The only time in my life when I have felt like the “other woman” is when I was pregnant. Let me make it clear I was pregnant with my husband’s child and there was no unsavoury behaviour to speak of, but I almost felt like I was cheating and causing heartache to another woman.
I felt this way simply because I was pregnant when they were not. All around me were wonderful women, dear friends, who were suffering with infertility. It felt like I was cheating them of the experience.
It wasn’t until my third pregnancy that I became acutely aware of this other woman feeling. There I was blissfully knocked up again when a sobering thought occurred to me, how should I tell my friend? My friend who had been through test after test, doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment and yet still had no baby of her own. My friend who had been on an emotional rollercoaster ride with dips and turns that I could only guess at, because how could I completely understand what she was feeling when my experience was the opposite?
Whilst I write of a singular friend, she was in reality a number of women, a different name and form with the same underlying situation, a yearning for offspring that was being met with obstacle after obstacle. With each of these friends my dilemma was the same, how to share my joy and good fortune whilst remaining sensitive to their hardship.
The weight of consideration was applied to any conversation pertaining to pregnancy. I often oscillated between asking how their journey was going and avoiding it completely in case they were emotionally raw and feeling frustrated with people asking. But sharing news of yet another pregnancy for me was the hardest.
By this stage in life I was much more aware having ample occasion to observe other women through the eyes of Motherhood. So in sharing my news I decided on a precautionary course of action. I chose to send what I termed, an advance notification. This was a short email, a text or a voicemail sharing my pregnancy news yet giving my friend the chance to hear it without the need to mask her reaction. I would then wait for a couple of days to give her time to deal with her emotions before following up with more personal contact. I never needed to, they always called me and offered congratulations because my friends are wonderful and kind and whilst they probably cried a little for the inequality of it they were happy for me.
Infertility must be a distasteful burden to bear and affects a great number of people indirectly. For those who feel it’s effects directly I wish you all strength and courage on your journey, I wish you friends who are sensitive and may you attain your family dream in a timely manner.