The Time Warp


calendarEveryone who finds themselves assigned to the Infertility Home Room dreams of the day they’ll graduate. News of our assignment turns our worlds upside down. The ignominy hits us hard. We wonder about the mysterious cause that led to our being singled out and worry about how it will affect our plans for the future.

Once we get over the shock, we sheepishly accept our course pack and find our seat. We study dutifully, complete all of our homework on time, take the required tests and sweat out the results. When necessary, we torment the (RE) instructors and get counseling or tutoring from alumni or IF counselors.  As the stay lengthens some form study groups and pass notes while others suffer in silence.

Every few months a fortunate few graduate and make their way to Pregnancy and Delivery University. We cheer them on with a blend of envy and relief. It’s reassuring to know that the odds, while steep, can be beat.  The graduate’s spots are quickly filled by new folks, and the cycle continues. There are always a few who never seem to catch a break and remain year after year in the same hard plastic seat…

I was struck by this analogy over the weekend. We were invited to a 40th birthday party. The crowd ranged from mid-20s to 50-somethings. The couple hosting the event were newer friends. While they, too, were without children we had never broached the subject of how or why that was. I assumed given their age that they, like us, had been unable to have kids.

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It was oddly comforting when we met to think we’d expanded our social circle with a couple like us. We’d be free to get together spontaneously without concerns like babysitter availability, and discuss topics that didn’t involve diaper duty, pre-school selections and the like — subjects where we had nothing to offer. I was hoping at some point to have a heart to heart with this couple and compare our histories, but the time had never been right.

You see we’re at a weird age now. We’ve gone through more than a decade of first, second and third baby announcements, showers and kiddie tantrums. We’ve faced broken plans or been put on the bench because our family and friend’s kids’ needs, naturally, came first.

More often than not it feels like we’re living in a time warp. Just at the point when we feel like our socializing should be more adult-centric rather than kid-centric, another neighbor conceives, another friend delivers. That very morning in the mail, a baby announcement (twins) from another 40-something couple. I didn’t know it yet but my day was about to be book-ended by baby news.

Five minutes into the 40th birthday party the hostess pulled me aside, her face glowing, to share her news.  They were celebrating more than 40 — they were finally expecting. “You know,” she told me with great relief “we kept waiting and waiting and it wasn’t happening, until now anyway.  I’m due in December!”

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I hugged her, of course, asked how she was feeling. I joked with she and her husband about what they would name their child.  I’ve got the drill down. I wasn’t about to rain on their parade.

In the back of my head as I gushed along with them, I couldn’t help but think there goes another one graduating and moving on.  Not long ago the news would have leveled me. So, while caught sidewise and awash in mixed feelings, I found myself feeling more wistful than anything else. So much for our spontaneous, child-free get togethers …


14 Responses

  1. Aunt Sassy

    May 21, 2007 3:31 pm

    Sorry you lost a “safe” couple (as I call them). When we lose one (and actually, I do believe we only have one left..), we say “another one bites the dust”.

    I love your analogy of the class room. Very fitting. I am happy that she graduated, but sad that you haven’t.

  2. TeamWinks

    May 21, 2007 4:03 pm

    It can be tough to find somebody in the same spot in life. We had friends a while back say that they were excited to meet another couple who didn’t have kids, and we just had to laugh internally. We’re all searching for friends that we have things in common with. I hope that you can find those people soon.

  3. Ann

    May 21, 2007 5:32 pm

    Pamela, thanks for visiting my blog. I don’t have time right now to read more than a few of the posts in your archive (there’s only so much time I can waste at work), but I love what I see! You have a beautiful writing style. This is probably in your archives, but I’m curious what you do for a living.

    I’ve thought about the “social circle” aspect of infertility quite a lot. It really is different for couples who don’t have kids, particularly as more and more of their friends “bite the dust” (to borrow from Queen). I compare it to my horrible college sorority experience–all my friends got in the sorority I wanted except me. My predominant thought was, “Who in the world am I going to hang out with now?”

    I’m putting you on my blogroll because I think you have a lot to say, and you say it well. Thanks for writing this blog!

  4. Matthew M. F. Miller

    May 21, 2007 8:55 pm

    It’s so hard to deal with that, especially when you feel like you’re losing your CCC:”circle of childless companions.”

    Sounds like you handled it with astute integrity – you are brave.

  5. Bumble

    May 21, 2007 11:14 pm

    Oh PJ, I’m sorry. I think you handled it so very well. I pray that someday, someday you too get a beautiful unexpected surprise. x

  6. Louise

    May 21, 2007 11:39 pm

    Oh, honey, I can so relate to this post! This line makes me the saddest for us all:
    “I’ve got the drill down. I wasn’t about to rain on their parade.”

    So true.

  7. Aurelia

    May 22, 2007 1:58 pm

    I’m sorry that the circle is getting smaller. If it’s any comfort, that circle gets bigger sooner than in the past. Because once their kids turn 12 or so, they have no interest in being around their parents, and those parents will come looking for adult friends again. We’re just edging into that, with conversations that are grown up once again.

  8. Deathstar

    May 22, 2007 7:07 pm

    Just the other day, I was walking up the street after running an errand and I ran into a fellow actress walking her dog. As I was chit chatting with her, I was admiring her shirt and she says,”Oh, are you looking at my stomach?” unbuttons her jean jacket from her small waist, “cause I’m 6 months pregnant!) I congratulated her and awkwardly moved on. I was definitely not looking at her stomach, she’s tiny and I definitely would not have noticed her bump.

    We’re not really friends but when I see her she’s always friendly and once she commented about how people are always asking her and her husband if they are having kids and we agreed that it was annoying. Well, I guess it’s now annoying for her any longer. I really am happy for her. I’m happy for anyone that is expecting.

    And yet I spent the rest of the day bummed out. Sigh. Meh.

  9. Carlynn

    May 23, 2007 2:48 pm

    I liked the analogy of the infertility home room. It feels so much like that, some of us stick around while others graduate and move on to the next level. I’m sorry about the loss of a potential babyless friend. I also get excited when I meet people who have no children and I think, “Yay! Someone to play with!” until their pregnancy announcement comes along. I dream of being 45 and having all this behind me, but maybe it never is totally. At least in ten years most of my friends should be over the little kid stage.

    Thank you for your nice comment about my transfer post. I didn’t feel witty writing it but I’m glad it came out that way.

  10. Foreverhopeful

    May 23, 2007 4:54 pm

    I like this analogy as well and know how that feels. Most of my friends have all gone on to have kids and those rare few who were struggling recently got pregnant with IVF. I’m sorry about what you are going through. Wish we lived in the same city and could hang out.. 🙂 Big hugs.

  11. JJ

    May 23, 2007 6:15 pm

    Oh I wish we could all graduate! I am sorry that the news came from the new friends…but I admire your composure and your willingness to be happy for her. I know how hard that must have been…like you said, you’ve “got the drill down…”

  12. Babyblues

    May 24, 2007 3:12 am

    It’s so hard to be truly happy for those who graduate when you’re still waiting in line for your turn. It sounds selfish I know but I’m just being honest with how I feel. Well written post… as always.

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