Left Behind

Another friend is pregnant.

But she’s not just any friend. No casual acquaintance or Facebook psuedo-friend. Lillian is a very close  friend and the one who has helped me along through the last nine months. She’s 36 and, in many ways, she’s one of us. Technically, she doesn’t have trouble getting pregnant. She has trouble staying pregnant. She has a daughter now who will be three in April, but before conceiving her little lady in 2009, Lillian suffered three miscarriages over the course of nine months. She knows the ins and outs of charting and temping. She’s all-too-familiar with the pain of wondering if she will ever hold her precious child in her arms. She understands why pregnancy announcements and baby showers are hard for me, why it’s difficult to see or hold a newborn right now, without explanation.

When I lost Teddy Graham, Lillian was there like no one else could be. At the time, she was one of only two people whom I personally knew who had experienced the loss of a pregnancy, and she was the only local one. No other friend even knew I was pregnant. Lillian had guessed just by looking at me, and I feel that must have been something orchestrated by God, because she was the best one to turn to in my loss. She guided me through all of it. She invited me over for playdates and out for ice cream so we could talk. She offered to watch Cupcake if I just needed to be alone in my grief. And I give her all the credit for this blog. She may not have written the words for each post, but she is the one who encouraged me to do so because that is how she navigated this when she was facing RPL. Because of Lillian, I have all of you.

Last night, Lillian and I had dinner at a local Indian restaurant. Because we both started TTC at the same time after my miscarriage, and have spent many hours in the past sharing the nitty-gritty details of our cycles, she knew we would be discussing the most personal things over our curries. And she did not want to lie to me, so she sent me an e-mail last week to break the news, an e-mail because she remembers that’s what I wanted from my sister. She did and said all the right things. She treated me with the tenderness, gentleness, and sensitivity that my sis never has (which, until now, has been my barometer to judge all of this). She gave me the option of canceling our dinner date and she welcomed me to express to her how I felt about her news. And when I did, completely and truthfully, she responded not with hostility, bitterness, or condemnation, but repeated thanks for my honesty. I did not know it was possible that someone like this existed.

Last Wednesday, when I read that e-mail first thing in the morning, it crushed me. I cried until sundown. I felt more defeated, more hopeless, than I ever have since the start of this journey. I could not respond to Lillian’s e-mail at the time. I was not a pleasant person to be around. This one little pregnancy announcement from someone I love and respect felt like the end of the world. And I said things I am not proud of and did not mean, things like how much easier this would all be if life just didn’t continue. That was a very dark day.

Let me be clear: I have no ill will towards Lillian. None at all. She has done everything perfectly. She has treated me exactly the way I hope I would treat someone else if I was in her shoes. At dinner, she did not go on and on about her pregnancy, but apologized whenever she did mention it. She let me talk and worry over my journey, and sympathized with everything I said. She is the friend I have always wanted. I would be lying if I said I was not jealous, but that jealousy does not lead me to anger or bitterness or ugly thoughts. It only makes me weepy, and thankful that she understands.

It is still early for Lillian. This pregnancy is very new. She is only five weeks along. She is scared because she does not know if history will repeat itself. I am scared for her. And happy for her, too. And sad for me. But most of all, I feel left behind. By everyone. My Reader is full of bumpdates and positive peestick photos, but that is the very least of my heartache. Every one of you deserve this. I am happy and hopeful for all of you, my friends. But there are pregnancy announcements everywhere I turn. I was *lucky* enough, while TTC my darling Cupcake, to know only one person who was pregnant…and I didn’t learn about her pregnancy until two months before my own BFP. I did not have to wade through any of this kind of pain. In this moment, I have cousins, old and new friends, acquaintances, and a sister who are expecting or have recently given birth. Some of them are first babies, but many are second or third or even fourth. And now, my own in-real-life ally has crossed to the other side, too. I will be the only regular in our mom’s group who does not have more than one child. It is not fair of me to feel abandoned because I know Lillian will be there for me whether she gets to have this baby or not…even whether she has ten or twelve or a hundred babies. But I do. I feel utterly alone.

But this is not all about me. I know that. Lillian is worried about and fearful for what these next few weeks bring. I want to support her like she has supported me. I will be checking in with her frequently. And I have offered to watch her daughter if she just needs some rest or has a bad bout of morning sickness. This is what friends are for. She has given me permission to pull away, to take time off from our relationship, to not feel any joy about her joyous news, but I will not do any of that. I pride myself on being thoughtful and selfless in my friendships, on being everything my sister has failed to be to me. In my relationship with my sis, I have been there for her in other ways. I have really tried to be the kind of sister she wants. I have made gifts for her and I spent way too much money on a baby that hasn’t even been born yet. But in my relationship with Lillian, I want to do better. This is my opportunity for redemption. This is my second chance.

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22 thoughts on “Left Behind

  1. This is written so well and you sound like such an amazing friend. I wish I had someone like this! You and Lillian are lucky to have each other.

  2. Ahhh. You shared this so wonderfully, with all its complexities of emotion. It is so hard, even when a dear friend does everything perfectly. I wish her all the best, especially given her devastating history – and I hope you too are kind to yourself as you feel the injury of this sort-of loss, the one of a partner by your side on the ttc trail. Hugs to you.

    • It is a loss, isn’t it? I feel like we lose so much while facing infertility, and it’s especially hard when it feels like the ground is shifting beneath you because your support system is collapsing or changing. But I guess it’s all part of the journey, the experience, the lesson.

  3. Hugs!! I know it is not easy at times when we feel left behind – but loving friends are so few & far between. You are doing an amazing thing by standing by her! I had a similar experience last year. A friend and I found out we were pg within a few weeks of one another. I lost my little boy and she went on to have a healthy little man. She was there for me throughout my loss & grief for which I am so thankful for and I chose to be there for her during the remainder of her pregnancy. I am so glad that I chose the same path as my friend is amazing! I love her & her little boy! Thinking of you!

  4. You are an amazing friend. I ran into a similar scenario last year. My college roommate who struggled through two back-to-back losses (had one child after the losses) helped me through my losses. She then got pregnant with her second and was afraid to tell me at first because I was in the middle of miscarriage hell. She sent me an email to tell me because she didn’t want to make me feel awkward or upset. I appreciated her thoughtfulness so much. It took me some time to sort through everything, but I took the same approach that you have decided to take. She has not stopped being one of my #1 cheerleaders and I am so grateful that I didn’t cut her out of my life like I cut out so many others because she helped me so much. I ALWAYS go to her for advice. I am proud of you girlie! You are doing the right thing, even though it is incredibly tough right now. xoxo

  5. I’m so so sorry you’re feeling this way. I understand all too well how you feel. And I know that you know you’re not alone. The further we get along in this process, the harder it gets to watch the world moving forward with their bumps and babies. Even if we love them. We just have to believe that everything will work out in the end – and that beautiful ending is closer than we think. Because that’s what happened to all of those blessed people around us and we deserve it just as much. I know I’ve been avoiding Blogland, but I’m still always here if you need anything, Cass. xoxo

  6. My heart just breaks for you as I read this post. I know your pain but I also have mixed emotions about how I would feel about Lillian if I were in your shoes. I have had friends and family experience RPL while I struggled to get pregnant just once. When they did finally manage to carry a baby to term (most of them once, some of them two or three times – one never did and ended up adopting), I felt joy as their dreams came true. I never wanted my longing for a baby to interfere with their happiness, because God knows, they struggled too. However, I’m not perfect and sometimes that familiar emotion of feeling sorry for myself would creep in. I hope you can stay strong and really be there for your friend and learn something from this experience. At least that’s what I try to do for myself – learn from every situation I’m in. *hugs*

  7. It sounds as of the two of you have a relationship to aspire to. Such compassion, caring and understanding is hard to come by. You are an amazing friend.

  8. I think you and Lillian are very lucky to have each other. It’s rare to have a friend IRL who really gets it. I’m sorry you’ve both had to struggle to get to this place, but it sounds like your friendship, even though it’s grown from heartache, is strong–and you are, too.

  9. You’re posts often move me to tears and this one is no exception. As difficult as this is, you’re an amazing friend and I’m positive Lillian knows just how lucky she is to have you in her life and vice versa. You both hang on to each other.

  10. This post spoke to me. I have one IRL friend who dealt with infertility. Luckily for her she got pregnant (naturally) the same month she was diagnosed with PCOS. Because she didn’t go through treatment (at least that’s what I assume), she doesn’t carry the baggage that most who conceive following infertility do. And she has been unrestricted in her joy. I am happy for her, but I felt utterly alone once she got pregnant. I now felt like I was in the trenches all by myself. Having the blogging community helps, definitely, but it is hard when your the last one IRL (still) dealing with it. *hugs*

  11. This makes me sad for you. I can definitely relate as I have a best friend who is pregnant and who unfortunately, is not as sensitive as Lillian. You are right–it is so hard to “be happy” for others when your own life is so difficult, but I can tell that you give a whole-hearted effort and that is admirable.

  12. What a beautiful post. I admit that I am avoiding a certain friend right now out of fear that she is pregnant. She has a daughter a few months younger than Sofia and she conceived with injectables the first time around as well… she really should be the best kind of pregnant friend (if that exists) and yet I am afraid. I am afraid both of my emotions over such an announcement and over my reaction and inability to be the friend I should be… so kudos to you for managing it.

    (And, seriously, if your sister has never recognized how she “should” have acted – and still should act – it is clearly through no fault of your own. You rock.)

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