So here I am, seven and a half months into this motherhood gig, and I’m trying to make friends with other mamas. It’s harder than you’d think — amiright, ladies?
All of our “pre-TTC” friends all live in Europe or the East Coast, but distance is less of an issue than the age gap of our kids. In 2008, almost all of our friends got knocked up. And they were all due in the autumn. There were 10 babies born between September 25th and December 31st.
Those kids are now six. Their siblings are three or four. It’s quite an age gap, and, I’ll be honest, it kind of makes me sad that our kids won’t be friends with V the way so many of them are with each other. So I’ve been making a concerted effort to meet other moms who just had their first kid in their thirties.
I struck gold in San Diego a few times. My friend, E, who I’ve written about before, has a daughter a few months older than V. I love E’s company. Even when we were both recovering from our miscarriages and tearfully supporting one another, she always makes me roar with laughter. But when E went back to work, I had to explore other friendships.
Coincidentally, another woman who was published in the Three Minus One anthology lives in San Diego. When we connected online we learned that we were both pregnant with girls due within six weeks of each other. C isn’t infertile, she and her wife used donor sperm to have their daughter. I really like C and her wife, and I’m also happy that V already knows another third party-conceived kid.
And through C, my newest friend is S whose son is a couple of months older than V. Our first play date was at her house and my humble food offerings were nothing compared to the smorgasbord she somehow prepared with a babe in tow. She feels like an old friend who I’m getting to know again after many years.
All three women and I have things in common: babies around the same age, a love of food, an international streak, and, one way or another, they have a connection to the Spanish language or Central / South American culture. But I think it is our experience with grief (from all sorts of different experiences) and our ability to sit with another person’s pain that has allowed us to become friends. Much in the same way that I have, unbelievably, made genuine friendships with people I met online and, with a couple of exceptions, have never hugged in person.
So this new thing of finding other IRL mama friends is proving tricky. I think everyone I’ve met has had zero problems with their fertility. Parenting after loss is definitely a different kettle of fish; parenting after loss and infertility feels other-worldly by comparison. I don’t know why, but right now it feels important to me to be able to connect with other parents who have experienced infertility. I’m on Twitter less and less these days, and more in the secret Facebook group I co-created to support parents like me (parenting after loss and/or infertility, although anyone is welcome to join*). But I also don’t want V to see me glued to my phone all day, so I’ve been making an effort to stay offline.
I’ve met a couple of people via Meetup.com, and joined the 35+ Mamas group thinking surely someone must have dealt with infertility. So far, nope. One woman claimed she did IVF to have her daughter, but she didn’t know anything about IVF — which makes me conclude she was either lying or totally blimmin’ ditzy. Another woman focused on the fact that her friend did IVF for her first but magically got knocked up with her second and third kids, leading her to conclude that her friend “probably wasn’t infertile, she just needed to relax.” Not even the 41-year-old. Unfathomably, she got pregnant at the age of 40 on the first try. Oh, and she never wanted kids until a few months before. Her experience might actually be the complete opposite of mine, in fact. :/
Now if I mention infertility at all, it’s casual. We did a form of IVF to have V. It’s holding my cards close to my chest, but it is the first paving stone for anyone I eventually want to let in. Sharing my infertility story in full is probably a bit discombobulating to someone who conceived easily and who is as sleep-deprived as I am. There’s also a part of me that wonders if the other moms who know I did DEIVF look at me and feel like they are more mothers to their babies than I am to mine. Because, honestly, a couple of times I mentioned it, a few people have gone silent and suddenly become engrossed in their baby. (But to her credit, the IVF ditz asked a brilliant question: What was it like, choosing an egg donor?)
I think what I’m learning is that having a baby resolves childlessness, but it doesn’t resolve infertility. I’m trying to let go of being an infertile with a baby. It just doesn’t feel right scrubbing the big red IF off my forehead though. Maybe one day I will.
* If you’re not already a member of the secret Facebook group and want to learn more, please email me.