I think I have mentioned before that I seem to know an exceptionally high number of people who are expectant or recent parents. Speaking only of people I know personally--people who are either friends, family members, or acquaintances close enough that they would know me by name--I'd estimate that at least 40 people I know have had a child in the past three years. No joke! No exaggeration! (I may, in fact, by underestimating; there might be more than 40 if I actually sat down and made a list.) And a few of these 40 people have had two children in that time frame: either twins or two children in less than three years. (Though to the best of my knowledge, no one in that group has had three children in the past three years.)
Just to give a sample, since the spring of 2006, the following people I know have had babies: my sister; a cousin-by-marriage; my college roommate; my three closest female friends from law school and at least 13 other people (at last count) from my law school class (class of '04); and a girl I used to babysit who is the half-sister of a high school friend (yeah, small town, you know).
With a couple of exceptions, the majority of the people I know who've had kids in the past three years were having their first (and/or second) child. And of course, I have plenty of other friends who have children who didn't have them in the past three years. Some of those children are grown. I *am* 38 years old, after all. (Heck, I even have at least one friend who will be a grandma before the year is out.)
I've never written much on this blog about my pre-MM history; it didn't seem relevant when I started the blog because I never tried to conceive until MM. But for purposes of this entry, I will share that I was previously engaged to someone else until March 2007, and we ended our two-year relationship 13 days before our planned wedding. (I briefly made reference to the break-up in this post.)
In the spring of 2006, I was in a relationship but not even engaged. (Though we did end up getting engaged in July of that year.) At that point, I didn't know when or if my boyfriend and I would ever have a child.
In the spring of 2007, I had just turned 36, just broken up with my fiance, and assumed that any chance I would have had to conceive a child of my own was likely lost. I truly believed that I would likely not fall in love again and marry until I was in my 40s. I happened to meet MM six months later.
It's been something of a cruel irony for me that so many people I know have been becoming parents during this period when I have been struggling the hardest with this particular area of my life. Aside from the early months when MM and I were TTC, when I was still optimistic and sure that I would be pregnant in short order, and part of the time when I was engaged to my ex-fiance, I have spent most of the last three years in one of two mindsets: accepting the idea that I probably wasn't going to have a child of my own because I wasn't in a relationship that would include that (and didn't want to go the single parent route); or learning that, even having found a wonderful man with whom to share my life, for reasons unknown to anyone, I would have difficulty getting pregnant and might never be able to, even with medical intervention.
I cannot recall another time in my life when so many people I know have been pregnant and/or new parents. I realize that my own struggles have likely heightened my awareness of such things, but it doesn't change the fact that many, many people I know have become parents recently.
A friend of mine who is not TTC (she has a 3-year-old and doesn't want more children) mentioned yesterday that she has read that there is currently a "baby boom" in progress. So perhaps that explains it.
One of my activities this weekend was to attend a baby shower. I know that many women struggling with infertility avoid these occasions out of self-preservation, and I can certainly understand why.
The guest of honor was a friend (and former co-worker) of mine. We are not close but have a lot of mutual admiration for one another. We both left our old job around the same time--she to move to another state with her Air Force pilot husband who was reassigned, and I to move to a nearby larger city for a good job opportunity--nearly 21 months ago, so it had been nearly two years since we had seen one another. (Given the poor job I've done of keeping in touch with distant friends since my marriage, I didn't even know she was pregnant until I received her shower invitation.)
Because it had been nearly two years since I'd seen my friend and because I knew that I'd likely not see her again in the near future, given that she now lives five states away and will be having a baby in August, I definitely wanted to attend the shower, even if I thought it would be hard.
I actually figured that I'd handle the shower fine. It would be only the second one I'd attended since first visiting the RE and realizing that there might be a problem. At that time, we hadn't even completed our testing, and the mother-to-be was a close friend whose shower I really wouldn't have skipped regardless. I had no problem then.
The shower actually wasn't that all that hard, but I definitely felt different than I have felt attending showers in the past. On the plus side, I got to see a few other friends who I don't see often, as well as several former co-workers who are not quite friends, but congenial acquaintances who it was nice to see again. Luckily, the guest of honor had asked that the shower not be overly cheesy, so we only had to play two games. The majority of the time was spent eating and chatting.
On the down side, I felt a pang or two when I heard my friend reading the advice and good wishes from friends and when I saw the cute little baby clothes. Another hard thing was when a friend attending the shower shared that she is now pregnant with #2 (she has a 16-month-old son). I was genuinely happy for her--she is a terrific mom and person--but hearing about her current pregnancy (and delivery of her first, since we hadn't seen each other since before his birth) just highlighted for me what I haven't experienced and may never experience.
There was definitely more good than bad, and I'm glad that I went. . . . but I'm not sure that it's an experience I'll be looking to repeat any time in the near future.
Oh, and did I mention that my other social event of the weekend was dinner at the home of a close friend? The friend is the one I mentioned above whose shower I attended last November. I am godmother to her (adorable) 3-month-old son. The other guests besides MM and I were a close mutual friend of ours and her husband with their 21-month-old son and 8-month-old daughter and another couple with whom we are all friendly, along with their 5-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. Again, far more good than bad here; it was great to see my friends, especially the ones with the little kids because they were just in town for the weekend, having moved to the DC area about six months ago. It was even nice to see the kids. I love children, and there is something special about seeing how they grow and change while they're little. I've known every one of those kids since birth.
We enjoyed ourselves, but yep. . . . we are definitely the "odd man out." Five children at the dinner party, and not one of them ours.