pregnant are still around, perhaps that's the protocol?)

  • Erin says:

    I think that what Betty did, blogging about you, was not the right thing to do. It was passive and petty and totally unnecessary.

    That being said, I don't think you do really get how hard the TTC process is. You get it enough to know you got lucky, and to be able to sympathize, and I don't know how long you or Betty had been trying. But unless you have been through infertility, I don't believe you can understand how crushing and overwhelming and all encompassing it can be, and how much it can change you and turn you into a person you don't recognize or even like that much. In the 5 years I've been TTC I have become a bad friend, and I know that and I hate it but it's all I can do to get myself through the day sometimes, and smiling and being happy for somebody else's happiness is, a lot of days, simply beyond me.

    But like Megan said, the blogging I can't justify. I think that either way it doesn't make you a bad person. I would probably contribute because she was your friend, and because a miscarriage is incredibly hard, and because she won't know you were doing it begrudgingly.

  • Maria says:

    Give or don't give as you see fit. It changes nothing. No amount of money spent is really going to make it better. Only a baby will help, and none of you can give her that. Nothing is harder to buy than a dead baby condolence gift. Do you go with an angel memorial as a tribute to her sorrow, or a bottle of tequila to comfort herself with now that she can drink and quite possibly has a reason to? It's a mess. She may feel both ways herself, and anything anybody does may strike her wrong.

    Yes, she was bitchy, and maybe you were targeted. But. Through your good luck, you have left the group and she's still there. I will venture further and say that right now she probably feels like she's in crisis. Infertility is a very rough road. Pregnancy loss is tougher than most people imagine. Society has so many ways of glossing over it like it's a non-event, and no real way to grieve it. The previously expectant woman has to cope with feeling that there's been a death in the family, considering she may have let herself dream of birth, naming, whose nose it would have, and what a cake-smashing good time would be had on its first birthday.

    Your feelings are valid, and it's probably time you moved on to a Due In whenever forum. You TOTALLY deserve to be happy about your pregnancy and to be around people in the same boat.

    I went through infertility; it sucked. Then it was over. It's incredibly hard to stay in two places at once. It's a shame that our hormones (pregnant or not) make us feel snarky at one another, but that's how it goes. Bottom line, consider yourself lucky. You have what other women want and may not be able to have. Maybe you can stay friends with this woman, maybe not. You can still wish her the best, whether it's in a card or as part of donation. I think you should do something to acknowledge her loss after knowing her all this time. It doesn't have to be the "right" thing, it just has to be something. You would want the same, I'm sure.

  • Maria says:

    Here's a nice piece on Infertility Etiquette. While you might not always be able to make it better, you can probably avoid making it worse.

    http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/for-family–friends/infertility-etiquette.html

  • Rachel says:

    Oooohhhhh the online Mama Drama, it begins before there is even a baby up in there.

    I would throw in my $10 and leave it at that. I don't know if the group is going to let Betty know who all contributed or if it's going to be "from all of us" because someone put in $10 and someone else put in $50 or whatever, but I'd throw in my $10 and not say another word.

    And then I would back away from the online part of it all because it does not improve. At all. There's not really a good way to explain it other than to say "stay away." There are so many mothering communities online and most of them are straight-up terrible with regards to judging and bitchiness. Yes, there are a few sane people and you might find them, but you gotta sail the rough seas of crazy to find those islands.

    As for Betty, you could send her a "thinking of you, hope you're well" note and leave it there. Or you could address the fact that you felt attacked and whatnot, but that would leave you wide open for more bitchery, which you likely do not want and definitely do not need. Write her a nice little note, sing "friendships have a lifespan" and get on with your day.

    And congratulations on your pregnancy! Good luck.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    This may be a good time to rise above, give a tenner, and then step back.

    I have never had this particular issue on my plate, bur I have had other things over which Envy raised her ugly green face; everybody has. And knowing that Betty was sad and scared and angry should make it easier to let it go, but it only makes it, like 80% easier. That residual pissed offedness is an inevitable part of being human.

    Don't bother striving for beatification. You'll only frustrate yourself. Just make a small donation, take a deep breath, and accept you're still kind of angry and hurt, that the magnanimous gesture didn't cure you of having an angry side.

    Doing the right thing, contrary to popular insistence, doesn't always lead immediately and directly to feeling good. Even if it should. But it's still worth it for living with yourself long term.

  • Nikki says:

    I agree that you should contribute, for all the stated reasons. BUT. I think you can get to a place where you feel it's the right thing to do.

    Betty is tortured. The thing she wants most in the world has not only been denied to her and taken away from her, but she has no control over it at all. That she may have slighted you in the process of dealing with her grief, that happened. The question is, can you be the bigger person here? You can give to a woman who desperately needs support – you don't have to like her – but you understand her and that she's only human.

    Maybe you don't forgive her yet, but you're only being asked to indirectly support her – not be her friend or even try to reconcile.

    It's the nice, kind, right thing to do.

  • Meg says:

    Meh. This is a tough one. I am generally non-confrontational and of the "do the thing that makes me look to most magnanimous / least dramatic" school of thought (which, in this case, would mean throwing a few bucks towards the gift) while then finding someone (safe and offline) to vent off to about the aggravation you're feeling.

    I will say, as one who has been on both sides of the TTC fence, that I'm inclined 1) to cut her slack for being upset, as sometimes even when you want to be excited for a friend you have a gut punch that you can't ignore upon hearing the "I'm pregnant" news (though writing about it in a blog is taking it a step far) and 2) to remind myself that she very well, as others have pointed out, may be writing about someone else entirely.

    I had a miscarriage at 9 weeks, and while I was still genuinely happy for most of my other friends who were either getting pregnant or had little ones, there were two pregnancy announcements that just put salt in the wound. I was able to cover my reactions in public, but I definitely vented off to a couple of carefully chosen friends about it. You feel like a failure; you get tired of answering the "when are you and your husband going to have kids" questions in a way that doesn't include, "so, would you like a list of the times at and positions in which we've gotten busy in the last week?"; and, like Maria so accurately said, you're dealing with the part where "Pregnancy loss is tougher than most people imagine. Society has so many ways of glossing over it like it's a non-event, and no real way to grieve it."

    Then when I finally got pregnant again, I had a friend who had been through hell in the TTC AND TT-Adopt arenas, so I had to think very hard about how to tell her and what, honestly, would be fair to hope for from her as far as her reactions and feelings.

    So yeah. Like many others are saying, be kind. Give some cash. Back away gently from the TTC forum and find a Mommy one instead. And realize that this will all be obliterated from your mind when the pregnancy itself and the "oh god, what the hell do I do when this kiddo actually arrives??" feelings settle in. This feels like drama now, but honestly, when you see your first ultrasound, have your first morning sickness, feel kiddo's first noticeable kick, you're going to forget about this part of your pregnancy experience.

    Congratulations!! And, of course, best wishes for the rest of your pregnancy.

  • Meg says:

    TTC forum etiquette is hard. I have been trying to get pregnant for 14 months, with one miscarriage at 6 weeks back in December. I'm on a PCOS support message board, and it's really really tough on me when other women announce they are pregnant. Even when it is someone who has been trying for YEARS and totally spent her time in the trenches for longer than me, I am still pitifully jealous. And since you are close it was probably even harder for her than if you were just some anonymous avatar.

    The feelings swirling inside Betty right now don't make sense, she's feeling powerless, and probably mad at herself for feeling so envious of you, her friend, and lashing out. Early miscarriages are awful, in part because probably 90% of the people in your life, your support system, didn't even know you were pregnant, and you have to break the news to the people you DID tell, and hear all the "well at least you know now you can get pregnant!" chirping, all while you're grieving the loss and dealing with hormones and deleting all those pregnancy newsletters you signed up for from your inbox, and it's just…ugh. UGH.

    So I'm falling on the side of giving her a small break, contributing, and maybe trying to reconnect down the road.

  • anon for this says:

    It’s weird how fraught online interactions can get. I’ve been struggling with infertility for 6 years now and watched my best friend, sister in law and multiple others get pregnant with ease and was nothing but happy for them. But when several bloggers I follow wrote about their weddings and subsequent pregnancies within a few months, it really got under my skin in a way the pregnancies of people I knew in real life never did. I don’t know why and I never acted on the feelings by making negative comments. It just made me feel sorry for myself.

    I think disengaging from the community is good advice. You may retain a few of these relationships but most of them are circumstantial and you’ll be a better friend to people going through pregnancy and motherhood than to those still in a place you’ve left. You won’t have to look hard to find a new like-minded community.

  • Lisa says:

    Congratulations on your pregnancy. Put me in the category of "suck it up and toss in some cash."

    I was unable to conceive, due to PCOS, and am now infertile after premature menopause. Nine years post-menopause, I STILL have those really horrid days when every other woman I see is pregnant, or I hear of ANOTHER friend or family member who has an unplanned pregnancy. Those days it's like grinding glass in an open wound even seeing a pregnant woman, even if I don't know them. I do my damnedest to be happy for people, but sometimes it just doesn't work.

    A co-worker whose stepdaughter is a lesbian says "I can deal with her lifestyle, but does she have to rub it in my face?" and of course her stepdaughter isn't rubbing it in her face, she's just holding hands with the girl she loves. It's an open wound on my co-worker, because in spite of her words she CAN'T deal with a lesbian stepdaughter.

    Same here. Betty's comments on her blog were not about you (as someone already pointed out, she may not even have been thinking about you) but were about her. Don't let them eat at you — let them go.

  • Maria says:

    OMG, "all the "well at least you know now you can get pregnant!" chirping"…that has to be the worst thing a person can say. One type of infertility actually IS recurrent pregnancy loss. It can be from a number of reasons, some more able to be treated than others. BUT. It's more devastating than not being able to get pregnant simply because the actual loss can be physically painful depending on how far the pregnancy got to, or even require a D&C. It's pretty tragic to go through that.

    Meg, I have PCOS too, and I am so sorry for what you are dealing with. It's not easy at all, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, ever.

  • Jen S 2.0 says:

    Want to agree with a number of posts above. I really don't think it matters whether you give any money, and I think you should take whichever action helps you sleep at night, and move on with your life without overthinking it. If the woman is your friend, and she is hurting, it does not hurt you to throw in $10 to show your support … but I also can understand just stepping away quietly, and neither action is wrong as long as neither is done out of spite. That said, if she is upset with you, no matter what you do, she could take it the wrong way. "I can't believe Malicious contributed to this gift! She KNEW it would hurt me to see her name on a gift when I'm mourning this loss!" is as likely as "And I can't believe Malicious couldn't even be bothered to throw in $10 to show a little support!" Do whichever one YOU want to do, and do it from a good place in your heart.

    I've also never faced this particular issue, but:

    1) Back away from the TTC forum. If I were unemployed, I wouldn't want a friend to call me up in the middle of her first workday just to chatter endlessly about her amazing new job and stock options. Fat people aren't all that thrilled about newly skinny people inviting them shopping for a new skinny-clothes wardrobe. As a single-and-looking person, I don't want someone bringing her fabulous, rich, handsome new boyfriend to Girls' Night. Notwithstanding that people's success stories are wonderful and wonderful for them, and we learn valuable lessons from them, it's more than a little bit insensitive to be parading your own happiness ***through a place specifically designed for others to share their pain on this exact topic.*** You have every right to be happy, but … interact with these folks elsewhere.

    2) Just as your pregnancy is not about her, her complaints are not about you. Her feelings are valid, whether or not they are about you … but YOU don't have to own any of that. Even if you ARE the preggo who has annoyed her, that's not your problem; you have every right to be pregnant, and she likewise has every right to be annoyed about the unfairness of life. Life IS unfair, and you got the good end of it this time; she doesn't have to be happy about that, AND you don't have to take any responsibility for whether she's not happy about that.

    (Full disclosure of my own dirty lens: a very dear friend of mine just got engaged after a fairly short relationship, and I'm having to do a little bit of work to be 110% thrilled for her, because she is snuggled up with her boo all the time these days and I'm feeling left out. I AM honestly delighted and excited for her, and I love her and I want her to be happy, but it's also perfectly valid for me to feel a little lonely (especially when I now see her once every few weeks instead of several times a month). I want her to be happy in her relationship AND I want my party girl back, and I can't have it both ways. Meanwhile, the universe does not owe me a mate. It's not her fault that I haven't found anyone, and she's not wrong for prioritizing her relationship. My annoyance on those three issues (I'm still single, she's suddenly not, and she has new demands on her time because of it) while perfectly normal, is 100% my problem, and I'm working through it. But that doesn't mean I have to be overjoyed every time those issues are brought into sharp relief.)

  • attica says:

    I am tempted to voice inchoate disgruntlement that personal tragedies or misfortunes seem to equal fundraisers these days. I don't know when that changed, but it seems to me fairly recent. I get the need to try and make something nice out of many things not nice, but I don't quite know what to do when 'something nice' automatically means 'fork over some dough' and decreasingly 'any other act of kindness or condolence.'

    Which is not to say that a group gift in this case isn't a nice thing to do, and I do recommend tossing in a tenner for all the reasons offered above. If it rankles, or if the going rate is way more than a tenner, consider opting out and doing something else — a handwritten letter, for instance. Take the high road, whatever. You won't regret it.

  • MizShrew says:

    First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy! In the spirit of your own current happiness about that, I think you should throw in for the condolence gift. Because Betty's "nose-rubbing" blog comment is really separate from the tragedy of a miscarriage. Yes, she wrote something petty in a moment of jealousy, and it may have been directed at you. But it may not have been, too. She could have a colleague who really is rubbing it in, for all anyone knows.

    So the question then becomes, would you donate if this situation happened to someone else on the board? My guess is yes. So respond in the way you would to anyone else, and separate the blog issue from the miscarriage.

    I would also step away from the board, and not just because of the Betty drama. While I totally understand wanting to support your other friends as they try to conceive, it may feel like a slap in the face to them to have a pregnant woman on the forum. Even if they are polite enough not to blog about it like Betty did.

  • MrsFoster says:

    Like others have mentioned, whether or not to give money isn't really the issue. Step away from the TTC and learn to support your friend.

    When I lost my daughter at 20 weeks, I had a friend who was due a month before me. Watching her pregnancy continue was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to deal with. For my own sanity I blogged. I blogged about my grief, being uncomfortable around pregnant women, people moving along with their life while my I was stuck in my grief. Our relationship suffered. Not only because of my grief, but because she thought that every word on my blog was about her. She thought that I did not want her to be happy about her son, when in reality my grief had nothing to do with her. My blog was a way of working through my grief, but she made it about her. This made our relationship worst.

    My suggestion would be to please not make her struggles with fertility and now loss about you. Be there for her and support her.

  • Erin W says:

    @attica, I know just what you mean about giving money as condolences. When my uncle died, my family collected money to send her a big check. I was baffled by this. I asked my mom what this check was supposed to do for her, how it was supposed to make her feel better, etc. I went out, on my own, and bought my aunt a package of really pretty blank thank-you notes (which you have to write a million of after you bury someone close to you, of course). I thought, this is something she needs and probably doesn't have the time or energy to go out and get for herself.

    As for Mama's question, I think she should contribute a small amount. God slighted Betty worse than Betty slighted Mama. Mama can certainly still feel upset with her, but Betty's still deserving of sympathy.

  • Karen says:

    I'm in the "don't contribute" camp, personally. The sentiment is kind, but I find it distasteful that everyone is expected to pitch in, regardless of whether they want to or not.

    I'm in a similar online community (known some of the women for 8 years at this point) and I never pitch in when these types of things come up, not to the group fund. I have sent individual members things on my own (baby gifts, Christmas or other occasion cards, housewarming presents, etc.) if I have a more personal friendship/relationship with them, and gotten things in kind, but I don't usually care to participate in the group efforts. Nor do I ever expect a collection on my behalf.

    I've been on both sides of the TTC coin myself, and I also suffered a miscarriage between my two children, at a time when it seemed like everyone I knew was having a baby exactly when my child was supposed to be born. I literally knew five women who had babies within a week of my intended due date. It is painful, but it wasn't their fault I had a miscarriage. It wasn't anyone's fault, so I was outwardly happy for them, even though I was still sad.

    I don't think contributing is necessary, but I don't think it's a bad idea if the OP wants to personally extend her condolences, either by email or card, with nothing expected to come of it besides knowing that you are sorry for her loss, and you told her.

  • Amy says:

    What is it with TTC that makes people so utterly insane? In cancer support groups, when someone says "My doctor says my chemo is working really well!" do the people who had a bad week give him the cold shoulder? What is up?

    I am not judging, because I've been there myself. We conceived with the sperm of an anonymous donor, and, following the advice of friends who'd traveled that road, we had a few donor profiles we liked, and tried not to get attached to any one possibility. Once there are a certain (low) number of pregnancies, that donor's sperm are no longer used, so this is key. In spite of this, the time I called up the sperm bank to say, "It didn't take–send 'em again this month," and the nice woman said, "That donor has reached his limit–do you have another one you want to use?" I got off the phone and burst into tears. It wasn't that we had to choose another donor. It was that there were other women out there who had done the exact same thing that month, and one or more of them had gotten pregnant, and I hadn't.

    I knew it was ludicrous. Pregnancy is not a competition and it's not a zero-sum game. I ought to be happy for their happiness, which robbed me of nothing at all. But I still cried.

    Hormones? Our biological imperatives making us crazy? Who knows. It means that women who are TTC are often, ironically and sadly, the worst people in the world to talk to if you're TTC. And of course, people like me who have been through it and have a happy ending to tell about are just part of the problem. Instead of holding out hope, we are rubbing people's faces in it, or we don't really know what it's like because we didn't have as many miscarriages or as many attempts or as many years. It's sad.

  • RobinP says:

    Pitch in. You're in a better place emotionally than Betty is right now; this is a good time to be the bigger person.

    Infertility is the absolute worst. I went through it for years; I felt hurt, powerless, and angry, and after a few years I felt like there was no end in sight. One summer, four people at my office were expecting and I was awful. I said and did some pretty hateful things, and I did them unambiguously and IRL. Not proud of it, and Betty probably isn't proud of her actions either, but she's in pain and she's lashing out. Don't take it personally.

    For all of you currently going through infertility, please know that you have my sympathy.

  • Cora says:

    @attica and Erin W, the point of a collection upon someone's death, especially an untimely one, is to help with funeral costs. Even the most simple, unpretentious funerals can be hella expensive, and not everyone has life insurance. Imagine grieving for someone close to you who you'd never thought would die so soon, and now you have to scramble for thousands of dollars to do the one last thing that you can for them. It's an awful situation. I agree with you that it can get out of hand, to the point of tacky (in the same manner as bridal and baby showers sometimes), and just asking for money outright is never acceptable; but the original intention of the gesture is a thoughtful one. Also, for some people, this is common family practice — my family has done this for as long as me and parents can remember, so this doesn't seem out of place to me at all.

    It's not for everyone, and it shouldn't descend into money-grubbing, but done right it is thoughtful and appreciated.

  • Bria says:

    Whether or not you pitch in, acknowledge the miscarriage to Betty. When you announced your pregnancy, Betty was silent and it hurt your feelings. And that was for *happy* news. But…aren't you doing the same thing to her now? Unless I'm missing something in your letter, you haven't said anything to her yet about her loss. Grief is so isolating, especially grief over infertility and pregnancy loss. Please support your friend – she needs that now more than she needs scorekeeping. Betty may not have been there for you when you received your good news, but you know why and it's an understandable reaction on her part. I would even give her a pass on the blog stuff, honestly, because as others have said here, even if it was about you (and I think there's a great chance that it wasn't), it wasn't about you.

    MrsFoster – I'm so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine how hard that must have been (and continues to be). I think the advice you gave here is excellent.

  • MizShrew says:

    Cora makes an excellent point RE funeral expenses, although it doesn't apply to Betty's situation. My family just went through this, and by the time you have paid for the funeral home, vault, casket, flowers, pastor, cemetery, stone, food for a gathering, etc. (granted not everyone does all of this, but still), you're at at least $5K and possibly much more.

    Amy also raises a good point regarding hormones. I've never tried to get pregnant, but I was on hormones for a month or so prior to a different GYN procedure, and I can tell you they made me kinda nutty. I imagine that is multiplied tenfold for someone trying to conceive who may be on hormones for a much longer time, and twentyfold for someone who just miscarried. And that's not even factoring in plain old emotional exhaustion and stress. Betty is dealing with both grief and all of the physical changes that the pregnancy and miscarriage itself bring. All the more reason to be as kind as possible.

  • attica says:

    @Cora, I wasn't actually referring to fundraising to pay for funerals; you correctly note there is a looooong tradition of that.

    My comment was aimed at non-funereal events. As an example, a neighbor lost a child in an accident, and all of a sudden there was a 403(c) set up to raise money and a scheduled charity walk. Not for funeral expenses, but as a 'tribute' or 'awareness'. I have no way to know what the money actually was used for, but that's not really even important. Or the friend of a friend who lost his father (on whom he was not dependent) and passed the hat at the bar for rent money. Several months running. Or the kind of thing mama-to-be describes. Again, I think the instinct to try to make a bad thing better is natural. But this repeated cash-grab, however well-intended, strike me as a New Thing. ::shrug::

  • Meri says:

    Wether you step away or not, I'd contribute. (Assuming it's not a ridiculous amount, whatever that means to you.) In my case, I know myself well enough to know that however justified I was, I'd end up feeling guilty if I didn't.

    You really don't know if she meant you or someone in her off-line life, she's going through one of the most painful things you can experience… chip in, send your sympathies, and stop worrying about it.

  • Leah says:

    Let me open with saying that my husband and I cannot conceive the traditional way, it is basically statistically impossible. Once we understood what was going on, met with an amazing RE, and had a plan, I felt immeasurably better. Today, we have amazing children. We are very lucky. But there was a time when I was not in a good place and where I could easily be "triggered," into despair. A friend sent a picture of the dog she adopted and I cried in response. It was that bad. It is hard when biology is against you and you are not sure that you can ever have what you want.

    Just contribute because, frankly, Betty was a friend at one point and she is going through a shitty time. And you are lucky and the reality is that she may never be as lucky as you are. And her blog was a personal expression of her ordeal and it was not about you. And she could not be there for you for your good news because she was in such a bad place. I had a friend who quit FB for a year because it was full of pregnancy announcements and she was not in a good place to hear them.

    It would be great if all your friends could react approriately at all times and have the "right" reactions, but that will not always happen. Also, as someone who was there, if you think pregnancy hormones are bad, you should try injectables needed for fertility measures.

    Betty will only be your friend again once she has a child of her own or makes peace with the fact that this will not happen for her. That may sound harsh, but I think it is the truth.

  • Jane says:

    Speaking more broadly than simply to the TTC issue, sometimes there are friends who are situational, and you don't necessarily know that until you've moved on from the situation. It's okay for you and Betty to have been situational friends. I'm with attica on the excessive-collection problem, but throw in a ten in memory of the friendship that you valued when you were in the same hard place, and let her go.

  • Rachel says:

    Leah, you said "Betty will only be your friend again once she has a child of her own or makes peace with the fact that this will not happen for her. That may sound harsh, but I think it is the truth." But Betty does have a child of her own — she's trying for a second. Which, I think, doesn't minimize the grief of a miscarriage but does perhaps call for a little more perspective.

  • Leah says:

    Rachel, she may have a child, but she wants another and she can't have one. So my thoughts are the same. It is actually a fairly common phenomenon to have a child and then be unable to have another and there are special communities to support those women. It is not a good place. I am not saying that Betty is being a good friend and certainly, I think her inability to share the joys of others is less than ideal. I am just giving the girl a break because her life is tough right now and she likely feels really powerless. I do not come from the same place as other people on this one and I am shaped by my own experiences. I just think kicking in some money for someone who was once a friend and is in a really bad place is not that big of a deal.

  • pomme de terre says:

    Fertility issues are such a minefield of etiquette. I've heard that Resolve.org is a great resource, but some of the suggestions at that link sound counterintuitive to me. Sending a card, particularly a Mother's Day card, sounds bizarre. I guess "thinking of you" gestures are nice, but I'd imagine it would feel like a slap in the face.

    I've also gotten the advice that it's a good idea to send a card to a woman who's miscarried around her due date. While I get the larger point that we don't have a cultural blueprint for grieving over a miscarriage, sending an card on that occasion seems like a morbid mockery of what would have been a birthday.

    I had a friend who had a miscarriage and no one really knew how to react. (She was only the second person in the group of friends from high school to get pregnant, so we were all pretty new to things pregnancy and baby related.) She e-mailed us the news and I e-mailed back saying I was so sorry, I was thinking of her, was there anything I could do, etc. She emailed back saying she appreciated the support but nothing else.

    A week later, she called up a third friend and ripped her a new one because she felt like no one was supporting her, and that we should have come over to the house with food to comfort her like any other death in the family. It would NEVER occur to me to just show up at someone's house unannounced, much less right after a medical procedure. I thought they'd want privacy and quiet, so that's what I gave them, after an offer of more material help. (I specifically mentioned bringing by food when I e-mailed.) I guess grief is just weird and difficult and individual, and it's hard to figure out what people will want in a given situation.

  • Megan says:

    I think both your points are super valid, pdt. After my problems, I've spent a lot of time reading the forums for our diagnoses. My main take-away is that people are different. One woman raged about the way her doctor delivered the news; I would have appreciated that same approach. A lot of the women comfort themselves with sentiments that I find saccharine. They probably wouldn't like either my blunt talk or the black humor we now use.

    Basically, anyone on the outside is screwed when trying to help with infertility. If you've got a live baby, you're twice as unwelcome.
    I don't know whether that means, 1. follow the formalities, so at least you know you did what is conventional, or 2. everything will be potentially wrong, so you might as well offer what would comfort you.

    Infertile grieving people are already handling a lot, but they could also cut their friends some slack. This is rough stuff. (Which is why I favor allowing people to do nothing or better, in all directions.)

  • Jen says:

    So, I have been through infertility treatments, all of which failed. I have 2 wonderful children that we adopted. So I have been there, and through that, and I just have to say that just because I was going through a rough time did not give me the right to be a shitty person. Everyone has their struggles, and you are not allowed to take your shit out on other people.

    Her nearest and dearest should cut her some slack… but not the entire internet. She needs to grow up.

    So, I wouldn't throw the $10 in, because she decided that you weren't really friends in the first place, already.

  • CarolyninCT says:

    What Maria said in her first post. Infertility makes people crazy. Good luck!

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