Shh, do you hear what I hear?

Long, long time ago…wow, a full Chinese zodiac rotation ago (12 years), there was a thing called Team Angie vs Team Jennifer, namely, nosy third parties who took a position on the love triangle of  Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Rachel Green from Friends.

Me? Team Angie. I mean, why wouldn’t a man be drawn to a badass bitch who flew planes when your wife complained 24/7 about being type-cast? Though completely neutral on her acting skills (honestly can’t tell if she has them or doesn’t,) I was turned off after reading any interview because it was one whiney rant. If I want that, look no further than this blog, or open an email from my reliably pessimistic older sister–I don’t pay for Vanity Fair to hear the rich and famous puff and pout about how life is so unfair.

Oh but Jennifer, that was over a decade ago. How times have changed. Girl, you and I have more in common than I would have ever imagined. Remember the days when you were on a tabloid every week for having a bloated belly at the beach or some invented source talking about how you were getting fertility treatments? It was rather relentless and brutal. Simply put, it was bullying and I’m sure there’s some pop psychology class at some hip college that is dissecting it now (not that these college kids know who Jennifer Aniston is, oh but their professor does…oops, I digress.) Oh yes, our parallel developments.

Shhh, listen. Do you hear what I hear?

Nothing. Yup, no one is talking about how you’re trying for a baby any more. Me, neither, about a year ago, people stopped bothering with social perfunctoriness like “Oh you never know.”

The air is thick and heavy with the unmentionable.


Enter Gaby

She’s here. The child I could have been a mother of. Kinda. Sorta.

When James and Kris approached me jokingly (but really not) about sharing them my eggs, I laughed it off–I was too old to be in the business of donating eggs. But of course I dwelled on it for weeks on end reading extensively about the bioethics of fertility medicine. As close as I was to them, and as alluring it was to pass on my genes without financial or legal responsibility, ultimately, I decided it wasn’t the right decision for me.

When I saw my bestie last year, I sensed something was off. Three months later she would disclose she was in New York (Connecticut) not for a business meeting, but to have fertilized eggs of James and Kris (surrogate egg donor) implanted. Intellectually I knew she was telling me as early as she could, but I still had to work through the feeling of not being privy to the intimate arrangement of my very good friends.

Thankfully, I came around quickly enough and was part of the support network of the unconventional pregnancy. When the bestie needed to vent because a gay man was still not a woman and didn’t quite appreciate the physical sacrifice she was undertaking, I was there. (Not that I really know what it’s like to be pregnant, but I pretended.)

Well, she’s here now, this child of James and Kris. Gone are the days of hitting gay clubs in Chelsea and Fire Island, watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, or James chastising me about what a hot mess I was. My gay male friends, the couple that I sat with at wedding tables, the ones who were up for a late night drink on a school night, the ones I would make stupid jokes about tea-bagging with…

“We welcomed this lady earlier today and our lives will never be the same,” James posted on Facebook. That’s right. It certainly won’t be the same for me either. I love you Gaby. I am one of your aunties and will always be here to support and guide you. And I knew your parents in the days before they were parents (sigh). And perhaps I could have been your biological mother. But no matter, I am here for you.



You Assume, You’re an Ass, and An Ass is Sterile

College reunion. I gasped when I saw Rhonda, who had a bump the size of a watermelon. I had absolutely no idea. We had exchanged sporadic emails (including what to wear to the reunion–she did say a summer dress but didn’t say it was because nothing else would fit) but I had not seen her in person for six months. She was wrapping up her second trimester.

I had long categorized Rhonda as someone who didn’t want to have kids. A tad of an introvert, when the conversation turned to kids I would catch her purse her lips and ruminate privately with that quadruple processing brain of hers. I always thought she wasn’t interested or that she and her husband couldn’t afford it, given their steadfast commitment to the not-for-profit sector. Having a child was selfish, when there were all these people that needed their help.

Oh but I was wrong. Or they had a change of heart. Either way I was completely flabbergasted. Later in the evening, someone else mentioned another classmate who was pregnant. This one had always said explicitly that she never wanted kids. “….The father is…John?” I asked quietly, because last I saw her almost eight years ago, she was afraid he was having an extramarital affair. I was assured John was still in the picture.

Okay, okay, so we move on. We reconcile. We change our minds. We…I mean, everyone, but me…and the spattering of us with barren wombs, holding down this fort that everyone has long abandoned. Rhonda for sure I thought was part of Platoon Sans. She proved me wrong.

Of course I’m sure these assumptions are mutual. I’m sure Rhonda assumes I’ll be single for life. I’m sure all those classmates do. Not like they ever asked me directly. Unless….

What do they know that I don’t know? 

The Second One is the Hardest

The ridiculously slender Dutchess of Cambridge (f.k.a. Kate Middleton) and Prince William (f.k.a. hottie til he started resembling Daddy Charles) were visiting the Big Apple earlier this week with an embryo in tow. Oh Kate, didjya have to? I mean, didn’t you just give birth the other day, slim down to your negative-two clothing size, like yesterday? You already had one. Did you have to rush and conceive again to prove to the world how fertile you are? On the other hand, I guess you have taxpayers to answer to…I know, I know, we get it, you’re perfect. Your hair is immaculate, your body impeccabily slender. They never let you talk but we assume you’re smart enough to land royalty for a husband. And now, this. You’re pregnant. Already!  To add insult to injury, you’re effin skinny while pregnant!!

I don’t know about you, fellow reader, but news of the second one is hard. It’s a tad more nuanced, and heavier, in a way. When your friends conceive for the first time, there’s the novelty, and there’s also relief that they were able to conceive (because they used three different fertility apps, preemptively cut down on drinking, caffeine, working hours, and had so much unspoken tension with the spouse as to whose eggs or sperms weren’t working.) With news of the second one, there’s a relief, too, because you know there are no stupid babyshowers and the level of anticipation is much more muted. You might hear about the pregnancy just once or so and then next thing you know, you get the announcement with the perfunctory first-born-is-now-an-older-brother/sister photo and you add the kid’s name to your friend’s contact information (“son-Kyle, daughter-Christine, husband–Jon (likes the 49ers)”) because there is no other way you would remember it. But it’s heavier because it’s the moment when it hits home that people your own age are (gasp!) creating families.

Families? Aren’t you just born into one? What? We have the option to create our own? Huh? Like, deliver an heir and then more heirs directly out of our vaginas? Like, mini-people that carry our genetic material that you legally, um, basically, own? And take photos that become holiday cards? And make memories, like go on family vacations, to, uhh, family destinations? That’s what our parents did! And you…you who were vomiting the other day from having too many lemon drops…and you with whom I wore matching Halloween costumes the other day…and you who got suspended from high school for your prank and…you guys are making families?? Like, you mean it. You want to be grown up and shit. You actually are serious about this family thing!

…but…but….but what about me? I mean, I’m kinda sorta well maybe um actually EXACTLY the same age as you? I’m…um…still kissing frogs and stuff and going on bad first dates? Wait, you’re telling me, that during the same time I’ve stayed at the same job, gone to yoga classes, dated the same guy (albeit with the two “broken up” episodes inbetween), and stayed in the same apartment and took the same winter coats for dry cleaning in May like an effin annual ritual, you did stuff our parents did at our age?? Like, breeding, getting life insurance and selecting schools and vacationing in kid-friendly resorts??  Why would you do that? I mean, you’re my age. That’s…just…so…foreign… Besides, it’s like, a legitimately grown up thing to do. Why? Why?! Why?!?! Why did you have to go and have a second one and make me feel extra pathetic??

Babies are Cute, Not Beautiful

I have a circle of friends where three are childless, two recently gave birth, and one is currently pregnant. I’ve started noticing there’s a stark divide in the reactions between the haves and the have-nots.

Example 1-photo of a baby

Haves: S/he’s so beautiful.

Sans: Awww cutie.

I’ve run this by other sans. No sans ever thinks of a baby as beautiful. Babies are cute, adorable, and the word beautiful is reserved for sunsets and Angelina Jolie.

Example 2-items on a baby registry

Haves: GREAT! The giraffe lamp is SO cute!

Sans: I think the giraffe lamp would work.

Generally speaking, sans quickly skim through the baby registry, look at price points, click and be glad they got it over with. Or, if pooling in, responds after three reminders from the coordinator (a have) who’s weighed the pros and cons of each potential item comparing usefulness and how happy it would make the mother.

Example 3-photo of baby bump

Here, haves clearly have empathy EQ that the socially inept sans do not. But hey, how are we to know what to say if we’ve never experienced it?

Haves: You look radiant! That’s a cute bump style! How are you feeling?

Sans: Wow! You really are showing. So what are you gonna be for Halloween??