Have you ever noticed how when you’re highly attuned to a subject that you can’t seem to get away from it – much as you might want to? For me that ranges from my intense allergy to cats (want very much to have one but they’re lethal to my lungs; they always seek me out for attention or lap time) to pregnant women who seem to cluster around me like metal filaments to a magnet.
This latest encounter led me to take a moment out of my laidback, indulgent weekend for a blog post. My Thelma and Louise-like adventure has been a blast so far starting with the convertible experience of wind in the hair and singing loudly, if a little off key, to tunes blaring on the radio. (No sign of Brad Pitt yet!)
We found time to rent the T&L movie if only to refresh ourselves on the story line. Let me be clear — there will be no cliff diving going on! In fact, we’re the “G” rated version of these ladies. No crimes have been or will be committed. We spent Friday in a two-person float making our way down a mountain snow-fed river for three hours followed by rum punches and lunch at a noisy, sunshine-drenched outdoor restaurant by the river. We made it back in time to nap, shower and head over with a picnic basket full of wine, fruit, cheese and salami to catch an outdoor performance of The Taming of the Shrew on the Sand Harbor beach front of Lake Tahoe. Therein lies the reason for this post.
Louise had gone on ahead to find a place on the sand for our blanket. When I found her she was happily engaged in a conversation with another Shakespeare fan. Now let me say that Louise and I have different opinions on the whole baby thing. Where I’ve struggled with anger, resentment and other not so nice feelings toward those who conceive and their newborns she is not bothered in the least by their success. A role model to be sure. So who has captured Louise’s attention?
“Thelma,” she said, “this woman is nine and half months pregnant! Can you believe it?”
“Well,” I replied somewhat grumpily, not at all happy with the idea of sharing my child-free weekend with anyone remotely childful, “I hope you don’t have any plans for changing that tonight, ’cause I don’t think we’ll be in a position to help.”
I also noticed that out of the seven women seated directly in front of us, at least one of them was pregnant, too.
Louise continued to merrily chat up the couple while we waited for the performance to begin. I, meanwhile, poured myself a very large glass of wine.
“What are you planning to name the child?” Louise quizzed the jolly father-to-be while his wife took one of many trips to the ladies room.
He enthusiastically responded, “Well, if it’s a girl, it could be Emma Elise and if it’s a boy it could be Sean Arthur. We’ve practiced yelling both out loud in the car to see if they work.”
We both laugh at his cheerful good humor. I begin to soften a bit. He’s clearly going to be a great father. His wife waddled back and tries to get comfortable. I start to look at her in a whole new light as well. She’s rubbing her belly and quietly sits back to enjoy what will surely be one of the last quiet nights in her life for a while.
As the sun made its way down behind the tree line it occurred to me that Louise actually has the right idea. I would never in a million years have engaged this couple sitting next to us in conversation by myself. In fact, I would have avoided them like the plague and likely found somewhere else to throw a blanket. Instead, I was able to appreciate that avoiding people based on pregnancy alone, while a good defense mechanism at times, doesn’t have to be a lifelong impulse.
Curious to know how you would have handled the encounter…
July 22, 2007 1:58 am
I think you have drawn a good and courageous conclusion from the encounter. Defense mechanisms are useful and important, but as you say, they don’t have to be there forever. Leaving your usual comfort zone and changing your usual habit is often productive. And you can always get the defense mechanism out again if needed on a future occasion.
I’m glad you’re having a fabulous week-end. Enjoy the rest of it.
July 22, 2007 9:46 am
I would’ve reacted the same as you, maybe worse! Depending on the time of the month and my tolerance level of pregnant women at that point in time.
Defense meganisms are there to use when and if we need them, and we’re working hard on that great wisdom to know when to keep it in the closet.
Glad you’re enjoying your trip so far! 🙂
July 22, 2007 11:06 am
“…avoiding people based on pregnancy alone, while a good defense mechanism at times, doesn’t have to be a lifelong impulse.”
Well said. Life would be pretty miserable if that always affected you in a strong way. How would I have handled it? Well, it’s hard to say. Some days with better grace than others, that’s for sure.
July 22, 2007 12:43 pm
Most days I’d say I’m not all that bothered by pregnant women or new moms any longer. Often I feel empathy for them – albeit a blessing, pregnancy *does* look uncomfortable, and new motherhood does *not* look like a walk in the park. I guess, like you, I’d have picked a different spot, but given the conversation already began, I would have engaged with them just as you did. Who knows? That pregnant woman might have been looking at you two free-spirited women enjoying a glass of wine and felt just as envious as we are of her 9.5 month pregnant belly!
I think by striving to find our own happiness and contentment we can truly be happy for others who have found theirs. It also helps to to remember that everyone faces challenges in life – one of ours happens to be infertility – who knows what the hardships of others have been, or whether we’d fare better with those over our own. I’m trying very hard to focus on what I do have instead of what I don’t. After all, there is so much to be thankful for.
This was a great, thought-provoking post. I hope you’re enjoying your T&L weekend! It sounds lovely!
July 22, 2007 4:41 pm
Given the situation you were in, I would have likely done the same thing, but my preference would have been to find a different spot. I probably would have thought some nasty thoughts about and towards her – although I know it would probably make me feel worse.
I think it is great you were able to find some peace in that situation and discovered it doesn’t have to bother. I think that is ideal. I find it hard to do most days, but I still think it would be better if I could.
Sounds like your weekend has been wonderful. I hope it continues to be.
July 22, 2007 5:59 pm
Sometimes you have to move from your comfort zone and habitual behavior if you want to effect change in your thoughts and feelings. I’ve had to learn that all pregnant women are not THE ENEMY. I feel more evolved and less stuck in my shit for the lesson.
July 22, 2007 9:49 pm
Your Louise sounds very sweet…I am, too….but I don’t think I would have sought them out!! 😉
July 22, 2007 10:19 pm
“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.”
I’m not sure I would have been able to engage to the degree you did. I might have heard a good book back at the room calling my name…
July 23, 2007 7:28 am
At the moment?
I’d burst into tears and then go looking for a bottle of booze to swim in.
But it always takes me a day or two to get over yet another fertility related snarfus.
July 23, 2007 1:05 pm
I think you did just fine. A 9.5-month pregnant woman is, literally, the elephant in the room. I don’t think I would have been able to refrain from asking a question or two, mostly for curiosity’s sake.
July 23, 2007 2:15 pm
I would have picked my spot in the sand based on the best view of the performance and ignored all pg women around me. Of course, I never would strike up a conversation with any stranger pg or not, so that just might be my anti-social-ness, not my anti-pg-ness.
July 23, 2007 2:39 pm
It would depend on my mood I guess….but more than likely I would have had to move-sounds like you did just peachy=)
July 24, 2007 2:04 am
Hello! I just found you through Miss E, I too was on the IF train for a long time and stepped off a couple of years ago. Being childless in an age group where it is not the norm is not easy…hang in there, and I’ll be back to visit soon.
July 24, 2007 5:04 pm
Yeah, I think I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that I won’t be having my own child, so now I just feel wistful at the sight of pregnant bellies.
Went along with my husband and his best friend’s girl to the circumcision doctor and sat in a waiting room full of new mothers and new babies and new daddies. Yes, I did. I went to comfort the new mum who was very emotional. Can’t believe it, but I did. Flinched a little when the nurse assumed my husband was the father of the baby. Felt sad a bit when I thought that’s something he won’t experience with his own son. Can’t imagine what thoughts were in my husband’s mind. But we both did it, with open hearts. Moving forward in joy and sorrow.
July 25, 2007 10:01 pm
Glad you’re enjoying your trip, Pamela Jeanne! As to how I would have reacted: I’m at the point in this journey where I immediately cut anyone pregnant out of my life. Finito. I just don’t have the head space to make nice or act normal when I feel so crazy. It’s not something to be proud of, but I don’t think it helps anyone not to be honest about it either. So I would have totally avoided the pregnant chicks. (Depending upon how hormonal I was at the moment, I might even have huffed a little as I got up to move. Yes, every day I’m uncovering even more evidence that I’m just plain not a nice person. Can you say, “petty, small, and jealous”? I thought you could!)
June 15, 2010 2:34 pm
about the cats seeking your attention:
it’s easy: cats tend to choose those who ignore them. confronting an animal with a stare or too much “not seeked”-affection is considered a threat in the animal world.
take that from a cat breeder. 😉