Tuesday, January 11, 2011

bitter and better

Yesterday, a good friend of mine tweeted about the birth of her nephew. Welcoming babies into our lives is difficult at any given time, but it's especially difficult when it's family or close friends. You've likely already endured months in close proximity to a pregnant belly, and you can escape no conversation without someone mentioning the child-to-be. So when the baby is born, it becomes a bittersweet moment. While you are excited for your family member or friend, you are struggling with your own feelings: sadness, jealousy, loneliness, anger, fear, grief, etc.

These feelings are normal, and each of us deals with them in our own way. I think it's safe to say that not one of us is proud to feel these things. They are difficult - and shameful - to admit. But we tell our support group because we know they won't judge. We tell them because it's a safe outlet.

So when this friend posted a few tweets that reflected her struggle with the birth of her new nephew, she was looking for support. Instead, one person in particular chose to respond negatively. She accused her of acting like a bitch, and stated several times that she never felt that way about the babies in her life.

I admire people like her. I do. The ability to feel no jealousy is more than I can give myself credit for. I know many of you out there feel the same way. It's not a constant state. It is also without harm. All of us love the babies in our lives. It's just... hard. It's hard not to look at that child and be reminded of what you want, what you don't have, or (worse) what you've lost. Every milestone that child reaches can bring on a wave of different emotions - each different for every person and sometimes different for every occasion. Not everyone can push those feelings aside and be perfectly happy and content. Some of us simply aren't built that way.

What I'm saying is this: don't feel sorry for your emotions. It's something I've had to remind myself of constantly - especially in these last few months as I mourn the loss of my fertility and try to leave it behind as we move down the path toward the adoption. It's impossible to be happy all of the time. It's also worse to ignore those feelings and not share them with others. Leaving them bottled inside of you causes more pain and anguish. Besides, that's what we are all (supposed to be) here for: to support one another during those days when we wish we didn't feel the way that we do.

It's okay to be a bitter bitch some days. We've all been there. The comfort of it is knowing that it won't last - and knowing that you are not alone.

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On Sunday, I received a pregnancy announcement from a great friend of mine, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, I didn't feel bitter. It wasn't a surprise. There wasn't an ultrasound or pee-stick photo waiting to greet me. It was simple, well written, and sympathetic:

Katie --

I wish I knew the perfect way to tell you this news, but I don’t. I am 13 weeks pregnant. ____ and I are both very excited.

I wanted you to hear it from me. If you don’t want to talk about it, I understand. Please know that I love you and care about you.

I think this year will also make you and Joey parents -- you're already getting things ready :)


It was the perfect pregnancy announcement. I hope that she doesn't mine me sharing it here (I removed the names for privacy purposes), but I think it's important to recognize that there are people who get it. And those are the people who make going through this hell a whole lot easier.

44 comments:

KAM said...

I find it disgusting that someone would attack your friend like that. I've been through the exact same thing. My sister and I were pregnant at the same time. We lost our daughter in April and my sister had her son in September. Although I love my nephew to death, it still hurts. It stings. I can't help it. And with every new pregnancy announcement or birth, no matter how happy I am for them, it still stings first. I can't change that.

Josey said...

What a wonderful, respectful friend you have. I wish more people realized the best way to break the news of a pregnancy to an IFer.

Rebecca said...

It's so hard not to beat ourselves up that the fact that someone would beat us up about our feelings is so horrible. That's really wonderful about how your friend made the announcement, though. How sensitive.

myTTCstory said...

I really enjoyed reading your post, especially with the happy ending.

That's such nice way to find out about your friend, it shows she truly cares about you but would love to invite you to share in her happiness if/when you feel ready.

Sorry to hear about the comments to your other friend. We're all entitled to our opinions but whoever posted that could take a leaf out of your other friend's book!

missohkay said...

I'm so glad you posted this and stuck up for her yesterday on twitter. I was sitting at my computer searching for the right words when you jumped to her defense. Goodness knows I feel the same way about my sister's pregnancy, and I know many people on twitter struggle with similar situations- that's one of the reasons we gravitated to a "safe place" where we can let it out. It was disheartening to see the judgmental side of IF.

Shannon Mac said...

You are a lovely person :) Bitter. Better. All of you. We're all a bit of both sometimes in life, eh?

Jen said...

We're all allowed to be bitter bitches whenever we want!! I couldn't agree more. Or just bitches. Whatever :-))

That's great that you have a friend who "gets it" that much. that is so sweet of her

AplusB said...

Great post. We definitely should not have to apologize for our emotions!

Your sweet friend is so sensitive! What a kind and thoughtful way to share the news with you.

A said...

A friend of mine emailed me something similar back in May or so. There are no words to describe how grateful I was for her consideration and sensitivity. So thankful for friends like those!!

Lovin Ma Soldier said...

I think I know who you're talking about. I have seen the back and forth on twitter. I tried to help that person (assuming it is the same person, but if not it's someone similar) that it's venting and frustration and not to be taken literally against a person in particular. We're so very hurt from our own situation and that hurt often comes out as anger towards whatever happens to be there...then all we can see is pregnancy and (everyone else's) babies everywhere. We should be able to support each other and not judge how we deal with our hurt and anger. We all have bad days when you feel like the entire world is against you. Thanks for sharing this :)

I love how your friend shared the news. I know breeders don't know how to share pregnancy news with IFs. It's an impossible situation and they deserve to be happy as much as it hurts us.

Michelle said...

Ack, I missed this on twitter yesterday.
I agree with you 100% we all deserve the right to our emotions and being bitter is something that happens with IF.
You have a lovely lovely friend, that is a perfect announcement.

Kim said...

I love your friend who sent you that email - how perfectly stated / handled. I wish there were more people like her around....but your right, they make this living hell bearable.

Rita said...

Your friend's email was simple and honest. I'm glad she was so sensitive and respectful of your feelings--I know that can be hard for someone who has never been through IF.

That's terrible about the way your Twitter friend was treated. Like you, I admire those who can go through IF without ever feeling any jealousy but let's face it, how many of us can say that's true about ourselves? Not many. And that's normal. Good for you for sticking up for your friend.

Jen said...

Katie, Thank you. From the bottom of my sometimes-bitter, often-broken heart. <3 Your friendship and understanding, and the many women like you, are why I a feel so blessed to have found this community.

Let it all out, ladies.

Whitney Anderson said...

I don't feel sorry for my emotions either. I just wrote about this topic as well. http://www.whitneyanderick.com/?p=2164

manymanymoons said...

This post is so true. I feel like the note your friend sent announcing her pregnancy should be sent as a template to all of our friends and family should they need to give us this news. :)

My So-Called (TTC) Life said...

I just got chills reading your friend's note to you. What a sweet, considerate friend. She's a keeper. Only those who are compassionate can truly understand how deeply a birth announcement can hurt those of us TTC. And those who are truly our friends understand that sometimes we need to be angry and bitter and just plain jealous no matter how awful we feel about it later. You said it perfectly when you said it's not that we don't love these babies in our lives--it's simply that they're constant reminders of the the one thing we so desperately want ... but can't have ... yet.

Christa said...

I agree - good days and bad days are totally allowed.

What a good friend to for making the announcement as easy on you as she knew how. I wish I had friends like that.

The Steffens said...

I have SUCH SUCH a hard time with pregnancy announcements. There are still people I can't bring myself to speak to because they got pregnant and had kids easily. They didn't do anything mean or malicious, one didn't even have a clue about our struggles, but it still hurts.

Glass Case of Emotion said...

We can't feel sorry for our emotions. Our behaviors are controllable- but our feelings are not. The sooner we accept our feelings as part of the process of IF, the sooner we can move on. I am sorry your friend had to endure it- we feel bad enough.

I think it's great you posted your friend's announcement- there definitely are ways to do it and not to do it.

Hugs!

Adele said...

We all feel those things, and I think they do wax and wane depending on the person and the situation.

That's a lovely announcement. If only everyone were so aware.

serenity said...

It's awful that your friend was attacked for that, when she was looking for support. Just easy for people to judge when they don't understand. I wish there was a LOT less of it in our world, and a little more of giving people the benefit of the doubt.

xoxo

AL said...

I totally missed the drama yesterday and saw it this morning. Wow. It hurts me that another IFer would kick someone so much when they're down. It's not right. Thank you for standing up for our friend, I wish I could have been there too.

Such a great friend you have to send you such a sweet email announcement. Perfect.

Michelle said...

Well said. By now, many of us have probably weeded out our 'true' friends and have support like this around us. When we bitch, cry, or complain...they don't tell us to get over it. They just listen and empathize. I'm glad that you have a friendship like that in your life. We all need more friends like this! :)

myinfertilitywoes said...

I'm glad you were able to feel that way for your friend. Not sure if it affected you, but I kinda got annoyed at her saying this would be the year for you and your husband too. I actually really don't like it when people say that. It's a nice thing to say that has no meaning and can actually be hurtful. For 2 years in a row now, I've heard 'this will be the year' and it can really aggravate me. Sorry - don't mean to be negative but I couldn't help but notice that one comment that probably would have irked me :) Glad you're doing ok with it though! :)

Kelly said...

Please give your friend a huge hug. And, you're right...we all need to realize that we shouldn't feel badly about our emotions.

Now you just have to remember that, too.

someday-soon said...

You're right, it's normal and no one should judge others for feeling the way they do. Hope your friend is doing better today!

Browniris said...

I'm so glad that the recent announcement wasn't as hard for you. That was so nice of your friend to be so considerate.

CW said...

It's the only way to tell an infertile friend you are pregnant. She sounds like a wonderful friend. I am struggling with a friends pregnancy as she has fallen very much off the previous pedastal she was on. And as for the twitter girl. Bah. What a bitch.

Trisha said...

I wish all people would have a response like your friend.

rebecca said...

I couldn't agree more...I'd say it's almost impossible to not have those feelings when truly struggling with IF and I'm sorry to hear that someone attacked your friend. It is difficult to admit, but as you said so vital to be honest about how we feel.
Your friend who sent you the announcement sounds amazing, it truly is those types of people that make this journey better.

amiracle4us said...

Cheers to the understanding friend!!! I wish more in our lives were like that..
I am glad to see you writing about your feelings and knowing you can't control them and that even the anger and bitterness is okay to feel...xoxo and remember-YOU are sooooo strong!

Another Dreamer said...

Great post. Sorry for your friend on Twitter, that had to be hard to get such a reply.

Your friend's announcement is very kind, I'm glad that there are people like that out there.

nobabyruth said...

It's hard to believe that people feel the need to butt in and tell someone else his/her emotions are somehow WRONG. I just don't get it.

Your friend is really sweet and respectful and sympathetic. What a wonderful pregnancy announcement.

Dawn said...

I totally agree that you should never feel guilty about your emotions. I still get jealous sometimes. I am so happy to hear about people like your friend that get where your coming from.

marriage20 said...

Thank you for the reminder that we all have to go through the process of feeling our feelings and reaching out for support when we need it, and thank you for sharing that email from your lovely friend. I'm so glad I found your blog!

*Jelly Baby* said...

I am going through these emotions right now, as my brother's girlfriend is pregnant. I have been dealing with conflicting emotions since I found out, and the thought that was the most difficult to digest was that it's not me who's going to make my parents grandparents.

The reason I think you weren't bitter and jealous when that friend announced her pregnancy is that she was sensitive to you. As selfish as that sounds, I want people to break their pregnancies to me in that exact manner, because that's what I did when I got pregnant (had two MCs).

I haven't been in this community long, but it's helped me cope with some of the emotions I go through. Your blog is especially helpful. So, thank you Katie.

Louise said...

I've been reading for a while...I just wanted to wish you well... and the best of luck with 2011! I hope your dreams and wishes come true...

from

Louise

www.heavensenthem.blogspot.com

Kakunaa said...

Poignant post. I think it is incredibly easy to be judgemental - and increasingly difficult to not be. It takes a good person to recognize that we all handle things differently, and that the emotions we feel are valid, and part of the process we all go through. Your friend did a great job of letting you know, and if we had more of those people in each of our lives, the world would be so much better. The mean commenter could learn a lesson from your friend.

heartincharge said...

wow. two worlds in one post. People who get it and people who don't get it.

Kelly said...

perhaps I guess I should defend myself since this blog is about me for the most part.

I did not call your friend a bitch. That is where you are jumping the gun. I said that I did not condone making fun of a child's name or ripping up someone else's birth announcement. I am sorry if I find that incredibly immature and wrong. I am a fellow IFer, and I've been TTC for a LONG time. So for all those who say that I don't know what Infertility is, couldn't be further from the truth. I suggested to Jen to channel her feelings in a more productive way. Time and time again I have reached out to her on Twitter only to be ignored. I am not the only one who really taken aback by her behavior that day. I have DM from numerous people thanking me for saying something. I also have some DM from people who feel ever since they got pregnant same person has stopped tweeting with them. While I understand, because I AM IN THE SAME boat, I will not EVER compromise my beliefs as a human being. Being kind to children, is a priority in my life, whether they are my own or someone else's.

To correct your post. I did not call her a bitch. I said that infertility does not give us the excuse to ACT like a bitch. Totally two different things.

In order to be truly happy with one's life we must gain acceptance. Perhaps you aren't there yet, perhaps she isn't there yet, but a word of advice, hatred and negativity will keep you further from getting there.

There's no reason to take it out on a child. Absolutely no reason at all.

Someday when you have children, and someone does to you what was done to this innocent couple who just so happened to be able to conceive easily, you will feel hurt and you will wonder how anyone could have such contempt for the life of your child.

Crossed Fingers said...

It sounds like you've got a friend with a good heart and a good head. I hope she's right that this is "your year" - my fingers have been crossed for you as well.

Lu said...

I love the way your friend announced her pregnancy. I think our friends don't realize how much honesty counts. Just in the last two months, I have experienced the most thoughtful pregnancy announcements from friends (after 10 years of getting ones that aren't so idea). Very grateful for that.

mylifeofmisconceptions said...

I love this post! I struggled so much when my SIL announced her pregnancy (only 6 months after marrying my brother) and very few people understood why it was such a struggle for me. It's so hard when people don't get it. What a great friend you have to send you such a thoughtful pregnancy announcement; I wish more people were like that.