How do you fit in with your friends while trying to conceive?Apr 11, 2022
People don’t tell you how much infertility affects your friendships and relationships. It’s like an extra element of grief. It’s yet another thing that infertility steals from you. And because of that, we tend to hold onto people, regardless of whether they are good for us or not.
I think the only people who really rejoiced when mandatory isolations were put in place were those with fertility struggles. The thought of NOT having to catch up with people from work, or in our social circles was certainly welcome news.
There was an automatic avoidance of insensitive questions, not having to hide the fact that you’re not drinking alcohol, or watch your friends get pregnant and raise their children while you’re standing still.
It’s hard when it feels like everyone else is getting on with their lives, yet you are living in limbo. Everything is put on hold and you’re just waiting for it to be your turn. And because our lives are headed in different directions we struggle to “fit in” with our normal friendship groups.
There is inevitably a separation between those who have children, those who are pregnant, and those who are struggling to reach both of those milestones. It even happens to those who are going through secondary infertility – you unconsciously start counting how many children your friends have, and still feel like you’re being left behind. It hurts to hang around with those people who are a constant reminder of what you so badly desire, and do not have.
But why is the onus on us to fit in with everyone else? The easy answer to the question of “how do I fit in with my friends and family now?” is that you don’t have to. Yes, you don’t have to fit into their life. They have to fit into yours. And if they don’t, that’s ok.
I have a pair of jeans I keep in my cupboard from when I was in my 20’s. There is NO way that I will ever fit into those skinny jeans ever again, but I can always hope, right? Unfortunately, however, the only thing those jeans serve to do every time I pull them out, is make me feel like crap. I try to fit into them, but I’ve changed too much. It’s neither for better or worse, but our body shape changes as we age. The style doesn’t suit my body or my age anymore regardless.
Our friendships are the same. Some don’t fit anymore.
And instead of trying to hold onto them, we need to release them or put them on hold. Because the season you are travelling in right now requires a group of people who can support you in the way you need. It shouldn’t hurt every time you catch up with your friends. Your friends shouldn’t be a source of stress. And if they are, it may be time to do a declutter.
We no longer live in an age where we need a million friends or a huge social circle. This pandemic proved that. The only thing we need is a handful of people we can laugh, cry and share our truth with. Nor do we have to catch up with them every single weekend.
So, how do we cultivate our friendships in this season? Make a list of all your friends (yes, I’m serious). Who are the friends you feel you can be honest with? Are there ones you dread catching up with? Which ones do you feel energized after you catch up with them? Which ones trigger you constantly? Who are the friends who constantly talk about their children and nothing else?
Then put them into three categories –
- Those you keep and cultivate – who you keep hanging out with and investing in. These are your people. Where you don’t have to censor what you say. Where you feel comfortable with them. And after you catch up, you say – we should do this more often (and mean it).
- The ones you hit the pause button on – these are the people who trigger you without meaning to. They may be pregnant or have children. And while they’re beautiful people, the constant reminder is a little too painful. You can still catch up with them, but only when you’re feeling up to it.
- Let go of these – the simple truth is that we hold onto friendships for way too long. Sometimes our fertility journey can act as that push we needed to cut the cord on toxic relationships. That friend who pressures you to go to a baby shower for another friend, who questions why you can’t be happy for other people who get pregnant, and who minimizes your pain. She (or he) has to go. Infertility can really show us who our true friends are, and that can only be a good thing.
You have nothing to feel guilty about. Friends come into our lives for various reasons and seasons. And holding onto a friendship, just because you don’t want infertility to take another thing from you, is no reason. You deserve to feel safe in your friendships. You don’t have to fit with them anymore, they have to fit in with you.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a pair of jeans to send to charity.
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