standing out in the crowd

I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of being in a room with over 40 people as the only childless couple.  The. Only. Couple. Without. Children. Really.

Yesterday we attended a blessing ceremony for my two month old cousin-niece. She is the first child of my closest cousin, and the event was a welcome to her new community. We were asked to participate in the ceremony. This was not another event we could avoid. We knew it could be difficult. I knew it would be a tough day for me. We would be surrounded by family and friends and their many children, including people we really don’t care to see right now. 

More than 15 babies and children were there — newborns, infants, toddlers, twins — running, playing, laughing, feeding, drooling, pooping, being. There were grandparents and mothers and fathers. Every couple had a child or two. In these scenes I am not only painfully reminded of what we don’t have, but also of what we’ve lost. I’m hyper-aware that my own little boy should be toddling among them, laughing and playing with his cousins, making new friends, stealing cookies.

We knew this day would be hard. But we didn’t know we would be the ONLY couple without children. I simply could not believe that (aside from one single woman who was the new mom’s little sister) I was the only woman in the house who was NOT a mother. The Amazing M was the only man who was not a father. What a striking feeling. It often feels like we’re the only people in the world without children, even though I know we’re not. Well, yesterday we were.  

There was a moment early on when they just kept coming. I tried to stay strong and keep making small talk while I was aching inside as more and more proud parents arrived. At one point I made an awkward joke to my aunt and uncle to relieve the tension in my own head. No one laughed, because in truth it wasn’t really funny. But that’s my way of dealing sometimes.

Soon I had to step outside for air. Away from the crowds. I did some slow, deep breathing, and I stopped the tears and hyperventilating that surely would have come. I focused on my breath. I tried to find my center. Then I sucked it up and went back inside. I realized then what incredible strength I was reaching for at that very moment to simply not break down.

As the ceremony began, our job was to hold the baby and carry her to be welcomed by the new grandparents. It was the first time I had held her. I had rubbed her head and kissed her belly before. I had squeezed her tiny fingers and toes. But I had not held her. She was sweet and peaceful and warm. Although I had anticipated crying on her little head as I carried her, I did not. I had a task. Without such purpose, I would have felt even more useless there. I was told (annoyingly) that this role would bring good luck. Yet I could not help but think, thanks but, um, I’m going to need a hell of a lot more than a little luck to get me pregnant, people. Seriously. 

When we were finally on our way home, I asked my husband if he realized we were the only childless couple there. “Yep,” he replied, sadly. And it was then that I just lost it. Silently the tears came streaming down my face as I gazed out the window. The ache and sorrow and longing and frustration and loneliness and isolation, all of it just came pouring out. And there was nothing more to say. 

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~ by luna on February 18, 2008.

29 Responses to “standing out in the crowd”

  1. crying at work over this…touched such a nerve

  2. I’m so sorry. I wish I could say something useful…but I don’t think those words exist.

  3. Oh luna….I can imagine the isolated feeling. I feel suffocated when Im in the room with just 3 couples who all have kids…imagining 40 people is just overwhelming.
    Definitely making my eyes well up…I feel that loneliness with you.

  4. What an awful ordeal to have to go through. It is such an isolating thing, isn’t it? And very few really understand.
    I wish your little boy had been there too. Life is so cruel xx

  5. Tears here too. It really is the most desperately empty feeling. Can’t believe you held it together while holding the baby. That would have done it for me.

  6. I too have been at big extended family gatherings where we’ve been the only adult couple without children. (There used to be one other couple but they had a baby last year, when both of them were 43!!) It’s not fun. You are much, much braver than I, to be carrying the baby around & have everyone’s eyes on you. (((hugs)))

  7. Oh Luna … This is another post I can totally relate to as well. I’ve got a big extended family with lots of children and it’s always tough whenever there are those occasions you just can’t avoid. I give you lots of credit for the strength that you had … knowing your limitations as to when you knew you had to step out and recollect yourself before going back in. That, in itself, shows how strong you are. Big HUGS to you. Know that you are not alone …

  8. Ouch. Situations like this can be so difficult.

    Kudos to you for digging down and finding the strength. And for being able to serve an important purpose in the ceremony.

  9. God, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I would have broken down too.

    It is so hard to feel so alone, but know that you are not.

  10. My heart breaks hearing about this experience. I know how isolating and painful it was to be in your shoes yesterday. The heaviness of what you had to cope with defies words, so I’ll just sit here with you…

  11. I’m crying after reading this and your last post. You are going through so much at the moment, and I feel so powerless to help – I wish I could find the words that might be of comfort to you. But instead, I’m going to join Pamela Jeanne and just sit here quietly with you. As Angela has already said, you are not alone – we are here for you, offering what support we can.

  12. De-lurking to say I have been there, too. You’ve described it exactly right. Thank you for saying it. I’m sorry you had this experience, but please know you are not the only one; you are not alone.

  13. Just letting you know you’ve been on my mind throughout yesterday and into this morning. I wish there were something I could do that could mitigate the pain, but I’ll join the crowd just sitting with you.

  14. Oh my god luna, I feel your pain! This would be my worst nightmare and you handled it with grace. It’s truly amazing how isolating this feeling is when in a room full of parents and children. You know all these couples with children exist in your life but when faced with a room full of them all at once, it’s just too much. Just reading about it made my stomach hurt and my eyes water. I wish in those situations you could call on all your online buddies to show up and out number those fertiles! So sorry this happened!

  15. How terrible to find yourself in that situation. I’m familiar with family functions involving children, it sucks. I’m glad you made it through without breaking down publicly. I hope you find yourself in the majority one day soon.

  16. I’m sorry. I’ve been in that room, that situation, that pain. I hope that easier days are ahead.

  17. Honey, THIS is why you got the “E” award. You’re so incredibly brave. And yeah, you made me cry, especially that bit at the end, about your husband.

    I’m feeling very touchy about my husband right now. Sometimes I feel like he and I are just clinging to each other while the world wheels around us in crazy circles and patterns that we can’t make sense of. Like there’s a carnival spinning around us, and we’re just staring at each other feeling empty and sad, and a little foolish.

    I can’t imagine how you face that “last chance.” I thought I was at my “last chance” in August, but then I decided to have surgery and spend a shitload of money I don’t have to give myself a whole new set of last chances. But every one of us in the ART world knows that the real “last chance” is out there, hovering, like the last rung on a ladder we’ve been climbing down, step by step, year after year.

    Try to find some peace and hope. And stop going to family gatherings! It’s killing me.

  18. Sweetie, that is just so so painful. And it’s amazing that you made it to the other side of the day. And that says a lot.

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