Sometimes, you meet people in the most unexpected of ways. I’m no stranger to making friends or meeting people through the internet (after all, it’s how I met my husband, the person who married us, and the bride and groom in the Easter wedding I just took part in), but who would have thought that we’d end up becoming friends with people because I wrote about planning our wedding on a message board?
I knew Nicole as an anime character, the handle she chose to write about planning their first-part-of-2008 wedding. She knew me as a variation on this blog name. It was an alternative wedding planning site and message board, something a little different from the traditional and ubiquitous WIC-fueled Kn*t. We were planning from Colorado for a California wine country wedding, and they were planning something relatively local to their home in Sacramento. I first noticed her because she mentioned a semi-pro friend would be shooting their wedding, and we were looking for affordable Northern California photographer options. She sent me his contact info, and we liked his style, and hired him to shoot our wedding.
It’s funny that we met and spent time with Paul long before Dan and I ever met Nicole and Tom in person; that didn’t happen until March of last year when we planned a trip to the Bay Area around our anniversary and Nicole said they’d be spending that same weekend in SF in honor of Tom’s birthday. We’d been internet friends for three years at that point, through wedding planning and wedding having and then moving over to the post-planning sister site. I was reading and writing about trying to get pregnant, and Nicole was writing about waiting until the time was right (she didn’t want to saddle a baby with a Christmas birthday). At that point, we’d been trying for many months with no luck, and they were going to be starting the process in another couple of months. I wasn’t sure how things would go, since we knew such intimate details about each other, having shared them online with lots of other strangers, but on that sunny March day in San Francisco Nicole and Tom and Dan and I all hit it off, talking about food and the city and Lost and all manner of things. They were surprisingly small in person (I think Nicole is 4’11?) but that was the only surprising part of the encounter.
We saw them again in May that year, when we flew out for my cousin’s wedding, again had a lovely time, and a week or two later Nicole announced (on the message board) that she was pregnant. I couldn’t help but feel a bit of rage at the universe: here we’d been trying all this time with no luck and they got lucky on the first try. Their first try ended quickly, and then Nicole got pregnant again right away. It was right around that point that I decided I couldn’t read the message board anymore, right around the same time that we got our diagnosis, and Nicole and I kept in touch on Facebook instead of through the message board.
After we moved, we tried to have them up a couple of times for a weekend visit but nothing worked out for one reason or another. Nicole and Tom invited us to their New Year’s Eve party, where we saw Paulagain, and stayed the night because it was a 2.5 hour drive home. Tiny Nicole had a big pregnant belly but otherwise seemed her normal self, and we admired their new-ish house, their nerdy collections, and their grumpy cat. In February, when I had my job interview in Sacramento, Nicole was working from home so she was able to meet up with us at a coffee shop for a late lunch. She looked ready to be finished with the pregnancy, despite her due date being 6 weeks away.
Baby Elspeth was born on March 29, our wedding anniversary and Tom’s birthday, the third child in four generations to share the birthday. She was over 8 pounds at birth, which completely explained Nicole’s discomfort the last couple of months of her pregnancy. I’d sent a shower gift and made her a blanket, and we figured we’d just be looking at photos for several months, but then Nicole sent me a message asking if they’d be welcome for a day trip visit with Elspeth. We were game, and yesterday they brought their beautiful, squirmy, opinionated 6.5-week-old infant two and a half hours northwest to visit us for the day in wine country. I was concerned that the weather wouldn’t work and we’d be stuck inside all day, but it turned out to be rain mixed with sun and puffy clouds. Dan made homemade chicken soup and biscuits for lunch, and then we took them winetasting at a couple of nearby wineries. Ellie mostly cooperated, though she definitely had opinions about various positions and environments, and showed her displeasure by crying, pooping and barfing a lot. Or, maybe that was what she was going to do anyway, since she is not quite 7 weeks old.
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I wasn’t sure how yesterday was going to go. Elspeth is another special baby, sort of, since her parents got married right around the same time we did, used the same photographer to shoot their wedding, and her mom and I connected over both wedding planning and family planning. That their family came about exactly on the timeline they’d hoped, while ours seems permanently stalled, just goes to show that nothing is fair or balanced when it comes to things like fertility. I didn’t go to the baby shower in January not only because it’s a long drive and gas is expensive, but because I knew I couldn’t handle it, and I just about lost it for a whole day after seeing Nicole’s giant belly in February. It was so hard to be happy for our friends, growing the daughter they’d hoped for with the perfect birthday, while Nicole was pregnant, and I knew I wouldn’t (and won’t) be without months of tests, needles, hormones, and people in white coats. Would I feel weird and jealous and crazy? What would the cats think of a tiny squalling human? Would it break my heart to hold a baby that in some other universe and some other configuration of factors might have been mine?
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Luckily, the baby was charming and gave me gummy smiles and contented signs while I rocked and bounced her into a better mood. She was charming in Dan’s arms, and my heart only broke a little bit watching him hold such a tiny baby that looks so much like a baby we could have might look (dark hair, blue eyes). We had a great time with our friends and they seemed to have the new baby thing pretty well under control. (It doesn’t hurt that she’s a pretty easygoing baby, all things considered, who actually sleeps quite a bit at night. And her toes are mighty tasty.) They drove home, and we sat in our quiet house with two kitties who weren’t quite sure about what THAT was all about. And we’d done it. We’d survived yet another encounter with friends who have a baby. I’d just like to know if it will ever get any easier, or if that won’t happen until we have (please please please, let us someday have) a baby of our own.