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.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.