Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickie: “Should I Tell My Friend Who Just Had a Miscarriage When I Go Into Labor?”

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I’m 35 weeks pregnant with my first child, and I am so excited for my upcoming delivery. However, my best friend just had a miscarriage at 12 weeks. This lady is the nicest person in the world, and my heart breaks for her and her husband. They’ve struggled for years with fertility issues, and they conceived their son (now 4) via IVF. This pregnancy would have been their long-desired second child. She hadn’t announced her pregnancy yet, so, while I suspected she was going through the process again, I didn’t know for certain until the miscarriage. She will have to have the fetus surgically removed, which I’m sure just adds insult to injury.

I’ve sent her messages letting her know I’m thinking of her and I sent her flowers. I know how to convey my sorrow for her and be a supportive friend, and I’m totally understanding of the fact that she’s no longer coming to my shower, but what I don’t know is how to proceed when I go into labor. I know she’s incredibly excited for me, but I also understand that hearing about a labor and delivery process, and being around a newborn, will likely be so painful since it’s coming up so soon. She was on my short list for my husband to update while labor is ongoing. Do I presume that she needs space and take her off the list, and let her find out from other friends when I’m delivering? Do I bring it up ahead of time to get her preferences and risk ruminating on an already painful topic more than needed? Do I just proceed as normal, knowing that she’s excited for me in spite of her personal pain? I just don’t know, and I want to try to avoid causing her any more angst. Very few of our friends are aware that she’s going through this, so I can’t poll a group of peers to see how I should proceed.

I’m hoping you can help me, and hopefully soon since I’ve reached that “could go any day” point in my pregnancy. — Due Any Day

I understand your temptation to protect your friend and it’s admirable that you’re being so sensitive towards her, but I think letting her find out about your eventual labor and delivery from someone else — someone who may not be privy, and therefor sensitive to, her very recent miscarriage, would add the insult to injury you’re trying to avoid. I say keep your friend on the shortlist of people to update when you go into labor (don’t ask her if this is what she wants as that might put her on the spot and she’d feel like a jerk if the answer was ‘no’), but, if your husband is planning to update the shortlist of people with every contraction change in dilation, maybe keep her on the even shorter list of those who get two updates — one when you go into labor and another when the baby is born (unless, of course, she is reaching out during the labor for more updates). Also keep in mind that, at 35 weeks, you could potentially have as many as six or even — gasp — seven more weeks to go until you have your baby. If, in that time, your friend expresses certain feelings or needs to you that prompt you to change whether or not she be updated when your labor starts, just keep your husband abreast of those plans. Good luck in your final days/weeks of pregnancy!

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15 comments… add one
  • Lyra

    Lyra January 12, 2015, 10:48 am

    It’s good that you’re being sensitive, but as your close friend — who trusts you enough to tell you that she was pregnant when very few other people knew — I definitely think you should still tell her when you go into labor and have your baby. Maybe she simply does not come to visit you in the hospital or maybe she doesn’t visit you and your baby right away, but it sounds like you are understanding enough to be sensitive to what she wants. If you tell her you’re still keeping her in the loop and in turn, letting her know that she matters to you. Your friend will handle her grief in her own way.
    .
    I have a friend who went through a couple miscarriages actually, and who I have mentioned on here before. While her and her husband were still in the grieving process their close friend had a baby and asked them to be godparents. I remember they were happy to accept, and I know having another baby in their lives — even though it wasn’t their own — actually helped them to process how they were feeling. At the same time there were also times when my friend just didn’t want to talk to ANYONE or see ANYONE, so I was respectful of her need for space when she did that.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar January 12, 2015, 11:13 am

    I know some women go into a cocoon after a miscarriage and shut out all news of other children and baby joy as a means of coping. But I’ve had several friends miscarry and that has never been the case with them…they can compartmentalize their loss and the joy they have for good things happening with their loved ones. I don’t know where your best friend falls and I think you are lovely to be so sensitive – but I think you include her as you had planned and if she tells you she can’t be there for something then you just be understanding. But Wendy is right – A quick email saying you are in labour and one saying baby is here and healthy is all anyone needs (truly no one wants the full play by play). If she wants to come to the hospital, she will say so. Just always invite her to whatever you are doing and let her decide her own comfort level. Congratulations on your great news and here is wishing you a healthy and happy baby… and a super quick delivery.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar January 12, 2015, 11:15 am

    Also weren’t there a bunch of pregnant DW people? iseeshiny and jess and others too my broken brain can’t remember? Are any of the babies here yet? I feel like we should get birth announcements….

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  • avatar

    ele4phant January 12, 2015, 11:20 am

    If you are close friends with this woman – close enough that she shares her tragic news with you personally and close enough that in normal circumstances she’d be a no-brainer to be on your shortlist to call when you go in labor – can’t you just ask her? I mean ask her kindly and gently as possible, but still can’t you let her know you’d love to have her be one of the first to know but you understand if that would be painful to her so you want to give her a choice.

    Maybe not everyone feels this level of candor with even their close friends, or maybe I don’t really understand what the right thing is to do in such a painful situation, but i would hope with my closest friends we would be able to talk about something like this directly (albeit delicately).

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    • avatar

      LW January 14, 2015, 12:22 pm

      Of course I could just ask her. The point is that I didn’t want to have to – there’s no real good way to broach the topic. For example, if we’re not talking about her miscarriage and we’re talking about work, husbands, friends, etc, I don’t want to bring the miscarriage back up to ask.

      If we are talking about the miscarriage, I feel strongly that the conversation should be about her and her feelings, not about me and my pregnancy. Also, I know her quite well, and if I asked she would just say yes, I want to stay on the list, because I know she’s happy for me. I wanted advice because I’ve never experienced that kind of pain before, so I was trying to anticipate what would be the best option for her without having to bring it up.

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  • avatar

    tinywormhole January 12, 2015, 12:24 pm

    About six weeks ago I had a miscarriage at 13 weeks. I think Wendy’s response is perfect. Let her know when you’re going into labor, and when the baby is born, but skip the play-by-play unless she’s asking for more updates. At first I thought, just ask her, but then I pictured what I would say and in the moment I’d probably say something along the lines of “don’t worry about me I’m fine please update me” but alone by myself getting repeated text messages about a friend’s labor would be painful, even while my rational brain wanted to be happy and excited.

    Trust me, there’s no perfect answer here. Having a miscarriage is incredibly painful and there’s no way to entirely prevent your impending birth from triggering pain in your friend. That’s not your fault though, and you’re being a good friend by thinking ahead and trying to figure out how to minimize her pain as much as you can. Limiting to a couple texts will help her feel included, but not bombarded.

    Wishing you a smooth delivery and healthy baby!

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    • Lyra

      Lyra January 12, 2015, 1:55 pm

      Sorry for your loss. 🙁

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki January 12, 2015, 2:01 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear about your loss 🙁

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    • avatar

      LW January 14, 2015, 5:49 pm

      Thank you for sharing your perspective. I’m so sorry for your loss!

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  • mylaray

    mylaray January 12, 2015, 3:58 pm

    Yeah I think it really does depend on the person. Some people are able to separate their feelings, but others are not. And I think when dealing with someone who may be oversensitive to pregnancy and baby news, sometimes people go in the opposite direction and don’t say anything, which leaves them feeling left out. I had an ectopic pregnancy recently, and one of my best friends also became pregnant recently, and I’m really happy for her and able to hear her good news and go shopping with her. I am still sad, but she is also sensitive to that, and I hope your friend can appreciate your baby news in the next few weeks.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark January 12, 2015, 6:30 pm

    Going against the grain here. But — really. Why does everybody feel the need to LIVEBLOG each and every life event? Why not just quietly go into birth — AND THEN have a big reveal afterwards? Honestly, I simply don’t get this.
    .
    Even when my sister — who I usually talk to EVERY DAY went into labor, I only found out after the fact. Part of this was that she had previously gone into false labor — and didn’t want to be the sister who cried baby all over again. But honestly? Did I feel neglected that there were no blow by blow facebook updates? No frantic text messages or voicemails. Um, no. She was fucking busy having a baby!
    .
    Sorry, I dunno. I just don’t get it.

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    • avatar

      LW January 14, 2015, 11:55 am

      Oh for Pete’s sake, who said anything about liveblogging anything?? This is my short list of people for my husband to notify – as in my parents/sibling, his parents/siblings and my two best friends (one of whom was the subject of this letter). In an ideal world there will be just two updates. 1. We’re at the hospital and she’s in labor, and 2. Baby’s here, everything is fine, here are some pics and the details. These are also the people who will be notified if labor goes on for days, or if there are complications, etc.
      Not every pregnant woman is a narcissistic asshole looking for attention from the whole world.

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    • avatar

      Amanda January 14, 2015, 2:56 pm

      Yeah I agree with Mark. During my 35 hour labor, the last thing on my mind or my husband’s mind was updating anyone about the situation. We were just trying to get through the labor. Once the baby was born, my husband called our parents and siblings. But LW, do what works for you. I hope that your labor is shorter than mine was!

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  • avatar

    spark January 12, 2015, 8:28 pm

    What are these labor updates? “Emily’s cervix is fully ripe.” “Emily is dilated 2 centimeters.” “Emily’s last vaginal exam was disappointing, as her dilation hasn’t progressed much.”

    I don’t think ANYONE needs labor updates, except maybe your mom. Just do for her the same as your other close friends: one text when you go into labor and another after the baby is born. If anyone wants an update, they can text your husband.

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    • avatar

      LW January 14, 2015, 12:26 pm

      No, no one will be communicating about my cervix – shudder, no one needs to hear that. However, some labors can go on for days, so there may be some “everything is still progressing, but slowly” updates, or “we’ve had some complications and she’s being prepped for a c-section.” You know, basic updates that very close family and friends might want to know when it pertains to someone they care deeply about. The short list in question is simply parents, siblings and my two best friends.

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