A longtime member of an online support group for women dealing with infertility announced that she and her husband found a surrogate.
Then continued to bring it up.
According to Redditor "Serenitytippsy," this member—who is referred to as "Mary"—maintained up until she found her own surrogate that surrogacy "didn't work." The group's confused reaction to her news was not surprising, but they remained supportive of their friend.
However, the approval was short-lived because Mary couldn't stop talking incessantly about her good fortune.
After much pressure from group members, the Original Poster (OP) asked Reddit AITA (Am I the A**hole) for asking Mary to leave the group.
"I'm trying to keep this short: I'm (f/41) the mod of a forum for women who can't have children and have been so for the past 7 years."
"On this forum there's a sub-group of around 20 women (all mid 30s to mid 50s) who have been on there for over 10+ years and we are very close."
"I consider all of them close personal friends, we've gone through very horrible times together, from first realizing we won't be able to have children, to accepting this, to dealing with friends/family etc."
"Three years ago one of our members died from MS and we've been even closer ever since."
This tight community was about to experience the group starting to unravel with an unexpected announcement.
"So here's the deal: at the beginning of March one of our members, let's call her Mary (47) suddenly announced that she and her husband found a surrogate and that they were having a baby."
"Now mind you Mary has been one of the longest members of the forum and has told us in detail why a surrogate wouldn't work etc. so we were all beyond baffled."
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"But of course, we were primarily very happy for her."
But the group's dynamic changed, and members took issue with Mary remaining in the group because:
"she constantly brings up the fact that she is about to be a mother while all of us are suffering from the fact that we never will be."
"Of course, this is the biggest event in Mary's life and I understand why she can't stop talking about it, it's completely understandable."
"We are all friends and the group has evolved over the years but its main reason for existing is still the fact that none of us can have children and that is its main purpose, that is the main thing we talk about."
The OP spoke on behalf of the group, but it didn't accomplish much.
"I've asked Mary to please not talk about it so much and while she seemed hurt, she promised she would tone it down. Well ... she hasn't."
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"In the last week she's talked about the pregnancy, the surrogate, all the items they've bought, how excited her family is, how her mother cried when she told her etc."
"All of it makes us incredibly upset. Yesterday I told her that either she stopped talking about it or I would have to ban her from the group and she got very angry and made a huge post in our group, accusing us all of not being happy for her, not being able to jump over own shadows etc."
As a member who is no longer relevant to the group, Mary seemed to forget the foundation on which the friendships were based.
"I think she wants to keep us as friends but not have to deal with the reason why we became friends in the first place."
"I personally think she doesn't really have a place in our group anymore."
"The group is very divided over this and I've gotten more angry calls in the last 24 hours than I ever have in my entire life before that. However, there are also a whole group of women agreeing with me."
"I'm trying to keep the peace but at this point it doesn't seem possible."
Finally, she asked Redditors:
People reminded the OP of the group's original purpose and agreed Mary can maintain her friendships outside of the group setting.
"Not The A**hole (NTA). The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. She is destroying a safe space for all of you and she needs leave."
"I get you consider her a friend and feel bad about it, but you have to do your job as mod here." – Docnevyn
"They can be friends outside of the group. But the group is for a specific purpose and specific type of discussion."
"She simply doesn't belong in the group anymore. OP's NTA" – Reasonable_racoon
"If Mary is to be part of their lives, they need to congregate on two forums, one appropriate to Mary's situation. But that still means Mary has to comply with the request to keep her own story to the other forum. Which she might not."
"This seems like in part a technical problem, not just a social one." – rareas
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"This seems like the best choice. OP should create another group, call it the 'social' one or something, and issue an invitation to everyone to join."
"Then she should ban Mary from the original group. Whether anyone joins the other group or not will show whether they are friends beyond the original common bond." – Retlifon
This Redditor believed in the initial support from members.
But they outlined the ramifications of keeping an "expectant" mother in the forum for women who can't have children.
"They go there specifically to be able to have a safe space to talk about their sorrow so they do not go in their lives swallowing their anguish when friends and family get pregnant and are excited about it."
"I suspect it might make it easier for them to be happy for the people in their lives who do have kids. Let's face it, no on wants to listen to someone who is struggling to have kids or can't have kids talk about it endlessly."
"Well those same people that can't have also don't want to hear every single detail of everyone's pregnancy/ surrogacy and prep for the baby, Especially in a space where they come to chat with others about their inability to have a child."
"What comes next if Mary stays? Does she talk about all her babies firsts? Gush about her joy in being a mom?- most likely yes."
"And then what? Does Mary get annoyed when they are talking about not having kids and tell them to tone it down because they are bringing her down?"
"As much as I understand her excitement and wanting to share with the people she cares about, she has effectively taken away their one safe spot where they can talk about their issues without judgment."
"She is behaving like TA by not having some discretion and then not understanding why she is being asked to leave and ranting at everyone for not supporting her. NTA OP." – noonenottoday
The thread became personal.
"I am a childless woman. From that I say ban her."
"She can start her own group chat, it feels like she's rubbing it in and it's a very disgraceful way to act."
"It's hurtful and shame on her for her very narcissistic attitude. Because her actions speak that this is ALL ABOUT HER the other women be damned she wants attention and doesn't care about others and is just rubbing it in their faces." – CyborgsRHere
This Redditor suggested for the OP as a moderator to write something along the lines of this after banning Mary from the group.
"I decided that while we are all thrilled that X is having a child it is not in the best interest of this forum for her to be here."
"This is a triggering factor for many of our members and we are thrilled for her soon to be motherhood, this is a place where the childless (however you all refer to yourselves) hang and chat with all the love and caring we give each other."
"We are extremely excited for X to be a mother. We also believe in protecting the mental health of our members in this forum."
This person showed some empathy towards Mary—who wanted to talk about a major change in her life with the group she's felt closest to while forgetting the reasons they bonded.
"I can see both sides but to me it sounds like she made an amazingly close group of friends in this forum, is unexpectedly going through a massively positive life change and wants to talk about it to them as anyone would their friends."
"I'd blame forgetting the purpose of the forum if OP didn't remind them but she did." – ReviloSupreme
"She is blinded by her joy. It's pretty common among parents especially on that thought they would never have kids. They talk about it all the time even when it's irrelevant to the discussion." – -bannedfornoreason-
"It is totally understandable that she is excited. But read the room, you know?"
"These women have to see something that they can't have and that is heartbreaking." – k_money55
Mary's announcement was met with support.
Then it was time for Mary to show some compassion for the others.
Sadly, that mutual support wasn't there.
For those dealing with infertility, help can be found in support groups and in resources like the book Infreakinfertility: How to Survive When Getting Pregnant Gets Hard, available here.