Thoughtful Thursday: BFF

July 23, 2009

Thoughtful ThursdayFollowing up, sort of, on last week’s Thoughtful Thursday about the limits of the infertility sisterhood. That Thoughtful Thursday topic set an all-time record for consensus — everyone backed my decision not to befriend someone that I find unpleasant just because she happens to be (presumably) infertile, and most people said that in a similar situation they would also back off.

The day before that Thoughtful Thursday, I happened to hang out with Lori (Weebles Wobblog Wednesday?). She asked for a preview of the Thoughtful Thursday topic, and it led to a discussion of purposely befriending people, including strangers, just because they are in the same family-building boat (infertile, pregnant with twins conceived through treatments, adoptive parent…).

Meanwhile, while I was at the beach with Lori and her family, my husband was at the dentist. The hygienist is pregnant and due around the same time as I am, and she was extremely excited to talk to my husband. The next day at my own dentist appointment, the pregnant hygienist was off duty. The dentist, let’s call him Dr. Hipster (who is a bit younger than I am, has funkier glasses, and I’m sure has more exclusive taste in music) said about her, “She’s always enthusiastic, but she was off the charts yesterday. You and she are totally going to be BFFs.”

After getting over the shock of hearing a dentist use the phrase “BFF,” I thought about it. Why would I become friends with someone just because we’re pregnant at the same time? She’s probably not even infertile.

Then, this week, I attended my first birthing class. There was another woman there who was pregnant with twins, due just a few days before I am. My first thought? “New BFF!” As I talked to her more, my second thought? “Never mind. I can do better.” (I’m a tough friendship sell, clearly.)

Then I thought about my actual friends. Let’s review my closest real-life friends.

  • Ernie, best friend from high school: Gay and therefore situationally infertile; brother is biologically infertile; mother is clueless
  • Other best friend from high school: For over a decade has declared her intention to be childless by choice
  • Best friend from college: Female factor infertility, now parenting following IUI
  • Best friend from graduate school: Advanced maternal age, now parenting following IUI
  • Another close friend from graduate school: Not technically infertile, but TTC #2 when I was a year into TTC; had a miscarriage, then got pregnant again and for a brief time we were pregnant simultaneously; though not infertile, totally gets it
  • A third close friend from graduate school: Unexplained infertility, now parenting following low-level interventions (after ~5 years of trying without intervention)

Are you sensing a pattern? Notably, all but the latter were my friends long before TTC came into the picture. The latter had already started trying when we met, but we didn’t really talk about TTC until years later when I started having trouble.

No, I’m not so exclusionary (or single-minded) as to choose friends on the basis of infertility. But… there are definitely people who’ve been crossed off the list because of a combination of fertility and insensitivity.

As for making new friends, I’ve certainly been tempted before to create a friendship on the basis of shared infertility. That friendship ultimately never went anywhere because it didn’t feel right to pursue it when treatments had worked for me but not for her — we stopped being a match in our family-building paths.

When I start attending meetings of the local multiples club, will I attempt to sort the infertile wheat from the fertile chaff? Will I arrange playdates only with kids who were conceived in a lab instead of a bed?

Uh, maybe.

Have you found yourself trying to befriend people on the basis of shared family-building paths? If so, how has it gone?

31 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: BFF”

  1. MEG. Says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and sharing the love! =) Also, thanks for the needle tips. I know I’ll ultimately get through it….but I’m not promising it’ll happen without tears and hyperventilation.

    Congratulations on your twin pregnancy! You’re over half way there, and doing great. What a joy.

    Also, I’m a little jealous that you have so many IF-inclined friends. =) I don’t have a single (or married) friend who has had trouble TTC. My best friend, who just gave birth to her first in June, got pregnant literally on her first try (after being on BCPs for almost 10 years). Ah well.

    Happy ICLW!

  2. Kristin Says:

    I have tried to befriend people based on shared family building paths or even because of our kids being similar ages and it never really went anywhere.


  3. Yep. I searched for moms of multiples when we were having twins, and yes – at the Marvelous Multiples class I looked around wondering who had gone to my fertility clinic. But – then again – I think there’s something special about multiples. Maybe I wouldn’t have done this if I was a regular ole’ pregnant woman :)

    Although – I do have several friendships that have, um, “fizzled.” Those people have children and I do wonder whether those relationships would pick back up again if we had living children one day, too (whether by my doing or theirs). Interesting.

  4. Chelle Says:

    For me, I have only known one couple IRL that is struggling with infertility.

    My friends are all of you wonderful internets. It still applies, though. I’ll comment on a blog and later find out that there really isn’t a connection there even though we may share a similar path.

  5. Cat Says:

    Um, yes and no. I’ve only known two people IRL to have used IVF and while I can talk easily to both of them, I wouldn’t describe either as much more than an acquaintance. I have reached out to a couple people that I’ve found out are IF by accident, though they haven’t become great friends, or anything. It was more me either offering my experiences as they’re getting started or just dropping a note to say they’re not alone and someone out there gets it.

    The only definitive “yes” to your question is someone I met through a fertility forum. There was a thread about RE’s in IL that she had responded to and it happened to be one of the REs we were considering (and ultimately chose). We emailed back and forth about the clinic and eventually learned that we lived less than 2 miles from each other in the same town. Our diagnoses were different but we were both doing IVF. We’re close in terms of knowing all the details of each other’s IVF cycles and pregnancies, but we don’t know all that much else about each other. Still, we’ve had many similarities in how things have turned out for each of us and I’ve found it to be kind of comforting.

  6. Jennifer Says:

    I am not sure if I would befriend someone just b/c we have something in common if they were that unpleasant, but I would still let her know I was there for her if she needed anything but communicate by email… That is just me.

  7. kat Says:

    I was sort of “set up” by a mutual friend with a woman who had endured incredible loss and infertility. We both knew each other’s stories through our friend, and had seen each other in passing, but never really talked. It was at our friend’s daughter’s birthday party that we acknowledged our mutual fertility struggles and were instant friends.

    She and I cycled at the same time (she was doing IUIs) and we even went to the lab to have our betas drawn then out to lunch. We caught the IF nurse a little off guard when she called me on my cell to tell me the results and I said “oh by the way L.B. is here right next to me, do you have her results too?” It has been extremely comforting…although she is now pregnant from aformentioned cycle…we would have been just a couple days apart on due dates…and she may be having a scheduled c-section on my birthday…I should be upset…but I’m so thrilled for her. Although I have to say that if her history was any different, any “easier” I would probably be pulling away from her. That said, we are having lunch tomorrow, along with our mutual frind.

  8. strongblonde Says:

    i really like the friendships to be organic. i have been most surprised with one of my most recent friends: a new gal i work with who was pregnant with her third child when we met. i was in the middle of my first failed ivf and somehow just kind of blurted it out to her. i’m generally very private about that stuff. maybe because she’s a NP and her husband’s and OB? who knows. but they were so super supportive, i was shocked. later it turned out that she has had experience with IF before: her sister had to do IUI and IVF. So…i guess that puts her into the club by proxy?

    …where was i going with this? maybe that you want to be around people who have similar interests as you do…or else what do you have to talk about, right?


  9. I haven’t tried to befriend people with IF or who have adopted. They seem to enter my life. These new friends or old friendships rekindled are not super close but rather someone to talk to that understands what it is like. I have one infertile long time friend but we don’t talk about infertility.

  10. Ana Says:

    No I haven’t tried to befriend someone solely on the basis of shared family-building paths. Not that i’ve had much opportunity—it just doesn’t come up much in casual conversation, does it? In any case, my best friends have been supportive regardless of their fertility status (that is why they’re the bests) &for more support & info, and just knowing that someone had a shared journey, I went to the internets. That being said, pregnancy has brought ALL kinds of people out of the woodworks who want to offer congratulations, and to ask me personal questions & share their pregnancy/parenting stories—people who never gave me a glance before when I was just a “childless” now feel that I should be allowed to be part of their club. Part of me wishes i could just take it all in and enjoy the general good will that is directed my way, but the other part wonders why I deserve it now, and didn’t before. but that’s another topic….

  11. Erika Says:

    I think family building paths are a good place to find comonalities. But I don’t think it’s the only thing to base or seek out a friendship because of.

    And let’s be honest if a person I meet starts off by asking why I don’t have kids the relationship can go two ways. Either they don’t understand and that’s the end of the relationship or they do understand and we can go further as in steps towards actual friendship.

    I must say while few of my friends are infertile they all understand and support me in my daily battles.

    Well there’s my two sense, sorry to invade during ICLW good topic though!

  12. FET Accompli Says:

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I’m not sure that you can ever truly understand what someone is going through unless you have experienced a similar situation. So I do feel a special bond with others who have gone through through fertility treatments or young people who have survived the Big-C.

    When I read that you are having twins, I did feel an immediate sense of kinship.

    And — you got it!

    ICLW

  13. Rachel Says:

    For all that it may be hard to cozy-up to those happy, naive women who decided they wanted a baby and then voila! they had a bump 2-3 months later, I have found it incredibly helpful to have friends in my neighborhood with babies the same age. While I am quite open about our treatments and the fact that our fusspot exists only because of a lovely fertility clinic down South, I still have to deal with quite a few inconsiderate comments. But the benefits of knowing people who are going through the same sleep deprivation, who you can call and dash over to their house to borrow a membrane for your pump when your husband accidentally throws them all away – it really was worth it for me. So it may be worth gritting your teeth over some of the comments and trying to find a few friends to share the new parenting experience with, even if they are not going to be your life-long BFF.

  14. Shinejil Says:

    Coming at this from the opposite end, I find I have to exert more emotional effort to be excited for my friends irl who are effortlessly preggo, and that the gals in my birth class and prenatal yoga class, though very nice, are not going to be my friends unless I see some depth–and for many people, IF hell leads to personal depth. So I guess I’m tough to befriend. If you haven’t been through some of life’s shit, I’m not interested. I hate small talk (unless it’s about books or nature or something nerdy).

  15. ^WiseGuy^ Says:

    Have you found yourself trying to befriend people on the basis of shared family-building paths? If so, how has it gone?

    NO NO NO

    I can never claim that…I have friends of freinds who had troubles with TTC, but I never had any direct contact with them…none of my friends are reporting trouble on that front.

    And none of my acquaintances are in the same boat as me. That’s why I get to hear “Your life is so cool”, rather than getting invites to birthday parties.

    One of my close friends is now active TTC#2, a thing that has come about with a recent diagnosis of PCOS. But we were friends long before she walked the TTC path….almost 16+ years.

    I am deeply aware of one of my refound-through-social-networking schoolmates’s childless status, but I have never quizzed her on the kids department…she told me zero, and I replied, me too. In all possibility, I won’t rekindle any intimacy on the basis of what is going on with her TTC efforts or if she is TTC at all.

    One of my DH’s cousins is also childless…but we are not in touch at all!

  16. Jules Says:

    I’m going to say not really. I just recently joined our local multiples club and while a few of them asked and were very open about how their twins were conceived, that necessarily wasn’t going to sell me on a friendship. It may open the door, but that alone wouldn’t be enough: do they share other interests of mine / compatible personalities / etc……..

    By chance one good friend dealt with recurrent m/c and two others have claimed childless by choice. I like having a close friend who had troubles so we both have a place to vent but that’s just a small part of our relationship.

  17. Jules Says:

    (ok well to add since that read funny – not saying I’m glad my friend had troubles, just nice to have the IRL connection – hope that makes sense)

  18. Queenie Says:

    I think it’s more of a litmus test for understanding. Someimtes it’s just nice to talk to people who get it without having to explain. I’ve found that most of my closest friendships tend to be with people who are close to whatever situation happens to be biggest in my life at any given time, and that some friendships tend to fade when the commonality does.

    Thanks for the promising leads on maternity clothes, btw. REALLY appreciate it!

  19. Fran Says:

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

    Getting to your questions, yes, I tried to become more friendly with a couple who I know is going through infertility…i let them know I was going through the same thing and that if she ever wanted to talk I was there. Well, she never picked up the offer. On another side, after my ectopic lat year I talked to a colleague (male) and he immediately said he know my feelings, that him and the wife were going through IVF too. Since then I know I can pick up the phone and have a little rant…he’s always been there for me and sometime in work is so difficult. Thank you for you post again, I hope you have you as a guest real soon! Fran

  20. Michelle Says:

    Yes. Actually my sister told me to meet a girl she works with because she is in the same situation as I am. I was hesitant because I felt I was being fixed up on a “blind date” of sorts. It kind of was creepy.

    I did meet her for lunch and she was a very nice girl. We did have a lot of things in common but she is in a totally different place mentally then I am. she is in a dark dark place. I have those days but I do not live in the dark and she REALLY does! I felt bad because I think she really wanted and needed to be friends but I found myself backing off because I really did not want to go there.

  21. S Says:

    I don’t know that I would seek out friendship with someone simply because she was also struggling with infertility. I am very fortunate to have a few friends and a sister who “get it” that I can talk freely with about IF.

    One friend has PCOS and was given a 1% chance of conceiving on her own (they had been approved to adopt from China when she found out she was pregnant); one struggled with secondary IF for nearly five years (ironically, after her first two unplanned children); and one is a fertile herself, but has a close friend/sister-in-law who has done IVF multiple times and had a late-term loss.

    My sister has PCOS and took over two years to conceive; she was on the verge of starting IUIs when she found out she was PG.

    I will also say that the majority of my “fertile” friends have been absolutely great, too. So I have no lack of support and no real need to seek out someone to befriend simply because she is also struggling with IF.

  22. chrissy Says:

    i think I see myself wanting to gravitate more to adoptive parents now, and when ttc would have loved more friends that are in the same boat.

  23. BB Says:

    Thanks for comments and the support. Answering your question, I think I tend to empathize with gals I know who have had fertility issues, though its not necessary that our wavelengths have matched and we have become BFF! From all the friends I have had from over a decade or two ago… I seem to be the first one TTC… will be interesting to see how we interact when they start their journey… some of my friends have PCOS and I would imagine that they might end up with some IF issues.

  24. Lifeslurper Says:

    Perhaps after the struggles of infertility it is only natural to make that connection via a shared connection? That said, there have been some infertiles I have met that I feel no bond with at all. So maybe infertility – followed by (hopefully) eventual fertility – just mirrors the wider world…there’s a potential to make great new friends (or not) in many sections of the community!

    Best wishes for your pregnancy! Wow! That is great news!

    *ICLW*

  25. isothegoldenegg Says:

    Hmmm, in way I’m kind of lucky with certain friends. My BFF (since we were 14) had her son last year via donor egg, and another close friend (from college) had her daughter at 39 after 2 rounds of IVF.

    On the other hand, I truly treasure the friends I’ve met (like you) through the ALI blogosphere and internet forums. I also befriended another older SMC wannabe over blood draws at my clinic. And next week I plan to attend my local SMC group’s monthly meeting for the first time. I’m wondering how I’ll feel about the ones who conceived easily.

  26. becomingwhole Says:

    I always find myself WANTING to have friends in the same boat as I am in, but it doesn’t necessarily work out that way. Well, it does sometimes, but not because I can orchestrate it.

    I am not the easiest to please with friendships, and often things that sometimes seem SO important to me at the outset (like similar family type), end up not mattering later if there is a connection or not.

  27. Kim Says:

    I had become very close with an online friend during her IVF only to be dumped once she got pregnant and my struggle got a little harder. I’m certain things will never be the same, and it will more than likely be because I insist it be that way.

    So, while I tried to up some friendships during our infertility struggles, my experience has been those friends that are my favorites remain my favorites throughout this journey, even when they can’t relate.

  28. jill Says:

    I’m very late for this TT but figured I’d chime in anyway. I think it’s totally normal to seek out others in similar situations. The more you have in common, the easier it is to strike up meaningful conversations in those early friendship times.

    I would definitely try to befriend someone who I knew was childless and infertile before anyone else. It would simply be easier for me to find things to talk about and sympathize.

  29. rosesdaughter Says:

    Sorry I’m late for TT this week, but I’ll still leave a comment!
    A few of my closest friends are friends because we were all trying to get pregnant at the same time. Some of us got pregnant within a few months, some took a year, I took a year, got pregnant, had a miscarriage, and got pregnant again, and one is still trying. I think she is getting to the point where she is thinking about doing something about it, I am determined to be there for her if she does.
    But other than that, I have not actively sought out women who have had miscarriages. It’s a very hard thing to talk about, so I never bring it up unless someone asks me directly.

  30. Fiddle1 Says:

    I’ve thought a lot about this post. I’m not in your shoes (not infertile), so I have no idea if I’m imagining how you might feel correctly or not. But I’m willing to bet that when you have those beautiful babies you’ll be wanting to befriend a wide variety of women who have children the exact same age. Maybe not singletons, but definitely mothers of multiples. I say this only b/c, well, for me anyway, it as SO MUCH HARDER than I thought. I think I was so caught up in the pregnancy, getting past the miscarriage, feeling more and more like I was actually going to have a healthy baby and getting ready for that baby, that I simply brushed all thoughts of what it was going to be like once she was here out of my head. I heard about the difficulties, the lack of sleep, etc. etc., but I somehow thought that I’d love her too too much to let all of that small stuff bother me. But when I struggled with severe baby blues, possible PPD, had a reflux baby that would not sleep, experienced the change of no longer working, well, it was overwhelming to say the least. And I kept looking around me wondering how anyone does it and if I would get through. I was SO FREAKING excited to meet a girl at a LLL meeting with a baby the same age struggling as well. I would never have been friends with her beforehand, but by God, I craved her friendship then. and we still get together once a week. So I say all that to say, hold on to the numbers of the folks in your childbirth classes. You never know if you might change your mind after you have the babies. Once they are here, the backgrounds (fertile vs. infertile) of other moms with kids the same age may disappear alltogether as you look for moral support.


  31. I’ve befriended no one IRL b/c of shared infertility, but like you, my friendships have become stronger w/ people who’ve had IF issues. Same goes for people who were pregnant at the same time as me and now people who have babies a few months older than mine — b/c I need all the advice I can get. Strangely enough, I have yet to make a new IRL friend b/c of infertility or pregnancy.

    I guess I’m too old to “make new friends,” anymore. At this point I’m just focusing on the “keep the old” part of the equation. Though, I have downgraded and upgraded a few people between “dear friend” and “acquaintance” b/c of how they responded when I came out of the IVF closet.


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