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Do you have a hard time being around pregnant people?

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

If I had a hard time being around pregnant people, I wouldn’t have any friends left! Not that I see my friends as often as I’d like these days, but it has nothing to do with them being pregnant. Two of my best friends are pregnant right now: my oldest friend in the world (our moms have been best friends since college so we always joke we’ve been friends “since the womb”); and my BFF from college, Jamie, we were each other’s maids of honor. I can count about eight more friends, and friends of friends, who are also pregnant right now, in my social network and family. Everywhere I look I am surrounded by pregnant women, and it makes me happy.

But for some reason when I find out a celebrity is pregnant (again), especially a celeb in my age group (ya know, of advanced maternal age), it sort of bums me out. Go figure.

When I found out my oldest friend in the world was pregnant it was when I was recovering from hyperstim after my egg retrieval—I was staying at my parents’ house at the time, and was in pretty bad shape. She and her mom came over holding a sonogram to give me the news, and I cried—but they were tears of pure joy, as cliche as that sounds. Nothing could’ve lifted my spirits more at that moment. She’d suffered a devastating miscarriage last January, at 10 weeks pregnant, with identical twin girls. I didn’t think about my sorry self for one second: I was, and am, so excited for the baby girl she’s having this March. She’ll be on maternity leave for three months, and then has the summer off (she’s a teacher) and I plan on spending every minute I can holding her baby. It just so happens she lived down the street from me when Preston was born and was over all the time during my mat leave, holding and feeding Preston when he was an infant—that was an incredibly special time for us and she was a very big part of it. I can't wait to share in hers.

A few months after I found out she was pregnant, I started hearing about all the other pregnancies in my circle—one after another—all women my age, including my best friend from college. I know everyone deals with this news differently, but it really never occured to me that I shouldn't be happy for her or anyone else—in fact, if anything, it made me hopeful for my own situation. Some of these women have had their own fertility struggles; some got pregnant naturally. Some of these women even went to the same fertility clinic, had several fertility treatments, IVF cycles, successes, failures, and ultimately more successes again.

A friend being pregnant is about the next best thing to me being pregnant. And what it does for me is give me hope that if it can happen for them, it will happen for me.

We’re all on our own journey. I have one of the smartest, most incredible little boys, whom I cherish more and more every minute of every day, even the hard days when he's acting like a terrible two-year-old. What I want for him and our family has nothing to do with anyone but us. I see no reason in wasting time and energy wanting what the next person has—jealousy can be a very ugly thing, and I don’t even understand the emotion enough to feel it. But envy is a different thing to me—I envy just about every pregnant woman I see, because I loved being pregnant. Loved.

I think it’s only natural for a pregnant friend to be hesitant to tell her non-pregnant/infertile friend that she's pregnant, but you have to give people the benefit of the doubt. Some people do have a hard time being around pregnant women while they’re trying to conceive, and I certainly understand why. But not everyone feels that way. 

I’ve attended many kids’ birthday parties, and even threw one, while going through infertility (Preston's 2nd birthday party was right in the middle of my IVF cycle)—and while it’s not always easy to be upbeat and social while going through something so hard (at least not for me)—being around kids and pregnant women doesn’t do anything but give me hope. 

That’s not to say I haven’t had many dark times during this process when I haven’t wanted to see or talk to anyone—but it had nothing to do with being exposed to someone who’s pregnant or friends with multiple kids. It had to do with me dealing with what I'm going through physically and emotionally my own way. As odd as this may sound, I haven't wanted to expose myself publicly with friends and even family (I know I write a blog about it now but there are times even now when it's incredibly hard). Sometimes you need to take time off, for yourself, and I’ve done that a lot during this journey. Mostly because I don't want my Debbie Downer mood to ruin someone else's. I'm normally an upbeat, social person, but even the most positive person can't help but let this process get to you—and, frankly, between going through infertility and writing about infertility, sometimes infertility is the last thing I want to talk, or think, about with anyone besides my husband and my parents, whom I confide everything in and who I've gone through every step of this process with. 

The bottom line is, as a friend—pregnant or not—you gotta let your friend who's going through infertility deal with it however she or he needs to. It’s complicated. It’s confusing. It’s emotional. It’s a very difficult process. But—again, and I'm only speaking for myself here—how I deal with it has nothing to do with anyone but me. It certainly has nothing to do with a pregnant friend. (Pregnant friends, take note: If I haven't seen or talked to you lately, I hope you understand.)

Do you have a hard time being around pregnant friends? Or friends in general? How do you feel when a friend tells you she's pregnant? Do you internalize your feelings about infertility, or do you turn to your friends for support?

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