How can I support my pregnant housemate despite my own fertility challenges?

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Our housemates moved in in January of this year for "three weeks"… and they're still here. This was fine with me until last week when she announced her surprise pregnancy. We've been struggling with our own infertility issues, and now I find myself insanely jealous of her and her pregnancy.

I want to be supportive of my housemate, but I'm having a difficult time — even though I am genuinely chuffed for her! What can I do to stay chill and support her? — Belladonna

How have you supported your pregnant friends, family, and housemates while dealing with fertility challenges or delays?

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  1. I think you need to get them out of your house. The fact they are still there is not fair to you and your partner if they were only supposed to stay a few weeks. They need to take responsibility for themselves and their coming child.
    I am so sorry for your fertility issues. I am sensitive to that – my best friend has been trying to conceive for years and she was jealous of my baby. She loves me, and was geuinely excited and happy, but it was hard for her to see my day to day changes. So we didn't see each other as often. I totaly respected that and it did not bother me. It is easier for her now (she is even his legal guardian if I croak) but she couldn't help her feelings at the time. I think for your own sanity, you need to have them leave. It doesn't mean you love your housemate any less – you just need some space from the situation. And since it's your home, you have the perfect excuse – they should have moved out months ago.

    25 agree
    • Hey guys, let's keep this focused on the question — she's asking "What can I do to stay chill and support her?, not anything else.

      9 agree
      • Thanks Chelle – this is really helpful :) It follows the kind of pattern I seem to have naturally fallen in to…. luckily they are lovely lovely people, which really helps, as genuinely I am so pleased for them!

  2. Does she know you've been having issues? If not, she may act insensitively without knowing it. If she's aware, she can at least approach the topic more tactfully around the home. I hope she plans to be out of your home before the baby comes at least! Or else that's a whole other set of emotions to be dealing with, and a young child is involved, not just a few adults. After trying for 4 years I finally got pregnant at the same time, exact same due date and all, as my sister-in-law did accidentally. We lost our child at ten 10 weeks, and then lost 2 more over the next year while she gave birth to a lovely baby boy who I still can't set eyes on. She's been awful about it saying all the wrong things. She's gotten all momma bear, demanding that we forget about our losses and just love hers instead. I hope that if you explain your situation to your housemate that she can be more sensitive about it than my sis-in-law. It's created a massive rift in our family because we couldn't get over our grief fast enough to suit them.

    How about you and your man take a break and get away from her for a couple of weeks, a nice vacation just the two of you? Give you some time to process all those emotions and put some distance between them.

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    • That's horrible what your sister in law did to you – don't mean to derail the OP did you ever bring it up/resolve it with your SIL?

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    • Thanks for your comments Cindy, unfortunately she is not aware of my issues, it is something I have chosen to keep very private, and I certainly don't want to tell her now. She is really enjoying her pregnancy, and I think she would have the eggshells feeling. I genuinely take a little pleasure from knowing that she is pregnant and so happy and that she doesn't know I have issues. Hmmm…..That makes me sound like a strange strange woman….

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  3. So you asked how to be supportive for her, given that, I'm not going to address whether she should be in your house. That is really your decision to make.

    In 2010 I lost a baby in my 20th week. It was hard and bad and terrible. It seemed I was suddenly surrounded by pregnant friends. There were friends who had been pregnant with me, who continued on their journey while mine stopped. There were friends just conceiving. There were pregnant women at work, at the grocery store, on TV. EVERYWHERE.

    I found that the first thing I had to do was to forgive myself for not being perfectly nice and supportive in all my thoughts towards these women, who all had the thing I didn't.

    Then once I got my brain around the fact that I didn't have to be a perfect person I existed by the following rules.

    1) Acknowledge to my friends that I was happy for them, and wanted to be a part of their lives, but that it was hard, and I would sometimes have to take some space because I was sad. I explicitly told them that they shouldn't edit for me, that I would be responsible for my own moods. ( I don't have a single friend who was thoughtless to me about it after that.)

    2) If I couldn't say anything nice, I didn't say anything at all. I just smiled and squeezed their hand, or hugged them.

    3) If I could say something nice, I did, right then.

    And that is how I got through one of the darkest periods of my life with some grace.

    I hope that helps.

    1 agrees
    • Thanks Chelle – this is really helpful :) It follows the kind of pattern I seem to have naturally fallen in to…. luckily they are lovely lovely people, which really helps, as genuinely I am so pleased for them!

      Her being in my house is not the issue. Thanks for noticing that! :)

      • I am glad it helped. I will say, that I found shared joy to be increased and shared pain, lessened.

        You might not be comfortable articulating the difficulties that you are having now, and there is nothing wrong with that. But sometimes by swallowing our sorrow, we eventually choke on it.

        I would never advocate that you tell any one you feel uncomfortable telling, but make sure you have some supportive structure while you work out what is going on with you. Even just one person who can be trusted with a secret can lessen your mental load and give you valuable perspective.

        Something to think about for the future, if/when things start to get to much for you to internalize…

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        • I have since spent some considerable time talking with my husband, and with a very close male friend….. this was great advice – thanks. Telling 'some' people who I trust implicitly has helped to lighten the load.

          Thank you Chelle x

    • This comment was so so so very lovely. I think I may need to remember this mindset just in general.

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  4. I think your best bet is to get into a situation where you can support each other.

    If she doesn't know about your infertility problems, she's likely to stumble onto sore spots accidentally. If she does, she may be feeling guilty about her oh-so-fertile womb.

    Find a time to get together and talk openly about how you're feeling, but avoid listing things she's doing "wrong." And let her know you're really happy for her, it's just a bittersweet feeling for yourself.

    You don't have to go into tall the gory details if you don't want, but let her know what sorts of things upset you, e.g. if you want to cry every time she complains about morning sickness, since you'd kill to be puking for that reason.

    If your housemate is the sort of person who might find an article helpful in understanding how you feel, I think this one is pretty good:–friends/infertility-etiquette.html

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    • Thank you for the comments, but I'm really not comfortable telling her about my issues. I'm not even really comfortable talking about them with my beloved or myself yet. Perhaps in the future…..

    • Thanks Kelly, for your time and answer :)

  5. I recently have had a hard time with friends being pregnant. First of all, you are not in any way a bad friend or a bad person because you're having a hard time with this (just in case there's guilt).

    Secondly, one word: Boundaries.

    For you, that might not mean getting them out of your house, it might just mean not spending so much time together, and that's totally okay. If she asks, or notices, you can tell her that it's difficult for you, and you don't want to damage your friendship, or inflict emotional ouchies on yourself. It's also completely okay to limit the baby talk. You all have other things going on in your lives, I'm sure. I'm not saying ignore your friend or the child growing in her, because you really can't. But you can keep it from taking over the house and your life. You can limit how much baby stuff you see/hear, to a point.

    Protect yourself. For me, I've found that doing that has allowed me to be OMG REALLY EXCITED when my friend did need me (even hung out in the waiting room during the birth, prayed with her husband, took pictures of the new family in the wee hours of the morning). I could do those things because I protected myself, I did spend a little more time investing in "me" and my non-breeding friends when I needed to.

    And yeah, if you don't want to live with a very pregnant or tiny new human, you have a right to help them move on to a new living space, and support them in that transition. If that's what it takes to protect you and keep you from resenting her or stressing you out.

    5 agree
  6. If she doesn't know you were having issues, she is GOING to step on sore spots. She won't mean to, but she will. After my son died, and suddenly ALL my friends were popping out healthy babies all over, the one things that helped the most is that they KNEW I was going to have some limitations. My friend of 30-odd years understood that I could not come to her baby shower, but I was TOTALLY WILLING to listen to her gripe about her husband not helping set up the baby's room, AND I was able to reassure her that having a baby shower in the same place she had mine was OK. Another friend is totally cool with the fact that I haven't seen her (now 2 and a half months old) son yet, but know that I still love her and will see him…as soon as I know I can handle it.

    Unfortunately some people are going to be ass-wipes. but if you've been living with them for this long, you probably have a good idea if they are or not. You won't yet know what your limitations are (I'm still discovering mine), so be gentle with yourself. And sometimes you'll be completely fine with a comment, and other times you won't.

    Let your friend know. As much as you want to support your friend, I'm sure she would want to support you. Let her. Support each other.

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  7. I think it's great that you want to support her, but honestly I think this may be a time where you need to focus on yourself and your needs. And while I got it when Stephanie asked us to stay focused on your actual question, I would like to suggest that since you mentioned that they were originally only supposed to stay a few weeks and they're still in the house many months later, then it must mean something to you. Not that I wish to assume anything or put words in your mouth, but I don't think you would have made that part of the story if it was something you were completely ok with. And it sounds like now their presence is taking an enormously emotional toll on you. So my suggestion would be to take back your space and decide what is right for you. I think that it would be incredibly hard to figure out what YOU need and YOUR boundaries when the people in question are in your house…but maybe that's me. I don't mean to project anything onto you!

    In any case, I am sorry to hear of your issues with fertility, and really hope that you find a solution that honors both your friend's happy news and your own emotional needs.

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    • Thanks for your comment Holly – I think you made some really good points. I hadn't been able to pick the timescale apart, but I think on reflection (with the help of your comments – thanks again) I have used the extended timescale as an outlet for my issues. Which is, I think, quite unhealthy. This might be more of an issue than I had given credit to, but I still don't want them to leave, I just want to cope better! Ha! Thank you for helping me to think about that issue, and for your time in commenting x

  8. First of all, she needs to be made aware that you are having infertility problems and that this is hard for you. That will help her be more sensitive.

    Second, you need to be understanding, too. She's not pregnant to spite you. You know that, but you'll need to remind yourself of that sometimes. Also, just because you would feel blessed to be pregnant doesn't mean that an accidental pregnancy doesn't come with its own set of decidedly mixed emotions.

    I had a planned pregnancy, and one of the first things I thought as I looked at the test was, "Oh god what have I DONE?!" I couldn't do this. It was scary! My whole life was changing and my body was pulling weird shit on me and I was sick and tired all the time. Those first few months were not particularly easy. And yes, the child was planned and I was excited to be pregnant. But you can't be excited every second, and some things about being pregnant legitimately suck.

    If she knows you're having trouble, hopefully she can keep the complaining to a minimum. But try not to accidentally put pressure on her to be *happy all the time* because she's lucky to be pregnant.

    She does live with you. In those early days, sometimes I would come home from work and be so exhausted that I'd just go to bed and cry and cry because I couldn't handle it. I wouldn't do it in front of other people (except my husband). I would break down safely at home. But… her home is where you are. So if she has some hard moments? Try to go out for coffee or something if you can't handle watching her have a hard time.

    That's my only advice for now: to remember that things will be hard for her too.

    1 agrees
    • Thanks for this, it's helpful for me :)

  9. Try to learn to be OK with your own fertility issues. If you're not pregnant, your status quo is remaining largely unchanged. But for your friend, her body is changing every day and her life is changed forever. And change can be very scary, so try not to be mad at her if she complains about some of the annoyances of pregnancy, or even if she has some times where she doesn't like/want to be pregnant. There is often a lot of ambivalence about unplanned pregnancies, that someone who just desperately wants a baby and thinks it would be the most amazing thing ever, just can't understand.

    My second pregnancy was unplanned and unwanted, and instead of getting support/help when I would try to talk to family members/friends about, most of them said I should just be grateful that I was pregnant, since there were lots of women in the world who would do anything to have a baby. It wasn't helpful.

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  10. I know you are genuinely happy for her, but it is inadvertently being shoved in your face everyday. It's not her fault that she is pregnant and you are not, but that is not something you should have to deal with in you own home. This is not a situation that will just go away.

    Don't try to learn to "be OK" with your infertility issues, it will never be OK. Please ignore the comments from the previous poster, they are inconsiderate.

    Personally, I would sit down and talk with her and make her understand that her and her partner need to get out, on their own, and stand on their own feet for the four of you to continue being friends. Living with a friend is strenuous enough, but the huge wall between you, like the situation that you have, will cause nothing but resentment and sadness.

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  11. By being OK with it, I didn't mean don't act like it doesn't hurt you. I simply meant don't take it as offensive if your friend talks about her pregnancy/baby, and don't expect her to downplay her happiness.
    Though of course it's always best if everyone in a house tries their best to be considerate of each other.
    And besides, how do you know I've never struggled with infertility?? It's entirely possible to have an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy when you are younger, and then have difficulty TTC when you are older and in a stable relationship where a baby would be a blessing.

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  12. I agree that maybe you should ask her and her partner to consider getting their own place. Why is she still living with you guys anyway? Think about it down the line… a baby crying the house, she asking you to baby sit. Save your sanity!

    I am so sorry for you infertility troubles.

  13. I don't really have an informed suggestion to add, but my instinct would be to give yourself space to grieve and go through what you need to go through and give her space to celebrate.

    I really want to commend you for asking this question. I think it takes a really mature and giving person to ask how they can support someone else in this situation – I am blown away.

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    • Thank you for your comment – I hadn't thought of it as grieving (bad spelling?!) … but that does have similarities to how I feel. You have helped to open my eyes, thanks :)

      • Funny you should say that because I only started to think of it that way very recently. I just lost an ovary to a borderline tumor. Before we figured out it was there we had been trying to conceive. I'm going to be just fine and my other ovary is alright. However, we don't know whether it'll cause a fertility issue or not (I'm trying to stay positive, but realistic). Just a few days ago, someone commented that I need to grieve the loss of my ovary and I realized that that was what I had been feeling every time I got my period since we started trying – a strange kind of grief. I am so happy that my comment was helpful.

        • Woodlandia- if this helps ease your mind any, my sister had a wonderful baby boy when she was 41 after having an ovary removed. That alone shouldn't affect your fertility. Good luck to you!

  14. I've had a lot of responses about them leaving and I feel I should make it really clear – I'm not going to be asking her and her partner to leave my house, it is their home too, and they certainly need it as much as I do at present (they are bringing a person into the world, some stability is important). They will be moving out before the child is born, I know this, and I also know they have plans to move sooner rather than later. And I trust them.

    My question is about how to survive the middle bit between now and them moving out.

    Also, I'm not going to tell her about my fertility. I don't want to. I'm just not comfortable with it myself. And I don't want to share it with others until I have figured it out myself. It is a transitional state I think, which I think might be why it is taking so long to move into a comfortable place with my issues. I have just discovered a great forum called fertilityfriends which has been providing me with some really useful information and advice about accepting my fertility challenges, and improving my chances of conceiving, as well as understanding the crazy gynaecological/fertility treatment paths offered by the National Health Service in the UK.

    I also wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time to comment – I appreciate your time and thoughts :)

    1 agrees
    • I totally understand that you can't talk about your infertility to her right now. Do what you feel comfortable with.

      Together with that, though, you'll have to recognize that she might say something hurtful accidentally, not knowing your troubles. Try to develop a coping strategy for that (deep breathing? alcoholism? just kidding) that gets you through those tricky moments.

      2 agree
      • You're right of course, it is the price I choose to pay…

        Thats good for me right now though :)

        Thank you for your comment!

  15. First of all, I really admire you for your generosity and ability to love your friends despite your own pain, you sure are one awesome lady. I hope one day your friends get to know just how lucky they are to have

    My advice would be to find a couple of things to help you get through these tough few months whilst respecting your choices for privacy and who you live with.

    Is there someone/somewhere you can talk through how you're feeling? Perhaps a journal or blog where you can explore your feelings and reactions safely and privately?

    I was living with a very good friend when she fell pregnant unexpectedly whilst I was dealing with some really hard stuff, including feeling like I would never, never be able to have a child. I vented to a very close friend a lot and it really helped me to deal, and continue to be supportive. I also found getting out of the house to do something very distracting (in my case yoga but whatever floats your boat) really helped – I felt it refreshed me, and gave me some headspace at the same time.
    My pregnant housemate moved out, had her baby and we're still very good friends – and no one was more supportive when we finally, finally had our own baby this year. Sending you big hugs xxx

    1 agrees
    • Thanks for your comments Lady W – you made me blush!

      I have since this questions and comments been able to speak with a very close friend whom I trust implicitly. I have 'vented' and I do feel much better!!!!

      Thanks again :)

  16. I think it's extremely unfair for all these people to be suggesting you 'get her out of your house'. First of all guys, we have no idea what the actual situation is… 'Housemates' could mean a lot of things, and just because someone's stay has turned out to be a bit longer than they initially had hoped, doesn't mean you can just boot them out on the street the second something inconvenient happens, especially when they've got one on the way. From what Belladonna says, these are good, sweet people, and they don't deserve that kind of treatment just because they got pregnant. I know you don't want to share your feelings just yet, but honestly, that truly will be the best and maybe only effective way to solve this problem. Maybe the issue lies more importantly in the fact that you need to find a way to comfortably share this? I'm not in any way trying to say you should force yourself, but have you tried talking to an outside source? Perhaps a therapist, or a relative who lives out of state? It seems to me that the problem is probably made very much worse by the fact that you evidently have no one at all to talk with about this very big thing.

    2 agree
  17. I used to be a very jealous person, and what helped me was meditating on the concept that, "What they have received was not taken from me."

    It also helps to selectively indulge in the "if only" thoughts that happen. Those triggered by talking to your partner about the future are normal and would happen regardless of your friend's pregnancy. Those that are triggered by discussing the pregnancy are normal in their way, but will feed your jealousy and make you sad. Practice brushing those thoughts out of your head may help you to separate your happiness for her from your sadness from yourself, allowing you to process them individually.

    2 agree
  18. My suggestion to help you through this time is to not get mad at yourself or feel bad if you have a mean thought or jealous feelings. I have gone through a situation where others had something I couldn't get (after working very hard for it) and I would think about their imperfections/bad attitude/shortcomings and ask myself why they got what I wanted. Then I would feel bad about being so negative and petty. I had to get myself out of the feeling bad, feeling negative, and feeling bad about being negative loop. I had to remind myself that my life isn't a list of things that must be done in a sequential order before I can move onto the next thing I want. So I took a project I had put off for some time and dove into that as a way to get my mind distracted until I got excited about moving forward. I also exercised and learned how to cook new healthy meals. I read some great books. I talked to my husband a lot and apologized ahead of time for my less-than-stellar behavior.

    The only thing I didn't do that I wish I would have- I didn't turn the computer off until much later. I wanted to find people like me who had gone through similar experiences. It helps a little at first but then you are thinking about your situation more, not less. I was finally able to move on when I actually moved on to something new.

    Good luck. And I truly think that as soon as you figure out how to handle this situation, they will have moved out and life will be moving you on. That is the way it always seems to work for me. Some things you just can't force.

    1 agrees
  19. Thanks for your comments! :) Everyone, I feel blessed for so many people taking time to comment for me, and share their precious experiences….

    I have managed to make some moves forwards. In a small update, my friends have moved out now – of their own accord, into a lovely little house. And they had their 20 week scan today, and are having a little girl. And I'm still so chuffed for them! :)

    Asking this question has enabled me to think about angles I had never thought about, and to re-evaluate my current position. I know now, that I need to take some time to address my issues around fertility, as clearly it is a bigger 'thing' for me than I had thought. And I have been encouraged to share my feelings with my close friend. Why ever I had thought he wouldn't understand I don't know! (a womans mind can clearly play strange tricks on itself)

    I'm certainly not 'cured' and I haven't moved on too far yet, but the path is clearer, and now I'm not walking it alone.

    Thank you Stephanie for posting my question, Offbeat Mama and Ariel for it's existence and all of you for your time.

    3 agree

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