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).
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.
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