This week I chatted (separately) with two old friends.
The first I met for dinner on Monday evening. We’ve known each other since college – or more accurately since I was in college, she was still in school. She has known for the past few years that we’ve been trying for a baby and never mentioned it since I told her. I (it turns out wrongly) made the assumption that she wasn’t comfortable talking about it. In the meantime, she became pregnant and had a wonderful daughter who is now over a year and a half old and the light of her life. As my friend became more excited about her pregnancy, we were learning the indignities involved with infertility, she became a mother around the time when we learnt that IVF/ICSI was our only chance of achieving a pregnancy, and her daughter’s first birthday was just after our last failed cycle – just before we were gently told that we had reached the end of the road. Throughout this time she, understandably, became consumed by her daughter and could talk of nothing else. And I became slower and slower to tell her what was happening us. I kept thinking that the timing was wrong, and that I couldn’t tell her what was going on with me given what was going on in her life. I reasoned that she wasn’t comfortable in talking about it if she didn’t ask me. At the same time she was wondering what was happening and thought if I didn’t mention it, I wasn’t comfortable in talking to her about it. We could have both saved each other some hurt if we’d spoken up.
Last night I was chatting on the phone with another friend. We’ve known each other since the first day we started national school, shared digs in first-year in college and then shared a flat together for the next two years of college. I’ve moved around a fair bit since, so we don’t see each other very often at times, but we’ve always stayed in contact – over the years we’ve chatted about nothing, calmed each other down when we were buying houses, getting married, had work crises and the other things life can throw at you. She also knew we were trying for a baby and was one of the first people I told when we were referred to the fertility clinic. I told her about the various injections, the ICSI, the disappointments and the heartache of learning that there was no point in keeping going. At the same time I’ve shared in her delight and panic when she was pregnant, listened to her describe her son’s birth and celebrated the milestone’s he’s reached since. She, and her family, called up to me a few weeks ago when they were on holidays nearby. When we went out for lunch I tried to create as many chances as I could for her to tell me she was pregnant – short of asking her was she pregnant or had she put on an awful lot of weight I couldn’t have given her more opportunity. I knew it was very unlikely that she had put on that much weight in a short enough time, so was fairly hurt when she didn’t say anything. I was even more hurt when she did tell me last night. While we were chatting on the phone, finishing up our conversation she said ‘oh yeah, bit of news, [her son] is going to have a brother or sister’. While I’m delighted at her news, it couldn’t but touch a nerve. And she told me like it was a thing of nothing. And that hurt.