I have had so many of these.

House decorated for Christmas.  Lovely huge spread of food.  People I haven’t seen for a few years.  Me, overdressed in something fabulous & flowy in an attempt to hide my weight gain. 

I am brittle, skittish; I move through the party restlessly.  I’m afraid.  I am hearing scraps of conversation around me "well, she’s eighteen months now…" "we had a little boy last August…" "…we didn’t think we’d get a sitter…" ".. how far along are you?"

I warm up with the single people.  "Do you still live in that cute place by the park?"  "Are you still at Boeing?"  I run for a drink.  I eye the food.  No sweets for me; I can do this.

My husband allows himself to be caught by the Kid People.  I hear him across the room "wow, you have a three-year-old!  Time just flies.  I remember your wedding…"  I am caught, too.  I remember their wedding.  They are younger than we are.  Two kids, now.  They need a bigger house.  I join their group and attempt to beam at them. 

There is a pause.  The beaming falters.  This is where they would ask us about our kids, but they don’t.  Do they think we’re too old?  Is it more common knowledge than I think, that we want kids and haven’t got them?  Do they think we’re just not interested in kids? 

It’s sad to me, that pause.  I would love to say something mild but truthful like "we’re getting a late start with the family thing."  But the pause tells me they don’t know what to ask or if they should.  That pause tells me that I shouldn’t mention it unless I want to feel awkward and pushy.  We just aren’t on Kid Radar.  People who have kids are kid-oriented and they know who else has kids, who else can relate and understands how absorbing it is.  They know we don’t have kids and they don’t  know what else to talk about.  It reminds me of when I was 250 pounds and men literally didn’t see me; I wasn’t a sexual being to them and I became invisible.

I run for the food table.  I try to avoid the sweets but there isn’t much else, and I’m starting to think I am owed something sugary, for my pain.  I swim through more overheard conversations: "well, with the kids it’s impossible…" "we drove down from Michigan but she slept the whole way…" "I think we’re done but you never know…"

A couple enters the party; she is my age, they have had difficulties and suffered the loss of an infant.  We’re not close but I watched their family life unfold from a distance; bitterly jealous for a time, shocked and shaken by the loss of their baby, and now wishing they could break their silence, at least with us.  They wave at us, merrily, across the room.  She chats with us, about nothing; she doesn’t mention the sympathy card I sent. 

I discover that the popcorn in the chex-mixy concoction I am eating is very sugary.  I start eating it in earnest.  I should just shove it in my ears, it would be a much more effective block against all the Kid Talk.

Another friend stops to talk.  She’s between IVF#2 and #3, age 44.  We speak in low, urgent tones, like lovers.  She talks about the way all the Christmas preparations and everything that her Christmas was about, this year, seemed trivial.  I tell her about having two Lupron migraines in two days.  We compare cycle details; she starts her Lupron about when I have my transfer.  She is called away, back to the party and conversations about nothing.  I wander again, slightly strengthened by this crumb, a little moment of being myself.   I stand by the popcorn mix and pick out the sugary parts.

We go home.