When I was single, which wasn’t that long ago, and when I was younger, which seems like it was that long ago, it was so much fun to share romantic adventures with trusted friends.  There was always something to talk about.  Meeting someone interesting, having crushes, discussing the relative merits of men we did or didn’t know could take up hours.  It used to be that the amount of time I spent discussing a man far outweighed the amount of time I actually spent with him. 

As we got older, we got tired of that.  It seemed like other, blonder, thinner girls, girls who were more fabulous than we, were actually dating while we were sitting around talking about who we liked.  It was like a John Hughes movie.  So we’d stop ourselves, and say, "well, there’s nothing to tell."   We realized that if we talked about a man we would encourage each other to like him more.  We’d actually have to break up with him in our minds in order to stop obsessing about him, when he possibly didn’t know we existed.  Pathetic.

When there was something to tell, when a man would actually cross the room and speak to me, or ask me out  – well, that was news.  In my case very rare, front-page news.  So I’d be on the phone for hours about he had said, what I should wear, what did my girlfriends think of him.  We would caution ourselves not to start picking out china when we had yet to have date one, but we would still dissect and discuss at great length.  And this would continue until the inevitable (in my case), long stretch of days or weeks where He Didn’t Call. 

Of course we need our girlfriends’ support very much during this stretch, and I tended to lean towards the friends who say "Of course he’ll call!  He’s just Really Busy At Work."  The sort of friend who says "Well, he didn’t exactly say he was going to call… did he?" seemed horribly unsympathetic to me, until I realized that she was trying to get me to realize that one date, or even two or three, does not a boyfriend make.  Once again I had transformed a flicker of interest in a fickle man’s eye, a few hours in a restaurant, into the beginning of Something Big. 

We got older.  Other girls who were not necessarily blonder, thinner or more fabulous than we had their first dates turn into engagements.  We went to their weddings.  But we also noticed other girls had their one- and two-year boyfriend relationships – the ones we still aspired to – suddenly break up.  We realized just how far away the finish line really was, and we started to clam the hell up.  We realized that dating, which had been the goal, wasn’t enough.  Been asked out?  Big deal.  Getting all worked up for a date and then having him never call again can make you crazy wondering how he can like you on Saturday and forget you by Monday.  Been dating for three months?  Even worse – just when you’re wondering when to say the "L" word, he blurts out that he wants to See Other People.  Forget it, girls.  Until I feel safe, there is Nothing to Tell. 

I understand completely, now, when a girl friend in her thirties or forties suddenly tells me that she’s been dating someone for five months and it’s very serious.  She no doubt receives yells of joyful outrage from girl friends who weren’t in the loop for the choosing of Date Sweaters and the waiting for phone calls, but most of us know exactly why.  There just wasn’t anything to tell, was there?  It hurts too much when two or seventeen girl friends are bombarding you with questions about a guy they’ve never met, whose name they remember, when the guy himself has completely forgotten not just your number, but that you ever existed. 

This week some dear female friends turned to me and said "Aren’t you doing an IVF soon?"  Puzzling, to them, since I was all-IVF all-the-time for a while, but since February I’ve been trying on the personality of a Normal Person.  And liking it.  It made me laugh as I thought of how sticking the needle in for the first day of the first course of drugs leading up to an embryo transfer several weeks later used to seem momentous.  And it is, when that was the needle that led to the pregnancy that led to the baby.   

My new reality is that needles can lead to nowhere, as can positive peesticks.  Even good betas and ultrasounds and beating hearts can lead to nowhere – each "nowhere" growing more haunted and painful, of course. 

I’m not promising to clam up until I hit the second trimester or something.  I don’t have that kind of discipline.  But there’s no reason to give IRL, fertile, Normal Person friends the blow-by-blow.  They, at this point, have been through the shots and the transfers and the rest of it, via me, several times.  They are as supportive as any friend can be.  But they have conceived and brought babies to term.  I wish I could give them the arc of story that makes sense. The one that I don’t have yet, the beginning, middle and end, that can’t really be found in a long string of IVFs with so many failures.  There is no story here, at least not the recognizable three-acter that having a baby should be. 

I guess I get to decide when that story begins.  When does yours begin?  With a positive pregnancy test?  A good beta?  Ultrasound?  Depends, doesn’t it?

As I open the fridge and see the Lupron and remember that today is the first day of IVF #6, I feel very much like my cherished, unjustly single friends must feel.  Yeah, I’ll go out with you.  I’ll pick out a Date Sweater, and I’ll consider some subtle eyeliner.  I may even notice a teeny flicker of hope in some part of my heart that I rarely visit anymore.  But I’m not shaving anything, and I’m not making five phone calls. 

There’s just nothing to tell.

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