August 18, 2009

Sara and I have been best friend since 8th grade. Though we went to different colleges, and now live in different cities, we remained close talking on the phone every week and visiting at least twice a year.  I don’t have many close friends and I cherished her presence in my life.

Sara is an OBGYN resident. In January 2008 when we began TTC I told her my fears of PCOS. She brushed the idea away and told me to wait a year. She was my best friend and an OB-GYN so I said okay. A few months later I told her I planned to switch doctors because progesterone induced cycles seemed pointless if I had a deeper issue. I didn’t think the doctor knew what she was doing. I wrote about it here but to sum it up Sara got pissed and told me that there’s nothing I can do about what’s happening. I should stick with the doctor and maybe in a year seek diagnosis and if I can’t have kids so be it, its just not in our control what happens to us. I was thrown off by this conversation. In 17 years she’d never snapped at me like this. I told myself she had my best interest at heart and agreed with her. Luckily some IF bloggers e-mailed me vehemently disagreeing with my friend and urging me to switch doctors and try getting diagnosed. Thanks to these bloggers I met different doctors until I found one I trusted and was diagnosed with PCOS.

I felt confused by Sara. I had textbook PCOS and she’s an OBGYN. After the diagnosis I told her I had PCOS. Her response was oh, followed by silence. Then she said she had to go. Okay, fine. She’s my friend, not my doctor, but I felt hurt by her response. No words of sympathy, just awkward silence. I told myself I shouldn’t hold this against her but I found it harder to call her or return her messages.  Four months went by. In the meantime I got pregnant and had my first miscarriage. The day of my miscarriage she had left a message saying it’d been a while. I thought of her and how close we’d been. I called her back. She said she was sorry to hear and I knew she genuinely felt bad for me even though she didn’t know what to say. We changed topics to other things such as what she planned to specialize in once her residency ended and that’s when it happened:

Sara: Sometimes I consider going into RE. Its good hours and lots of money.
Kate: You should definitely do it!
Sara: But then I don’t know because I don’t believe in it. I can’t practice RE in good conscience.
Kate: Why not?
Sara: Because if you can’t have a kid you shouldn’t and I’m sick of people trying to fight nature, living unhealthy lifestyles, and then coming to me to try and get pregnant.

I felt for a few moments like I could not breathe.You have to understand Sara. She has a gentle lilt in her voice and wears pink skirts and has a hello kitty phone. Never could I imagine these words coming from her mouth. She made this comment so nonchalantly I just sat there like an idiot unable to formulate a sentence.

That was in May. She’s called a few times since then and left messages but I have not returned her calls. I know she’s upset that I’m bad at keeping in touch. She has no clue how her words affected me. Jack asked me the other day You and Sara were so close you haven’t called her in the longest. I told him what happened but he said Sara is a good person and I shouldn’t end things with her. Maybe in this one area she sucks as a friend but that doesn’t negate her as a whole being. He said she’s all alone in Chicago and maybe she’s frustrated and took it out on you. Besides she doesn’t understand because she doesn’t have IF issues that she knows of yet.

But if my friend gets hit by a truck I’m not going to say people should be careful where they walk because I don’t know what it feels like to be hit by a truck. I don’t know what to do.Thanks to her I wasted a lot of time TTC in vain but I could get over that since she isn’t my doctor so I can’t blame her for giving me bad advice. But her last comment, I don’t know how to get past that. I really don’t want to let a 17 year old friendship go down the tubes but I don’t even know how to confront her and frankly, I don’t want to confront her. She called and left a message today, annoyed that I hadn’t called her in months. I know the right thing to do is tell her how I feel but I’m under enough pressure as it is with everything that’s happening, the thought of that ugly confrontation wipes me out before I begin.  I wish I knew what to do.


  1. Ouch! What’s coming next is from my perspective. I don’t know Sara, and I tend to be a bit of a hard ass about things like this. I’m one of those give

    OK, obviously, she knows your struggles. You told her about the PCOS. So, it’s not like she made the comment non-chalantly to someone who was fertile myrtle for all she knew. She knew who she was talking to. So, either 1) she’s insanely self absorbed or 2) she was dropping a hint. Either way = dead wrong.

    If you want to stay friends, you have to clear the air. Otherwise, you will harbor some resentment towards her. If you don’t want to talk to her, or your afraid you won’t be able to get the words out the way you want or without crying (I’m terrible about crying when I’m trying to have a serious talk), then maybe sending her a letter/e-mail would be the best route. Let her know that her comments have hurt you and her prejudices offend you. If she values your friendship, then she will react to that in a kind and loving way, and you will be able to move forward. If she reacts poorly, then maybe she wasn’t such a good friend.

    Again, just my 2 pennies.

  2. I think I agree with Arminta, you should clear the air with Sara for your own sake, if not for the sake of your 17-year friendship. I know you don’t want to right now, and believe me, I can totally sympathise with the unwanted pressures of “yet another thing” so maybe wait a few more days or so and then email rather than phone. But, damn it, you have more than enough on your plate as it is and you need the support of friends, not their anger at you not returning phone calls.

    Thinking of you.

  3. I’m throwing a couple pennies into the ring, too.

    Something similar to this happened to me about two years ago. (And when I say similar, I mean only that a very dear friendship was forever changed.)

    I can only speak for myself when I say, I would prefer to, at the very least, know that I upset someone and to have an opportunity to make it right. If nothing else, you may be able to agree to not discuss issues related to reproduction, period. (Hers {job} or Yours {personal matter}). That way, you can keep the friendship but, not have to deal with this sort of thing over and over. (That is if she chooses to agree to a comprimise of this nature.) Make sure you put some sort of clause into the agreement that if either of you DOES speak of it, the other gently reminds them of the agreement and if it continues, the friendship ends.
    I’d like to note that chances are, even IF you DO decide to “renew” a friendship with her, it won’t be the same…at least not for you.
    Best of Luck.

    • Thanks Jhcckkm, It’s hard for me to compromise on this issue with her because I feel like if she’s really a good friend she’d be able to handle this issue, but at the same time its better to have some form of friendship perhaps than none at all?? But you raise an excellent point, if I hurt someone and they lost touch, I’d want to know the reason why. It’s fair to them.

  4. I disagree with Hubby, while it doesn’t negate her whole being, it does call into question her character. I think you need to call her, explain why you are upset, hurt, and angry (all perfectly valid and understandable reactions to such an insensitive and thoughtless remark). And yes, she is entitled to feel the way she feels but there were much more diplomatic and tactful ways to express her feelings. I can’t imagine that type of bluntness is reflective of her bedside manner. If she reacts well, then you proceed with caution. If she doesn’t, you part company. Sometimes you do fall out of friendship with people from the past. It’s sad but it does happen.

    • Thanks Mkwewer, its hard because hubby is defending her and telling me that I have to respect that she doesn’t ‘get it’ and that she is bitter about her own life. I appreciate your opinion.

  5. Oh. My. God.

    Like you, I would be UNBELIEVABLY upset by her comment.

    I’m even more shocked by her attitude, because she’s a DOCTOR.

    Would an oncologist say something like, “Because if you have cancer, you should die. I’m sick of people trying to fight nature, living unhealthy lifestyles, and then coming to me to try and seek treatment.” ???

    Virtually every doctor on this planet spends their life “fighting nature” by occupation. Many, many diseases and disorders are “natural.” But just because they’re natural doesn’t mean we (humans) shouldn’t use our medical knowledge to better people’s lives.

    I view ANY form of infertility as a disease (like cancer). It’s a disease that impacts our quality of life, and we have every right to seek treatment and hope for a cure.

    You definitely need to confront her about this. Like some of your other commenters have suggested, maybe an email would be easiest at this point. That way, you can organize your thoughts and express yourself very clearly, without facing interruption or intimidation.

    I’m so sorry that your friend has let you down. *hugs*

    • Great point! Most doctors do spend their day “fighting nature.” Why should IF be different?

      • Arminta, Meg, thanks to both of you for your thorough advice. You raised a VERY good point Meg, and the most ironic part is she wants to go into Gynecology Oncology to help cancer patients just like you compared this to in your analogy. I mean lets argue that curing IF is optional. . . well cleft palates, reconstructive surgery after a horrific accident, hearing aides, are optional since you won’t DIE if you don’t get these services but you need them if you want to improve your quality of life. You are so right, the whole point of a doctor is to fight nature… URGH. That makes me even more mad. I wish I had said that when she said what she did!

  6. I guess it’s good that she’s still reaching out to you, but I don’t know if I could handle being in a friendship with someone who thinks like that.
    Like everyone else said – I’d email her and let her know why you haven’t been in touch. That will give you an opportunity to organize your thoughts and get it out of your head. Do it for you, though, not for her.

  7. I’ve forgiven friends who have made insensitive remarks, usually about how difficult pregnancy and parenthood are, borne of their inability to THINK about what they’re saying before it comes out of their mouths. But this is different. This was a calculated remark, something she’s clearly thought about, and such a grotesque point of view that I can barely type. She’s of course entitled to her opinion but it does say something quite revealing about her character that (a) she maintains this opinion notwithstanding how irrational and wrought with prejudice it is and (b) that she would verbalize it to someone in a position to be severely hurt by it. In all honesty, I don’t think I’d be able to speak with this friend again unless or until the air was cleared. As in, you state something about how when she said it she made you feel like your own friend thought you were somehow undeserving or unworthy of having a child just by virtue of patronizing the RE industry, notwithstanding all that you have been through and the fact that you are a stable, caring, smart, healthy, wonderful woman who deserves a child more than most. You trusted her, you valued her opinion as a medical professional, and this is how she repays your loyalty? Who the eff does she think she is? She’d get a chance to respond and then you could move on in either direction (toward or away from the friendship) comfortable in the knowledge that she knows exactly what effect her words have had on you.

    Personally I think this would be a deal breaker for me. I don’t know if I’d ever be able to ‘understand’ her after this. What could she possibly say that would explain it? But it’s hard for me to know obviously, that is a loooong friendship. But also friendships sometimes subsist on comfort or convenience alone, just like relationships, when really they are not meant to be forever. My best friend has a theory when it comes to people like this and that is – life is too short for them. Even if they’re friends. It’s like cleaning out your closet. Sometimes you have to do something painful to rid your life of clutter and discomfort. But you will be better for it in the long run. You need to surround yourself with people that make you feel good about who you are. You do not need to subject yourself to abusive people who take advantage of your friendship, who are not loyal or considerate. And you do not need to spend one more second of your precious time on earth letting her affect you like this. She doesn’t deserve your time or emotional energy.

    • Thanks Astrid, I think I’m going to tell her something along the lines of what you suggest. I never ever thought about what you said about “cleaning out the closet” I know thats a harsh way to look at things but sometimes you do go along with old relationships due to habit. You’ve given me food for thought.

  8. Wow. I’m just flabbergasted. If nothing else, I would suggest writing her a letter about you felt when she said that.

  9. Thanks guys for your feedback on this. It’s an issue that’s been weighing heavy on me and when I got the VM today I felt overwhelmed.

  10. oh maaaaaaaan, that sucks soooooooo baaaaaaaad…. i guess there are just some people who know what it’s like and some people who don’t. i guarantee you if she was standing in your shoes her opinion would change, some people just do not understand. i hope you don’t have to lose a long time friend, maybe you should level with her, tell her how what she said made you feel and that you don’t want to argue about what is right and what is not, and maybe tell her that you don’t ever want to discuss this one topic with her ever again, agree to disagree. i don’t know though, not sure if i would be able to move past that myself.

  11. Wow. This is tough. You’ve gotten a lot of wonderful, solid advice from the previous posters – and I certainly concur with a lot of it. It is so hard when friends – especially longtime friends – let us down. If you feel you can find some way to move forward with her as a friend – then certainly go for it. But if it’s no longer going to be a helpful and healthy relationship in your life perhaps it is best to let it go – even if it’s painful. For me, I don’t know if I could get past her comments – even if we agreed that we wouldn’t discuss IF, etc. Wishing you the best of luck with whatever decision you make…hang in there.

  12. Wow. Just wow. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this: I think your friend knew exactly what she was saying and who she was saying it to. Passive-aggressive behavior at it’s finest.

    Of course I hope I’m wrong about that. It’s always sad when you have to contemplate letting an old friendship go because it just isn’t healthy anymore.

    Whatever you decide to do will be the right thing.

  13. I agree with the others. I always try to be honest with my friends who are “worth it”. I can be a bit too blunt sometimes, but I am positive of where my friends stand and where I stand too. Take her out to a public coffee place. Ask to talk to her without being interrupted so you can get it all out and then give her a chance to let it sink in and discuss. She can have different opinions than you do, but she needs to understand how necessary it is to have an understanding of how her words can hurt. Also let her know that NO ONE wants an RE who thinks like that. Yikes.

  14. As to the PCOS, I spent years trying to get diagnosed with whatever the problem was from GYN after GYN and nothing. Most of them have no clue. It was something briefly described in a textbook that they never paid attention to. It wasnt until I met an RE that I got a proper diagnosis and got treatment and help. So, as pissed as I would be that she blew me off, too, I would write that off to ignorance.

    As to her comment on REs: first, anyone who wants a field for hours and money over helping people as a doctor really gets my goat. A lot. It sounds like she wants to help her over helping others. Second, her comments on if you cant get pregnant you shouldnt… There are so many reasons why someone struggles to conceive. From a basic hormone issue that is easily treated to something severe, like no sperm, which cant be treated. It isnt just about “getting pregnant”. It’s about getting healthy and living a normal life. Unfortunately, cases like octomom and the woman pregnant with 12 babies gives a bad name to the majority of REs that want to help their patients not just pad their bank accounts. Again, she sounds ignorant and it is in the best interest of future patients that she not become an RE.

    As hard as it is, I would write her a long letter/email or give her a call and discuss her issues. She has no clue and, unfortunately, as an OB, she will deal with RE patients and they will need a sympathy and understanding that she doesnt seem to have. For their sake- and yours- someone should fill her in. (I’m riled up today- want me to do it, LOL?) 🙂

  15. It is my opinion that true friends keep opinions like that to themselves. Sure she has a right to her opinion, but she was either being intentionally cruel or is so self-absorbed as to be completely inconsiderate of your feelings. Either way, not a good friend. I would most definitely call her and explain, very honestly and directly, how hurt you were by her comments. Her response would dictate whether or not the friendship is continued.

    That may be a bit on the rough side, but I firmly believe everyone has enough to deal with in their lives without having to dance around people who say their our friends but fail to act like one when it’s really important. No matter the circumstances, no matter their opinion, a real friend would be there to support you at the hardest junctures of your life.

    Good luck in however you choose to deal with it. 🙂

  16. holy sh*t. that’s just too negligent to be a mistake comment.
    I’d need some space, too, for sure. Then, if I really did what I thought I should, rather than wussing out (as I usually do,) I’d send her a letter that explains why I need a break and how you seriously disagree with her opinion and point out that maybe, just maybe, she’d feel differently if she were dealing with such IF issues herself. Then tell her to never, NEVER become an RE.

    I think, somehow, she’s jealous of you. Which, of course, is no excuse, but just might help you feel a tad bit sorry for her mean a$$.

  17. W O W
    I can’t believe those words were even said! I know you’d be throwing away years of friendship, but I hafta tell you, that’d be it for me. Especially since she lives so far away. I’d let the friendship drift away and die a natural distance death. Gaaaaaaa.

  18. Late to the discussion here again, but just wanted to offer my support. I think we can all understand your side and I agree that she has no business being a doctor if she really feels that way. Maybe you can help her make that connection.

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