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Transitions Can Be Hurtful

Any and all life changes come with a mixture of good and bad during the transition. Discovering I was infertile was a difficult transition, in fact there was very little about that phase that was actually good, most of it was painful. Surprisingly, when I think back on the almost 8 years of infertility, its the friendships I lost along the way that still hurt, not the other stuff, not the miscarriages, not the rounds of treatment and failures, sure those things hurt but as I made the transition from infertile to motherhood, my heart healed from those experiences. But not from the painful memories of lost friendships.

Becoming a mother is a similar experience. There are many amazing things that have happened during this transition, lots of happy happy memories that have touched my heart and will stay with me forever. But there is one very sore, very painful spot, the slow realization that as I transitioned into a new phase in my life, I’m loosing friendships along the way. I suppose the question really is if they were valuable friendships to start with. I thought/ think they are and I’m sad as I watch them slowly slip away but I suppose one has to recognize that the old expression – a reason, a season, a lifetime rings true. And I guess a lot of these were seasonal friendships.

I’m referring to fellow infertiles who became IRL friends along this journey. We supported each other, cried with each other, celebrated small victories together. Its one of the things that I will always look back on with fond memories during that phase of my life, the sisterhood that is/was between us, the love and support we offered each other. The sad part is that it lulled me into a false sense of belonging and a  belonging I thought I’d still have even after motherhood, even after the amazing reception that we received on Ava’s arrival. But it would appear its not to be.

Its been a slow dawning on me over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed my IRL infertility sisters drifting further and further away from me and it makes me sad and it hurts to feel that I’m being systematically excluded. I first started becoming aware of it when I noticed in my blog stats that my IRL IF sisters were still reading my blog but no longer commenting and then slowly that changed too and even the visits to my blog simply stopped. The support and sisterhood that was once so freely on offer seems to have become very one sided and I sometimes feel like I’m talking to myself. My phone calls don’t get returned and the only time there’s an obligatory enquiry into our little A is doing is after I’ve sent a message to offer support or enquire how treatment and plans are coming along.

I suppose I’m coming across as a little bitter, and perhaps I am. I’m not even sure its bitterness really, just hurt, sometimes when I notice the blatant exclusion, it feels like I’ve been sucker punched, it literally knocks the wind out of me. I put a lot of effort into my friendships and I’m really hurt by how I’m systematically being excluded, like my support doesn’t count anymore, or like I don’t need the support anymore. Its very sad, but I’m slowly working through it and realizing that while I will loose some of these friendships, I will over time, gain other friendships of people who are now on a similar path to mine. There are 3 of my infertility sisters that have stood by me over the last 3 months. That still read my blog, that still comment, that still enquire how I’m doing, that still make the effort to keep in touch and ensure that we see each other on a regular basis and they have no idea how much that has meant to me, they are also proof that we don’t have to understand or know each others journey’s in order to love and support each other along the way.

But at the end of the day, this is yet another learning curve, I am working hard at harbouring no hard feelings and just accepting that the season in my life has changed and with it some of the friendships.

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23 Comments

  • Reply Lea White

    Can fully relate. We had exactly the same kind of experience after Bianca was diagnosed, but in our case not only friends but family too. Some of the people we’ve heard from last when we wrote to let them know Bianca was diagnosed with cancer and that was the last of it. We’ve never heard from them since. Even Bianca’s grandfather has showed very little interest and nothing we ever wrote about would even encourage a response from him, not when we were stuck in hospital, not when she started school, nothing.

    But that’s life sadly and we’ve had to accept that that was how it would be and that you can’t force people to stick by you.

    But the good thing for us? We’ve met some awesome people, people we know truly cared about us, despite our situation.

    March 15, 2010 at 9:35 am
  • Reply Invivo

    I still read your blog! Yay for me!

    Been thinking about this a lot myself. My situation is a bit different though in the sense that my move into motherhood is accompanied by quite a huge geographical move, which in a way makes the transition a bit easier.

    As much as it hurts though, I suppose we need to let people be and move where they feel comfortable and at ease and as a token of respect for their pain allow them to distance themselves if they feel they need to. That’s the way I see it anyway.

    Very much enjoy your updates as you venture deeper into the heart of motherhood. Doing a much better job than I am! *roll eyes* Suppose I should do some updates myself. Just in a very odd place of transition at the moment and vocalising it takes a lot of effort and energy (of which I don’t have much at present).

    Anyhow, jsut thought I’d check in and say Yo! Yo dude!

    P.S. Please send me that address fartface! :p

    March 15, 2010 at 9:52 am
  • Reply SCY

    Hmmmm, I think that much like any major transistion in life there comes pain with it.

    Whilst I get what you are saying and can understand how you are feeling hurt by non returned calls and a lack of effort to retain the friendships which should have been able to stand the test of time (which many of them are doing I might add), I also think we need to be cognizant of the fact that perhaps sometimes your IF sisters feel that they are not able to comment either cos they have not experienced what you are now experiencing and therefore have nothing to offer on the subject or because as much as their hearts swell with happiness for your blessing that it’s sometimes hard for them cos it also highlights what they’ve not achieved todate… It’s much easier to offer support when your friends are on the same page of the book as you (ie doing treatment, know what a BFN feels like etc) but when the story lines change and one is on the outside it does make it a little harder for the support to be as full flowing. There in comes the effort part on BOTH sides to keep the friendship going.

    It’s a tough one cos I don’t think it’s an intentional thing from either side of the coin and I hope I’ve put this across in a way that does not hurt any feelings on either side. Perhaps those who you are refering to might have better explained to you why there is a little distance at this time which could have aleviated any hurt feelings?? *sigh*

    I’m sorry you’re feeling hurt my friend. You are still very much loved Shaz, and Ava is “our” miracle girl.

    Remember that. And once “sore” hearts on the other side have learned to deal with your blessing, there may be a meeting of friends again.

    xxx

    March 15, 2010 at 10:17 am
  • Reply SCY

    Whoops, sorry wrote an essay 😉

    March 15, 2010 at 10:18 am
  • Reply Cindy

    I was talking about this yesterday. I commented that I am becoming one of those people I used to despise…that all I want to talk about is this all mind consuming pregnancy and eventually I’ll become a parent who only wants to talk about my child….and I have no memory loss of how annoying and/or painful that was to those around me. For the first time I understood why ‘they’ talked so much about their kids, and that I pulled away from all my friends and family at one time simply because I couldn’t bear to hear about it anymore. It was never about the people, it was simply the topic the conversation always ended up on I couldn’t bear.

    It is hurtful…but also understandable in an unfortunate way. I have done the same thing to others a zillion times over, and just expected them to understand I wasn’t being ‘selfish’ but was just practicing some self-preservation. And I am so grateful that some of them are still there for me now to welcome me to this new space I’m in with open arms.

    And may I say that my face still lights up in a big smile every time I click over here and read about your miracle. Every single time.

    March 15, 2010 at 11:49 am
  • Reply Rach

    Oh losing friendships, regardless of the reason, is never ever easy and usually always painful.

    I’m losing friends because of the opposite reason. Everyone has had their offspring, while I’m still childless and they have started to slowly freeze me out of their lives because they want to socialise with “mums” and I just don’t cut it…it hurts beyond words.

    March 15, 2010 at 12:09 pm
  • Reply Amy

    I’m sorry you’re feeling this way. I know you don’t know me, and I’m surely not an IRL friend, but I’m still here and so happy you have your baby. You give me hope as I consider putting infertility treatments away and moving on with adoption.

    March 15, 2010 at 1:01 pm
  • Reply Trish

    So sorry Sharon, it is always hard to lose friendships that mean something to you. Almost like being dumped by a boyfriend all over again!

    When I look back at the years of infertility, the thing I most regret is losing friends that I will will never be friendly with again as too much has happened inbetween. Some because they disappointed me with lack of support and interest but most because I withdrew and cut them off. I wish I could have foreseen that one day we would have babies of similar ages and I would like to hang out again with old friends but I was stuck in IF hell and now I am again the outsider! Infertility is so the gift that keeps on giving……

    March 15, 2010 at 1:15 pm
  • Reply Abs

    Hi Shaz,

    I think Sam hit the nail on the head here. I read most of your postings but the truth is I have no experience of what you are dealing with so how can I possibly give advice or support? I can’t offer advice on something I know zip all about – as much as I wish I did. It’s not for any ugly reasons or because I no longer care. It’s also in part due to the fact that I assume you are far too busy right now for emails and text’s – you certianly sound rushed off your feet in your posts! I’m sure all us girls are as much in your corner as we ever were, we are just giving you space to enjoy these precious first weeks with your child. Anytime you are up for a get together I’ll be there! xxx

    March 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm
  • Reply Fiona

    It is sad to say goodbye to friends when you’ve put alot of time and effort into building up the friendship but just remember when one door closes there is always another one that opens. In the same breath I believe true friendships can survive anything and all that is needed is a little breathing space ~ maybe that’s what they are giving you with your gorgeous newborn.
    Human relationships are never easy are they 😉

    March 15, 2010 at 4:00 pm
  • Reply Jahni

    It’s tough to live through it, but I don’t think it’s intentional. Along our road some people have come and gone, and others just stick around no matter what. Most people don’t mean to hurt you, it’s just that their path is different from yours (for now), and that makes it hard to relate.

    The other thing is your life is opening to new friendships and possibilities too.

    March 15, 2010 at 4:01 pm
  • Reply Nix

    I couldn’t have said it better than Jahni. The thing is, some of these friendships heal and others were seasonal. It hurts just as much, but you have made other friends, some fences have been mended, and together, with these new friendships, and new chapter of your life has somehow begun.

    XXX

    March 15, 2010 at 4:37 pm
  • Reply Mrs See

    I am still inspired daily by your story!

    March 15, 2010 at 5:03 pm
  • Reply Kristin

    I am so sorry some of those IRL friends weren’t the kind of friends you thought they were. It truly is painful to have that shoved in your face. {{{Hugs}}}

    March 15, 2010 at 5:06 pm
  • Reply Lauren

    I am sorry that you feel so hurt by your friends lack of support Sharon. I am also one of those people who read your blog almost every day but don’t often comment because I don’t really feel that I know enough about babies to add anything of value. But I do know that I have managed to sustain several close friendships throughout my IF journey so far. These friendships have had to have some stretch to get us through though. My friends have gone on to have babies (ironically all around our IVF dates!) and there have been times when I have had to pull away because I just felt too raw. But when I had the strength again they were still there and now they are still going strong.
    Your baby is truly a miracle for all of us going through IF and I think that every person was overwhelmed with joy when you shared your amazing news. Just give your freinds some time and space to deal with the rawness and I am sure they will come back to you.

    March 15, 2010 at 6:26 pm
  • Reply Adi

    I remember about a year ago, one of our best friends emailed us the link to the online photo album of their newborn and I was aching to write a scathing letter to say, thanks but no thanks, we really hurt looking at them. That is just the way one feels. It is not personal. It is just hard. It is painful. It is easier sometimes to just stay away. I am just grateful that soon afterward, we received our own good news. I think we are on the side where we have to be the bigger person and wait patiently and without persistence for a friendship to come back to us, in time. If I remember the guilt I felt at the time for feeling so despondent and sad at being sent that photo album link, I know the worst would be hearing through a back door that they are really upset at our response. Which they weren’t, and all worked out well in the end, but that is just the way it works. I hope you can work through this and be patient, for those friends that may heal over time, whether through a baby or just acceptance, may knock on your door again. But when they’re ready.

    March 15, 2010 at 6:34 pm
  • Reply Sian

    Shaz, I hear what you are saying. I still read, but comment less, because sometimes I’m not sure what to say. I certainly hope to remain a friend of yours because I think that sharing the infertile journey is something very few understand. We will never forget the feelings that go with it even after our happy endings. Maybe the transition is a difficult one for both sides. The real friends will respond and adjust to what you need now. (((HUGS))) I hope that makes sense.

    March 15, 2010 at 6:53 pm
  • Reply Tam

    I’m sorry that the transition that you (and us) are going thru right now is hard. These kinds of things are never easy for all of those involved. I think that many of your comments on this post have hit the nail right on the head, it’s not intentional and while you are going thru your own transition to motherhood, many of your IRL friends are having to go thru thier own transition by watching you go thru yours.

    We are all very happy for you Shaz, you are an amazing mother to Ava and Ava is the miracle that we have all waited for but in saying that, we don’t have advice to offer on motherhood because some of us are still struggling to complete our journey and waiting for our hearts to heal the way yours has, our worlds are just that, worlds apart right now. We want to offer support, we want to comment on your blog but I am sure that many of us have to think of what to say since we don’t want it to seem shallow and we want it to be meaningful so we don’t comment.

    Keeping a friendship going takes effort, even without infertility/motherhood to thank. We have things that bond us but sometimes those lines just get a bit blurred. We still love you Xxx

    March 15, 2010 at 6:53 pm
  • Reply Stacey

    It’s always so sad when friendships fade. I think I’ve taken it particularly hard during my years going through RPL because I’ve always been a loyal friend. I will cling to a fizzling friendship for a long time, trying to keep it going if possible, but when you realize it has all become one-sided, sometimes it must be let go.
    I’m hoping you’ll discover that you have many precious lifetime friends who will stick by you during the lows AND the highs and follow you right into this next stage of life!

    March 15, 2010 at 8:57 pm
  • Reply Mash

    One of my best friends in the world is Australian, and we used to email each other once a week. We talked about everything and anything. Including her two sons, their births etc. But when she fell pregnant with number three quite some time after I had started trying for number one… something snapped inside me. When her baby was born, I sent her an sms and decided she would be far too tired and stressed to be reading emails from me, I would send her one later. And I immersed myself back into my little safe world with the strangers in the computer who were like me. In fact I was about a million times more excited about your Ava than her little girl, born a month apart. Three months later, she emailed me, really hurt, asking why she hadn’t heard from me (she hadn’t received the sms either). I was horrified at my own behaviour. I had planned to send her an email a week or two after the birth and 3 months later, in total denial, I had done nothing yet. Because I just couldn’t face it, I just couldn’t hear about this perfect little angel that she could have and I couldn’t. Still struggling with it in a big way, and really doing everything I can to save my precious friendship, it’s taking every ounce of my strength. I badly want to be happy with her and for her. And have sympathy when it’s tough for her. Hopefully one of these days I’ll break through and be able to do it!

    March 15, 2010 at 9:58 pm
  • Reply Chopper1

    I’m very sad that you are feeling this way, Sharon. It’s heartbreaking.

    I have also, from time to time, aliented myself from friends who’ve had a baby. I say from time to time – because I became a hermit when I was going through IVF and when I suffered my miscarriages. And to be honest, at that time, the last thing that I wanted was to be around a newborn. I am 100% sure that, that comes off as harsh, but there was too much hurt in my heart for me to be exposed to something that I wanted more than anything else in the World. And, as Sam says, later on, I would sit in a conversation where I’d have no input, ‘coz the talk was babies, nappies, etc. I have always been fiercely happy for all my friends who have their gorgeous babies – and I know that they understand when I am not around at baby showers, etc.

    To ME, however, your situation is very different. You have been through so much, so this is why I choose to visit your blog. You GET it. You KNOW what it is that so many of us have been through, and now you have your pot of gold. I relish all the stories of Ava and every stage that you have gone through with her. Because you are where you are meant to be now, after your long struggle – and I cannot tell you how fantastic it is for me to ‘watch’. It’s heartwarming and it’s inspiring. And I really just love it.

    xxx Lisa-Marie

    March 16, 2010 at 7:50 am
  • Reply Mommy-in-Waiting

    Hi Sharon, We also aren’t IRL friends, but I feel I have been a part of your life as a voyeur for a ages now and I shed tears of complete joy when Ava arrived in your life and when your 60 days were up I was celebrating too. I have to admit I have found your blog hard to read on the bad days as you are so full of joy and happiness (and exhaustion) at having something that I don’t. It is jealousy – plan and simple. But I do keep coming back. Only on the days I am strong enough, but I come back. You are an entertaining writer and I think I have learnt what I hope will be very valuable lessons about motherhood for when my turn comes. But I can’t comment because I simply have no experience to draw on or advice to offer. But you still get all my best wishes and love. Don’t give up on your friends just yet – give them time.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:55 pm
  • Reply Willow

    We also became parents through adoption after 3 years of IF and sometimes I feel like I can’t relate to anyone–not to other new moms who got pregnant easily, or even after treatments/struggles, since I never experienced pregnancy (beyond an early miscarriage). Not to other infertiles, even though I am still in the midst of treatments, because I’m also in the blissful and all-consuming realm of new mommyhood. Not to single friends who can’t understand the extent to which our sweet boy has changed our lives. I guess other adoptive parents would be my best bet, but I don’t know that many IRL. Anyway, I understand your feeling of isolation and am sorry you’ve felt abandoned by some of your friends. It’s a strange position we’re in, but it’s true that we are immensely blessed with our little miracles and as hard as it can be sometimes, feeling left out, when I look at our darling boy I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    March 26, 2010 at 8:42 pm
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