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The Fertility Diaries: When a Friend Is Pregnant — and You're Not

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Gina Shaw

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After sharing the joys of new marriage, three friends looked forward to becoming first-time moms together. But they're learning that the road to parenthood can be more complicated — and more painful — than they'd ever imagined. Here, they share their journey of friendship and hope.

Most women expect that when they're ready to make a baby, their bodies will readily comply. But sometimes Mother Nature has other plans. And that realization can be devastating. In fact, more than 6.1 million women in the United States find it difficult or impossible to get pregnant or carry a baby to term, and 2.1 million married couples are infertile (meaning, they haven't gotten pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sex), according to a 1995 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In this ongoing series, REDBOOK will follow the experiences of three women, all longing to become mothers, as they help one another cope with the complicated and sometimes unforgiving fertility maze. We'll also give you the guidance you need if you -- or any of your friends -- are struggling to get pregnant.

It's a chilly night in the Cleveland suburb of Medina, OH, but inside Carrie Brainerd's neat three-bedroom home, the air is warm and inviting. The smell of cookies fills the kitchen, and with Halloween just a few weeks away, Carrie and her friends Jenny Taylor and Jody Urbas chat over pizza and happily plan a weekend outing to a nearby pumpkin patch.

They hope it will be just one of many such excursions that they'll make with their families. All three got married within the last few years and are excited about motherhood. In fact, Carrie is pregnant and due in four months, but her happiness goes hand in hand with sorrows and struggles for Jody and Jenny. Of the three close friends, only Carrie has found herself with an uncomplicated pregnancy.

Together, they've been on a journey through ovulation charting, reproductive specialist visits, miscarriage, misdiagnoses, devastating loss, and a seemingly never-ending roller-coaster ride of hope and anxiety. They've had one another's support, but also the bittersweet experience of watching someone close to you get the thing that you want most -- spurring those mixed emotions of "I'm so happy for you" and "Why can't that be me?"

From Joy to Heartbreak

First, it was Jody and Jenny. The two brides-to-be began talking to each other on a wedding-planning Web site in 2002, and got along so well that they went shopping together for Jenny's wedding dress, with Jody playing photographer. A post-shopping lunch turned into several hours of talking -- as most of their get-togethers have ever since then. "When the two of us go out for lunch, our husbands have learned not to expect us for dinner!" says Jody, a 33-year-old teacher of the hearing impaired.

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