When ex friends and friends collide…

(Not literally. Can you imagine? A massive friend pile up.)

Yesterday I braved the public transport system into town, as in The City, as in The City of London, as in The Square Mile… Yes, the business/financial district of London. As anyone who’s spent any time working in the City will tell you, navigating Bank station is a complete nightmare at most times (steps! crowds!) and even worse at rush hour, so it was quite a brave move. 

A friend from my old job wanted to catch up, so I thought we could meet and I’d tack on another couple of friends as loads of people work around Bank. (It’s the heart of the business district in London. And extremely busy.) I decided I’d travel in after morning rush hour and take the sling, which worked fairly well. I got a seat on the tube and felt fairly pleased with myself, and B duly snoozed away. 

I installed myself in a lunch place and people came to me. I always thought parents who did this were smug ****ers, but it turns out they were just being practical. Babies are portable, for sure. But their surrounding paraphernalia, less so. Also it turns out that the City is not set up for babies. Both the places we installed ourselves in yesterday didn’t even have bathrooms! (For the inevitable apoocalypse we went to Pizza Express and asked nicely to use the bathroom.)

First up was my best friend from my current work. She’s actually a client so doesn’t work for the same company, and she’s a PA. I find it weird that people don’t expect managers to be friends with PAs, as people have commented that it’s unusual. We just kind of clicked and she’s the only one I particularly miss from work. We aren’t alike at all – she’s a bit older and kind of broad speaking, speaks her own mind and doesn’t take things too seriously. Well, maybe we are!

We had a good catch up about work and non work over pizza and she held B and played with him. I was conscious how nice she was being – she also bought him a present before he was born – as she told me that many years ago she’d had a stillborn baby. She doesn’t have any kids now and she’s probably past the age to have kids. She said she’s resigned to not having kids. Anyway I felt it was bittersweet to see her with him as she was so nice and seemed happy about it. But I guess it must hurt in a way also. 

Then randomly I realised there was a guy in the pizza place who was a friend of mine who I haven’t seen in years. So I went to check it was him and he was! We had a quick catch up (obviously we have seen each other on fb) and it turns out he lives really nearby. We worked out the last time we saw each other was at my wedding party. Yes – the one where I’m not married any more!

The third person was a friend from my previous job. (For those of you who followed my blog from the beginning, that one.) You may recall I went through some pretty bad stuff there. Dealing with operations, IVF and subsequent miscarriage with not an ounce of sympathy or understanding. 

Anyway it turns out my friend (who is black) was also bullied and ended up resigning. Not without raising a grievance. (I didn’t bother. I just left.) They just couldn’t really deal with women of colour there. We realised there were at least four women who left in quick succession because of the bullying culture. Not nice to know it’s happened to more than one of us, but sort of reassuring that it wasn’t just me. 

She ended up being on paid leave for months due to the stress of being bullied by them… Horrible stuff, but at least she was paid for that. As she put it, “They can pay for me to sit in the garden!” I kind of can’t believe that they still think it’s okay to discriminate against people who aren’t white men, but it’s that sort of company. Pretty prestigious but some rotten aspects. I’m so glad I left – my company now isn’t as prestigious but the people are nicer and I get paid more!

My final friend was a friend from my first job. We must have met when I was really young, and we’ve been friends ever since. She’s recently taken a job in London so took the time to pop out and meet us. It was great to see her as she lives outside of London so I don’t see her very often. 

We talked about how it is to be a woman who doesn’t have children. She said she’s made her peace with it, and I was really glad because I knew she’d really wanted kids with her ex. With her new guy they have very active lives and he has his kids and didn’t want any more, so she has resigned herself to not having any. 

I’m always amazed at the men who are against having kids and whose partners end up not having them. It just seems such a big thing to give up for someone – but I understand that there are plenty of women who don’t want kids. Which is fair enough. I just don’t like to think of women having to pick between their relationship and kids if they do want kids. 

Anyway, it was a big catch up day. And in the usual fashion, I posted a pic on fb of each person who’d come to see B. My fb is fairly locked down and I only post to a subset of my friends so it isn’t that many people who usually see my statuses. 

This morning I saw that an ex friend had “liked” the photos. She was someone who was friends with my ex and for all I know, still is. I “lost” her in the split as she sided with him and defriended me. (He blocked me on fb so I have no idea.) As I discussed in a previous post, I haven’t told him about B. The general consensus seemed to be that there was no point. We split a long time ago. He was upset and told me not to post stuff that might upset him (including pictures of my dog that our mutual friends had “liked”). So I’ve tried not to upset him. 

So this morning I had a moment of panic. I realised because one of the friends who I’d met with was also friends with her, this ex friend could see the post. She could see that I’d had a baby. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. 

Anyway I went in and changed the settings on the post so only my friends could see it (not friends of tagged). I don’t know how I feel about her knowing. I guess “liking” it meant some sort of approval… but she defriended me in the split so I feel like she kind of lost the right to be looking at pictures of my kid. And it also made me think of privacy and whether I’m happy with friends of my friends seeing pictures with them in, holding my baby. I don’t know. There’s a balance. 

It is a strange sort of feeling when friends and ex friends collide…

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11 comments

    • Nara

      If that is aimed at me, I’m not smug about having kids and I know full well there is more to life, as most of my life hasn’t involved having kids. Having suffered from infertility and loss for many years and finally have a child, I am not going to apologise for feeling happy about it. Happiness and gratefulness is not the same as smugness. If you’ve followed my blog you’d realise how difficult it was to have a baby.

      If you are heavily triggered by people talking about kids then maybe you shouldn’t read blogs that feature kids. By their nature a percentage of blogs about infertility will involve them having kids at some point.

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      • gsmwc02

        My comment was more directed at the topic of having a relationship with someone who doesn’t want to have kids. Sure the desire to have kids is something that couples should discuss but what good is a relationship if that’s all it’s based on? That could lead to divorce/separation and if a kid comes from the relationship isn’t fair to that child. Basing our happiness around having kids isn’t healthy either (not saying this is you). Important we have our own happiness. Even when it comes to getting through infertility with or without becoming parents.

        That’s all I was saying. It wasn’t personally directed at you. I apologize if you took it that way.

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      • Nara

        I read and reread your comment before posting mine, and I really don’t see how you expected it to be construed, other than personally. Perhaps you didn’t, but making disparaging comments about parents on the blog of a new parent is a bit… calculated.

        On the topic of having children, of course that’s not all a relationship is based on, but for many people it’s an important point to be aligned on, so they can make an active decision to forego it if they want to. For women especially if a man doesn’t want to have children then she can end up spending her most fertile years with someone who doesn’t want them, and the chance is taken away. For men they have less time pressure to do that because they’re generally fertile for longer. It’s not that their happiness is based on it but that it’s a fairly fundamental thing to give up the chance to try and do, if you don’t actively want to do that.

        Of course it’s important to have your own happiness, which is why most of us in the infertility community focused on finding the things outside of infertility to bring us happiness.

        Ask yourself this. If you truly thought it didn’t matter and wasn’t at all related to happiness why do you blog about it? It’s because it’s something significant. All we are trying to do, most of us, is try to make sense of the cards we have been dealt. For those of us blogging about infertility, it often relates to children and whether we can with intervention or adoption have children… or whether we can move to an acceptance of being childfree. And if you’ve read any of my blog you would realise I’ve spent most of my life without a child, with minimal hope of having one, and I also have experience of being adopted and the broader adoption community. So I’m not ignorant on this or the world of being without a child. The majority of my adult life has been that story.

        Everyone is fighting their own battles. So really there is no point trying to tear them down.

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      • gsmwc02

        Spending most of your life without a child and even going through infertility before having a child and your infertility ending without a child are very different. For me personally even as dark as things were in the trenches I still had the hope that one day we would become parents. Stories like yours and others help provide that hope. Once that journey ends it’s devastating. Finding what to have hope in is the struggle. Finding what your purpose is and what life will look like is a struggle. It’s significantly tougher than being in the trenches. Being childless after infertility isn’t so much about moving to acceptance it is as you put it making sense if the cards you’re dealt.

        I say this not to try to win the pain Olympics but to help others understand that it’s not the same. Because you’re right everyone is fighting their own battles and I’m sure even with your happiness you have yours.

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      • Nara

        I’m sorry, I do agree that it is different and it is really horrible you are going through that. I guess for me I consider a positive outcome for that would be to move to a place of acceptance. Which is what my friend has done – she really wanted a child with her ex but now with her current partner she said she’s accepted that it won’t happen as she is (probably) too old and he doesn’t want children.
        For me when I say “in the trenches” I mean anyone still not at a place where they have resolved their infertility, either through getting pregnant, having a child through adoption, or coming to terms with never having a child. So when I say “in the trenches” I would include people who are childless after infertility who do not feel they have come to accept it. The friends I can think of are more at the point of acceptance.

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      • gsmwc02

        Listen at least for me I know I won’t ever become a parent. There is no positive outcome. I’ve just focused on making the best of what is. There is no other choice. You either adapt or die. “Accept” is not a word I would use neither is peace.

        But that’s just me. Your friend has her own way of living through it. Just don’t assume it’s all the sunshine and rainbows even if it appears that way on the surface.

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    • Nara

      Also, it kind of p*sses me off that you’ve just come on my blog to make snarky remarks about having kids. Infertility sucks and this community is about supporting others (which you will know I have done if you’ve read any of my other posts) so if you’re just going to go around making snarky comments then feel free to unfollow or I’ll block you to save you the trouble.

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      • gsmwc02

        As I said in my other reply this isn’t directed at you personally. It’s something this community does unintentionally by pushing aside those of us who don’t end up becoming parents like your colleague. Recognition that some people won’t end up becoming parents is important not only for us but for future generations who will face infertility. Everyone matters Everyone has value in their own way. Parents after infertility have value as do those who end up childless.

        Apologies again.

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      • Nara

        The whole point of the observation is that those people haven’t been pushed aside… Not in my life anyway. A large number of my friends are older women who do not have children. The ones I described meeting are just some of them. Nobody is pushing them aside and nobody is forcing them to meet / hold babies – I went to meet them because they asked me to. I fully recognise what it feels like not to be a parent and it’s very new to me to be on the other side of the fence. I would never foist a baby on someone who isn’t a parent especially one who is not childfree by choice.

        You commented on one of my other posts that demonstrated that you hadn’t watched the video that clearly recognises that there are people affected by infertility who are not parents and not through choice. The point of the video was that they are not forgotten. Nobody is pushing them aside. They are saying they matter, just as you are saying in your comments. Especially those who go through all of that and end up childless. That was the whole point of the post.

        I honestly get why you are upset about infertility and childlessness but taking it out on me is just preaching to the choir. I know what it feels like – and yes, I am one of the lucky ones to be on the other side, but for over a DECADE I was one of the childless-not-by-choice people. I have huge empathy for anyone who is in that position. I am sorry you’re hurting and feel like nobody cares but I do care and it is hurtful when you make remarks that seem personally directed and misconstrued on my blog.

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      • gsmwc02

        When I say the childless after infertility crowd gets pushed to the side I’m not saying (or even implying) that you personally have done so but rather that this is what the infertility community does.

        I’m not saying this to be rude but recognize that you know what it feels like not to be a parent. You know what it feels like not to be a parent while going through infertility. However, you don’t know what it feels like be childless after infertility. That’s not to say what you went through wasn’t painful or less painful than what I and others like me have it’s just very different. I explained it in my other reply why it is different and I hope it makes sense. It’s not intended to make you feel guilty because it has nothing to do with you personally. There is no infertility quota where only a certain number of people get to become parents and you had your son took away from someone else. It’s just one of life’s mysteries that can’t be solved.

        My comment about the video was directed at those who end up childless after infertility not so much those childless in the trenches. The childless after infertility group is forgotten about. Not by you personally but by the community. Again my apologies and I hope this helps you better understand where we come from.

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