I’ve written a little about Diana before, and I asked her to share her experience/perspective about something that created a visible wedge between our friendship: my miscarriage (written about here and here and specifically in reference to Diana here). Want more of Diana? Visit her blog, Losing It where she writes about weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle after pregnancy.
On a Sunday in January of 2012, I found out I was pregnant. The next day, I told only my family and one very dear friend, Rachel. I will never forget our conversation. I sat down in her classroom before school started and I said, “So, I am pregnant.” She responded with a “Shut-up!” It was an awesome BFF moment. All throughout the day via email, and later that night over text, she asked me a variety of questions. Actually, she asked me A LOT of questions, things like “How are you feeling?” to “How dark was the line on the pregnancy test?” I just assumed she was curious.
The next day at school, Rachel came into my room and shut the door. I didn’t think anything of it: we do stuff like that all the time. She handed me a card, which I assumed was a written congrats. Rachel is a generous and thoughtful friend, and one of her trademarks is surprise gifting and affirmations. I read the card quickly and looked up at her. Then I said, “Wait!” I read it again. The card was not from Rachel; it was from Baby B. My own personal joy of being pregnant had just been amplified. My best friend was pregnant, too! She energetically pulled out multiple pregnancy tests from her purse and showed me each one. She told me that she found out she was pregnant on the exact same day that I found out I was. Suddenly, all of the questions from the day before made sense. I had never felt so connected to a friend. I already had so much in common with Rachel, but we were about to experience the most amazing time in our lives, together.
Rewind just a bit. I typically am difficult to get to know. I would imagine that my first impression can sometimes be read as stuck-up, standoffish, and distant. I don’t always do well during social situations and I don’t open up for a long time to people. So, you can imagine my surprise when I first met Rachel and I immediately knew we would be friends. We have joked about how we are seriously like friend soul-mates and that we were meant to meet each other by working at CHS. Another coworker actually bought us a paper gift for our first friend-iversary.
Rachel started trying to get pregnant around the same time that I started trying. This was not some weird pregnancy pact thing, although multiple students have asked me if it was. We just happened to be in similar places in our lives. (We each got married in June of 2009.) We spoke a lot about how exciting the prospect of becoming pregnant was, and we shared concerns that it seemed to be taking longer than either of us thought it would. One day at lunch, I remember Rachel saying, “I hope that no matter what, we can be happy for each other.” I never felt like it was a competition or a race to become pregnant, but I did wonder how I would feel if she got pregnant first, or vice-versa.
Over the next two weeks, Rachel and I exchanged emails throughout the day guessing at each other’s due dates and speculating on the size of our tiny babies. We talked about birth plans, names, worries, maternity leaves, etc. It was so nice to be able to talk about it with her because I was keeping it a secret from everyone else until it was appropriate to share.
One day during the last block of the day, Rachel came to my room. She asked to talk to me, so I went out into the hallway and shut the door. She told me that she had spoken to her OBGYN office, and they asked that she go to the hospital for some tests. She was fighting back tears, and I could tell that she was trying very hard to not jump to any conclusions. I did not want her to drive herself, so I insisted that I drive her home so she could leave for the hospital with her husband. I had a team teacher in the room with me during that class, so I told her I was leaving and we got in the car. It was an icy day. The roads were not clean and it was snowing. I don’t remember exactly what Rachel and I talked about in the fifteen minute car ride, but I do know that I was trying to stay hopeful for Rachel. Like Rachel, I had been pouring over pregnancy articles, blogs, and books from the moment I started trying to become pregnant. She had shared her symptoms with me, and the word we avoided saying out loud was bouncing around in my mind. I was very scared for her.
Later that night, Rachel called me. She did not have any results back, but she told me a few details from being at the hospital. While we were on the phone, her doctor called her, so we hung up. A while later, Rachel sent me a text telling me that the worst had happened: she was miscarrying. I don’t remember how I responded, I just remember feeling so sad for my friend. I do remember suggesting that she take some time off, but she told me that she needed to move on and live as normal, and I knew in that moment that she was incredibly brave.
The next day at work, I knew that something had shifted. I did not know how to act around Rachel. She was visibly drained. She was broken. I was the only one at work that knew what she was going through, but I also knew that I was probably the last person she wanted to be around. I couldn’t help but feel like the enemy. I was pregnant, and she was not. I decided it would be best to give Rachel space. I felt so conflicted. I argued with myself. I thought, maybe I should do something for her. I should pamper her. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that just my presence pained her somehow. I tried to consider how I would feel. If she did have any negative feelings towards me, I completely understood. I read the signs as best I could and I tried to give Rachel space while letting her know I was there when she was ready. This strange friendship limbo went on for awhile. People at work started to notice. After I announced my own pregnancy, a coworker actually approached me and guessed the entire situation. She somehow knew just by our actions that Rachel had experienced a miscarriage. I, of course, did not share Rachel’s story, but I dismissed the claim. Women know.
It felt very strange to be so happy for myself and so very sad for my friend at the same time. Although I was not mourning the loss of my pregnancy, I was mourning for a friend, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was mourning the loss of our friendship. The overwhelming emotion during this time was guilt. When it was safe for me to announce my own pregnancy, I felt guilty that I did. I wanted to be happy for myself. I wanted to tell everyone. I wanted to do all of the things I planned on doing as I waited to become pregnant. I told myself that I couldn’t continue to compare Rachel’s situation to mine and I needed to enjoy the experience I was having. Every time I did though, I felt like the most selfish person alive. I convinced myself that I would also suffer a miscarriage. In a weird way, I felt like I almost deserved it. At one point, my husband confronted me and told me that I was never going to experience being pregnant for the first time again, so I had to stop analyzing everything as though I had had a miscarriage. I knew that I had to just try to separate our two situations.
I eventually had distanced myself so far from Rachel that she confronted me. “It seemed like you stopped being my friend.” I was so afraid of hurting her that I actually did. I continued to hope that after some time, Rachel and I would be able to be as close as we were before. It was through honesty and a few letters that we were able to express to each other how we each felt about the situation. As time went on, things started to feel more and more normal between us. When Rachel found out that she was pregnant with Porter, I was overjoyed. I know that she was very worried and did not have the easiest pregnancy, but I felt so happy that she was going to become a mother, and that we would still get to go through the process together.
Now, Rachel and I talk daily about the joys and struggles of being new mothers. Rachel and I get our babies together as often as we can. Porter is the most amazing little man. He has beautiful skin and eyes, just like his momma. She is Auntie Rachel in our house. Although our friendship has mended, that difficult time has not been erased. Whenever I share something with Rachel about McKenna, I worry that I might be reminding her of what she went through. If Rachel did not experience a miscarriage, our babies would be exactly the same age. I can say that Rachel and I are now very honest with each other, and we are able to share these thoughts instead of letting them stew.
I can’t say that any of my other friendships have been through something like this. I am forever thankful that I met Rachel. I am a better teacher, friend, and person than I would be never having met her. She challenges me. She gets me. She is my sister, a supporter, and an incredible friend. Most of all, she is an amazing mother to Porter. I have a lot of regret from how I handled myself during this complicated situation, but I know that Rachel forgives me. That is what sisters do.
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