We had a dinner out for moms in Monkey's class last week. One of the moms, the one right next to who I ended up sitting, is pregnant. 18 weeks or so, I think. Thankfully, only a small part of the dinner conversation was about her pregnancy, but the part that did left me distinctly uncomfortable. She didn't bring it up, I'll give her credit for that. But when asked when she is due she answered "July. With my luck, though, I will be pushed to August." She then went on to say that she had swore that she would never have a baby in late summer, but it really is the ideal timing for the business.
They own a local business, one I patronized before I ever met them. It's really a great business, and something of a lifesaver for me. Another mom chimed in to say something like "I never thought about this, but I guess you do have to plan this with respect to holiday shopping season." And that's exactly it-- the thing I couldn't formulate in my head right on the spot, but the thing that had me studying my silverware rather intently during this conversation. They have a business, and the business has a busy season, and a season for preparing for the busy season. But the funny thing to me is that this is their third kid, and not only does she still think they can schedule this, but they in fact can. Perfectly. Leaving her able to kvetch about how hard it will be for her to be so pregnant in the late summer. Not to mention her concern is not increased likelihood of problems as you go over your due date. Nope-- it's the extra days in the heat.
She is a perfectly nice woman, she is. She just happens to live in this universe I don't ever remember occupying. And when I get glimpses of that universe I can't be sure who is the freak. Are we freaks? We who hold our breaths, individually and collectively, for every pregnant friend, be it online or IRL? Or are they? The unaffected? The ones who have either never been close enough to infertility, to miscarriages, to dead babies, or have been, but are still somehow sure they are not going to be touched by this?
I am not angry, and wasn't then. I am not even jealous, not exactly. But I am sad. I feel something of a loss-- I can't be a part of a conversation like that. I can't offer genuine support on the subject of the inconvenience of a hot pregnant summer, even though I understand intellectually that the choice may feel forced for her. On the flip side, I don't imagine having concerns about a pregnancy of mine that would lend themselves to an easy dinner banter with other moms in the class.
I guess that should answer my freak question. Only it doesn't. I feel that we are the realists, for we know that there is no rhyme or reason, and anyone can be hit, even the happy shiny pregnant women. I also feel, increasingly, that our culture is inappropriately obsessed with pregnant women. The feeling reinforced for me this weekend by the movie Knocked Up, of all things. What can I say? JD wanted to see it, and I heard it was funny, so I agreed.
To give credit where it is due, every time there was something that could've made me uncomfortable, JD asked whether I was ok or should he turn it off. But the plot kept being so over the top weird that nothing actually bothered me. Until the crying baby entered the picture. Living baby being born, suctioned, and crying. That being the end of the movie though, it was ok.
Back to the cultural obsession. The lead female character is an on-camera host at E! and so gets to interview stars. At the time when she is distinctly uncomfortable with the whole pregnancy thing, all the stars want to talk about is her belly, how big she looks, etc. etc. etc. She reacts to it in understandably uncomfortable ways. The movie's point about this, I think, was that her personal issues were preventing her from engaging in this happy talk that she somehow owed these people, that people had a right to expect of her, and, by extension, any pregnant woman. In stark contrast, my take away was that her personal circumstances were preventing her from engaging in this happy talk that has somehow become mandatory but really shouldn't be. People were invading her space on the one subject that, because of things going on in her life at the time, made her feel vulnerable, made her feel like it was the last thing she wanted to discuss. And yet they felt entitled.
I know that some infertiles, after years of being ignored and invisible, relish this part-- the part where strangers talk to them, and smile, and wish them well, the part where they find instant comradeship with other pregnant women and with mothers of small children. I am worried about that part. Dread it, actually.* The girl from the movie and I clearly couldn't be farther from one another in terms of reasons why public displays of interest make us uncomfortable. And she is a movie character, for crying out loud. I am just saying I get it. Which probably seals the freak indictment, firmly.
*This, I realize, can sound like one of those complaints that I should be swatted for. Except that I had this particular dread before I ever got pregnant this time. An overactive imagination, perhaps?