Monday, July 21, 2008

another announcement? really?

I have this group of friends - incredible women, every last one of them - that I met online about 4 years ago. We all got to talking on a trying to conceive message board, and bonded so intensely that we took the conversations off board and on to Yahoo. I consider many of these women to be some of my closest friends, and have spent time with several of them face-to-face.

When the group started, there were about 20 of us. Some (like me) are 5 day a week chatters, others float in and out as their day/week/month allows. Some have grown away from the group, either thru life changes, thru disputes, or simply because friendships have a tendency to fade.

Most of the group has been successful in their TTC journeys, and several have even had 2 kids since we all met. There are only 3 of us that remain childfree (all for varying reasons). Most of the girls that have news (of the pregnancy variety) to share with the group, have been INCREDIBLY considerate of those of us that still go without, telling us privately, and before making the announcement to the group.

One of the girls, however, has not been so kind.

This one, she's moved away from the group (through no fault of hers, or any of the other girls). Life has simply taken her to other places. She's been blessed with a daughter, and like many parents of our generation, has set up a website to keep friends and family up to date on her pregnancy and her little girl's adventures. We all get emails when there is new info on the site, and many of us continue to follow her story this way.

Early last week, we all got an email from her. The distribution list had to have close to 100 email addresses on it. The subject of the email was "BIG UPDATE ON THE WEBSITE!", and the body included a link. You all know what it linked to, so I probably don't even have to say it - but, yes, she's pregnant again.

Now, let me first say that I honestly am happy for her & her growing family.... really.

But I haven't talked to this woman in at least a year (nor have any of the other girls in our group). She has no idea what is going on in my life, or in anybody else's. I'm not proud to say that not only did this email hit poorly with me, but I took it upon myself to tell her that. I recognize that it wasn't my best moment, but I don't think I was too far out of line, either.

I'm going to copy & paste the email exchange below. Please, take a moment to read it, and let me know what your take is.

Congrats on the upcoming arrival of #2. I hope the pregnancy goes smoothly,
and you & [your husband] can welcome in a healthy sibling for [your daughter].

I have to ask though, since I'm still working on #1 (not that you'd know that), and am still not having an easy time of it (not that you give a shit, clearly), would you mind removing me from your distribution list? I don't really want to be force fed other people's good news, especially when they're only interested in a drive-by friendship.


(By the way, if I sound bitter, it's because I am. Good for you that your life has changed in ways that have allowed you to forget the pain of TTC. I hope to get there myself someday, and can only hope that if something I do bothers someone I know that is still in the trenches, they'll have the good sense to tell me to knock it off, too.)

Again, I recognize that this is NOT by best moment. And truly, it's not that she's pregnant that bothers me. It's the arrogance that everyone on the email distribution is going to be just as excited as they are to hear the news. Here's her reply:

I am more than happy to remove you off all further updates. I am sorry that you are still struggling with ttc, though I have not and will never forget my struggles. I apologize for upsetting you.

My life has changed in many ways, including my growing family and changes at work, however I do not feel that I am a drive by friend. I have had a lot going on as well and do my best to remain in contact through emails and websites. I do care about what happens to all of you, but do not want to be punished for not "chatting" with you guys anymore. Honestly, I don't feel that is fair to equate that with not caring.

That being said, I will remove you from my list and will continue to keep you in my thoughts. I really hope that it all works out for you.

A nice reply, I know - and it made me feel even more shitty for being such a bitch in my first email. But, I still don't think she gets it. And that bothers me... So, I take it upon myself to reply to her:

In no way did I intend to "punish" you for not chatting. I get very much that life changes, and so do friendships. If emailing and websites allows you to feel in touch with people, then by all means, keep it up. I do the same with many of my friends.

But, let me ask you this. How exactly would you expect me to send out a mass mailing? "Guess what guys, I have to have another surgery!" or perhaps "Hey, Grumpy and I are separating! Could ya say a prayer for my sanity?" or maybe "We're trying ANOTHER med, and have no idea if it'll work, but it's worth a shot, right?"

My point is that good things are easy to share in that kind of format. Bad things... not so much. And when you're in the midst of some of those bad things, it's really REALLY hard to hear about someone else's good. Especially when you only ever hear about their good. And that good... it just happens to be the polar opposite of your own bad.

For what it's worth, I did have to have another surgery. And Grumpy & I did separate for a while, but have worked things out. And just like you, a million and 1 other things have changed in my life, some good, and some not as good. But people that I maintain connections with, in whatever format works best for that friendship, know all about it. I would no sooner send out a mass mailing about my surgery as I would pop on to the WebMD TTC boards to announce a pregnancy (should I ever get there) to women I haven't spoken to in years.

Remembering your own struggles means that you must remember how hard it is
to hear pregnancy announcements. And not because you don't want the announcing
person to grow their family, or to get what they want. But, simply because you want it so badly for yourself that you ache for it. Imagine that feeling you felt, that little twinge of jealousy with the pangs of your own sorrow... and then think what it would feel like to be over 4 years into it, with no chance of success in sight, after watching almost all of your contemporaries move on without you.

For what it's worth, I genuinely do wish you & your family only good things. I knew that you & [your husband] wanted more kids, and I'm thrilled that your family is growing. But, as someone still struggling, I need to not open those surprise emails. I need to not hear about those growing families unless I'm in a space that I can handle it. I don't expect you to understand... in fact, I pray that you never have to. But, some forethought, and a little compassion, is much appreciated.

I haven't heard back from her - and I really don't expect to. I do know that she contacted at least one of the other childless girls of the group, asking if her emails were upsetting. Maybe I did get thru, after all.

So - my apologies for the length of this post... I know it's insane (especially for me). But, if you've read this far, how about weighing in with your opinion of how the conversation went down. I recognize that I wasn't as diplomatic as I would have liked. But, I'm not sure that I'd do anything differently, either.

How would you have handled it?


Cassandra said...

Hi, here from IComLeavWe...

How I would like to handle it and how I have handled it are very different things.

How would I like to handle it? If it is someone that knows about my struggles TTC, I would like to discreetly contact her and say that I am very happy for her but because of my ongoing struggles, I would appreciate it if she would remove me from her list.

If it is someone who does not know, I would continue to do what I have been doing and either ignore it or say congratulations.

How have I actually handled it? A formerly good friend of mine who started TTC at exactly the same time I did, who got pregnant on the first try, and whose daughter is now going into first grade, sent out an announcement of her #2over 6 months ago. I still haven't responded.

Good for you for making your needs heard, and for maybe even causing a change in her thinking.

BethH6703 said...

Thanks Cassandra! I tried to link back through to your blog so that I could thank you there, but your profile is set to private...

I agree with your "would like to" approach. Unfortunately, I can't/don't always do what I would like to.

Cassandra said...

I'll try to fix the private setting on my profile. In the meantime, my blog address is:

Fortunately for them but unfortunately for us, people everywhere seem to keep getting pregnant and having babies, so we will get lots of chances to practice handling the situation.

emilythehopeless said...


i never handle these situations well.. i probably would have grumbled to myself figuring that any words would fall on deaf ears. good that you got it out though..

best of luck to you! :)

Kaci said...

You already know my thoughts on how you handled it. I don't think you should feel bad that her response was nice, because really, how nice was it? If she truly cared, wouldn't she at some point have said, "why don't you fill me in?" THAT is what has bothered me every time I talk/email with her since she got pregnant with #1. It's ALL about her. Friendship IS a 2-way street.

You know I struggle sometimes, feeling like I'm too "in your face" about things with the kiddos, but at the same time not wanting to make you feel bad by tiptoeing around you. It's a fine line, and I hope I handle it well, because I do value your friendship. I'm not sure she realizes there is a line, or hell, maybe her mama didn't raise her right & she just doesn't know how to act. Bless her heart ;)

Tigger said...

I got the same email, and you know full well I haven't even logged on to my yahoo in several years, let alone chatted there. I just don't have the guts to ask people to remove me from their mailing list. I should, I know. I also knew that I shouldn't have clicked on the link she provided, because I knew what it would say. My internal response? "Whoopty-fucking-doo, lady."

I think you did well.

luna said...

hi beth, I've been reading and thought I'd chime in here, for what its worth. these situations are so hard, and I give you credit for saying what you needed to.

I also developed some close friendships through a support board of women ttc after loss. it dwindled down to 4, but we've been very close. I am the only childless one remaining. when two of them were pg at once -- including one who thought all hope was lost but got pg the same week as my failed last chance IVF -- I had to step back for a while, and I explained that it was too hard to hear about all their great news while I was dealing with other sad annivs. and still no success...

it is always hard to say what you need in these situations, but you have to if you want to be honest with yourself.

I especially like your reply. I wouldn't expect to hear back from her, because she's probably not capable of being a real friend to you anyway. as kaci said, it's a 2-way street. good luck.

wishing you all the best.

EggDropBlogger said...

Hmmm, it's hard to be diplomat, calm cool and collected when you are dealing with fertility issues. She does seem insensitive. So I think you should give yourself a break.


Hope2morrow said...

Wow! Here from ICLW... Can I just say how proud of you I am? I don't even know you, and I am thrusting- my-fists-in-the-air proud of you! I wish I could be as straightforward and forthcoming with my thoughts are you were. I think you did an amazing job of protecting yourself, letting her into a glimpse of your world, and asking her to consider your thoughts. Thank you for this awesome post!

kirke said...

This is definitely difficult. I never know the best way to handle it, but I do commend you for being honest. Sometimes it is the things we don't say that we live to regret....and it is difficult when someone just drives by and blasts you w/ good news. You want to be happy for them, but you don't feel connected enough to truly celebrate....instead it just feels like someone is pointing out something that you don't have.