A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cinema Verite; or, The Moment That Calls For Laughter or Tears

People say that we're each the lead character in the movie (or novel) of our life. Now I don't know who these people are, but I suspect they are right. And if this holds true, then naturally it's also true that we are but supporting roles, minor characters, and even walk-on parts and extras in other people's movies.

Nothing makes this clearer than facing fertility troubles in the middle of a baby boom. All around our Token Subfertile are fecund Mamas-To-Be enjoying their moment in the spotlight, their chance to take center stage in the Nativity Play: blue wimples on their heads, flour-sack babies in arms, Josephs standing by ready to beat back the Christmas crowds with a sturdy walking stick. Meanwhile, the Third Shepherd From the Back gets left off the program.

This past weekend, the distance between the Story of My Irritating Process of Trying to Conceive and the standard baby-making genres surrounding me (generally of the Oh Wow, I'm Knocked Up! variety) felt farther than ever. Allow me to present a dramatic moment:

(Scene: The kitchen of a suburban home. Brown cardboard boxes are everywhere along with newspaper-wrapped objects. A family is in the process of moving.)

Sloper (to audience):
Hi! I'm Secret Sloper. I've been trying to have a baby for about a year and a half now. It's been very frustrating and I tend to whine a lot about it. This is even more difficult because it seems like everyone I know is pregnant or just had a baby. Friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues. They all get pregnant as soon as they even think about trying to have a baby. Did I tell you that I've heard 20 pregnancy announcements since March 2009? And that every single one of my or my husband's married cousins or siblings has had a child in the last year? Thank goodness there aren't any family members left to worry about!

Mother of Sloper (taking a break from packing): Did I tell you that Older Unmarried Cousin is going to be a father? Yeah, he had a one-night-stand at a wedding in October and now the girl is due on July 4th. He's so embarrassed that he didn't use a condom. At 35 he should really know better!

(Sloper collapses to the floor in what appears to be a convulsive fit. After a few moments, her laughter is audible over the grinding of her teeth and beating of the floor with her fists. A mumbled, "You win, universe," is barely discernible between her hysterical shrieks).

End Scene.

Of course, in contrast to this darkly comic horror tale about a young woman whose evil, empty uterus eats her mind and turns her into a raving zombie, we've got an ABC Family special about a wedding-night gone wrong and the two crazy kids forced to raise a baby (and a little hell) while realizing how perfect they are for each other! Minus the perfect for each other part and plus the Older Unmarried Cousin's New Girlfriend throwing him a baby shower. But that's clearly the third act complication immediately preceding the inevitable romantic finish, right?

Here in brain-eating-uterus land, however, the baby-makers' happy ending is beside the point. This little anecdote is just further evidence of the universe's desire to completely fuck with Secret Sloper's shit. You think it's hard to see people getting pregnant around you as soon as they want to try? The universe asks. BAM! An unplanned pregnancy. Double BAM! Due one week after your dead baby. Triple BAM! From someone you never suspected in a million years! Ha ha ha ha!

Universe, you're totally funny, okay? I get the joke, I swear. You can stop telling it.

* * * *

Having survived the frying pan of Pregnancy Announcement #21 with no tears, I jumped immediately into the volcano pit of Father's Day Dinner with the In-Laws. Just Lawyer Guy and me, his father and step-mother, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, their kids, and sister-in-law's parents. You know, exactly the kind of event thoughtful family members invite their barren relatives to the week before they had expected to have a child.

It was mostly fine. I was nervous and uncomfortable at the beginning, but that was nothing a large vodka gimlet couldn't fix. My older niece wanted me to read her a story and to follow me to the buffet, which was cute. And I'm used to the rampant fawning over the children on the part of all the aforementioned adults.

But then immediately after dessert came the moment I was dreading: the opening and exchange of Father's Day gifts right there at the table in the middle of the country club. Yet another reminder that Lawyer Guy and I are spearholders in the back row of the chorus, not even given sheet music to learn everyone else's parts.

But if being completely left out sucks, being tossed a pity line or two sucks even harder. Father-in-law and his wife handed LG a gift as the other men dug into theirs. You see, he's the daddy to a puppy.

I spent the next ten minutes crying alone in the bathroom. So much for walk-on parts.


  1. Fuck. What a weekend. I am so sorry, girl. You are dead on with your analogy about playing the part in a movie, though sometimes I feel like we are always playing the lead role in a never-ending drama of bullshit and babies. It's annoying and I feel like there is no escape. Even though I'm sure it sucked, I'm glad you were able to get out a good cry in the bathroom. Sometimes it's the only thing to keep you from exploding.

    Someday we'll all get happy endings. At least that's what happens in the movies, so it's what I'm hoping for in real life.


  2. i hated father's day this year bc i was soo enraged on dh's half that he's not a father yet. he, himself, didn't give a $hit, but i was raging on his behalf of the unfairness of it all. raging to myself that is. i swear i spent most of the day with my face purple and acting like i had a pole up my butt. it ended up bothering me more than mother's day somehow. grrrr ...

    my worst nightmare happened to me on the way to the yankee game on saturday. a huge group of pregnant teenagers got on the 4 train at 125th street. it was obviously a group outing (pregnant teens R us, perhaps) and the site of them made me sooo grumpy. dh got up to give on of them a seat, while i pretended to be oh-so very deeply absorbed with my kindle. the way i figure it (aside from the fact that i was just a jealous b*tch), they are young and have a lot of energy, whereas i'm old and frail and needed my seat. in case you think i'm a total witch, none of them were really beyond 5 months. so did i really NEED to give up my seat?

    ~ bitter in nyc

  3. Oh my. Gosh, this sounds just horrible. Sorry I can't muster supportive words for this one. I'm glad it's over.


  4. Lordy. You are a brave woman to have to bear that Father's Day event, but I get it. My MIL shouted loudly to every male in her retirement community, "Happy Father's Day." At some point someone assumed the Mr. had children and said it back, luckily, the MIL wasn't around to just watch him nod rather than explain. Egads.

    Also sorry on that pregnancy of the month club. That really, really bites in so many ways.

  5. Gah. This is precisely why we usually plan to be Ooops! Out of Town That Weekend! on these kinds of "holidays." Mother's Day? At the beach. Father's Day? At the beach. What a shitty weekend, Sloper.

    (For what it's worth, I loved reading this post. I know you know this, but you are a very sharp writer.)

  6. Brain-eating uterus. You're so right.
    Sorry about the crappy father's day.

  7. What an awful Father's day. I'm with Trinity, I loved reading this post. You certainly have a way with words hon. Ihate the your a mommy/daddy to a dog line. My mom fed me that one on Mother's day. Ugh.

  8. I'm sorry you had to deal with all that crap - it's not fair! I just dealt with another pregnancy announcement of "We thought we'd just try and see what happened." Got pregnant right away, on vacation no less.

    I think my dentist will be thrilled to see how I've been clenching my jaw lately to repress snarky remarks to the glowing mothers to be.

  9. Sounds like you did a stellar job being strong and finding the black humor in this glorious event.

  10. Oh. God. I'm not even sure what to say but this post grabbed my heart. It's like when I wished the men in my family a "Happy Father's Day" on the telephone and they said, "Same to you and your DH". I just stood there staring at the phone. And three people did that, for goodness sakes.

    Pregnancy Announcement # 21: what can I say? It's really IS like a made-for-television movie. A tragicomedy.

    O, universe, you blackhearted thing, what else are you hiding up your sleeve?

  11. Oh honey, what a weekend! I for one am so happy to have both mothers and fathers day behind us- for this year. Too many emotions, awkward comments and expectations to deal with.

  12. Ouch ouch ouch. That sucks. And it hurts. I'm sorry you had to deal with that.

  13. I loved reading this post. I'm just sorry you had to go through it.

    I totally feel your pain, babe.

    And, seriously? A Father's Day to a Dog Present? Jesus...

  14. Where to start:

    1. I'm so sorry. You know I'm a big believer in the universe sucking.

    2. The thing about your cousin would have made me drown in a sea of ice cream and watch TWILIGHT for the 100th time. SO, so, so unbelievably annoying. It never ceases to piss me off.

    3. Words fail me regarding Father's Day. Truly, it was with the best of intentions I'm sure but yeah... um... awkward. Please give him a big hug from me (and my polyp).

    -- Jay

  15. Oh shit, I'm so sorry, honey. It's so frustrating when people have good intentions but their gestures hurt so bad. How can something be sensitive and a slap in the face at the same time?? Fucking IF. XOXO.

  16. I am sorry, sweetie. That is a lot to take in. I wish I could change everything for everyone, I really do. Anywho... you have such a beautiful way of writing. Sending you lots of love.

  17. Oh my gosh, this hurt my heart to read. You endured a frack-y weekend indeed. Reading this makes it hit home how lucky hubs and I are to be far away from our families on every holiday except Christmas and Thanksgiving (I know that sounds horrible, but it's true). We are shielded from the comments, the kiddos running around, the cards like the one your hubs got, the preggo bellies at the table. (((hugs))) Sloper.

    Awesome writing in this post, as usual.

  18. Holy crap this is awful. It does seem that the universe is of it's proverbial rocker. I'm now trying to think of one of my horrible knocked up stories. There are so many. I'm now following you.