One of my best friends (lets call her K for now), is pregnant. She did not give me the news herself, but her sister (lets call her J) who is my other best friend and also the only friend who knows about our fertility issues called and gave me the good news.
Although K has been living out of the country for a few years now and we barely speak on the phone now thanks to ‘whatsapp’, I still thought if and when it came to such news, she would tell me herself. However, I think J had something to do with this – she handled telling me the news very delicately and made sure that if I did I have a reaction (for example, if I felt like crying, had gulp in my throat …any of that) she would be there on the other side. To my surprise, I didn’t have much of a reaction partly because I knew K had been trying to conceive (TTC) and it was only a matter of time and partly because I am quite pepped up in general at this point in time since we are in the middle of our first IVF cycle.
Over the last two years, I think I have matured in dealing with pregnancy news amongst friends and family. Since DH and I both come from large closely knit Indian families, a lot of our first cousins around the same age-group got pregnant, had babies, went on to trying for second babies over this period. On the friends front, a similar story, many of our friends had baby number 1 or were TTC baby number 1 around the same time we started off in 2011.
After our first ectopic pregnancy in 2011:
I grieved for the longest time and barely got out of the house. The sight of anyone with the slightest bump brought tears to my eyes. Suddenly it felt like everyone was pregnant (I know that wasn’t the case but if just felt like that at that point in time). I saw them at the bus stop on my way to work, on the bus, at work, at my yoga class, at the grocery store, at restaurants, at mall…even bumped into them when we went for quiet walks in our neighbourhood in the evening. It made me sad and made me cry (I will admit that I might have been a little jealous too!). I welled up because their bump reminded me of what I had lost and made it slightly more difficult to move on.
At this point, DH and I lived in London far away from family and friends in India. In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) estimated that 1-in-90 pregnancies are ectopic pregnancies. So my way of getting around pregnant women was to start counting pregnant women I saw (up to 90). I know it sounds silly but at that point, for me these 90 women represented the 90 (in the 1-in 90) that probably didn’t suffer ectopic pregnancies since was the 1 (in the 1-in-90). This changed my attitude. When I saw them, I was not longer upset or jealous. Instead, in my mind, I prayed for a happy and healthy nine months for them and hoped they realised how lucky they were.
Pregnancy news in amongst friends and family, however, was a different story. I didn’t feel like making social gestures and calling people and congratulating them. In fact, I remember telling my mother and mom-in-law to keep all family related pregnancy news away from me. Being away from home helped this situation.
After my second ectopic pregnancy in 2011:
In retrospect, I might have been depressed after the second failed pregnancy…at least for the first couple of months. I found myself being indifferent towards strangers who were pregnant and I just couldn’t get myself to meeting friends and family members who were pregnant (they must think me rude but they didn’t know better) The 1-in-90 concept no longer worked.
By then, I had been part of a forum for ectopic pregnancy (http://community.babycenter.com/groups/a734235/ectopic_pregnancy_-_new_hopes). The women on this community are absolutely amazing. The forum helped me deal with my loss, address my fertility issues, educated me, helped me heal, and made me stronger to TTC again. Over a period of time, I took comfort in accepting my situation and as difficult as it might be, I started dealing with pregnancy news more practically than emotionally.
About six months after the second ectopic pregnancy, my best friend J got pregnant. When she gave me the news, I was truly and utterly happy for her. I forgot about my situation and remembered the days when we talked about ‘one of us getting pregnant’ as teenagers, as young girls falling in and out of love, and then as married women. I knew at that point, I was going to be there for her. For the first time, I was not jealous of another pregnant woman, not thinking why not me and no sad feelings. If I had a few tears, they were only and only for her happiness.
After my third failed pregnancy 2012:
Almost a year had gone by since the second failed pregnancy. We had also moved back to India in close proximity to family. Pregnancy news and new borns amongst family and friends poured in. J had a big bump by then and I can count at least 3-4 close friends and family members who were pregnant.
While I was dealing with another loss and trying to accept the fact that my reproductive system was failing me time and again, I forced myself to put on a smile and attend baby showers, shop at baby stores and talked baby stuff. DH kept reminding me that I came first and that I didn’t have to go out on a limb and be brave about this. But I wanted to…these were really close friends and I wanted to be there for them. I had come around to accepting our situation and I couldn’t be in the hiding forever.
I guess there is no right or wrong way to deal with pregnancy news after an ectopic pregnancy or when you are dealing with infertility. This is what I’ve learned:
- Time does heal – it doesn’t erase what happened nor does it make you forget…but it helps to accept yourself and your situation;
- Don’t hesitate to share your feelings with your partner or loved ones who can just be there for you;
- Feeling jealous is normal and doesn’t make you a bad person. Over time, these feelings will change too;
- Most importantly, you are not alone. There are several women out there who would be able to relate to your story. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them!