Tuesday, December 30, 2008


One of the worst ‘side-effects’ to infertility is lost friends.

Some people change in an instant, such as the chameleon. They used to be where you were and now they are not. I don’t know if it is ‘survivor’s guilt’, or if they feel they are on to the next stage of life and don’t want a reminder of the pain in the past. Maybe they just don’t know what to say, so they disappear. People who used to regularly read my journal entries and commiserate with me have moved on. As happy as I am for them, I do miss them.

Then there are the friends that have never dealt with infertility, and are excited to be there to support you and hold your hand. But they have no idea how long this process can be and, after a while, they grow tired from it. They are starting their families and growing in that way. Soon, it becomes obvious there is nothing left to talk about. The phone calls fade away, then emails, and finally you simply wave hi when you pass by. Your friend has become an associate.

I understand how this happens. When I was younger, I had a friend who struggled with an eating disorder. I did everything I could think of to help her, including ‘pretending’ I had it too, so I could go with her to support groups (she refused to go alone). This went on for a few years. Finally, I couldn’t take it! I felt I couldn’t help her anymore. I was tired of her pain and depression dictating my life too. So, once I was sure she was getting professional help, I faded away. I’ve been there, I understand.

I think back to years ago. I had several friends when I was a newlywed. We were getting married and excited for what life had in store. We would make wedding plans, complain about our apartments, and basically discuss everything that came with that new stage of life.

Then, time moved on, and so did they. I stayed here… in “Newlywed Land” while they jetted off to “Babyville”. They found other people to discuss things with: breast pumps, bottle feeding, potty training. I don’t blame them; it makes sense. I don’t know a thing about any of that and, most of the time, I try not to even go there. But losing them still hurts.

I sometimes wonder about the day I join them, when I finally have a family of my own. Will they re-enter my life as if nothing ever happened? Will I find new friends who are just beginning their families and we will share our experiences together? Will I feel relieved or bitter about the reigniting of a friendship simply because of a change in my circumstances?

Infertility or not, perhaps friends are always fluid. Maybe you are close with certain people during a time in your life you need them, or they need you. Once that need is fulfilled, you grow apart, and new friends emerge.
Then, of course, there are those friends you’ll have forever. They support you now when times are tough, and you return the favor for them. I have so much support around me.

I have friends who I met through this journey, and I will always be your friend, supporting, encouraging, and crying with you. Even if by some miracle I am blessed with motherhood, you will never loose me. I know how it feels to be forgotten.

I have friends who were there at the beginning of this mess, and will still be there at the end, despite the bumpy road between. Words can’t express my gratitude. And when life deals you an ugly hand, as it does to each of us at some point, I will return the favor.

I have friends who dealt with infertility and beaten it, but are not scared to leave me words of encouragement anyway. Those are few, but much appreciated. I hope to be you someday for someone else.

And I have friends who just can’t be friends now, our lives are too different, but will be waiting with open arms when I catch up someday. What a wonderful reunion that will be!


Jill said...

You are so honest, and sweet. I think you are expressing what others are feeling too, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Michelle you really hit the nail on the head when you said that friends are fluid. I notice that I have had close friends and distant friends come and go in my life. Depending on where I am and where they are and when our "roads" cross or are even close. If that makes sense, it seems to just be the nature of life and friendship. Which is okay I think. I try to remember them all and be grateful for who was around when I needed them then and who is around when I need someone now.
But one thing I really love is catching up with old/gold friends that you knew and loved from when you were younger:)
Michelle across the internet divide, I'm here for you! Always.
Make new friends, keep the old, one is silver and the other gold!

Susie Demke said...

oops that was from me. Susie

Emily said...

Beautiful and thoughtful post. I wrote something similar months ago, but you captured it so perfectly.

I do think friends are fluid and I love that description.

Wishing you good things in the coming year.

I'll always be here rooting you on - I too know what it feels like to be left behind.

brandya said...

How do you do it? You have a way of capturing everything so beautifully and purely! Thank you. It never fails...you always write exactly the words I need to read when I need them. That is the power of the Holy Ghost. :) Thank you so very much! Thank you for helping me feel like I am not alone in this journey. Thank you for giving me hope in my darkest days!

Amy Nielson said...

As I've said before, you express yourself so well. We have a lot of the same thoughts but you put them into words so much better than I ever could.
I've felt this way so many times...after high school when so many friends kept getting married and I didn't; getting married and not having kids like everyone else was and feeling so much older than everyone else who had 3 or 4 kids already!!
Like you, I remember what it feels like to be left behind by some friends so I try to not do the same to others, but it still probably happens. But then I make new friends who help me through what I need at that time. Sometimes I think we go through certain things in life so we can empathize and maybe help someone else going through the same thing later in life, or at least be there for them to have a shoulder to cry on.
Thanks for the post. (Sorry I babbled on so!)

Chhandita said...

Your post made me cry..i have lost so many friends in the last year or so since we started TTC...the loneliness gets to me at times...I am just glad i found so many here on the net with whom I could at least be myself for sometime...

beautiful post, as usual...

Isa said...

I second Susie's comment. I was about to write just the same thing. Michelle, you are often on my mind and I'll love you forever--no matter how far apart our distance may be. You are a beautiful writer.

Luke and Nat said...

I have thought about this a lot the past couple months actually being pregnant for the first time...I feel like even though this will be our 2nd I didn't experience all the joys of pregnancy and therefore missed out when other friends were pregnant. I think I had like 5 friends prego when we adopted Whitney. It wasn't the same, even though it was exciting...and now that I get to experience the excitement of being prego for the first time, everyone has "been there done that" and I feel wierd expressing just how extremely ecstatic I am to be going thru this. I also worry that the infertility is not gone...I know lots of friends that have had their first and then struggled for 5-6 yrs with infertility again...so frustrating...what hard things we go thru and how true that we are all experiencing them at different stages...Luke has relatives that are experiencing infertility and I hesitate to show how happy I am and then I think what a dork I am because when I was just there like 5 months ago, I hated when people would old back just because they were trying to protect my feelings...as if this made it any better to handle...I now teach RS and I am SOOO conscious of the fact that all the women in the room are all going thru different stages in our lives...I try not to dwell to much on motherhood, too much on the widowed, too much on the single...too much on the infertile...because these are all sensitive subjects for women all at different stages in life...I think that is one of the wonderful blessings of what we have gone and are going thru Michelle...seriously, we never know what someone else is experiencing that they are keeping hidden or quiet from the world...i'm rambling, loved your post, so true, so true, hopefully you will feel this way too, but I will never feel like I am out of the "infertile" category, I was there for too long and have experienced too much for it to just go away with each child...however HF wants them to come into Luke and I's life! :)Happy New Years!

Shannon said...

Awesome post. I do agree that all friends are fluid. I have had many close friends come and go in my life. Hopefully not for anything that I have or have not done, but because we needed each other at that particular time in our lives. I know we do not see each other (and we live in the same...well close enough...town), but I do still consider you such a sweet friend. I know you probably hve no idea, but you have brought me so much strength during my time of infertility. Thanks Michelle.

Caroline said...

Hi Michelle,
I have just started to read your blog. It is a wonderful expression of the journey through infertility. I can relate to what you are going through. I have felt abandoned by some of my closest friends once they started getting pregnant and having children. It makes infertility even more difficult to deal with when you feel lonely.
I will be following your journey, and praying for you.