The Vine: February 13, 2013
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.
Potentially Malicious Mama-to-be
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.)
Tags: etiquette friendships