I just read a post in an online community about a woman whose friends basically cut her out of their lives after she told them that she was undergoing IVF. Apparently, in the group chat no one has contacted her in months. All her friends are in relationships, and have no children. It is only since she told that she was planning IVF that this happened. It made me wonder do friends and IVF mix?
My Friends and IVF
Back in 2020 when I first started talking about doing IVF to friends I was astounded by the reaction that I got. One friend, let’s call her T, was married and had a child with her husband via IVF. The child was then 10. We had been friends for 12 or more years. She had been there through my divorce, my Dad and Mum both dying (separate occasions), and through my thyroid cancer diagnosis, and subsequent recovery. I would not call her a fairweather friend. T and I would catch up usually once a week, either for a walk, coffee, shopping at the mall, or going out out. At the time I decided to do IVF, I was single and I was running my own business. I’m not paying myself a huge amount, but I had savings.
When I told T what I was thinking of doing, she asked me why I wanted a child. It was a hard question for anyone to answer because whatever you say is important to you, and not an objective decision. So the other person might not see your reason as a good one, which is what happened in this case. I distinctly remember our first conversation in her lounge room. She was very direct (as was her style) and told me that I couldn’t afford to live in Sydney with a child, and why did I want to do it? The conversation got heated, not so much an argument, but two people with different opinions. It resolved when I decided to be the bigger person and gave her a hug and said let’s not argue about it. Resolved I thought.
A week later we caught up in the park. She asked me if I was planning to go ahead with the IVF, and when I said yes. She again asked me why I wanted a baby. I gave my reasons and explained that I had thought it through, had talked to a psychologist about it all, had written pros and cons lists, and worked out the financials. None of it seemed to be enough for her. I asked her why she decided to have her son, her reasons were no “better” than mine, remember subjective!
In the conversation this time it came out that she was upset that I hadn’t asked her about her IVF experience. But instead had spoken to two other single women who were currently going through it. This seemed ridiculous to me. Although obviously, I didn’t say that. But I did say that their experiences were more recent and therefore more relevant. And I hoped that IVF had progressed in the last ten years. Looking back on it IVF single vs. IVF with a male partner is VERY different, for one, fewer tests, two no sperm donor needed so one less thing to go through and so the list goes on. Can you see why I didn’t ask her?
The conversation ended with T on a very bad note. She picked holes in more things in my life, such as my choice of friends. I drove away feeling that I never wanted to see her again. I wanted to just drive and drive and never come back, I was VERY upset. Two weeks later I hadn’t texted her, nor her me, which was unusual for us. But it was another friend’s birthday and I was organising the gathering so had to follow her up and see if she was coming.
After my polite text re the event, I got back a” Are you avoiding me text you haven’t messaged for 2 weeks”. I thought well neither, have you! Anyway, to cut what could be a MUCH longer story short, I tried to mend fences but it was not going to happen and I haven’t spoken to her since, over 2 years ago.
The second friend I lost, let’s call her M, was a woman I’d been friends with for 4 or 5 years. But again we saw each other weekly for a walk usually. This time the conversation was on the phone when I told her I was planning to do IVF. She told me straight out that “I couldn’t afford to have a child”. M is/was a financial advisor, is risk-averse, and told me that I couldn’t afford to pay rent last month, so how could I afford a baby?
It was true that I couldn’t afford to pay rent from my salary. But I did have money saved, it’s not like I borrowed it from her. M pointed out that a baby is expensive you have to get a 2 bedroom place (I was in a 1 bedroom). I needed to buy all the stuff etc. I pointed out that I didn’t need a 2-bed place for a number of years. And babies don’t need a huge amount of stuff. It is that consumerism has gone mad and made us think that! Needless to say, she had upset me, and although we have cordially spoken since we are not friends anymore.
What did I learn?
For me not having a partner means that I turn to my friends more. So they know more intimate details of my life like not being able to pay the rent from my salary. But when it came to friends and IVF I was shocked, to be honest, by how polarising it was. But I realised that it was all about them, not about me. Let’s face it if you are a real friend you support your friends even if you think they are making the wrong decision. You might talk to them about it at first but ultimately realise that it is up to them.
For both the friends I lost I think in some way they saw it as a threat to the lifestyle that they shared with me. Ie my being single with no ties meant I could go to their place, or work around their schedule more. And me having a baby would inconvenience that? Or was it that they really believed that I would fail, despite me having run the numbers and worked out that it was doable? It just would mean giving up some things. But still, if you think your friend will fail isn’t that a reason to stay and support them? Or maybe they were upset that I didn’t ask their advice. But instead presented it as I think/I am pretty sure this is what I will do.
Meanwhile, other friends expressed concern about me managing. But said, right well if you want to do this then you need to get into a role that pays you more so you can save. Ideally, one that you can have for a year before getting pregnant so that you can get paid maternity leave! While my best friend said, ok if that’s what you want to do I’ll be here.
Losing two friends and doing IVF was hard. If you are reading this and have a friend that is going through it, remember that it is her/his decision NOT yours, and their life. Try not to judge them by what you would want. By all means, ask them, is it definitely what they want and have they thought about x and y. But if they have then just be there. IVF is hard enough without friends ditching you because they don’t like the decision you made!
If you feel lonely and could use a friend, check out our free online community that is launching in February. There will be lots of women in the same boat as you, join our waitlist here.