I've lost a lot of things as a result of my infertility, but one of the most painful was a friendship. And actually, I never thought I'd fully lost it, until I almost did.
Let me explain.
Until about a year and a half ago, I didn't have just one BFF, I had two. We all went to high school together and have known each other since we were teens. The BFFs have their own friendship with one another, but I've always been the Jerry that links them together. Meaning, it's not like we were ever a trio. More like linked duos.
My other BFF (I'm going to call her Gumbo) was one of my strongest sources of support during the early days of my diagnosis. We've been there for each other through most major life events...except when we weren't. Because as much as we love each other, we've ended up taking more than one extended break from our friendship. In some ways, we're too much alike. Too emotional, too sensitive. And we have a longstanding history of going through Big Things at the same time which ends up forcing us apart instead of closer together.
Around the time that I was gearing up for my first attempt at IVF, Gumbo was having serious conversations with her husband about future babies. As in, he wanted #3. As in, she did not. She was struggling to find a way to tell him this - that as much as she loved being pregnant, she wasn't ready to dive back into Diaperland again. In fact, she didn't think she'd ever be ready. She was happy with the two she already had.
I'm sure you can already see where this is going.
When my first attempted IVF got converted to and IUI, Mr. Hope couldn't be there for the first insemination (we did two back to back, to cover the spread). So Gumbo met me at the hospital. She made me laugh in the waiting room. She came back to the exam room and joked with Dr. God Complex who asked her if she wanted to get pregnant, too.
Afterward, we went to a diner where I ate turkey, as I think I'd read somewhere that turkey was good for fertility. I was calm, I was hopeful, I was certain that I'd just conceived my daughter.
As we left the diner, Gumbo mentioned something to me about having sore boobs, and how they kind of reminded her of how she felt when she was pregnant. Oh, and by the way, she told me, her period was late.
I winced. I don't know if she saw it, but I did.
I urged her to take a test. She didn't want to. I don't think she was ready to confirm what she already knew.
We took our first tests on the same day: 7DPO. Hers was positive.
I had a feeling then that the IVF had failed. It wasn't rooted in anything other than my gut, and I was hoping beyond hope that I was wrong.
I started testing daily.
A day or two later, I got a superfaint positive. I even woke Mr. Hope up to show him. He didn't see it, but any woman who was trying to conceive totally would have.
Gumbo didn't see it when I sent her a picture. Even so, for one blissful day, I thought I was with child. That we both were. We'd be pregnant together. Our babies would play together. Wouldn't that make one hell of a story?
You already know how that story ends. The line didn't get darker. It faded almost immediately. Most likely, the superfaint positive was lingering traces of the trigger shot being picked up by a really sensitive test.
I fell the fuck apart.
It was so cosmically unfair that Gumbo, who didn't even WANT a baby, and who already had two of her own, could get pregnant without even trying, whereas I was throwing everything under the sun at my body and still couldn't conceive.
I told Gumbo I needed some time. That I couldn't help usher her through an unwanted pregnancy, when the only thing I wanted was one of my own.
She said she understood. Then she said she didn't. At one point, she told me she had another infertile friend who had been a tremendous source of support for her. That's great, I told her. I'm glad you have a more generous infertile in your life than I am capable of being right now.
There were some tense text messages exchanged over the next several weeks. Then, after about three months, I told her I wanted to make plans to see her. She was getting ready to take a trip, and plans kept shifting. By the time she was ready to talk dates, I was about to head into my next attempt at IVF. Also converted to IUI. Also a BFN.
I asked for an extension on the time out.
We talked around the time of her gender scan. I had convinced myself she was having a girl, because that was what I had wanted. When I found out she was going to have a boy, I felt relieved.
There were some text messages here and there, but we didn't talk again until there was a death in my family. She came to the funeral. She spoke at the funeral. I thought that maybe this could mark a new start for us. I was in a better place (sort of). And I missed her. I loved her. She is one of my oldest and dearest friends.
But nothing ever really happened. I'd text her and responses would come slowly. I'd message her through Facebook and hear nothing back. We had one phone call when a mutual friend was going through a major-league tragedy, but that was it.
And then I started this blog. And I sent her and a few other close friends, family members, and fellow infertiles the link.
Yesterday she wrote back and told me that she was happy that I seemed to be in a better place, but that she wouldn't be following my blog. That it was too hard to read because we were no longer friends. She had closure, she said, and wished me the best.
I'd gotten fired from our friendship without even knowing it.
And okay, yes. A year and a half is a long time to be on sabbatical from a friendship. But it wasn't like there had been no contact. Only, every attempt I'd made to reconnect - the Facebook messages, the random texts - she'd viewed them as me acting like nothing had happened, instead of me putting my toe back into the friendship water, so to speak.
I felt a little blindsided, to be honest. And I told her that. And I told her how I didn't want to sweep back into her life just because I was ready and expect her to be ready to. I was trying not to be an asshole, because I already felt like one for needing such an extended break to begin with.
We exchanged several emails yesterday and have plans to talk this week. I'm glad for that, because I do love Gumbo and I never once thought our friendship was over for good. I just thought she needed more time to get over the hurt she felt when I abandoned her in her time of need. She was right to feel hurt. If I'd been a better person I could've sucked it up. But I wasn't that person. I was me, and I was devastated, and I just couldn't do it. Not then.
Funny postscript to this story: Just after my first IVF with Dr. Smiles (my first actual IVF, as opposed to one that got converted to IUI), while I was still in my two-week wait (2ww), one of my closest work friends (aka Glam Colleague) found out she was pregnant. This, just weeks before her wedding.
The day she told me, I had a pretty good feeling my IVF had failed. I hadn't even started testing yet, but it was Gumbo all over again. (She and Gumbo are actually similar in a lot of ways, to be honest. She's like my work version of Gumbo.)
So now Gumbo's little boy is on the cusp of turning one, and Glam Colleague is about to pop out her little girl any day now. And my arms are empty.
But today I go see Dr. Smiles, and I get on "the list" for a donor embryo.
Maybe, just maybe, my arms won't be empty much longer.