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.
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….
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.