One of the hardest things? Keeping a true smile on your face whilst your friend tells you about a cute thing their baby did whilst cooing at their little joy ball with eyes that may as well have turned into emoji hearts.
It’s even harder reminding yourself to be happy for them rather than angry and jealous when a second or third pregnancy is announced. Just the fact that you feel those things when you so want to be happy for them lumps a good dollop of guilt on an already heavily charged emotional cocktail of woe.
Then you pick up on the fact, that they have picked up on the fact.. and you feel, that they feel sorry for you and even possibly a bit of guilt themselves that they have found easy what you are finding so hard… There’s just too many ‘they feel’, ‘you feel’, ‘you should feel’, ‘you can’t feel’… I totally get why most people avoid their friends with babies and young children through this time.
Around a year ago, already knowing we were likely to have trouble conceiving but still clinging firmly to the positive thought train, I got a text from my closest friend and the only one of our group still with me in the child-free zone. She had had a ‘happy accident’.
Not totally realising the strength of my emotions until that point, my eyes prickled with tears and my heart sank as I read the text which felt like someone had well and truly knocked the stuffing out of me. Funny thing was, we would joke that statistically as everyone else had found it easy it was one of us that would have baby issues. This made it all the more likely that I would be the statistic. And a rather hopeless appointment with a clinic later confirmed that yes, IVF was our only route and with that the positive thought train very much left the station.
But I digress, the point is… As easy as it would have been to start distancing myself from my friends with children, and I did give myself a month or so, keeping my distance to build up a bit of emotional resistance, I am so glad I pushed through the discomfort and kept all my relationships going.
It may have helped to have my stepson every other weekend, there was no avoiding that. The only way not to distance myself from a ‘family’ I already felt a bit of a lemon in was to build up a tolerance to tough emotions. Although, I must admit I removed myself on these weekends during the 10 day wait. Trying to keep emotions stable when you’re pumped full of hormones brings a whole new meaning to internal strength which I wasn’t willing to tackle.
But either way, getting through the urge to hide away from friends with babies I feel, was the right thing to do. At the end of the day my friends care about me and I care about them. I want to be part of their lives as they do the whole baby thing. I want to get to know their mini mes! I don’t want to end up all bitter, it only gets worse the more you cut yourself off. I would rather have a few painful pangs when I first see them and then feel the love and support of their friendship than sit stewing over why my life has this difficulty and others don’t.
I also won’t put my life on hold and shut myself away while I wait for a baby. I didn’t have a one before all this and I don’t have one now so… at present, I am not at a loss. For now, my friends with babies remind me that whilst we ‘try’ I still have the freedom to do what I want, to work and have time for myself and my relationship rather than having to juggle another life into the mix.
Once you put away the ‘it’s not fair’ flag you can always find something, however small, to give a little silver lining to the situation. In life you need to appreciate whatever stage you’re at not simply wish it away for the next. I hope at some point I’ll be writing about how I miss my sleep or how much easier it was sticking needles in my belly than breastfeeding with cracked nipples but hey, until then, time is precious whether you have a baby or you don’t. I already have many things I love and cherish and would not do without. I don’t want my time to be put on hold whilst we ‘go through a process’. It’s not always easy, sure, and I’m not about to pretend that I always succeed but the more you try the less you fail.
Besides, no one wants to hang out with a misery guts.