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I am Being Churlish 2, October 2006

Posted by babychaos in Grumpy Old Bag, Heavy Flow, Life and living, Miscarriage.
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I have a friend who was unable to have children. She and her husband tried everything but to no avail. It wasn’t that it was impossible just that there were problems with both of them that would make it very, very difficult. They tried IVF, it was hideous and harrowing and it failed.

They decided to accept their lot and come to terms with the fact they were unlikely have children. They bought a sports car.

A few weeks ago, she discovered she is pregnant. She’s having a hard time, feeling very sick and it’s bringing her down. It’s hard for her husband, too, because he’s an excellent chef and though it isn’t meant, or deliberate, he takes her rejection of his cuisine personally. That I can understand. What I can’t understand is that she seems so miserable about the whole thing. She says she’d bought the sports car and come to terms with never having children. I guess my difficulty stems from the fact I didn’t think she had.

You see before she got pregnant she wouldn’t let the rest of us mention anything to do with having babies or anything child-related. It hurt too much. It was all a bit “egg shells” when another mutual friend got pregnant, she wasn’t allowed to talk about it at all and if the conversation strayed in that direction we’d be firmly reminded that not everyone wants to dwell on the issue of kids and asked to change the subject. This didn’t alter when she bought the sports car… which would suggest it was hurting just as much.

I understand, I really do, on a superficial level, when people first meet me in parties of more than one they seem to feel compelled to enthuse to each other at length about ski-ing, I have a four inch scar in my knee and having surgery is practically a hobby so I do understand how boring it is to sit and listen to people banging on and on about how brilliant it is to do something you will never, ever be able to do – especially when you would actually rather like to.

I also caught a glimpse of how much day to day life must have hurt when a different friend came to stay with her new daughter shortly after my miscarriage. I know, dumb but neither of us thought about it. It was lovely to see her and her daughter is gorgeous but her visit left me very sad, too. I take the view that it’s my problem if I’m sad about not having something other friends have. So I believe I have no right to ask my friends who are pregnant or mothers to modify their behaviour on my account. Sure the pleasure of seeing them might be bittersweet, that’s allowed but however difficult it may be, it’s worth sharing the happiness or unhappiness of others – if only because if you don’t you haven’t really any right to ask them to share yours!

So the way I apply it to myself, I reckon I would have to be a special kind of shit not to be happy that something so fantastic has happened to my friend, or not want to meet her baby when it arrives, just because mine hasn’t made it…. Or perhaps I just have to be a special kind of shallow not to. It hadn’t occurred to me that I’d ever have children when I got pregnant but when it happened I was incredibly excited. So was Mr BC. We wanted that baby. A lot. We were two of the happiest people on earth for three whole days!

For all her “don’t mention it” strictures my friend was delighted for me when she found out I was pregnant – at the time, she still wasn’t and still thought she’d never have children – and she was incredibly kind and supportive when I had my miscarriage in a way that only someone who has suffered much through wanting children can be…..

So I guess what I can’t understand is why, now she finally IS pregnant, she isn’t happy, however sick she feels. I know it can be grim. A girl I worked with ended up in hospital with her morning sickness – she couldn’t eat anything and spent several days on a glucose drip – but despite everything she was still utterly over the moon that she was having a baby. This lady just isn’t. After all that not being allowed to talk about babies and tiptoeing round the fact she and her husband were unlikely to have one it’s like we’re now tiptoeing round the fact they can.

And half of me wants to shake her and tell her to stop being so bloody miserable, but the other half worries that it’s my fault.

She knows I lost our baby. She knows how upset I was at the time. She knows how much it upset her to hear others talk about babies and pregnancy and kids when she thought she wasn’t going to have access to that life. She knows how much it could upset me. Is she just trying to play it down? Is she being so grumpy about finally getting what she’s wanted and prayed for, for years because she has some variant of survivor’s guilt?

Is it that?

Does she think I’ll see her as smug, that I won’t be able to look beyond my hurt and see all the good things that are happening to her and be happy? Am I self centred and arrogant to even entertain that idea? Almost certainly. But my miscarriage may well have undermined her confidence. If you’re scared all the time, it’s difficult to be anything other than grumpy. Maybe she’s trying not to get emotionally involved because she knows how much harder it would be if she lost the baby then.

I can’t really do anything to help, all I can do is be around if she needs somebody to talk to but I feel a bit jealous frankly, that she’s got something I’d love to have, that she made all that fuss and that now it’s here, she doesn’t seem to want it or appreciate it. I am also guilt-ridden for thinking that way.

In short, today, I’m a bit of a cow!

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Comments»

1. Deanna - 3, October 2006

The pregnant/nonpregnant friendship is always very fraught. Several of my friendships never recovered from them having their babies when I lost mine. I think she might be playing it down–overemphasizing the toughness of it to you, because you are someone she can safely complain to. To everyone else, she has to keep up the “I’m so amazingly happy” mode to offset all those years of upset. I’m proud of you for managing to be around friends with kids all this time. You’re the right kind of friend.

2. babychaos - 4, October 2006

That sounds very plausible. In fact I think you’re probably spot on. Thank you so much for that, it makes me feel a lot better and a lot more adequate as a person! 😉 From what I hear she’s playing it down to quite a few of us. That said, if lots of people are expecting her to be over the moon when she feels, physically anyway, like death warmed up, I could understand how that might get her down, too. I think she believes they’ll hate each other, too because she doesn’t get on with her mum and the child is going to be the wrong star sign – I have a different religion and I think destiny is a little bit more fluid than that.
Finally thank you for that last sentence, which could quite possibly one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.
Cheers
BC

3. mrsmetaphor - 7, October 2006

BC
What an insightful person you are..and what a true friend. For you to even sit and consider what may be troubling her is a testimony to that.

Probably the best way to find out what’s going on is to ask…yes?
(May be best though til the morning sickness subsides)

thanks for putting this out there…
peace
mm

4. Mrs. Nicklebee - 16, October 2006

You’ve shown insight and grace in this situation, BC, both in your main post and your reply. I appreciate your candor. It’s helpful for those of us who have not experienced these things first hand to “hear” what you and your friend were/are going through so we don’t go trampling all over our friends’ feelings.

I’m sorry about your baby, (((Sweety))).

5. babychaos - 17, October 2006

Geez you guys (blushes pinkly) I am very touched by your comments. I dunno what to say… anything I do is all flannel… so um… Thank you.

Cheers

BC


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