Now, my faithful Go Ask Aunt Becky-ers, I have a special treat for you. I sort of feel like I’m introducing the Pope here, but since he (He?) wouldn’t post for me on account of it being Sunday and Sunday being a Holy Day and a Day of Rest, I’m introducing you to a blogger who needs no introduction.

She’s my favorite blogger and I’m not just saying that because she’s posting for me on, like, my second ever guest post. I actually feel like squeeing and jumping around the room right now and were it not 11PM and had I not just wrangled an exhausted Alex back into bed, I’d be dancing around.

Alex, Overwhelmed By Condiments

Yup. That’s how I felt when she agreed. Although with less cheese sauce. Because, obviously.

This is Julie, from A Little Pregnant, and you should immediately subscribe to her and worship her like I do. Seriously, I am not worthy of her and if I sound like a teenager at a New Moon premiere, well, so be it.

Julie is posting for Go Ask Aunt Becky some questions that were asked about infertility because she’s far smarter than I am, I blackmailed her to guest post for me. Guess she shouldn’t have taken those donkey pictures in college, huh?

Auntie Becky Julie (can I call you Auntie?),
First of all I want to thank you for your post The Others, and for including struggling to conceive, some people don’t understand that that is a loss, too. So thank you Auntie!

My husband and I have been trying for a year and half to get pregnant. I have just found out that 2 of my sister-in-laws are now pregnant, for one this will be their 2nd child and for the other their 696th, or something. While I am very happy for them, I also feel like I have been bitch slapped by God or whoever.

How do I deal with the Pregnancy stories (these 2 were preggers together last time and I wanted to claw my ear drums out THEN!) and unsolicited advice (one of them is always doling it out in abundance because she has 4 kids, like I haven’t tried EVERYTHING!!)? Please tell me how to deal with this without coming off like a complete bitch….

Signed,
Not Expecting

Families dealing with addiction are often instructed, for the sake of their own emotional health, to distance themselves from the destructive behavior of their loved one, to detach, as they say, with love. The fact that this is the phrase I sternly utter when informing Paul that I am sending his favorite ratty-ass flappy-elastic underpants to the glue factory makes the saying no less incisive.

By that I mean I don’t think you have any duty to stay in their presence when those kind of conversations occur. Of course you don’t want to come off as a complete bitch, but can you give yourself permission to come off as…a partial bitch? A demi-bitch? A bitchkin? A bitchula? A bicicletta? (What? No, I’m not mocking you. I think those banana seat is very slimming. And a playful flick of the handlebar tassel to you, my friend.)

I guess what I’m saying is that making yourself slightly vulnerable to criticism may well be the best strategy for preserving your overall well being. Because I honestly don’t see anything wrong at all with letting a pained look steal over your features — ha, not so tough, given the circumstances — and then modulating your voice to a husky whisper before saying, “I’m sorry. This discussion is really painful to me,” and then excusing yourself from the conversation. If they know your situation and still think you’re a bitch, well, that tells us a lot about them, doesn’t it?

As for the unsolicited advice, the souped-up Schwinn in me wishes you could meet their suggestions with wide eyes and a grateful gasp. “Ohhhh! That’s a fascinating thought! Wait, let me get a pen. I want to pass your idea along to my reproductive endocrinologist, the noted Dr. Shirley M. Pregnate, and offer it as a potential avenue of research, because in all my years of trying no one has ever suggested that we stop using condoms,” or whatever helpful pointer you’ve just been given. I know: It’s wrong to shame the ignorant. I know. Because then you’d be a complete bitch. And we’re trying to avoid that.

So instead I’d suggest saying the following next time unsolicited advice is proffered: “Thanks, but I don’t really feel comfortable discussing this. How we often we hit it siiiideways is a private matter between my husband and me.” You could edit out the sideways part, I suppose, and customize it for your needs — perhaps you’re more of a scorpion-style girl. Mongolian basket trick? The dirty Chautauqua? Anyway, the details are unimportant. What matters is that you communicate the unequivocal message that you’re not looking for input. Then if input keeps coming, you’re not the complete bitch; they are.

And none of this, alas, shuts anybody up, but then very little ever does. But if you give yourself the leeway to remove yourself from the conversation without being too, too concerned about how you’re perceived — a factor that’s mostly out of your control, anyway — you might find it all easier to deal with from a distance. I truly hope so.

My best friend has been struggling to fall pregnant for 2 years and had a miscarriage last year. I have stood by her and supported her through all her fertility treatments, which have all failed.

I am now 5.5 weeks pregnant and she was the first person I told because I didn’t want her to find out from someone else. She sent me a very bitchy e-mail and now won’t talk to me.

What do I do now? I understand where she is coming from, but I feel so guilty that I am not enjoying this very much wanted pregnancy.

Usually when people say this they mean it in a dismissive, scathing way. When I say it here, I swear I mean it in a liberating, peace-be-with-you new-age naked-dancing stinky-hippie kind of way: It’s not all about you.

Your friend is hurting, and I think it speaks well of you that you’ve been concerned about her feelings about your pregnancy. It’s a courtesy I wish everyone extended to their friends. It’s a sad comment on how seldom it actually works out that way that I read your question and wanted to give you a big damn medal for what should be, oh, I don’t know, common human decency.

That said. Thaaaaat said, I wish your friend hadn’t countered your compassion that way. I can’t fault anyone in her position for feeling the way she must, but I’m sorry she reacted the way she did, for both of you: on your account, because it hurt you, and on hers, because if she’s not feeling bad now about sending that bitchy e-mail, she may well later with a little time and distance. Everybody eventually loses, even if she found it cathartic in the short term.

But like I said above, it’s not all about you. At bedrock, this is about her feelings about her own situation. Her feelings about what she doesn’t have are thrown into very harsh relief when confronted by what you have. This isn’t her fault or yours, and I don’t see any right or wrong in the situation. It could be that if you think this through in those terms, you’ll feel less inclined to take her reaction personally. If you truly believe you’ve treated her with kindness, and indeed it sounds like you have, drop the guilt and be ready, if you can, to welcome her back as a friend if her hurt eventually abates. She’ll come to you if and when she’s ready.

Hi Aunt Becky Julie-

I am currently 15 weeks pregnant with my second child. My best friend (also my cousin) was pregnant and due a week after me. She just lost the baby this week. This is her second miscarriage this year, and I am just devastated for her.

My question is this-how do I help her? I don’t want her to feel like I’m rubbing my pregnancy in her face, and I know she won’t think that, but it breaks my heart that I am, no matter how hard I try not to, inevitably going to cause her pain over the next 6 months.

I just don’t know what to do. I want her involved in this child’s life (I was actually planning on her and her husband as godparents) but I don’t want to push or say too much. She is a wonderful person and I know she is going to want to hear all about this baby, but I’m so scared of hurting her.

First, on behalf of every reproductive loser out there, let me thank you for even acknowledging that your pregnancy might cause someone else pain. You and the person above can timeshare the Congratulations on Not Being an Asshole medal. It seems so obvious to those of us in the know, but sad experience tells us that it’s anything but obvious to the world at large. So thanks for that.

Now as to your question. Some people maintain that honesty is always the best policy. Me, I happen to think that honesty is seldom the best policy; too many people see it as a license to reveal unpleasant things that are better left undiscussed. (What. I was raised Episcopalian, okay? We own that tightly-buttoned shit.) But this is a rare instance where I do think honesty would serve everyone well.

Why not tell your friend how sorry you are for her hurt, how eager you are not to cause her any more pain, and then ask her what she needs? Why not tell her you’re ready to let her guide things, to follow her lead, and ask her to tell you when she needs some space? It seems like the situation calls for feeling your way as friends rather gingerly; it also seems like yours is a relationship with a long history of trust built in. So if the two of you can work through it together, gradually, with her leading the way, it seems probable to me that the two of you can make it through this really difficult time with your bond intact, and maybe even enhanced.

…Whoa, hey, now that’s some new-age naked-dancing stinky-hippie shit, huh?

But in all sincerity, I’m sorry for your friend’s loss, and sorry for the turmoil you find yourself in. Good luck to you both.

—————-

Wow. So, Aunt Julie rules and Aunt Becky is going to be dethroned and I totally see why. Thank you, Julie. Also, sorry bitches, Aunt Becky is back in action tomorrow.

As always, your pressing, burning Ask Aunt Becky questions may be directed to that tiny link in my sidebar and please, tell Julie that she rules and add any other witticisms that you might have in the comments.

And no, I will not look at that rash on your penis. MUCH.

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

39 Responses to Go Ask Aunt Julie

  • Sherry says:

    I miscarried twice in four years before my son was born and once between his birth and my daughter’s. I still carry the pain of that loss in my heart even though both my children are grown and busy with their own lives. I thought that losing those babies was the worst thing that could happen until my neice had her daughter, born without her lower intestines and who died at 6 months old. To this day, I believe my neice is the bravest person I know. Years pass and life goes on. Yes, it still hurts and there is space in our hearts that beg to be filled but… There’s always a BUT… If I’d carried those first two babies to term I would not have had the children I have now. If my great neice had lived, would I now have my great nephew? Did it feel better way back then? Well, fuck NO. I felt empty and useless. My neice was a total emotional wreck. Do I wish those babies had been born? Of course I do but then I wonder if I’d have the babies I’ve seen grow and become the wonderful people they are. I don’t know if there is anything that can be said that will make it “all better”. But to those Mothers who are trying to have babies, keep trying. Do not be discouraged. If it doesn’t happen this month, try again next month and the month after that. I know what it’s like to curl up on the bed and cry but don’t let that be the only thing you do. Yes, cry but get up, fix dinner and forge ahead. It ain’t over yet. Relax. Everybody told me to relax. Easier said than done I know but it does help. I was told when I was 15 that I would never have a child but I have a son and a daughter who rock the world. Keep trying. Breathe deeply and BELIEVE! It will happen when you least expect it.

  • Deanna says:

    Julie! Julie! Julie! Ahem, I had to get that out. I’ve been reading her since 2004 and adore her. If only everyone conducted themselves with her kind of compassion and joie de vodka.

  • Jenn says:

    I agree with the advice to Not Expecting. Not long after I had my miscarriage we went to visit my in-laws. My BIL & his wife happened to be there that same weekend. And they had news: they were pregnant. And their due date? Two days after what would have been my baby’s due date. I just about died – I didn’t say a word, I just ran out of the room. Did it come off as bitchy? Hell yes. But they found out why and then they understood. The people who love you will forgive you for being a little bitchy in a situation like this and if they don’t? THEY are the assholes.

  • Dual Mom says:

    These posts remind me of what a miracle my three children really are and I think that’s a reminder we all need sometimes.

  • Elly Lou says:

    Not to be a total douche, but I’m just so touched that all these questions are so empathetic and tender. What a nifty community of broads!

  • Lucy Cooper says:

    Not Expecting, I fully believe that it’s sometimes better for all involved to sequester yourself when you just can’t keep a game face on. I had two miscarriages before my two beautiful boys, and I took them very, very hard. Especially the first one. It was obvious to me that a couple of people in my life thought I was over-reacting, and I really kind of hated them for that, and hated them for thinking that a pitcher of Margartias or a fucking bagel breakfast at Panera was going to help me “snap out of it.” I did move through that grief, but only on my time and my terms. In the meantime I heard all sorts of condescending, hackneyed advice/platitudes. This was especially awesome coming from people who were holding their babies while saying these things to me. It’s not only OK to distance yourself, it’s probably the only way you’ll keep from *accidentally* slapping someone. I wish you all the best- take care of yourself and do what ya gotta do.

  • GingerB says:

    Well, and on behalf of the pregnant people out there, if the non pregnant don’t distance themselves that way they will be hurt, and even if they do they might get hurt. I know someone who never told anyone that she was trying to get pregnant, in fact, she made comments that would leave a person believing she chose to be childless and then harbored resentments against the gleefully glowing. My heart aches for those who want kids and don’t get them, and I want to be considerate of those feelings but I need to know that I should. You know?

  • Andrea says:

    Well, with all due respect, I am a fertal-Mertal. Of course by chance and not by choice. I could get pregnant just from a toilet seat (opps…I guess that crossed the line. Plus it is the Lord’s day. Please forgive me).
    I have three kids (a singleton and a set of spontaneous twins). My sister-in-law had been trying to get pregnant for some time. When I found out I was pregnant for the second time (with the twins), I was hurt for her. I knew that my announcement, no matter how it was executed, would devastate her. It would send her into a spiral of tears, chardonnay and misery for her husband. I truly felt horrible. Not only was I pregnant, I was double pregnant. The universe had blessed me with a pregnancy that only happens to a handful of people.

    I was very careful when I told her. She was excited for me – the correct human response. But when I asked her how she was (handling the announcement)she seemed touched that I would even consider asking. Honestly, it brought us closer. Thankfully she is now pregnant (thank you IVF) with her own set of twins.

    While I cannot fully understand what it is like to have fertility issues, I appreciate take on someone who does. Thank you.

  • Amie Simmons says:

    Great post. Such a touchy subject. Thanks for talking about it.

  • Angel says:

    I just found your blog! Love it! Great post!

  • Pete in Az says:

    They make glue out of used underwear????

    That’s the LAST envelope I lick.

  • Melanie says:

    I’m afraid I’m no help on these issues. Having lost three children of my own, I am just rubbish at it. Even after *finally* having a baby (he’s three and awesome) I still find myself twinge when people tell me they are pregnant. Good, and funny, advice, though. :)

  • Belle says:

    Julie IS full of awesome and awesome advice… but I don’t want you dethroned. You’re full of awesome too.

  • Krissa says:

    I don’t gots a penis, but I have a rash on me bum… wanna see? ;-)

  • magpie says:

    Indeed, she is excellent. You too.

    BTW, sorry if I’ve not been by recently – I think your feed got screwed up in my Reader – but I’ve fixed it. Miracles of modern technology…

  • I can’t believe I’ve never read you followed you stalked you or hounded you! Read you over at kys, who is my bbff, and you are hysterical!! I totally get the facebook thing, and although not an active over there anymore, I have connected with lots of ex’s to stalk!! New follower!

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      I am totally jealous that you have anyone worthwhile to stalk on FB. I have NO ONE. I mean, I have my awesome blog friends, but other than that? No one I’ve seen naked or have scandalous stuff to lord over them about.

      *sighs*

      It’s very nice to meet you. I’m off to check out your blog!

  • honeypiehorse says:

    How kind you are. I don’t think you should stalk Dave on FB.

  • Erin says:

    hi there,

    I haven’t read this post yet, but I came over from Stir-Fry Awesomeness’ blog and had to say hi. What a fabulously funny post about FB! I’m about to figure out how to follow you (web-savvy I am not). I’ve been seeing you everywhere and I’m so glad I finally came by!

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      Well it’s nice to meet you too! I’ll have to go and read your blog. Always nice to meet new people. There’s a follow button somewhere on my sidebar, so you can use that. YAY! New friends! YAY!

  • Dr. Dre says:

    My SIL and BIL lost a baby to SIDS 11 years ago. It was one of the saddest things I have ever witnessed – Absolutely devastating and heartbreaking. When my daughter was born, I worried about it (SIDS) so much. I know SIDS and infertility are two separate issues, but still, how you handle your pain/joy with those who are grieved by loss is the key. Before I gave birth, my SIL actually told me that she wouldn’t be able to hold my daughter and to not take it personally, but it was still so vivid for her. I was so grateful that she opened up to me and told me. It was actually on a Christmas shopping trip with just the two of us that she told me that and she also recounted the entire story of that awful day. She said it was helpful to her to finally tell someone. We grew so much closer that day. When my daughter was born, I completely understood her aversion to wanting to hold her. I still do. Because we had had that long talk and she opened up to me about how she felt, I could share my joy and still show sympathy to her. And I think not being sensitive to her pain would have been so incredibly selfish. Seriously, just TRY to understand someone else’s pain and you will know what to do. If you try for just one second to imagine how shitty it must feel to not be able to conceive when you want a baby so much, you will know what to say and do or not do. And if you just try to wrap your brain around the pain someone feels when they lose that precious opportunity, you will know what to do.

  • Jennifer says:

    I have fertility issues (well, had. I made them permanent now.) I know how it feels to want a child and not be able to have one without a hell of a lot of extra work. And on the flip side, I was also one of the lucky ones who COULD have kids.

    Infertility sucks. And yeah, those who don’t go through it seldom seem to get how stupid and insensitive they are with most of their inane comments.

    Which is why I told anyone and everyone who made them that I had fertility problems. Shut up a goodly portion of them and made me a new group of friends. Then I had to practice the same thing with people because I have 4 kids and I hear “don’t you know how that happens?” all of the time now. You can’t win. Anyway around it you just can’t win.

    So tell them all to suck your big toe.

  • ScienceGeek says:

    To the Pregnant friend, oh boy, I feel you. I’ve been floating around in that boat for months now, and it really fucking sucks (different reasons though). With the guilt and the (hey, let’s be honest) secret rage that they took a blow-torch to your happiness instead of sharing in it. But you know they only did it because they’re in so much pain. Which makes you feel guilty about wanting to slap the jealousy right out of them, and wee, you’re back on the merry-go-round.
    Step off it. That’s the best advice I’ve been given (thanks, Aunt Becky). Write your friend a letter. Tell her that her reaction hurt (because it did, and you’re allowed to say that in a non-confrontational way), but you understand and you still love her, and you’ll be ready when she wants to talk.
    Then stop thinking about it, and enjoy your happiness. I’m still working on getting that bit down pat, but it’s better than that damn merry-go-round. (If it helps, limit yourself to ten minutes to think about it each day. Rant, cry, cringe, whatever. Then, after a week, make it ten minutes every second day, and so on.)

  • Bea says:

    I agree with all Julie’s advice! Except I would say to the pregnant friend that sometimes letting it drop totally and relying on the other party to come back isn’t the best policy. It can help to let her know – periodically, if necessary – that the door is still open. It’s very hard to make the first step from her position.

  • Amy says:

    As an infertile who managed, after a long struggle and a lot of money we could not really afford to spare, to conceive a longed for and greatly loved child who was fortunate to survive her premature and traumatic birth, I would like to say that compassion has to go both ways. During my struggle to conceive, a number of my friends and colleagues got pregnant and had kids, and despite my private grief I made it a point to feel happy for them, and I genuinely was, even while feeling quite anguished for myself at the same time.

    Women who conceive easily have a right to their happiness. In/fertility issues aren’t all about us, either. I didn’t share anything about my struggle to conceive until after my child was born, but discovered when I finally talked about it that a surprising number of my colleagues had experienced similar difficulties conceiving. In some cases what seemed like overblown enthusiasm for their own pregnancies was merely relief.

    There are always a few people who will push their pregnancies in other people’s faces, but chances are they’ve been pushy and insensitive about other things so that it shouldn’t really be a surprise. It’s worth congratulating them and then withdrawing. If they push, then, as Aunt Julie advises, it’s okay to be a bit of a bitch.

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