Bull in a Bottle Shop

I'm in a pickle, and I don't know what to do. First, as backstory for those of you who don't know me, I am expecting. I'm gestating, pregnant, a large grub wallowing and unable to feed herself who depends on the drones to bring her nectar... oh, wait, I'm off-track. Anyway, that's how I feel, because I am NOT pretty, shiny, happy pregnant. I may be glowing, but that's because I just threw up ten minutes ago, guaranteed. Nonetheless, this is a very wanted and loved baby on the way. The doctor thinks it is a girl, but I am skeptical and want to see for myself; so my Maybe-Girl is supposed to make her debut, in our family of boys, sometime in April. Here is my pickle: A few days ago, a very dear childhood friend phoned. She is the kind of friend you have for life, who you don't have to talk to often to treasure and love, and are always glad to hear from. It was August when I last saw her- at that time, I did not know I was pregnant. She called because she was on her way to see a fertility specialist, and she needed some support from an old friend who understood. She and her husband have been trying to conceive, with no success, and are looking at their options. The call was about her and what was happening in her heart and with her pain, and I did not feel it was the time to say "Oh, and guess what?..." So I didn't tell her that I was expecting again. Another sidetrack: When we were trying for our first child, it took a while and there were months of disappointment- I still remember how much it hurt when another friend, who really didn't care so much, found out she was pregnant. The pain was palpable- I remember. SO, now she is calling me fairly often, telling me about what is going on, the tests they are running, and all of that. I have been doing a lot of listening and trying to be supportive and positive. And there is a big elephant in the middle of my room. What do I do? Obviously I have let it go too long, and I didn't intentionally keep my pregnancy a secret, it was just that when she first called, the topic was sooooo not about me; I didn't want to cause her any extra pain. Now, I am afraid that I will do that anyway. Is there a good way out? Is there a way to be honest, but tactful and sensitive to what she is going through? I don't want to make her feel weird, or anything else I can't imagine...Have I totally blown it, but with the best of intentions? This is unfamiliar territory for me- tact is not my strong suit, but I really love this person. Help!


Anonymous JKS said...

I remember a Miss Manners (or similar) answer to this type of question. She said that if you can't do it in person (where you can see each other's faces, hug, etc.), the next best thing is NOT the phone--it is a letter.
The letter allows you to explain everything in your heart....about wanting to be there for her and support her, but now you don't know how to tell her that you are pregnant because you know the pain it will cause. Tell her its ok if she's upset. Tell her you will keep talking with her on the phone, even though it might be awkward at first, because you want to stay in touch because you need her friendship.

1/05/2006 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Tigersue said...

I agree with the above, but follow up with a phone call soon after you expect her to get that letter. Remind her you know what it feels to have that positive test when you want one so badly. I have been there myself, and some how I'm blessed to have 4 children, not just the 2 I had for years.
You can continue to be that support, and share yourself, we all carry our different sorts of pain and heartaches, it isn't all wrapped up in marriage and motherhood, or whether or not we are single, or even have money running out of ears to the point we don't know what to do with it.
We are here to help each other, no matter what the individual circumstances are.

1/05/2006 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Krista said...

Okay, so I'm not Miss Manners, but...

If you really are such good friends and talk all the time on the phone I don't see why a humble apology on the phone wouldn't be okay.

Tell her you haven't been entirely open about what is going on your life. Tell her, like you did us, about how hard it was for you when you were first trying to conceive. Drop the bomb. Then explain why you haven't said anything before. Tell her how much you love and value her as a friend and explain how, though you know it was misguided, you just didn't want to cause her any pain (pain that you assume she would feel based on your own previous experiences).

The letter idea is good-but she might think it is weird if you talk so much. And it might make the whole thing a bigger deal than it needs to be. It might be scarier for YOU to 'let the cat out of the bag' on the phone but if that is your main form of communication it might be less weird and not make her feel like she really is someone you need to walk on eggshells around because of her "condition."

Personally I value frank and upfront honesty about mistakes dealt with in forthright manner. If someone disclosed something like that to me in person I would be assured that they were my real friend and I would feel closer to them.

Just my two cents. Hope it works out.

1/05/2006 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

I think that Krista's logic is best.
If you are the kind of friends you say you are even though the elephant may be hard to swalloow she should understand. You weren't trying to hide the fact you are expecting, but that the time never seemed right to tell her. Like you said it was about her, not you.
You're FRIENDS right!!! Tell her before its too late and you have to mail an announcemnet along with the explainaiotn letter.!!

1/05/2006 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went though infertility for 7 years. Other people get pregnant even when you're not. It's part of life. If I had a friend who betrayed me and let me think I could confide in them and they didn't give me the respect of confiding their situation back to me, I would no longer consider them a true friend.

1/05/2006 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

Betrayed? Is that what I have done? It;s not what I intended...

I just had not talked to her in five months, and when she called, she has such a specific thing to tell me, it didn't feel like the time to share my news with her... Now, I just want to make it better, and I hate complicated situations- I value bluntness, openess and upfront communication, which is why I am stymied that I find myself where I am.

1/05/2006 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

Betrayal is a little harsh.
Its not like this has gone on for months and months. Right?

1/05/2006 05:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

Just send her the link to this post.

Haha. No I agree with Krista. You're only assuming she'll be upset based on how you felt, but remember you said your pregnant friend seemed uncaring about your situation, and you obviously are not uncaring about hers.

1/05/2006 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

Just a few days ago is when she called... it has not gone on for months, and I intend to resolve it soon. Hence the post.

1/05/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

The reason the advice columnist suggested a letter is if you are dropping a huge bomb that might shock someone you love in person is usually best. But speaking over the phone can often mean you don't know what the other person is thinking or you don't end up saying everything you intend.
However, if we are talking about only a few days here that you have been listening to her and supporting her, it is NOT as big of a deal as I originally thought.
I would call her ASAP and say, "Is this a good time to talk? I really need to talk about something." Say this before you say anything at all. So she knows this conversation isn't about her telling you about the latest in her life.
I have several college friends that I only speak to once a year and still consider them close friends.
Anyway, she'll say yes, I can talk. You say "I have to tell you something that I didn't mention when you first called this week, and I don't want it to be awkward." Then spit it out already!
Then you say you know it might be hard and you love her, etc. Then express your support. Then ask her about her job or her family, or mention what you did this weekend. Get off the subject. If she knows that talking to you doesn't mean endless hearing about your pregnancy, it will make her more comfortable.
Then, make sure you call her again soon to keep up the friendship.
That's what I would do.

1/05/2006 08:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Sue M said...

Tracy, this is not a betrayal. This is you being a little cautious because you don't want to hurt a friend. I don't think she will be upset with you in the least. Most people wait a while to tell friends. The issue isn't the timing of your telling her - the issue is her pain, isn't it?

I went through the same thing with my best friend. We were both having fertility problems. We empathized with each other after mom focused RS lessons, mothers days, and over all kinds of feelings.

After a couple of years, I got pregnant. It was so hard to tell her. I recommend in person. We both cried - both shedding tears of true happiness and celebration for me, and tears of pain that it wasn't yet her turn.

Sadly, I miscarried that baby, and she was there for me. A month later she got pregnant and a few months after that, it was her turn to tell me. Again, we both shed tears of both joy and pain. I was so happy for her, so joyful for her, but it was painful. I tried my best to be a good friend during her pregnancy - throwing a baby shower for her, listening to her pregnancy stories and complaints, etc.

Still it was painful sometimes and occasionally I had to withdraw and she understood that. She continued to call me, tell me about her life, and I did the same, and if occasionally I was short with her on the phone or got in a funk, she overlooked it, which I appreciated alot.

And I think if you can do the same for your friend - be understanding, continue to be her friend and share yourself with her - and understand not just that she will be upset sometimes, but that she might not be able to be happy for you all the time, then things will be great.

Sorry, that was awfully long.

1/05/2006 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

Boy, I have no clue here. I mean, if you'd brought it up early, you could have wounded her then, as well.

But yeah, Krista sounds good to me.

1/05/2006 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger Bek said...

I have secondary infertility. Our second is adopted. Before we decided to adopt, there was period of time when we thought we could still get pregnant. My best friends each had TWO kids during that time. It was hard to see how easy it was for some to do what we were struggling with, but it didn't make me less happy for them. Sure, there were times when it was hard for me to hear, but that was all about me--not them. There were several times that I didn't go to baby showers, but that about me having my emotional plate full.

Tell her, explain that you felt like in your initial conversation that the focus should be on her. Let her know you have empathy for her and wanted to share your news too. Then, just be yourself. She is your friend after all. We can still be happy for others joy, even when we wish we could have the same thing.

Good Luck!

1/05/2006 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger Ana said...

Tracy, as someone who has never been pregnant and probably never will be, it has meant a great deal to me when dear friends have allowed me to share (appropriately) in their pregnancy and childbirth experiences. My dear friend invited me as the first person besides her husband to see her new baby in 1997, which was the nadir of my infertility journey. My sister invited me to be there for my nephew's birth in 2003, a time when (after adopting two awesome sons) I had healed enough to appreciate the miracle even though it was not my own. Your friend may not end up in my place. But regardless, openness between friends is so valuable. I think it doesn't matter so much how you do it. Just apologize. Let her know you didn't intend to exclude her, but you didn't want to hurt her. Let her in as much as you can. You'll do fine. She's very lucky to have a friend as sensitive and caring as you.

1/06/2006 12:26:00 AM  
Blogger Mo Mommy said...

A very wise woman once gave me advice on this very subject. She said that while she had pain because she was unable to have children, it wasn't caused by me. But the pain she felt at being excluded was far worse, and was caused by me.
People react to things differently, so there's no telling how it will be. She will surely understand your hesitance, and will likely be thankful that you care so deeply for her feelings that you didn't want to mention your pregnancy in her time of trial. Best to talk about it now than to let it build.

1/06/2006 01:32:00 AM  
Blogger lchan said...

If it's only a been a few days, I really don't think you have anything to worry about.

And, if it had been longer, I think she would still understand. I think she would completely get why you didn't want to jump in with your happy news.

1/06/2006 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Sorry, but I totally disagree with the letter idea. You should tell her, and you should do it right away. Ok, well, maybe not right this second, but the next time she calls, she needs to know. Say something upfront, like, "Hey, friend 'o mine, there's something you need to know. I'm pregnant." You can choose your own witty wording, but she needs to know.

We've battled the infertility issue for 3 years now, and I have often felt like an idiot when I have unloaded on somebody, only to have them tell me much, much later that they were pregnant and didn't feel comfortable telling me. Suddenly I'm all uncomfortable, and everybody feels weird, and then I feel like I am being excluded in order to spare my feelings, which doesn't help at all.

I much rather preferred my friend who struggled too, then told me immediately when she was pregnant, and I was able to rejoice with her and laugh with her and commiserate with her about the puke fest, etc, all along the way. I'm even helping throw her a shower next week. I'm not doing it to prove a point about my own pain and frustrations, or even to be a good sport. I'm doing it because she is my friend, and something really good is happening to her, and we all get to eat fattening food and laugh together--hooray! And plus, telling somebody you are pregnant is a NORMAL thing to do, and it's nice to be included in normal things when your own life feels nothing but.

So if she is anywhere close to being a normal person, she will want to know. She might not choose to confide in you anymore about her infertility issues (sorry, but there's nothing like somebody who has really been there), but hopefully you could respect that about her, and give her any space she might need for a little while.

Good luck!

1/06/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

I only mentioned the letter when I thought it had been a long period of time that someone had been intentionally hiding a pregnancy and then couldn't just casually bring it up.
Once the time frame became clear, we are talking about a few days here! Call her up and tell her. It has to be done. You aren't the first person to have to tell someone infertile that you've gotten pregnant.

1/06/2006 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger FrogLegs said...

I know this is an older post, but I was stumbling around. As being someone who has been trying so hard to have a baby, and my dearest and most bestest pal (known since we were 6, and we're 28/29) just having one- this hits home, hard. Plus I found out a week ago, or so, that my sister is expecting- and I wasn't informed, known since around halloween, due early May.

Mary & I confide everything, I was so happy for her while talking with her while she was in labor, and after he was born- but after hanging up cried, cried, and cried some more- and we email back and forth, and call at least once a week. She knows I am happy for her- but it still hurts, and she knows it.

My sister thing, I know they were trying to "protect" me, and they've listen, from 1800 miles away, to everything that's going on. But being left out hurt so much worse than the "I'm pregnant" conversation they could have told me. But I am trying to understand teh protection thing. We've been trying for a year and a half- and all my siblings have gotten pregnant and/or gotten pregnant.

Talk to her... she'll be happy for you, I know you aren't trying to hurt her, but it will hurt so much worse finding out so close to baby being here. I wish you the best with this. And I wish her a successful time with the fertility doc's.

1/15/2006 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...


All is well. My beloved friend and I had a long talk, and I told her my news along with the reason why I hesitated to tell her earlier. She was happy for me, and appreciated that I was trying, however clumsily, to be considerate of her feelings. She also updated me on what is happening with her fertility treatment, and that the prognoses is pretty posistive.

Thanks everyone for your input. All is well here.

1/23/2006 02:33:00 AM  

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