All in all, she was very nice about it (considering the position I put her in), and she wisely pointed out that she hasn't gone through this and can't very well claim to understand what it's like. But she did have a lot of trouble grasping the single fact that I do not want to attend a baptism. Certainly not in the capacity of a godmother. I'm honestly not sure what she thought - I think the idea of someone who is averse to babies was so foreign to her that she was just kind of lost the whole time. But she tried.
This does raise a small pet peeve I'd like to mention, though. I have a couple of girlfriends who share with me the ups and downs of their lives fairly unreservedly. Though I don't actually expect any emotional support, as a matter of policy, I will periodically interject something about infertility into my conversations with them. The reaction that I get is more or less "say as little as possible and wait for her to change the subject." I get that they are in some danger of putting a foot wrong, but I think that response is a pretty profound rejection of me as a person, isn't it? What woman has as a goal that her friends should feel reluctant to share their most personal thoughts and feelings with her? I may not be the most tender-hearted person in the world, but I do everything I can to encourage people to feel good about telling me things.
I have had single girlfriends say that they do not have the emotional stamina to throw one more bridal shower. I was married young and never felt this way about bridal showers, but what did I say? "I'm sure I wouldn't want to if I were you, either." What I want to know is why nobody says this to me. "Of course you don't want to be her kid's godmother. You have enough going on right now." I'm pretty sure what they're refraining from saying is, "Well, you know you can't avoid babies forever, right?" Yes, I know - more's the pity. Would they want that brand of "sympathy" if they were in my shoes? (I even have guy friends who will sometimes say how rough it is still to be single, or that they're lonely, or losing patience. And I listen. However, the unspoken rule that I am forbidden to mention infertility is painted in six-foot letters on their faces. Once in a while I give a tiny push at the edge of the rule, and the subject is instantly changed. What the hell is that?)
Anyway, I have come far afield of my original point. S also said something very odd which I have been mulling over. Early in the conversation, I said, "Obviously, we can't have any kids - well, I don't know whether that's obvious, but - " I always use that wording, simply because a lot of people, principally single people, spend no time thinking about other people's sex lives and have not given the matter any thought. Perfectly sensible approach. But someone who is married, got engaged after we were married, is aware of my frankly obnoxiously public stance on the Church's teaching on sexual morality, and has just had her third child - to her, it can't not be blindingly obvious. But she said, "I didn't know that." I was very surprised, but just said, "well, obviously, we're not using birth control." "Of course not," she replied.
I'm not going to ask her what on earth she is thinking, so I'm left to my speculations, and I only have one guess that makes any sense. Perhaps she has decided that we're having trouble having kids (this seems impossible not to realize), but doesn't think that at this point that equates to we can't have kids. If you have three kids, does trying for almost six years just seem like five minutes' impatience? Would it seem like "can't" rather than "not yet" if I were 39 instead of 29? I had another friend who said "I didn't know that!" when I said that we wouldn't be able to have kids, and I had brought up infertility with him several times, so I was stunned. At the time I thought he was really not mentally well (that is true of him in general) and had somehow not processed my previous comments. But perhaps it was the same thing - he didn't see "having trouble" (no matter for how long) as "can't."
This is a revelation to me. Maybe all of the good Catholic family-oriented people I know accept us as people who have been given a cross to test our patience and who will, when we have finished learning our lessons, finally be joining them in play group. Maybe none of them have contemplated having friends who will never share another stage in life with them - who will be retired early while they work extra years to pay for college tuition, and who will miss all their kids' birthday parties, not just the first few. Maybe they really want to understand us as late bloomers, not people whose lives are fundamentally different.
Maybe that's why nobody can understand when I say "I don't want to hold the baby" or "I don't want to go to a baptism" - why be sour? It will be my kids' baptisms they'll all be attending soon. Only it won't. They'll never buy me a baby shower present; never eat gross frosting at my kid's birthday party; never watch my kid while I run to the restroom, or babysit for me, or hold my child in a baptism photo. That will never happen.
Concededly, I only changed my more public messaging - you know, when people in the office ask inappropriate questions as if they were casual - to "we can't" from "we'll take them any time they're offered" maybe a year or so ago. But the whole "we'd love to have some" message was always a euphemism anyway; it was always "can't." I've just lost interest in sugar-coating it lately. And that sugar-coating is seeming more nauseating all the time.
I don't tell friends that we can't have kids, because everyone already knows we're infertile. But if they're all telling themselves "later" because "never" makes them uncomfortable - if they figure that we'll eventually adopt, like our other friends, and give them some baby stuff in common to talk about - then I need to start my publicity machine again. I have to live with never. A pregnancy at this point would just be the beginning of a beautiful miscarriage [N.B.: I've never been pregnant and don't ever expect to be, but because of my endo and hormone issues, I would have a substantial risk of miscarriage if I were]; but if by some medical anomaly I carried a child to term, it would be an incongruous deus ex machina ending - plucked from the grasp of fate. It would change who I am completely, for good and ill. I'll accept it if it happens, and endeavor to be properly grateful, but I don't get to wait for it expectantly and define my life in light of its imagined inevitability. Neither do they.