b Papa Dog's Blog: The Only Childless Couple at the Birthday Party

Papa Dog's Blog

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Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Only Childless Couple at the Birthday Party

Our days of socialising while Gran baby-sits continue. We went to a birthday party in San Francisco today, and the setting turned out to be so baby-friendly that we really regretted leaving Baby Dog at home. It seemed as though we were the only people there without a child in tow. What a difference a year and a bit makes. It seemed like we didn’t know anyone with kids when 2004 started. Now it’s starting to seem we know barely any without them.

Here’s another odd thing. I’m legendarily awkward and reticent at parties – or any other gathering of people I don’t know – but today I found myself able to talk to strangers with unprecedented ease. Part of it is the baby thing. I find I’m capable of discussing at length sleep patterns, food preferences, mobility milestones, vocal development, and so on with anyone who cares to participate in such a conversation, and it so happened this was a roomful of people primed to find such discussions fascinating. There was a further connection, though; Mama Dog knows the birthday girl through an online support network for women trying to conceive through in vitro fertilisation. At the party, everyone at our table was an IVF veteran, and all had children born within a span of six months. The women were all old friends, having gotten to know one another through the online group and having met regularly for luncheons before, during, and after pregnancy. The men never figured in these luncheons, and for the most part we were all meeting for the first time. The birthday girl’s husband gave a charming Powerpoint presentation on his wife’s life and times. When he got to the IVF days, he illustrated it with a photo of himself giving her injections in the ass. She yelled at him to skip ahead, so he did – to another ass-jabbing picture. And then another. The room was in hysterics. I turned to Mama Dog and said, “Oh, that takes me back.” Because I hadn’t stopped to think about it, I was surprised when everyone else at the table said, “Oh, yeah.” Only then did it sink in that they’d all been through the same thing. I mean, I knew that – but in some way I hadn’t known that. No wonder Mama Dog found those luncheons and online discussions such a valuable support mechanism! At the time, it never would have occurred to me to ask some other guy, “Hey, first time you had to jab your wife in the ass with a needle to give her some Follistim, did you balk a couple of times before you could do it?” Seems to me now if might have taken some pressure off me to hear him say “Jesus, yeah, I practiced on oranges, but it’s just not the same.”

In other baby stuff – it looks like the days of shushing are over, though Gran’s Schubert serenades may just be a lateral move. Baby Dog has mostly been going to sleep on her own the last week or two. If she cries at bedtime, it’s usually pretty brief. At the same time, she’s become a lot more active in her sleep. Since birth, she’s slept on her back with her arms up over her head. Just in the last few days, she seems to have decided she likes to sleep on her side. We keep finding her all twisted up in her sleep sack, sometimes with her face pressed down against the mattress. The other morning, I rolled her back on her back, and she immediately rolled over onto her side again, grabbing blindly for the bars of the crib. At least her nose wasn’t against the mattress, so I left her that way. Her horizons are widening. She’s re-examining fundamental assumptions and looking for the arbitrary parts that don’t suit her. I guess we’ll have a lot more of that in the next eighteen years.


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