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

Monday, July 19, 2010

Checking In With the Baby Mamas; or, Confucius Say

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.


  1. I'll tell ya...the things people say when they don't totally get where we are can really suck. Good for you for putting your needs first! No one else is going to.

  2. Yeah, one real gift of this situation is that we no longer sweat the small stuff at all. E got into a fender bender recently, and I'm all, "Endless rigamarole with insurance? $500 deductible? no problem..." Whereas before, I might have been all stressed out about this little bump in the road.

    And (assuming this pregnancy works out) I am so not worried about any of the details of this. I don't care if we live in a shack and collect unemployment for the rest of our lives as long as I get to have this baby... who cares about stuff, moving, endless drivelly details? Not this chick, and not you either.

    It IS a gift, this freedom from quibble and dither.

  3. I agree...it's good that you put your needs first. I'm not sure why your friend said what she did but her motivation doesn't really matter. It still hurt you and I'm sorry that it did.

  4. moral superiority = awesome :o)

    to ppl who haven't dealt with IF, or had to even entertain the idea that a baby might not ever come, something paltry like "where should we live" is probably a huge deal. that's the worst they've had to deal with. just like the worst WE will (hopefully) ever have to deal with is being subfertile. i'm sure someone with health issues thinks WE should shut it and just be grateful for our health, but we can only play with the cards we're dealt, so i *GUESS* i can understand the "dilemnas" that your friends are going through.

    just know, that without a doubt, when it's out turn to be mommies, something so trivial like "oh, we have to MOVE" or "i can't lose these last 5 pounds" - these things aren't going to bother us.

    i picture you and lawyer guy with a gaggle of kids crawling all over you, looking oh-so adorable. you'll be a better mom after having gone through all this. you'll know what's really important, what's not, and not take a single day for granted. sucks that we have to go through this, but we'll get there and be even better parents for it :o)

  5. I hear you. I have a hard time hearing about and relating to other people's problems right now. Oh, SIL, your two kids are making you tired? Must be so hard to get everything you wanted exactly when you want it. I catch myself on these thoughts and think how horrible am I?

    I think you're going above and beyond - taking clueless out to dinner and giving her hand made clothing? That's so kind and very thoughtful. I'm sure both of your friends recognize that.

    I'm glad you and LG are going to the beach :-) Sounds like it will be a great weekend.

  6. You are a strong, strong lady C...

    Here's the thing-- The fact that you are questioning the "seriousness" of your problems compared with someone else's just shows what an incredibly empathetic person you are.

    You are dealing with a lot, regardless of whatever they are dealing with. Try to remember that your concerns and issues are WORTHY of your attention.

    And for real-- Blow off the baby shower and dig those toes into the sand. YOU DESERVE IT!!!

  7. You are right to put your needs first. I'm sorry that your friends' comments hurt you. I often have people say similar things to me. When I found out about my second failed IUI and shared the news with our family, DH's cousin replied (with a smile and a hand rested on her pregnant belly), "At least you'll be able to drink in Vegas next week!" The truth is that no one will ever understand unless they are in that situation. But you have every right to protect yourself in whatever way possible. Your needs ARE important. Always remember that.

    Thinking of you. xo

  8. Wow. I honestly think those are both really hurtful things to say to someone in your position. I'm sure they're not hurtful people or anything, but dude. Surely they've got lots of other people with whom they can vent. Can't they put some kind of FILTER on their venting to you?

    I know that if we make it to the other side we'll experience the downsides of parenthood. It's not all a wonderful wonderland full of wonder. But I think (and HOPE!) you're right about us being stronger and better and more awesome as a result of our experiences.

  9. It was hard to read this post without get angry FOR you. Ugh. I'm sure you're right and they had the best intentions, but SHEEEEESH.

    Seriously, we have learned so much from this. You're gonna be a kick ass parent and I just know it's just around the corner for you!!

  10. This post struck such a nerve with me. I've been in this position several times. It's weird. Pregnancy just does something to people's minds. It causes an extraordinary amount of navel-gazing, of placing oneself and one's problems at the very center of the universe. Maybe this is part of the preservation instinct. Maybe it's selfish. I'm not sure (and have variously thought both). But sooner or later there is always THAT comment, that veiled grass-is-greener thing that just makes you want to hang up.

    I am SO GLAD you chose the beach. It was the right decision.

  11. Beach - yay! Where on EARTH do people's filters go sometimes? Have a LITTLE compassion, for cripe's sake. You're very strong and empathetic for even having these questions.

    And y'know what else... you're right. I definitely have a much better perspective on "little things" vs "big things" now. And, to be perfectly honest, I have let go of friendships with people who only focus on little things. Particularly when they put their little things ahead of, well, my enormous amount of pain.

    For example, the week of my miscarriage, a 'friend' who knew my history and about the loss, emailed me and said "so, I know you're busy and all right now, but I need help picking out throw pillows for my living room. Can you help? Maybe next week?"

    We don't really talk now.

  12. Yea! Weekend at the beach! Much better than a baby shower - IF or not! Enjoy every second of it and don't feel guilty. I think it's awesome that you're taking her out for dinner and are giving her such thoughtful gifts. You are an amazing friend and don't dare think otherwise!

    As for your bridesmaid...maybe she does envy you right now, maybe she wishes she had more time before being tossed into motherhood. Or maybe she's trying to make you feel better - did you ask her how motherhood is treating her? Maybe she wants to vent but is afraid to because of your situation and was testing the waters?

  13. You're a really nice and patient person to put up with this muck. I recently had a pregnant friend go on and on about how she wasn't prepared for #2 and was yelling at her pregnancy test. I just pretended not to hear her. I guess that makes me a nice and patient person too. :)

    I'm glad that beach opportunity came up at just the right time. Enjoy the heck out of yourself, and don't let the clueless pregnant friends get you down.