Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Am I that person?

Recently I attended a dinner party of all women, most of whom I don't know very well. The woman seated next to me (who I've met before) asked me, "so what's new with you?" As it would be awkward to not share my news (especially considering my belly had just started showing), I told her that I am pregnant. She congratulated me. The woman seated next to her overheard and turned her attention toward us to join the conversation. They both asked me a couple of questions, like how far along I am, and then conversation moved to another topic.

During our brief exchange and then for the rest of the dinner, I kept thinking about the second woman involved in the conversation. The thing is, I know from a mutual friend that she had an early miscarriage not long ago and I assume she is probably currently trying to get pregnant. When I was struggling with infertility, and especially after my baby loss, it was hard for me to see and be around pregnant women. It seemed liked everyone was pregnant, had an easy time getting pregnant, and had easy pregnancies. Did I now represent all of that to this woman?

Yesterday I had a second experience of wondering if I am that person...

A close friend of mine informed me that after learning she was pregnant a few days ago, she just found out that she lost the pregnancy. When I received her email, I called her and left a message. I told her all the things that I thought I should: "I am sorry to hear your news. I am thinking about you. Take care. I am here for you. Please call me when you are feeling up to it."

Then I also rambled on and said things like: "I know good things are in store for you SOON." My friend is 36, recently married and got pregnant immediately. Previously she wasn't sure what was in store for her. I wanted her to know it was a good thing that she was able to get pregnant and did so quickly. So I expressed that in the message in an attempt to be encouraging.

After I left the message, I regretted even bringing up anything that might possibly overshadow my condolences. She just experienced a loss and I should have just told her I am sorry, am here for her and left it at that. When I lost baby S, there were things that people said to me which at the time stung, even though I knew people mean well. Am I now that person who says such things? I am hoping that my attempt at looking at the positive did not overshadow letting her know that I am truly sorry to learn her news.

What I learned from all of this is that I should not assume that other pregnant ladies who appear blissful necessarily are. Who knows what they've been through? And when someone says something to me about babyloss or infertility, I just have to appreciate that they said something at all.


  1. I call this "conversation regret." It happens to me all the time - that feeling of "crap, I just put my foot in my mouth." The thing is, it's not always things that "normal" people would even think twice about, but especially when it's in relation to pregnancy or losses, I sometimes wish I had said something different after I hang up the phone/ end the conversation.
    Let's hope that your friend takes your message as it was intended and feels the love and care that you were trying to convey.

  2. I've recently done this, too. It's hard to know what to say, even when you've been through it and have accepted what happened. You just never know if what you say is going to cause offense, and it is something I never really thought much of before I had all of my miscarriages.

    I actually have a very close friend who has been TTC for the past five years. We've experienced our pain together (her not being able to get pregnant, and me not staying pregnant), but now that I'm pregnant, I've noticed that she is finding ways to aviod me. I'm trying not to take it personally, and I know that she is hurting. I don't know what to do about this-- she is my best friend. I just wish she'd hit the jackpot soon.

  3. I actually made a list of the stupid things people said to me after my losses (posted it a long time ago - July I think) and now try to be very vigilant about not saying those things to anyone EVER! But I often wonder if I used to say them before I knew how offensive they can be. I know most people who say these things have only good intentions, so I can't hold a grudge against any idividual, but hearing them over and over again is crushing. Hopefully your friend heard only your best intentions.

  4. It is still hard to know what to say, even if you have experienced a loss yourself.

    My doctor told me exactly the same thing as your closing line, he told me to be grateful if people said anything at all.

    You said something and I'm sure you said it sensitively, even if you feel you didn't. I would have loved to have received a message like the one you left. You are a good friend. x