Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“After My Miscarriages, My Friend Abandoned Me When She Got Pregnant”

I’m a previous LW who has written in about infertility issues (and updated here and here). Here is the problem: I have a very close college friend whom I have known for almost 15 years. We were in each other’s weddings but now live in different cities (Philadelphia and Washington D.C.). She has known about my struggles and my miscarriages. We also used to visit each other once a year. Well, we went a few months without really talking and then, on Mothers Day, she announced on Facebook that she was pregnant. I was hurt that she didn’t email, call, or text me the news. She treated me like I was just some random person she barely knew. I emailed her and she wrote that she didn’t know how to bring it up to me. Then I wrote her back and heard nothing. About six weeks later I saw pictures from her baby shower that I wasn’t invited to. Then a week ago, I saw the baby on Facebook.

So, this has happened with other people. Like miscarriages are contagious or they don’t want to flaunt pregnancies at me. This woman was different because we used to be such good friends. I am not sure if she is just over the friendship or if she just handled all this badly. I want to send the baby a gift but don’t know if that is just really lame because she clearly is over the friendship. I am at a loss in figuring out when you give up on a friendship. — Doesn’t want to be the person who can’t take a hint

Before I began my response to you, I re-read your original letter and the following updates and, first, I want to express my sympathy again for your infertility struggles and miscarriages. Having just a small taste of that kind of disappointment myself, I can only imagine the sorrow and devastation and, ultimately, the frustration you have and are feeling as you continue trying for the baby you want so badly. But the truth is, even if I can try to imagine what you’re feeling, I don’t really know. Without being there, no one can really appreciate what you’re going through, and words can feel hollow. Like they aren’t enough. I feel that as someone who doesn’t even know you personally, so I imagine the people who know you and love you, and have watched firsthand how you have suffered the last couple of years, feel that intimately. It can be hard to know how to act or what to say to a friend who is experiencing infertility, especially as you get pregnant and have babies. I would not be surprised if this is partly the reason for your friend’s behavior/distance.

Something that stuck out to me in re-reading your previous letters was what you wrote in your second update, after miscarrying at 2.5 months. You wrote:

The hardest thing and what I am trying to do is to maneuver around my friends. They have been so sweet, but they all have kids. Intellectually, I know that they are loving, wonderful people. But emotionally, I resent them. I don’t want to talk to them on the phone and hear the kids in the background. I have cancelled all the RSVPs for kid-related things — one first birthday party, two baby showers, and a few get-togethers — and said I am not ready. Everyone understands, but it is lonely. Everyone tells me stories about people they knew who had miscarriages and how they have kids now, and they all say it’s great that at least we now know that we can be pregnant. I know these things are true, but I miss the baby I was carrying and I am not ready (physically or emotionally) to jump back on the horse and look for the next one. I hate when my friends complain about their kids even though I try to understand that they have their own challenges. I hate our friends who accidentally got pregnant for just existing in the world. I hate every news story about a terrible mother or father.

That passage is so raw and so emotional, and, clearly, you were in a great deal of pain. And part of processing that pain meant shutting out friends and avoiding events that might bring you more pain or highlight what others have that you do not have. I can’t help but think that your friends, in both an effort to avoid upsetting you AND an effort to continue celebrating their own happiness without feeling guilty about it, started avoiding you. Maybe that avoidance eventually became habit. Or, maybe your avoidance of them eventually began to feel personal. Maybe this particular friend simply didn’t know how to enjoy and celebrate her pregnancy without making you feel bad. Maybe she didn’t think you would be happy for her. And maybe she just didn’t want to deal with any guilt or negative feelings at a time that is usually reserved for celebration and joy. And so she made a choice and that choice was to cut you out. If that’s the case, it was a terribly hurtful choice. But not completely without merit. If you expressed in person the feelings you expressed in your quote above and if those feelings continued for some time, it’s understandable how some friends might feel . . . turned off, for lack of a better phrase. Friends are, after all, only human, and human empathy has limits.

It is an insult added to injury when your friends abandon you at a time when you are hurting. Especially when it’s your pain that pushes them away. And I can’t say for certain that your pain and your friend’s mishandling of that pain is the reason your friendship has faded or if the change in friendship is due to other factors. Maybe it’s a combination of things. But you need to decide for yourself if it’s worth trying to get back. And if it is, I would think a letter or card expressing genuine congratulations, along with a gift, would be a nice gesture. And even if you’re over the friendship because your feelings are too hurt or you feel like your effort wouldn’t be appreciated, a small gift is still a nice gesture. To honor the friendship you had, and to express best wishes for a happy future.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

68 comments… add one
  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 6, 2014, 8:19 am

    You created walls between yourself and all of your friends with children. Your friend knew that and so didn’t have any idea how to talk to you when she was pregnant. She got pregnant knowing that you would have nothing to do with her if she was having a baby and knowing that you shut out all of your friends who have children. Your friends had to accept the boundaries that you created. Since you created those boundaries and pushed the friends away you will have to be the one to remove the boundaries and see if your friends still want to be friends. At this point they may just be done with you because it is hurtful to be shut out of a good friends life just because you do have children. They may have given up on you but the only way to know is to reach out with genuine happiness and warmth. If you can’t do that then I wouldn’t bother because no one needs a friend who has so many conditions for the friendship that it doesn’t really exist anyway.

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    SasLinna November 6, 2014, 8:21 am

    This one of the ways in which life is really unfair: If you’re having trouble in some area, you’re additionally also stuck with the task of managing your pain around your social circle, and trying to keep your negative emotions in check. Friends can be supportive, but only to a degree. For example, I’m looking for a job now in a competitive field, and I have a lot of friends in the same field. There’s no way around the fact that it is extremely hard for those who are less successful than others, since the more successful ones have no way of making those who are less successful feel better (not comparing your pain over infertility with unemployment, just drawing an analogy).
    I think that’s what may have gone wrong here: You were hoping for your friend to give extra thought to how she would announce the pregnancy to you, so that you would feel a little bit better because at least your pain would be acknowledged. However, she failed to do that, and while I understand how it was really hurtful for you, I can’t really bring myself to see it as a major failure on her part. This wasn’t an easy email for her to write. She knew she would have to choose careful wording etc. I can see putting off writing an email like that. It’s also possible that her facebook announcement was kind of spontaneous and she didn’t really consider who she had and hadn’t told yet. Also, people have really different needs with regard to stuff like that: For some people, getting a personal message would be more painful than seeing an announcement on facebook, fb could be a kind of casual way to hear the news and leave it to the person having trouble with fertility whether they even want to react to the news (whereas with the email you would feel like a jerk if you didn’t answer it).
    This may seem a little extreme, but I think you might need to take seriously the question of whether you can even be close friends with people who have small kids at the moment. If you’re hoping for them to to take extra precaution in how they communicate with you over kids-related issues, they are very likely to fail to do that. It’s just not very sustainable for friends to have to kind of tiptoe around an issue for an extended period of time. Again, I don’t think that’s fair – I just think that your expectations will probably often be disappointed. You might feel better if you try to make friends with folks who are childfree or in a different age group.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom November 6, 2014, 8:35 am

      What do you even say in an email to a friend who doesn’t want to hear anything about anyone being pregnant or having children? I wouldn’t know what to tell this letter writer. I don’t know what I would say to her knowing that she would hate it.

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        Sunshine Brite November 6, 2014, 8:37 am

        Plus, I think it’s very telling that it’s happened with other friends as well even if not as close. It’s an impossible dance to keep time with.

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        SasLinna November 6, 2014, 9:24 am

        I can see ways to formulate such an email. Like, “I recently found out I’m pregnant and wanted to let you know early. I know you’ve struggled with infertility and would totally understand if you don’t want to discuss my pregnancy a lot. However, I hope we can still be close during this time. Let me know how we should handle this.” But I can see why one wouldn’t write it. It’s definitely a thin line for the friend to walk between “don’t talk to me about pregnancy related stuff” and “let me know if you’re pregnant so I can mentally prepare myself”. Personally, I would probably put in the work of being extra considerate if LW were a very close friend. Otherwise it might just not be on my radar enough.

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      Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 10:02 am

      You make some good points here. When we were going through fertility treatments and I was so emotional, it was really hard hearing about other people’s problems. Like I had a friend that was freaking out about having to get a c-section and her birth plan, and I just couldn’t understand why she would be upset when she gets a healthy baby at the end. Or another friend who has a daughter that is a shadow on her and she just wants a few minutes time to herself. Even though I know it would get tiresome, it is hard for me to sympathize. While I have thought in these occasions that I just hate them, I have never expressed that openly. I am sure they feel it though.

      But, We started trying to have a baby in December 2011. Since then, we have had 15-20 children born to friends. In that time, we have been told mostly by email and a handful of times over the phone and in person. There have been four friends that have done the facebook thing. That is, just ghosting on us. Like, I feel that if we were best friends, I should get an invite to your baby shower and it is my choice to attend or not attend. Rather than just pretending that we were never friends. Does that make sense?

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      • FireStar

        FireStar November 6, 2014, 10:19 am

        As a rule there is no “should” when it comes to issuing an invitation. If you are someone that didn’t express interest or happiness in your friend’s news then I understand why she – or her hosts – wouldn’t invite you to the shower. No matter what each person is going through, friendship is a two way street. If you need your friends to understand your feelings and treat you kindly, then you have to do the same. It is less about if I feel like it I will attend and more about she’s my friend having an important milestone in her life and I want to support her and be happy for her.

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        Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 10:27 am

        But, when I found out she was pregnant, I wrote her specifically that I loved her and my troubles did not mean that I couldn’t celebrate her. When I wrote the original letter to dear wendy, it was a 1.5 years ago and I was heartbroken. She wasn’t even trying for a baby then so in my eyes, I don’t think there is a cause and affect relationship.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar November 6, 2014, 11:18 am

        If what you wrote her was sincerely about her and your happiness for her and not about you then I agree with you and it is odd you weren’t invited if you were that close. Was there anything else in your behaviour that could explain it? I think your best bet is to send the card and gift and tell her when she is ready you would love a visit with your newest little niece/nephew. After that – it is on her.

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        Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 11:29 am

        So here is the last email I sent…I just took out names for privacy…over the internet.

        Unfortunately, your reaction has happened several times over the last few years. It is hard to be such a pathetic figure but I know that it comes from a place of love. I want you to know that your joy and happiness has nothing to do with my struggles. I really value our friendship and want to be part of your life events.

        It is really smart to go out to visit family now because that becomes harder as you go. So is your dog better with not chewing furniture? I know you were scared of that originally. It is really nice to get grown up furniture. I am sure it will turn out beautiful.

        ****’s birthday is this week so we are doing a lot of events this week. Happy hour tonight, Brazilian steak house tomorrow, Movies Friday, dinner with his family Saturday, the Phillies game Sunday, and *** and *** are coming for a BBQ on Monday with their boys. Her oldest is almost 6, totally crazy! So we are just plugging away. We are trying to use this time we are waiting to get pregnant productively. We are doing projects around the house and seeing friends because we know it will be harder once we have kids so we are trying to take advantage.

        We are debating vacations right now. We have small, medium, and large we are thinking about. We are actively doing fertility treatment so every month we think it might be the month so we don’t want to plan a vacation. I think we are going to do a last minute trip. Our Medium trip would be South Dakota and our large trip would be China or Peru. We have to see how the budget goes but it is hard to keep us in the same place for too long. My sister moved down to Arlington, VA so we are planning to visit her soon. I will let you know when we are in town.

        I miss you!

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        Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 11:29 am

        I do see here that I bring up no kids more than I should.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar November 6, 2014, 11:56 am

        I feel for you – I do. But what I don’t see here is excitement about her news.
        These were the only two lines about it.
        “I want you to know that your joy and happiness has nothing to do with my struggles. I really value our friendship and want to be part of your life events”
        There isn’t anything here about YOUR joy at her happiness; your excitement for her. To tell her HER joy has nothing to do with your struggles – that isn’t the same as to say you are happy for her (regardless of your struggles). Normally the happiness for her would be implied I think amongst friends but coming from the place of having removed yourself from babies etc. you, in particular, need to be more ‘vocal’ about it so your friends won’t think what you are telling them is just trite or forced. Aren’t you happy for her? Can’t you just tell her that without alluding to your struggles? When you write the card make it all about her and the baby and the love you have for them and how you hope to see everyone soon so you can love up on the baby.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar November 6, 2014, 12:02 pm

        Just by way of example, the best card I received when I had my daughter was from our friend (who we later chose as godmother) that said “Congratulations to us!” She put herself smack dab in the middle of our happiness and made it her happiness too.

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        Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 12:55 pm

        I appreciate this sentiment but I think that would come off as so creepy now, right? Like, I wasn’t on the “new baby” text and I am nervous that if I try to insert myself that way would be awkward. This might sound really insecure, but what if I did something horrible that i didn’t realize and she hates me. Normally I just let people go if they don’t want to be around me but with this one, I want to keep the relationship if she wants it too.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar November 6, 2014, 3:23 pm

        Oh I’m not saying say to say what my friend did! It isn’t appropriate now – I was just giving an example of being enthusiastic about the baby and showing you want to share n the happiness. But a lovely card and gift from you with something simple about how happy you are for her and how you’d love to come over and meet the little one when she is ready for visitors is sweet and unintrusive. I’m sure the awkwardness between you is about this issue – not anything you secretly did to her. All you can do in life is the best YOU can do…if she has issues unbeknownst to you then there isn’t anything you can do about that. Send the gift, visit your friend, and kiss the baby…it will all be fine.

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        Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 12:19 pm

        So, here was the first mail in the chain:

        I have been meaning to reach out to you for days and just got distracted. I just wanted to let you know that I saw on facebook that you are expecting and wanted to congratulate you. That is wonderful news and I am very happy for you. I hope everything else is going well. I know that you are the busiest person I know and about to get busier.

        Things here are plugging along. We have been super social lately going to concerts, birthdays, baseball games. All fun stuff. So glad that the weather is better! I was hating this winter so we are taking advantage of the sun.

        Drop me a line when you get a second.

        Love,

        The other email was in response to her apologizing for not telling me in person. but you are right, I could up my game.

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      • becboo84

        becboo84 November 6, 2014, 1:26 pm

        I think this email was perfect. It was great of you to reach out to her directly, instead of just commenting with a generic “congrats” on her initial facebook announcement. You took the first step. I love the idea of sending a nice little baby gift with a genuine, heartfelt card, but at that point, the ball is then in her court.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom November 6, 2014, 10:21 am

        It makes sense but from their point of view you may be the one who seems to be pretending that you were never friends. If friend after friend reacts in the same way then they are all reacting to what you do and it is a reflection on your behavior.
        .
        Does it help if you realize that each of those friends probably has their own demons to fight? They may have a baby but some of them will probably have a marriage fail due to the stress of the child. Some will have huge disappointments at work, promotions that don’t happen, raises that don’t come through or they go to work on normal day and come hom fired. Some will have financial problems, some will find that they can’t afford their mortgage. Some will find that their spouse is cheating on them. Some will hate their job but be unable to find another. Some will find that their only child has serious disabilities and will never be an independent adult. I’ve had friends in every one of these situations. What would you think if your friend who got fired refused to spend time around anyone who had a job? Or if your friend whose husband cheated refused to spend any time around anyone who had a happy marriage or if your divorced friend refused to be around anyone who was married?

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        Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 10:51 am

        Skyblossom, those are really good points. The only thing I would say about infertility, miscarriages, and infertility treatment is that you add raging hormones to everything. When you lose a baby, your body goes through some pretty intense problems and the drugs that they give you can make you believe you are going crazy. Right now, I am taking a break from the drugs and it has been so wonderful. Versus other things in life that are hard, there is this extra physical part that most people don’t take into account. But it could always be worse, and that is something that always should be kept in mind.

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      • something random

        something random November 6, 2014, 11:19 am

        Infertile LW, It sounds like you can really appreciate how hormones affect things. As someone who was not overweight but was sick enough to lose 20lbs in my first trimester (I was almost hospitalized) with my first, I assure you pregnancy is no walk in the park emotionally or physically. Add to that the post-labor hormones and you can see how new mothers deserve some slack.

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        Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 11:33 am

        It isn’t that I am not giving her slack. I haven’t said anything about any of this to her directly, I am debating whether I should send her a gift and try to keep the friendship alive or should I just bow out and realize she isn’t that into me.

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      • something random

        something random November 6, 2014, 12:16 pm

        Just saw this reply. It is up to you but I wouldn’t take a lack of attention at this time in her life as her not being in to you. She might just be preoccupied right now. Send a gift and reach out in a few months.

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      • something random

        something random November 6, 2014, 11:52 am

        I’m sorry you feel “ghosted”. But honestly you have no right or claim to be told about someone else’s pregnancy or any other personal health news in any particular way. There is no breech of manners when it comes to someone else’s body.

        I had difficult pregnancies with both of my children. And I ran into this reaction both times. Having heard a lot about traumatic miscarriages, my husband and I tried really hard not to excited during the first 12-14 weeks. I was in a lot of physical and emotional duress and I didn’t have a lot of spare energy. I come from a very large nuclear family and my parents also come from large families. When I hit the second trimester I didn’t really have a lot of energy or enthusiasm to call hundreds of people that I know. One of my dad’s brother’s wives apparently felt offended that we didn’t personally call her. When we did talk to her (nearing my third trimester) she was abrupt and correcting. My husband told her “well I guess you’ve heard the news” and she said “I want to hear YOU say it”. I was so put off by her ability to take my life and make it about her that I still roll my eyes when I think about her.

        My second example will be more relevant to you. One of my very best friends was going through a difficult time when I became pregnant with number two. She had come back to our hometown to help care for her dad who was dying from a brain tumor. She had hit her thirties and had just broken up with her very-long term boyfriend. She wanted a husband and kids so much, heartbreakingly so. Losing her still-young otherwise healthy dad gave her so much to grieve. I love her and did what I could to be there for her. When I became pregnant I didn’t have the heart to tell her right away. When I called her in my second trimester I knew she was hurt because she was closer to me than that.

        I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was scared shitless. I wasn’t sure I had made the right choice. I had a son who had developmental concerns. He was two and we still didn’t know if he had autism. I did private therapy and public therapy with him five days a week. I did play groups and social outings six days a weeks. I had tried to get help twice and both times the daycare providers didn’t think they could handle his tantrums at being separated from me. I didn’t think I could handle it if my other child had delays as bad or worse. I felt guilty taking away from my first to give to a second. My hip and back kept going out and I couldn’t do the things I needed to. The stress was getting to my husband who just wanted to feel happy about everything. We were fighting and I was feeling insecure.

        I tried to tell my friend that I just didn’t feel ready in the first trimester but I know her feelings were hurt. Lots of people around her were getting pregnant and it was hard. She didn’t come see me or call me after I had my second. My feelings were hurt.

        What finally fixed things was when I decided to write her an e-mail telling her how much I loved her and hoped she got everything she wanted out of life.

        Nobody wants to feel judged. Friends want to feel safe expressing their feelings and trusted in their choices. I’m sure you can understand this. I’m sure you have had a ton of people who have judged you or de-validated your feelings and experiences. Or worse, trivialized your loss.

        You have been judgmental towards your friend’s with kids. You are only human and its understandable. But to be a good friend you need to be able to genuinely wish all the happiness in the world for them and feel good when life brings them blessings.

        If this is too hard for you to do, you might need to seek some help. I know this is probably hard to hear, but I really think it might benefit you.

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        Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 12:13 pm

        You are right, everyone has their stuff. And, trust me, I understand not wanting to speak about a pregnancy if you are insecure. But for me, I feel like she was able to tell everyone at her shower and post shower pictures online and have a big announcement on facebook is showing that you are fine to speak publicly. Or even things like, people posted, “I just got your baby photo text, so cute” or “just visited baby ava at the hospital.”

        i know now, that I won’t tell facebook anything about my pregnancy and I probably won’t have a baby shower before the baby is born because of my feelings about all of this now.

        But, I will send a present and try a few different ways to keep the friendship alive.

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      • something random

        something random November 6, 2014, 12:32 pm

        It sounds like she didn’t invite you to the long-distance shower or text you baby pics. If she was a sounding board during some of your miscarriages, one casual line about being wiling to be included might not be enough for her to feel confident being really open and gleeful around you. I would still feel insensitive doing that. I would error on the side of assuming good intentions. And it sounds like you are going to. Good luck with everything.

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    Sunshine Brite November 6, 2014, 8:29 am

    WWS, there’s a divide that’s been created between you and your friends with pregnancies and children. It seems like you’re putting all the blame and your emotions on your friend for how this friendship has gone when you have made it clear to your social network that you are not comfortable talking about what can be a huge part of your friends’ lives. I don’t know how I would react to a friend that has been so vocal about how it makes them uncomfortable to be involved with children-related activities, choosing silence might’ve been what she thought would hurt the least. Then you are upset with her for not including you in pregnancy related activities after you have made it clear that you did not want to be involved with pregnancy related activities just isn’t fair.

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      Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 11:05 am

      True, I get what you are saying. But, it isn’t what I asked. This happened and it hurt. All these events didn’t happen over months, it is over years. When I first miscarried, this friend wasn’t married so none of the hurt was even directed at her. But, should I try to be friends with her. I haven’t yelled at her or said anything. I just have this little facebook window and wonder should I send a gift or should i just take the hint.

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        jlyfsh November 6, 2014, 11:18 am

        I think that you should send a gift and if you want to be her friend, reach out. But, the answer to should you be friends with her is, do you want to be? Do you value what you had enough to work on it? Because, it might not be you send a gift and bam you’re friend again. It could takes a few months of slowly re-integrating yourself in to her life and not necessarily getting the response you want right away.

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        Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 11:34 am

        I totally agree and I am willing to try. But how many times do you reach out to someone before it is pathetic?

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        jlyfsh November 6, 2014, 11:37 am

        i don’t know that there is a number really. i would base it on the reactions i got. if she seems to react more or differently i would keep trying. but, if you feel like you’re talking a brick wall and that’s not effective maybe it’s time to take a break.

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        Sunshine Brite November 6, 2014, 1:21 pm

        It’s not whether or not the hurt was directed towards her, it seems like she would’ve known about it through others or through catching up with you. Your friend has seen this through years like you say. Do you want to send a gift? If you want to be friends with her I suggest sending something. It’s not necessarily a hint that someone who’s radically tired, etc, doesn’t include everyone or get back to anyone timely.

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  • something random

    something random November 6, 2014, 8:43 am

    I could see myself acting like your friend. Not because I was purposely trying to hurt you, but because it was a no-win situation and no action was the default from running out of time to think up the perfect actions. No matter how she brought it up or didn’t bring it up it was going to hurt. Her life is probably currently 100% newborn. There is no way for her to NOT make it about a topic that is excruciating for you. There is probably not a lot of room right now for pre-parent friend to be child – neutral. If you wish to be included in her child-ful life, the burden is on you to show her that you are capable and willing to play a role. Sending a nice gift could go a long way. I’m very sorry for your pain and loss and continued struggle. I hope you have other friends and support that don’t require so much from you at this time.

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    ktfran November 6, 2014, 9:23 am

    Wendy, your response was very well thought out and compassionate. There’s really nothing more to add and I second what you and everyone else has said thus far. LW, I read the original letter and all of your updates and I feel that you’ve alienated people who love you so much, that they just don’t know what to do or how to act. If you want to salvage relationships, you need to offer an olive branch.
    .
    As for the FB announcement, I honestly wouldn’t put much stock into it. It has become the norm. I have had friends and relatives hurt over hearing about big news (engagements, pregnancies, babies being born, moves, etc.) via FB from people they thought they were close to. I totally get where you’re coming from there…. but unfortunately, I think it’s just something some people do now.

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      Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 10:06 am

      So I get the facebook thing. The engagement announcements make sense because people announce very quickly of it happening. Pregnancy announcements happen months later. So if you have known three to six months, that is true avoidance. Whether I deserve it or not.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. November 6, 2014, 3:11 pm

        LW, I am truly sorry that you are going through this. I had a similar experience, although on a different topic. For a while, I was pretty bitter about my love life. Everyone I knew was getting married, and so the idea of going to a wedding and seeing all these happy people just pissed me off. Eventually, people stopped asking. Like you, I felt that they should ask and give me the choice of whether or not to attend. I felt like nobody liked me any more. It took a lot of soul-searching to realize I wasn’t being invited because I was giving off really negative vibes about weddings, and who wants that on their big day? You seem pretty locked in to the idea that you are being ghosted. I understand that that is how it feels, but please take to heart the advice that people are giving you about being the first to reach out. In order to restore my friendships, I had to take that first step and make people feel comfortable around me again. And they responded, because they cared, but were feeling at a loss as to how to treat me. Your situation is very much about you, but I think you are making the mistake that I made and making everyone else’s situations about you.

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        ktfran November 6, 2014, 3:27 pm

        This. So much this.

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      • Portia

        Portia November 6, 2014, 5:41 pm

        Agreed 100%. This is why I stopped telling people I don’t like weddings and instead say I don’t want to plan a wedding because I’m lazy. To me it’s true (well part of the truth), but I’ve gotten invited to a lot more weddings since then.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. November 6, 2014, 9:44 pm

        I still have my days. When I receive an invitation on these days, I wait until the last possible second to respond, to give myself time to check in and see how I feel about it. There is no automatic answer to a wedding invitation for me.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 6, 2014, 9:29 am

    ” I am not sure if she is just over the friendship or if she just handled all this badly.”

    She didn’t handle this badly. She followed the boundaries that you established with all of your pregnant friends and all of your friends with children. This is the natural consequence of shutting out all friends with children. No one wants their pregnancy announcement to be about you and how much they are sorry that you aren’t happy for them. No one wants to walk on eggshells at their own baby shower because you are going to be sad or resentful or angry the entire time. You let everyone know that you couldn’t handle a friendship that included children, if that has changed then it is up to you to show everyone that you can now handle relationships with children. Even if you reach out at this point don’t expect much of any reply because your friend has a newborn and is living in a sleep deprived haze and doesn’t have the time or energy to coddle a friend who resents the existence of her baby.

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    • becboo84

      becboo84 November 6, 2014, 9:55 am

      I think you’re being a little harsh on this LW. In my mid-20s, I came to the sudden realization that I’d lost two rather close friends when they were going through hard times. I had to take a harsh look at myself and realize that if it had happened twice, I was probably in someway not being as supportive/empathetic/etc as I could have. Since then, I have really made a concerted effort to be a great friend, in whatever way possible, when friends are struggling.

      This LW has admitted that she shut her friends out and made some mistakes; however, I can’t even imagine the sadness she’s facing after years of infertility followed by multiple miscarriages. All I do know is that more judgment is not going to help her.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom November 6, 2014, 10:06 am

        I think that telling her the friend should be more understanding and should treat her as fragile isn’t going to help because the truth is that the friend doesn’t know what to do and is in a no win situation and can’t pretend she is living a childfree life. The truth is she shut her friends out of her life because of a very painful circumstance but she shouldn’t wonder if the friend handled it badly. The friend followed the rules that the LW established in all friendships that included children. The only way to undo that is to change the rules that she established. If she can now handle the children in her friends lives she should reach out and reconnect but if she can’t, if it will be to painful, then she shouldn’t because her friends will only be pulled back and forth so many times before they just move on.

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    • avatar

      Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 10:29 am

      This is harsh but I hear you. So, If you were me, would you send a baby gift? I want to stay friends but do you think that she doesn’t?

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom November 6, 2014, 10:47 am

        I would send a gift with warm congratulations that sound very earnest and happy. At the same time I wouldn’t expect much of a response at this time because she is exhausted and is lucky to get a shower, let alone keep up with old friends. Sending a gift will open the door for some time in the future, when she isn’t living in an exhausted, sleep deprived haze.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom November 6, 2014, 12:43 pm

        The other thing you can do is to like every or most baby pictures she posts on facebook and add a nice comment. Show her that you share her happiness, that you are happy for her and that it won’t be an unpleasant experience to be around you with her baby. If you need to see what’s appropriate take your cue from the other comments under the photo. Never make the comments about you, just about what an adorable baby she has, he’s a cutie, how sweet!, I’m so happy for you, you make a lovely family, etc.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar November 6, 2014, 9:34 am

    I emailed her and she wrote that she didn’t know how to bring it up to me

    Two things struck me 1) why don’t you believe her and 2) why did you chastise her in the first place?
    You’ve made it clear that you aren’t interested I hearing about children. Perhaps she thought finding our over facebook was a better way for you to find out since you could compose yourself, if necessary, and then respond when ready instead of feeling ambushed by a personal communication that would require a reply from you. What you told her is that she can’t win. Whatever she does is wrong. What you should have told her is “That’s great news congratulations!” without making any part of her news about you. Because it isn’t. I know it might feel like it but it isn’t. I have sympathy for infertility struggles – several of my close friends have dealt with that issue and others have gone through multiple miscarriages. But none of them ever shut out their friends or children the way you have. None of them ever made their friends feel bad about pregnancies or new babies. I think you need to speak to someone. I believe in doing whatever you need to to get through something but your solutions are extreme and do damage to you in the long term. The consequences of your choices are gong to leave your friend circle vey small. And one day when you have your own children you will want all your friends to celebrate with you. So yes – send a gift and a card telling your friend how happy you are for her. Being a friend to you might mean being delicate about your struggles but being friend to her means you be happy for her joys.

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  • avatar

    Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 9:48 am

    Wendy, I love your perspective on this. There is no question, that this has been a roller coaster of emotions. My only comment is that when I wrote in 2013, the pain was really raw. We were so close and then our dreams just disappeared. The year that followed was full of fertility treatments and another miscarriage. However, we climbed our way back out of the hole. We are still trying but we have settled into the feeling that this might not happen for us. Time has turned this into a dull pain and, now that my friends have older kids (except the one in this letter) they have more flexibility to be in my life again.

    That being said, maybe this friend really wasn’t close enough to see the change. Where my local friends can see how life has evolved. There is no question that I move the markers depending on what I am going through at that time. So sometimes I love to hear about kids and hanging out with them and others we just feel so left out. I figure I will send the gift and if she doesn’t respond, then I will have my answer. I was just thinking I would look like a stalker or a loser if I sent a gift.

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  • avatar

    Essie November 6, 2014, 10:50 am

    I’ve rewritten this a few times; it’s so hard to comment on a situation like this without possibly being hurtful to the LW, and I certainly don’t want to do that.

    I just wanted to comment from the perspective of LW’s friend, because I’ve been there.

    While I’m sure your friends understood, on an intellectual level, why you were angry, and why you were refusing their invitations, it still hurt them. You can understand someone’s anger, and still be terribly hurt by it. When someone you love is treating you like you’ve done something awful to them, when you haven’t……it hurts. And the natural reaction to that is to back away, if only to protect yourself.

    Even though you want to be strong for a friend in pain, when they continually direct their anger at you, for weeks and months….well, everyone has their limits.

    The truth is, however understandable your anger at your friends was…..it wasn’t justified. It was misdirected. And sadly, there are consequences to misdirected anger.

    I would have hesitated to contact you about the baby, too, if I were your friend. Because everything you said and did was telling her loud and clear, “I don’t want to hear about babies.” She had every reason to believe that you’d be hurt and angry if she did tell you.

    This is fixable. Call her. Talk it out.

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    • avatar

      Essie November 6, 2014, 10:52 am

      And yes, send a gift. 🙂

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  • findingtheearth

    findingtheearth November 6, 2014, 11:04 am

    I have a friend who has suffered from infertility for 8 years. When I found out I was pregnant, she had just been told a month earlier she could not have children. My pregnancy was a completely unplanned. I called her and asked if I could go to her home. I told her what was going on. She had been going through a “I don’t want to hear about pregnancies or babies” phase, but I felt our friendship was important and that she needed to know before I announced it publicly.

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    • avatar

      Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 11:40 am

      See, I have a mutual friend who did this and it has made all the difference. You are a good friend.

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  • Portia

    Portia November 6, 2014, 11:07 am

    I don’t have much personal experience with pregnancy to draw on, but I do have experience with how people with kids reacting to you saying you don’t want kids. And I gotta say, this pattern of avoidance from people having kids sounds very familiar. And part of the reason I don’t broadcast my childless intentions. I make jokes when they ask and make it clear I love hanging with kids and being an aunt. A few funny stories about the kiddos in my life helps in that regard.
    .
    I do agree with others that sending a gift and well wishes is a great way to start. Those people who had been kind of avoiding me with pregnancy news changed their tune and included me more when they knew I would respond positively to it. Then again, I didn’t express pain over the whole topic of kids. If you can’t be visibly happy for them, though, maybe send a gift and try again in a few years, with the knowledge that this level of friendship may be over, but may leave the door open in the future to reconnect, if circumstances change. And remember, how she handled this probably had less to do with how close she feels to you and more about how she assumed you would respond.

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh November 6, 2014, 11:14 am

      I agree that it probably has little do with how she feels about the LW too. And I think like someone else mentioned it’s hard to walk the line of being happy for yourself and taking in to account the feelings of others at the same time. Sometimes you have to choose yourself, especially when you feel there is already a distance that is uncomfortable between you and the friend.
      .
      The only experience I have with anything that I can make an analogy with is when I got in to a relationship at the same time as a friend and her’s ended after about 6 months and mine did not. It was hard she was sad for months (almost a year) after and for her own happiness asked that I not share anything about my relationship with her for a while and after time had passed and she was ready it was hard to start including her again, because the default had been not to for so long.

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  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki November 6, 2014, 11:10 am

    LW – Right now I’m laying in my fertility clinic after yet another IUI. So many pills and shots and procedures (some painful) and I just hope it works. If not… We move on to other options (IVF is likely up next). It sucks. Infertility sucks. But right now my best friend is expecting a baby in March and I couldn’t be happier for her. She was worried about telling me, but knew I’d want to know. I’ve never been so excited for someone else to have a baby. I know it hurts to see others get pregnant when you can’t. But it’s not their fault. It’s not really anyone’s fault. Reach out to your friend. Tell her how happy you are for her. Send her a gift for the baby (or for her!) Just be there.

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    • avatar

      Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 11:59 am

      So you get it. and I am sending you good thoughts. So, in my state there is no coverage for IVF so we are saving right now. It is super expensive. So all of my local friends and most of my old friends have children. It is tough. This situation is unique because I have never had a friend this close become this distant.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna November 6, 2014, 12:17 pm

        I’m getting the impression that being surrounded by people with kids is really making this situation harder on you. One thing you might try is to get to know people who don’t have kids (or whose kids are already out of the house). It doesn’t seem healthy that you are basically being defined as someone who doesn’t have kids. You’re so much more than that. Some of the coolest women I know are childfree women in their mid-thirties and older. They are great friends because they have more time and energy to devote to friendships than the mothers. Mothers are awesome, too, but I would be missing out massively if I didn’t have childfree friends.

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        Infertile LW November 6, 2014, 1:01 pm

        So that is a whole other can of worms. So, 6 years ago, we bought a house in a suburb outside of Philadelphia known for its school district. We thought we would have a baby and that baby would get a great public education. We moved in, worked on the house, then started trying just shy of three years ago. So the problem is that we put ourselves in a situation where we are an hour from downtown and everyone around us has children. You do not move to this sleepy suburb without kids because the property taxes are high and all the events surrounding this place are family friendly. So we have talked about the idea of moving somewhere a little more hip but we still have the dream that this is all going to turn around any day now. And selling a house is expensive. So we stay in this weird place.

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        SasLinna November 6, 2014, 1:26 pm

        I see – but I hope you’ll give your happiness the weight it deserves and consider moving in spite of the costs. I understand you might get pregnant and then the suburbian surroundings would be a better fit for you, but you could raise a kid in another area as well and I just wonder for how long it’s worthwhile staying in this “waiting” position you’re in. Your life is happening right now and you’re not getting that time back. I am almost positive that moving in different circles would make a massive difference for your quality of life. You need to see the exciting things that are out there waiting for you. That would be easier if you didn’t live in a boring (sorry) place. Or even if you’re staying there, maybe there’s a way for you to be in the city more often, or join a group that’s not typically suburban.

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      • avatar

        Sunshine Brite November 6, 2014, 1:29 pm

        Go online if there’s noone close! There’s a lot of good communities out there on the internet for people to relate to one another.

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  • avatar

    Vathena November 6, 2014, 1:01 pm

    WEES. I would also add that you should not take any current lack of communication too personally. I have a 17-month-old and have been trying to plan a phone date with a college friend for, literally, 5 months. Having a little one is an exhausting, relentless grind, and any free time is probably spent staring at the wall or napping. (Which I hope you will experience for yourself very soon!!) I do think you should send a gift and a genuinely-happy-for-her note. It would be the gracious and classy thing to do. If she interprets it otherwise, that’s her issue. After that, the ball is in her court, and whether she responds or not, you can know that you did what you could.

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  • avatar

    lonemirage14 November 6, 2014, 1:38 pm

    Just to play devil’s advocate here after reading the letter and the LW’s responses above about her own emails to this friend – I think unintentionally, LW, you put your friend in a very uncomfortable position. I don’t mean to belittle or make light of your own struggles and losses, but your friend may have felt, and may still feel, that she could not share her pregnancy and joy with you because it would be received negatively.

    Perhaps she felt that it was better for her own health and mental well being to not invite you to the shower to avoid stress about how that would make you feel in light of your miscarriages and other struggles. I don’t necessarily see an issue with that, but I do think you are owed an explanation for it.

    I kind of see this similar to the reactions people have sometimes when they go through a very painful divorce or breakup. Being around other couples or doing things like going to bridal showers can be agonizing, and their friends who are getting married or maybe buying a house with their partner, etc feel like the divorced friend can’t share in their joy, so there’s some pushing away done on both sides.

    I can’t relate very well to what’s going on in your life because I am not in a place where I am trying to have children and I haven’t experienced miscarriages, but I can relate to your friend to a certain extent. I have a friend who is depressed and suffers from anxiety and she bounces on and off of medication and from job to job, often blowing me off for plans or reacting irrationally to certain situations. I try the best I can to be understanding with this friend, but sometimes there just becomes a point where enough is enough and I back away from contacting her because I am frankly fed up with dealing with her issues.

    I’m not sure if you’ve sought out counseling for all you’ve been though, but I have to say that if you are unable to get to a point where you can accept your friends and family having children and you aren’t able to talk about their pregnancies or go to their children’s birthday parties etc, you should seriously consider counseling or additional therapy. There comes a time in many people’s lives when something devastating happens to them, and at some point you have to pick yourself up and move on for your own health for those around you.

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  • parton_doll

    parton_doll November 6, 2014, 1:44 pm

    Wendy, this was a really beautiful response. Your sensitivity was really moving and I am sure this letter writer appreciates your kindness and sincerity.

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  • kare

    kare November 6, 2014, 2:26 pm

    You’re damned if you do; you’re damned if you don’t. Or at least, your friend is. If someone makes it clear that they do not want to hear about baby stuff and you respect that wish only to be chastised by the same person about not talking to them about your baby…well honestly it’s not fair. Your friend withdrew because she doesn’t want to always be the one hurting you and the one always in the wrong. You can’t expect someone who cares about you to live with the guilt of something that wasn’t an attack on you. You’re old updates mentions you HATE your friends for accidentally getting pregnant, etc. That is an incredibly strong way to feel, and I’m sure your friends can pick up on your emotions. I wouldn’t want to be around someone who constantly resented or hated me either. I think that you should seek therapy if you aren’t already and work through these issues. It’s one thing to hate someone who wronged you, it’s another to hate multiple people who love and care about you but are not childless.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna November 6, 2014, 2:41 pm

      In LW’s defense, I don’t think she actually hates her friends nor is her update from a year ago necessarily indicative of her current state of mind. I do agree with the therapy suggestion though, as it seems to me that she’s in a sense punishing herself over and above the pain she’s already in by acting in a way that it makes it harder to maintain friendships and experience joy in relationships with others. I would also guess that she actually feels bad about feeling bad – not the type to blame others for her misfortune so much as the type who holds it all in and questions herself a lot. So my feelings are more along the lines of “please be nicer to yourself so that you can be nice to others as well”.

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      • avatar

        Sunshine Brite November 6, 2014, 3:24 pm

        Absolutely agree SasLinna

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      • kare

        kare November 6, 2014, 4:16 pm

        Oh I agree. I just meant that those negative feelings were likely picked up on and might still be around but in less intensity. I agree with everything else you said as well.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark November 6, 2014, 11:45 pm

    Look, if you go around the world complaining loudly that you don’t want to hear about other people’s pregnancies and/or children — even if you ONLY do so in subtext — well, NEWSFLASH! You can’t exactly be surprised that people go out of their way NOT to tell you about their pregnancies or children..

    Sorry. But that’s just how it is.

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  • Jess

    Jess November 7, 2014, 12:08 pm

    Oh my goodness. Well I’ve been away from DW awhile but this popped up on Facebook and I had to check in. Especially since it seemed like maybe it was written by my doppelganger or something (I even live in Philadelphia!).

    Looks like I’m a day late.

    I’m a little sad that there isn’t more sympathy here in what I see as a blameless situation for all involved. LW comes off as a really sensitive person in her letter and –my goodness–even more so as she responds to many of the zero-tolerance comments here.

    There are no good answers here and no one-way that friendships should take course when life paths diverge in really dramatic ways like this. I wrote in almost a year ago with a similar situation when my sister became pregnant without trying and had lots of ambivalence about. This was after a long road of infertility and miscarriage for me. It was gut-wrenching as were all the easy pregnancies of close friends during that time. All of those relationships took a hit. All of them had to change. The good ones circled back.

    There is no good way and no ONE way to tell an infertile friend that you are pregnant. My sister texted me a photo of her “error” home pregnancy test which had two lines on it. I had the unique opportunity to reply that the test meant she was pregnant. That was hard to do. Another friend felt it was incredibly important to tell me in person and waited many weeks until we had lunch together. I would have much rather that she emailed me so I could cry it out and compose myself without letting her see that and feel bad. But my preference is not someone else’s. There is no good way. Caring friends will do their best and that counts more than the method.

    My advice is to keep managing a delicate evolving balance between being a good friend (celebrating your friend’s baby milestones) and yet being reasonable with yourself about your limits. For me, sending a heartfelt letter and a great baby gift via Amazon was a lot easier than attending a baby shower. Almost everyone understood that without shutting me out.

    As you probably already know, once your friends have kids, it changes. I found that I was better able to attend kid parties than I was able to handle baby showers and newborns. These friends will not be what they were before but if both everyone makes an effort, they shouldn’t be lost.

    If you haven’t already, find a group of other women battling infertility and find a therapist. Both of these provided enormous help for me in a journey that felt incredibly lonely at times.

    I hope your infertility journey ends soon (ours ended with an Endometriosis diagnosis and a successful attempt at IVF on the first try) and you will be able to slowly develop these friendships again. I would add that when you do become pregnant again, you will probably keep that guarded for awhile because of your loss. And your friends/family will be cautious about celebrating it too. Once you reach the point of viability, you might want to slowly slowly reach out to friends for advice and comraderie again. Feel it out gently and be sensitive to the fact that you may not have participated in the milestones of their pregnancies and they may resent you asking them to do the same. I was careful about this but found that most of my friends with kids were overjoyed and actually relieved once I passed 13 weeks. They felt like they could open up to me about all that they had kept hidden to spare my feelings.

    I am beyond grateful to the close friends that stuck by me and understood the tender place I was in. As I approach my due date (one month!), I am humbled by the good will of those same friends who are welcoming me to the mommy club with open arms.

    I wish you all these same things.

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