Just before Thanksgiving, Dan got called for an interview at a creative staffing agency in San Francisco. The day before the interview, we went to Santa Rosa in search of a suit for him to wear. Luckily, they were having a really good sale, and he got two suits plus alterations and 6 pairs of socks for under $300. Score!
A week or so later, we were in Trader Joe’s and he got a call from the staffing agency. They had a job for him, temporary seasonal work at a personalized greeting card company in the city, starting the following Tuesday. YAY! We were both super excited. After a few days of trying to figure out logistics, we decided that Dan should drive our car down to the Bay Area and just stay down there for a few days with a friend to save gas, wear/tear on the car, and a 90-minute each way commute. That left me with several days to myself, sans car, after over two months of us living in each other’s pockets. So many possibilities!
The weekend before Dan started his new position, our weekend plans with friends had fallen through and we were planning a meal of chicken soup and latkes in honor of Hanukkah when Simon called us up and asked if we’d be interested in watching Wombat for the evening, getting to do auntie and uncle things with him and being sleepover babysitters. “Why not?” we thought, and drove to Oakland to see Leah and Simon off to a fancy holiday party while we played with Wombat, changed his diaper (me), and had him asleep by 8:30 PM. The next morning while L and S slept in, Wombat and I explored in the back yard, played with markers, ate an apple and a banana (well, I acquired them and he ate them), and read book after book. When I needed a break, Dan and Wombat read more books. After his parents got up and we were all finished with breakfast, Wombat and I played “Sweep the floor with [Wombat’s real name].” He cried when we left.
Three days later, I was a day into my solitary existence and decided I’d make some Mexican wedding cookies and prepare a surprise tea party for my friend Heather‘s daughters. Heather is in the midst of some pretty ungood health issues again, and she’s off work on long-term disability leave, so after okaying my idea with her, I packed up the fancy glass teapot we got as a wedding gift, and some fruity tea, and the cookies, and I walked to her house to surprise her 8-year-old and 3-year-old. We all had a great time at the tea party; everyone was well-behaved, and we took varying amounts of honey in our tea, and we wore wonder woman rings on our pinky fingers. I gave Heather an hour or so of time to do her own thing and got to hear the latest about Hannah Montana from Natty and how when Paigey climbs the pole she’s a koala bear and about a million other interesting tidbits, schooling me in what it’s like to be a little girl in 2010. Natty had just lost her first baby tooth and received a letter from the Tooth Fairy. Paigey discovered that tea cookies dunked in tea taste delicious. And I got a couple of hours of kid time.
This past weekend, during his 12 hours of non-work time, Dan drove north after work, arriving around 1 AM Saturday morning. After not enough sleep, we got up and got ready and drove south again, Dan going back to work and me and my nonfunctional hands (story to come) to Brian’s house, where I tagged along to a chili cookoff. The reason for the chili-festivity was to allow people to meet Brian’s friend’s one-month-old son. And so I found myself holding and patting a very small baby with lots of dark hair for much longer than I would have expected, since his parents had never met me before. They seemed happy enough to let someone else hold the baby while they ate chili, and I was thrilled to smell his baby head and watch him try to focus on faces and patterns and shadows. He seemed to like me pretty well, and I was only a little bit sad. That night, we went to Simon’s band’s concert and had a great time (except for my hands still being bad), and the next day before Dan had to work again, he and I went to Wombat’s 2nd birthday party.
The party was a lot of fun. There were colorful balloons and tasty food, and I got to meet Helen Jane and her girls. Several other very small people attended, and I removed the hull from about 18 strawberries for Wombat and his friends. One of them had a four-month-old baby sister, and I again found myself holding and patting a baby with lots of dark hair. She was super easy-going and happy to be passed around to any number of party guests, reminding me of my 30th birthday party I had at L&S’s house, when Wombat was three months old, and he got loved on by about 15 people. I held it together pretty well until I started thumbing through a Shutterfly or Blurb book someone had made documenting Wombat’s birth, and then I kind of lost it. Luckily, Dan was right there and he knew exactly why I was sad, and he gave me a big hug.
I watch other people’s children* begin, and grow, and be born, and grow some more, and change and get older and turn into people who talk and want to do things themselves. I’m learning more and more to compartmentalize how I feel about other people’s fecundity from the people (who are my friends) and their children (who I love). I was thrilled to get to meet Sadie this summer (obviously, along with Jive Turkey and HoST). I make blankets for the new small people in my friends’ and family’s lives, and that helps a little. Obviously, it isn’t fair that other people get to have something I want so, so badly and can’t have, at least not for a while yet. But it also isn’t fair for my friends to have to tiptoe around my problems. Recently, a friend who knows about our difficulties conceiving sent me an email to let me know she was pregnant before I found out some other way, and on the one hand I was touched that she was so considerate. But on the other hand, I felt terrible that she might feel constrained about sharing her news with the world out of fear of hurting my feelings.
I don’t want to be the person that people have to tiptoe around, or that people are afraid of telling when they’re pregnant or even if they decide to start trying. When we first broke the news of our infertility to our families, one of our family members wanted to know whether I’d be upset if one of my sisters ends up being pregnant before I do. And the answer to that is: probably, but I’ll still be very happy for her, and thrilled to have a new niece or nephew. I’ve said before that fertility is not a zero sum game, and whether someone else is able to get pregnant and have babies has no bearing on my ability or non-ability to do so. Separating my grief and rage at our situation and my anger at how unfair it is when yet another person we know is pregnant and I’m not has actually gotten easier, believe it or not, since our diagnosis, because we have a (potential) end in sight. And I don’t want to miss out on the amazing things that come with those pregnancies: baby showers, babies, children, because I’m feeling too mean or petty to shut off the bad feelings for a while and just be happy for other people.
I wouldn’t wish wanting children and not being able to have them on anyone, especially around the holidays. Last year was hard, especially with Petra (our first baby) dying, but this year has been incredibly rough. Maybe by next Christmas we’ll be on our way to being parents ourselves and I won’t have to worry about this anymore, and every time I hug Wombat or have tea with Natty and Paigey or hold a brand new infant I can just be in the moment and enjoy it all.