Last week, while feeling pretty blue over the conclusive end to yet another cycle, I had two long-put-off conversations with two friends. I spoke with Clueless Preggo for the first time since she told me about her pregnancy on Mother's Day weekend and I spoke with my first Former-Bridesmaid-With-Baby for the first time since her move to Denver in May.
I called Clueless because I needed to tell her that I'm not attending her baby shower in August. I know, I know, I made a big deal after she responded to my card about how I was going to enlist Lou-Ellen and put on a happy face and show up at the shower to spread my empty-uted cheer. But...then our close friends invited us to spend the weekend at their rental house in Shelter Island. And a baby shower at a restaurant in Weehawken, New Jersey is a poor substitute for a beach weekend under the best of circumstances, let alone after six fruitless months of post-miscarriage screwing.
So we're going to the beach!
I did offer to make it up to Clueless by taking her out to dinner one-on-one next week to catch up and give her my gifts (a sweater that I knit a year ago and never got around to finishing, a courderoy jumper, and a sweet print I found on etsy and had framed). I know that I'll be fine. I'll talk about names and nursery decorations. I'll try to be a good friend. I'm sure she'll try to be sensitive to my distress. But no matter how much soft wool and newspaper we pack around these conversations, there's always something that breaks.
In our brief conversation last week, it was Clueless's statement that she and her husband moved from their 1-bedroom on the East Side to a 2-bedroom on the West Side rather than out to New Jersey (as they'd planned prior to TTC) because she "couldn't handle that much change after getting pregnant so fast, which she kind of freaked out about." Yeah, she said she realized it was a good thing to be in her position (the "rather than yours" went unstated). And no, I didn't cry or make a big deal out of it. But still, it stung a little. It stung that she could find overwhelming the very circumstances that from my perspective sound like the luckiest stroke a person could get.
A similar moment occurred in the conversation with Bridesmaid-With-Baby. She asked how the "baby situation" was progressing and was genuinely interested in and supportive of my response. She told me she thought skipping the shower was a great idea and that I was finally putting myself first rather than everyone around me, which she has always encouraged me to do more of. But in her description of the challenges of relocating cross-country to an unfamiliar city with an eight-month-old baby--and in a few comments about how the "timing" of my future assumed pregnancy will be better than the previous miscarried one--I got the weird impression that she envied me for being childless right now. She kept talking about how hard it is to find a home that fits all their criteria and accommodates all Baby's things, how hard it is to adjust to a new environment while caring for him. She said "This would be so much easier if it were just Husband and me. Having a baby makes things so much harder."
Was she trying to make me feel better that I don't have one? Was she trying to impress upon me the awfulness of her situation? Just venting to a good friend? Because all I could think was: This is just "stuff." This is "extra." These are not major problems. They will sort themselves out. Maybe you have to move while the Baby's in school-- you just do it, plenty of people have. Maybe you have to get rid of some of Baby's things--it's fine, he'll survive. This is all fixable. This doesn't even really need fixing!
I worry that I put my problems ahead of everyone else's. Maybe in her situation (or in Clueless's) I'd be equally worried and stressed, I'd feel equally ill-equipped and equally overwhelmed and equally afraid of everything not working out just the right way. Maybe--when I'm fortunate enough to be in their shoes--I'll go back to that detail-stressing self I've somewhat abandoned and feel just as wrapped up in everything that could fall short as a result of every decision. Maybe it isn't fair of me to compare them to me and find their problems petty.
But today, I don't think so. Today I think I understand more about the kinds of problems you can fix and the kind you can't, of what you can plan and what you can't, of just how much that happens to us is luck or chance or divine plan (take your pick) and how little we can say what will lie in our futures.
I don't know, maybe acting like Confucius makes the whole awful situation a little better. If I can't have a baby, I insist on excellent vacations, skinny jeans, and some righteous moral superiority.