Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Friendships lost... and found

I've been a bit hopeless at posting over the past week - I begin composing posts in my head, but then never get round actually to writing them. Instead, I've been mulling over all the assvice I received last week from our friends and family - and this in turn has got me thinking about my best friend, Stella.

Stella and I met on our very first day at university. We lived in the same halls of residence, and were doing the same degree course. Our friendship really cemented itself, however, after we left university. We saw each other through shitty jobs and broken hearts. We went out dancing, and stayed up all night talking.

After dating a number of inappropriate men, and crying on each others' shoulders when it all went wrong, we both settled down with our respective partners. Eventually, the inevitable happened - Stella invited us round for lunch, and told us that she and her husband were expecting a baby. I held it together all the way through the meal, but then fell apart in the car on the way home. 'Don't you understand that that's the way it's supposed to happen?' I shouted at Mr H. 'You come off the Pill and then you get pregnant a few months later. It's not supposed to take eighteen fucking months.' Up until then, we'd been doing a pretty good job of pretending that we didn't have a problem - Stella's pregnancy was actually the catalyst that led us to make that first appointment with the doctor.

Eventually, Stella had her baby - a boy. Eighteen months later, she had a little girl. In the meantime, we underwent the standard battery of tests, and were placed on an NHS waiting list for IVF. As time went by, my weekly telephone conversations with Stella became more and more one-sided: she talked about her children, while I listened.

And then I had a miscarriage. We hadn't told anyone about the pregnancy - we'd agreed to wait until we were safely into the second trimester - but Stella was one of the first people I had planned on sharing my news with. After I lost the baby, I couldn't face picking up the phone to let her know what had happened, and so I sent her an email instead. Over a week later, she sent me a text message: 'I hope you're feeling better now'. When she did eventually ring me, I explained that I was a little hurt that she hadn't got in touch sooner. She then proceeded to tell me about an article she'd just read in a magazine, which suggested that a miscarriage was a bit like having a particularly heavy period. After that, I didn't really feel like phoning her again.

That was just over two and a half years ago. Stella has not made any effort to contact me since that last phone call. I've sent her Christmas and birthday cards, but she hasn't responded. I really thought that we would be friends for life, but it turns out that our friendship wasn't strong enough to survive me losing a baby.

As I fell further and further down the rabbit hole of infertility, I felt increasingly isolated. And then one day, I stumbled across the infertility blogosphere. I couldn't believe it - here was a group of articulate, angry, witty, sarcastic women who were just as pissed off as I was! For a long time, I lurked, silently and nervously - it seemed such a tight-knit community, would they let me in?

Eventually, I took a deep breath and started writing. It felt a bit like throwing a message in a bottle into the ocean - I had no idea whether anybody out there was actually reading. But then Melissa actually mentioned something I'd written in one of her Friday roundups! Gradually, the comments started to come and I began to realise that I was in fact part of an extraordinary grass-roots movement. When my first IVF cycle was cancelled and I put out a plea for help on Lost & Found, so many people whose blogs I'd never even visited before rallied round to offer their support and advice. After I'd been away for a few days last week, several people stopped by to say 'welcome home' - and at the moment, this does feel like home. I know that, here in the blogosphere, I will meet with more support and understanding than I have received from the majority of my 'real life' friends. I'm sorry that I haven't been around over the past week - I've been lax at commenting, as well as posting - but just wanted to say thank you, all of you, for being there.


JJ said...

Im sorry to hear about the loss of your friendship with Stella--its disappointing that she hasnt made an effort to contact you-and its very admirable of YOU that you continued to try and make contact. Very much her loss...

I did find you through L&F, and Im glad to "read" you=) Glad you feel home here, we are all gentle neighbors!

jp said...

I know what you mean about the blogosphere- people you have never met, and probably will never meet, absolutely offer more comfort and understanding than I could ever imagine.
It was very generous of spirit of you to continue to send cards etc to your friend... like JJ said, her loss.

shinejil said...

You're very welcome! It's much nicer here than with people who just refuse to make the effort to get it.

I'm so very grateful for the internets!

luna said...

I feel the same way. I've had several friendships end abruptly or wither and fade away since our loss and ongoing infertility struggles. the ones who have had their kids during that time are the worst.

it's a shame your friend couldn't muster a bit of empathy for you and your dreams, but unfortunately other people just don't get it.

I am so happy to have discovered the blogosphere too. with the mutual support, the catharsis, and the affirmation it offers, there's just nothing else like it. ~luna

annacyclopedia said...

I feel the same way about the blogosphere - that sense of worry about being let in, and then the joy and relief of being welcomed with such love and support. It really is amazing, and I'm so grateful I found it when I did. For me, I think it has taken a lot of strain off many of my real life relationships, as I don't need to rely on those people for understanding quite so much. It still hurts when they don't get it, but it doesn't mean that I'm all alone, because I have all my darling internets. And right now, when I need to take care of myself, I find it so much more important to focus on what I need emotionally rather than trying to make my sister, or mother, or friend understand what I'm going through. So for me, it's been a relief to have this community, as well as a source of comfort and pleasure .

I'm sad to hear that you lost your best friend along the way. It is terrible that she couldn't reach out to you with some compassion and hasn't responded to your letters and cards. I hope you have other people in your real life who understand what you're going through and give you the care you need and deserve. But if not, we're always here.

And thanks for letting me know you're a Coronation Street fan. You're so far ahead of us that it's useless to talk about what's going on - on the episodes airing in Canada right now, Paul Connor has just died. But isn't Corrie just the best? I don't know if you've ever seen American soaps, but they are terrible - nothing ever happens cause they drag the story out so long, everyone has been Botoxed and implanted to within an inch of their lives and they're horribly unrealistic and worst of all, unfunny. When I started watching Corrie 3 or 4 years ago, I was instantly hooked. It is fabulous!

Rebecca said...

I've been reading your blog ever since you stopped by mine. It's such a warm and supportive community (albeit a little bizarre when you really take a step back and look at it). Like you, I am thankful that the folks in the blogosphere have welcomed me into their home!

Kim said...

Ugh, sorry to hear about that. We lost a few friendships too - or seriously downgraded them to holiday card territory.

It's so interesting, I just put up a post talking about how connected I feel to other bloggers right now. This place is amazing.

Mrs.X said...

One of the things that always amazes me is the people who I don't think are going to be supportive are and the people who I think are going to be aren't. Case in point: hubby has a wonderful great aunt who is so, so neat. When we got pregnant last year, she sent a lovely email. Two days later, I found out we were having a miscarriage. I emailed her back and told her. I never heard from her. I was crushed.

But, people who I think are the most self-centered ones on the planet sent me the most beautiful notes. Go figure.

So, it's always a learning experience to see someone's true stripes. Sorry that you had to experience the bad side of it.

Malloryn said...

I'm very sorry to hear about your friend. It is so hard when someone close to you leaves your life like that.

I think we started our blogs around the same time, and I entered the blogosphere with some trepidation. I am so grateful every day that I did it. The support has been incredible, and I've learned a lot along the way. This is also the closest thing I have to therapy. It really is a wonderful community.

The first blog I read was "Lost and Found" and I haven't looked back :)

Stephanie said...

It's terrible when a friend ship doesn't survive. I'm so sorry it ended the way it did.

Thanks for the sweet comments on my blog. I just read through several of your most recent posts and I can identify with most of your IF experiences. I'll be checking back regularly. :)

I feel the same way about finding everyone, especially Mellisa and being welcomed into the fold.