Sometimes our own experiences can be hard on our friends, especially when those experiences have to do with fertility and pregnancy.
My friend and I met when our children were six months old at a mom’s group Christmas party. She was the only other mom there without a partner, her husband having refused to attend in favor of playing video games in the silence of an empty home just like mine. Her son was a day younger than my daughter.
Although she was almost 10 years older than me, we became fast friends, bonding over the loneliness that is staying at home and having husbands who were less involved than we wanted.
We started trying for a second baby around the same time. I got pregnant, she didn’t. My belly began to swell, and she finally got a positive on a test, only to be informed at eight weeks, there was no heartbeat.
And again: a positive test followed by a miscarriage. I was there while she cried. I told her I understood the unfairness of it all: the feeling of failure and the frustration that others could do it so easily.
My second came into the world, and she moved away. We no longer saw each other once a week but had regular phone calls that lasted hours as we caught up.
Then, a positive test for her, the doctors immediately stepping in to prescribe her medication that should help keep the baby growing within her. Eight weeks. Twelve weeks. Sixteen weeks. Everything looked and sounded great.
But at 20 weeks, something was wrong. Baby wasn’t growing, a whole month behind by estimates. Tests and tests and tests couldn’t say what was wrong. I was there as best I could be from so far away. I listened to her stories. I tried to give as much support as I possibly could.
And then, one cold night, my marriage splintered in a single act of drunken violence. My husband banned from the home, a court case in the works. I was frantic, fragile, overwhelmed, and alone.
A week later, two little lines told me what felt like the worst possible thing: I was pregnant. An unplanned baby when I had no idea what I was going to do as it was. Morning sickness wracked my body while I cared for two young children who didn’t understand why their father hadn’t come home.
I could barely function. And I couldn’t think about confiding in my friend. How could I run to her and explain all this pain and unknown of a pregnancy I didn’t know whether I wanted while my friend was being told that her first successful pregnancy after two miscarriages was “highly unlikely to result in a living baby”?
I put it off in fear of hurting my friend further with my own pain. But then it had to be done. I sent a message explaining my unplanned pregnancy, the pain of it during such a turbulent time in my life. I told her I hadn’t told her immediately because I didn’t want to cause her more pain while she dealt with the uncertainty surrounding her very much wanted baby. I sent the message and I waited for our friendship to be wounded.
Instead, she replied, “I will always be happy for you, my friend.”
And we moved forward. Supporting each other as best we could while dealing with our own struggles. Because that’s what real friendship is.
Not long after, her baby girl was born at 32 weeks. She weighed just over one pound and was a fighter. After eight months in the NICU and still no answers about why she was so small, baby girl was able to go home with her family.