Greetings, Sugary Chocolate Cupcakes!
My friend N is one of most achingly cool, funny, and gorgeous people I know. We shared, and still share - I think - a strong bond, although now our bond is different and not easily defined. N and her husband were the first couple to join the new Seattle prego parents group that I started (I like to point out that I started this group, just to convey how cruelly, borderline hysterically ironic it is that my baby didn't work out), and we became instant best prego buddies.
I was really in need of a bodacious girly friend on a similar life plane - not someone with a child already, but someone about to have a child for the first time. N fit the bill perfectly. You can imagine all the excited conversations we had with flushed and eager faces, complaining semi-seriously about backaches and such because we didn't really care about our backaches, since the backaches were caused by a burgeoning baby in the belly, which was so exciting in and of itself that it made all other bodily pains seem trivial. Our babies were to be born the same week in October, which would mean they'd grow up best friends. Freakin' cosmically cool.
I swear, this story has a point, so keep reading.
A week or two ago - it's all a blur to me now - I went to her son's birthday. God, fifteen months ago, I couldn't have imagined it would be like this. I'll call him DeNaynay - the adorable son with the brightest smile ever. She'll like that.
I arrived thirty minutes late, alone. Kevin was off mountain biking - a trip he'd planned for some time - so I let him off the hook. The party was in a rented room at the library, filled with the celebratory noises and chaos of most toddlers' first birthday parties. Silver balloons and heaps of colorful toys, pizza boxes stacked up on the table, pop music blaring, toddlers bumbling all over the place. The mommies, clustered together and talking about babies and shopping and stuff, were surprisingly well dressed (especially for a potentially poopy-and-barfy-with-cupcakes-flying-everywhere kid's party). The daddies were fairly hot as a whole, with lots of hair product and girly cologne (which did make them more than a little less hot in my eyes). They were standing off to the side and having man-to-man talks in pairs.
Not knowing anybody there, and feeling self-conscious in my glittery form-fitting shirt and big flower earrings (the lone freaky woman without a toddler and husband in tow), I weaved my way over to N. She had DeNaynay in her arms and was wearing a blue thrift store t-shirt and raggy old jeans. She looked different from everybody else there, exuding characteristic confidence and ease. Wistful, dull pang in tummy, but I smiled because DeNaynay is so damn cute, it's impossible not to smile, and because N is one of my dearest friends. I love her, the person she is at the core, that I can say in all honesty.
A fleeting thought ran across the front of my mind, big red font on a banner: I miss the Me-n-Nora that we used to be.
We exchanged hugs and hellos, and she introduced me to other adults and babies. I forgot everyone else's names instantly, feeling hollowed out like an Indian canoe, unknown. Invisible, not quite able to relate to the other people there, who were living in their own babylands. I longed to share those eight pregnant months of my life, and maybe even the years before that. I wanted validate my child's existence, my pregnant years, somehow bring them back and make them real again. Just to let these people know that I get it, this parenthood thing. There was a Me, once upon a time, who knew the feeling of living and breathing for two, of nurturing and protecting a small being that I created. There was a child who was supposed to be here. There was a particular Nora-n-Me, a friendship, that fell down like a collapsed card house.
I wanted somebody to ask me how I knew N, because if I were to give a truthful answer, it would lead immediately into the loss of my son. It would be like, oh - I met them through the pregnancy group. No, I don't have a baby. He was stillborn. Thanks. Yeah, it sucked, but I'm fine now. No, it's okay, don't be sorry. Yes, nice to meet you too. Yeah, the Mariners are sucking this year. Buh-bye. And they'd hightail it out of there, thinking dang - look what can of worms I inadvertently opened.
Someone did ask - the guy who made the cupcakes. He did NOT have product in his hair, for the record. So I told him the story, not really caring how it made him feel, and he handled it well. He felt sorry and sad, and didn't look away. He asked follow-up questions and wanted to know if we would try again for a baby. Having someone feel sympathy, not just for me but for my baby, recognizing the sheer sadness of the whole yucky situation, was like when my mom brushes my hair back from my forehead and says, "honey, it'll be okay." That's how it felt. Comforting, relieving. And his cupcakes were damn good, I might add.
So, I was wrong again. There are people out there - against all odds - who don't mind knowing, who have the courage to ask questions and feel, even if they themselves haven't been through the experience. It made me think of other KuKd Strong Mommas and Infertility Fighters with stories, parts of yourself that nobody would see at first glance. I think the trick is finding those people, or allowing them to find you.
Oh, and by the way - that "damn good" cupcake hurt my lower right molar, the one I've been grinding down. When I told my mom about it on the phone, she said she'd get me a mouthpiece as a Halloween present. "It'll be my treat!" she said, kind of like gender selection. Gotta love moms!