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Fertility Killed My Friendship

I always thought that the friendships that would strain the most under the weight of my motherhood would be the ones with my childless friends. But it wasn’t. My motherhood was hardest on my friend who was in a years-long struggle to conceive. My swollen belly was a slap in her face from which we never recovered, even after she went on to have a beautiful baby.

She was one of my dearest friends. Together, we’d endured being the last of our friends to couple off. We had shared our life experiences with each other, including dating, finding our ways professionally and falling in love with “the one.” Eventually we both got married. We had finally arrived, together, to the place we’d always wanted to be: happy in our professions and our personal lives.

Then, motherhood happened.

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She had a hard time getting pregnant. She endured cycles of IVF that failed to result in a pregnancy. I did whatever I could to assure her that I loved her and would stand by her every step of the way. I sent care packages and rooted for her eggs because I knew she’d be a great mother. I wanted it for her as badly as I wanted it for myself.

When my husband and I were ready to try, I expected to walk a similar path because I was over 35. I had checked our insurance plans to be sure they would cover fertility treatments. I had even downloaded adoption information because I knew I wanted a family any way I could have it.

It seemed unfair that I would receive the gift of pregnancy so easily when she was three years into a heartbreaking struggle.

So convinced I was that I would need medical intervention that I was shocked when we got pregnant easily. Like first try easy. Once the shock and the joy ebbed, I feared breaking the news to my friend. It seemed unfair that I would receive the gift of pregnancy so easily when she was three years into a heartbreaking struggle.

From the moment I told her about my pregnancy, our conversations were freighted with her sorrow and my guilt for “having it so easy.” It was impossible for us not to hurt each other’s feelings. I imagine it was hellish for her to attend my baby shower, and it was hard for me to accept she wasn’t able to be happy for me.

She eventually went on to have a beautiful baby and embraced motherhood as I always pictured she would. We were never the same though. There was something about how different our roads to motherhood were that we could never recover from.

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Becoming a mother changed everything in my life, and most of my friendships adapted to my expanded role in the world. It’s hard not to look back and wonder what I could have done differently during that tense time with my friend. But short of apologizing for being blessed with fertility, I am not sure how I could have salvaged that situation. I wish her well and hope for a day when we can be closer together—not farther apart—despite the differences in our journeys to motherhood.

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