Last night my husband and I attended a Chanuka party hosted by a friend of difficult-to-describe status. When I started my job I met three women at a new faculty orientation. The four of us are now known as the Lady Professors, in reference to a remark made about one of us: She's pretty hot for a lady professor. I thought that was funny, and have "reclaimed" the totally sexist description. The Lady Professors have coffee regularly, and we vent about those numerous things our husbands can't muster the slightest interest in hearing about. We also vent about more personal things and they've come over for Thanksgiving dinner and whatnot. We're friends, but we have little in common aside from being at the same stage of our careers. We rarely see each other off campus and our menfolk don't really click, so it's a weird species of friendship.
SO: This party was hosted by the Lady Professor I'm closest to--let's call her LP1. LP1 knows my situation, and likes to ask me about it. She's also tried to comfort me with stories of her brother's successful IVF experience. She tells me details about her life that she doesn't share with the rest of the LPs. For instance, when she had a baby a year and a half ago, she told me about the stresses of adjusting to parenting. And how they were affecting her marriage to the point that she'd raised the possibility of divorce. Like the fact that, although her marriage was still rocky, she'd started thinking about trying to get pregnant again. She's almost forty, and her OB advised her not to wait too long. Last time the Lady Professors had coffee, two weeks ago, I was telling her about my last failed IUI and she was, as it turns out, totally lying to me. Because of course she's pregnant again, entering her second trimester. This was gaily announced at last night's party as we all sat around the plate of Chanuka doughnuts.
I know, I know, tis' the season for pregnancy announcements, and what is there to say about pregnancy announcements that hasn't been said before? They hurt, we do our best to fake the enthusiasm we can't possibly feel. But I felt particularly blindsided on this occasion, and I'm trying to figure out why. Did I really expect her to tell me she was pregnant before the three month mark? I guess not--the reasons for not telling people are good reasons. Did I really expect her to have the empathy to realize that a heads-up e-mail would have been classy? I guess not--I'm hip to the fact that even sympathetic people can't understand how painful this experience is and can't be expected to know how to make it less painful. This is her happy moment, and she has no obligation to think about how it will affect me. Fine.
So why was this a shock? I think I was caught off guard because I hardly ever go anywhere, and never going anywhere should protect me from unexpected pregnancy announcements. And I have very few friends, which should also protect me from unexpected pregnancy announcements. I mean, seriously, not knowing anyone and never going anywhere--that ought to be pretty effective, right? And I guess I thought I was safe from her because she knew about my situation and would show some tact. And I guess I thought I would be more relaxed about this stuff because I am on reproductive hiatus. But it turns out that being in limbo is only okay if nothing happens to anyone else.
In short, I have nothing new to say about this topic, except to add my plaintive wail to the many already wafting through the ether. So here it is: It's not faaaaaair! You already have a beautiful child! I hate you! I hate your stupid party that I didn't even want to go to! I hate your delicious doughnuts!