Delayed catch-up after almost 3 years

This afternoon, I had an almost 2.5 hour FaceTime chat with a friend of mine who I haven’t seen in almost three years. She and her husband live in Seattle, and while she has family out here in the tri-state area, she hadn’t visited since 2019, and it was only for quick visits to Jersey. We caught up on everything from her new home, my chaotic pregnancy journey, shared family dysfunction, and everything in between.

Although we’d loosely kept in touch this entire time via text message and Instagram, we hadn’t had a real 1:1 conversation until this day. Yet despite that, it felt like no time had passed since we last spoke because the way we interacted and exchanged laughs and retorts seemed so natural.

I thought about all the blogs and mom stories I’ve read about people who become parents, and their friends tend to change in favor of others who are parents vs. those who are child-free, and I wondered what my life would be like with my friends who don’t have kids. My circle of friends already relatively small, so I don’t really fear that I’ll become that disconnected from child-free friends, but I wonder how often we will chat and what our interactions will be like post-baby being born. I do hope that I’ll be able to make new friends through parent/mom groups, though, since it will be important for our child to socialize with those of a similar age.

27 weeks gestational age and birth

I had a casual 1:1 catch-up with one of my colleague friends over Zoom today, and I finally told her that I was pregnant. We talked about the female body in general and how resilient and amazing it is, and she revealed to me that although she’s never had a baby herself, she always marvels at mothers and pregnant women for going through the pregnancy and birth process because of how beautiful she thinks it is… particularly because in her own case, she was born at 27 weeks gestational age and had to stay in the NICU for almost three months before being allowed to go home.

I was so shocked that I could barely contain myself. My colleague is two years older than me, which means that science and hospitals were equipped to keep her alive and healthy in 1984 at a super premature stage. TWENTY SEVEN WEEKS? I thought to myself. That’s just over six months of pregnancy!!!!! What a miracle baby she was, I told her. I don’t think I can look at her the same way ever again. And now, she’s a 37-year old woman who is accomplished, extremely smart, and so thoughtful. Thank goodness she not only survived but thrived. She told me that the hospital filled her up with so much formula in her three-month stay that she was super fat when she finally went home, and no one could tell that she was originally born so premature!

Sacramento friends reunion

This morning, we drove up to the Sacramento area to spend the next few days visiting friends who have relocated up here. It was such a nice difference in temperature (20-35+ degrees F!!!), and the warmth from the sun felt so good. It was almost like we were defrosting on our way up.

One of the friends we visited and spent most of today with was our friend we met about six years ago in New York. Chris calls them the only couple friend we’ve made together, as when we usually hang out with other couples, they are usually through my side or his, but we’re not necessarily all “mutually” friends. Her husband died from unknown causes and seizures just about two weeks after their first and only child was born. I learned during our time together today that they had been trying to conceive for over 2.5 years until they finally got pregnant… right after a few cycles of failed fertility treatments. Having gone through fertility treatments myself, just hearing this felt torturous to me: 2.5 years of trying without any intervention or outside help. Granted, this was likely the case due to lack of insurance coverage and costs that I was privileged enough not to have to deal with, but it pained me regardless. And I felt like my heart was getting pierced hearing that after 2.5 years of trials and tribulations trying and failing to conceive, what felt like a miracle positive pregnancy test after that and a smooth pregnancy experience, that our friend only got to see and hold his own son for just a few days before having unexpected seizures and going into a coma that he would never wake up from. It was immediate joy followed by immediate pain, anguish, and death. I had to hold back tears hearing this, as I cannot even imagine how brutal this was for his wife. His son will only ever have a few photos with his dad to remember him by.

The entire time we were with her and her baby boy, I could feel Raj’s presence with us. It was as though I was still waiting for him to jump out of a closet or bathroom and yell, “Gotcha!” His presence is still strongly felt, and I felt it the entire time with them today. There is really no one else I know who is male who was so outwardly expressive and excited about the impending arrival of a child. Most men, including mine, are reserved and don’t really express too much emotion; Raj wore his heart on his sleeve and just shared everything, literally everything. No man I know is more open than he was. His passing was the universe’s loss. I still cannot believe he is gone.

Life is really fucking short. When I think of him and how suddenly and unexpectedly he passed, I always think about how short life is. Things always come up that you don’t expect, for the better and worse. I don’t know if any of us will live to see the next day, year, 10 years. It makes me even more painfully aware and annoyed of how miserable and mopey some people in my life are. It’s just that some people are so incapable of being grateful for what are seemingly the most basic things: good health, roof over our heads, enough money to never even have to worry about money. Those aren’t so “basic” to so many people in this country and world.

I hope Raj can still see us. I think about him all the time and hope his son inherits all his amazing qualities and his positive outlook on life.

Back to “dating”

This evening, I caught up over a vegan dinner downtown with my friend, who is sort of single and sort of not. The recap is that she’s separated and moved out from the apartment she shared with her boyfriend, and though she originally wanted to break up with him, she couldn’t really muster herself up to fully go through with it, so they are on a “break.” In the meantime, she’s been living in another apartment on her own, going on dates she’s been meeting through dating apps, and having the occasional date with… her boyfriend. I’m not really sure “dating” your boyfriend is really what a “break” is, but to each her own.

It’s been interesting to hear about her dating experiences via apps, though, since although I have used an online website for dating once before, I’ve never used any dating app ever. With my friend, her own experience is particularly interesting and comical because in her nearly 35-year-long life, she’s only had two boyfriends, both relationships that lasted at least 9-12 years, so she really has never had much experience “being out there” and playing the field. In the last several weeks, she’s had everything from booty calls to guys sending her essay-long messages, saying that they feared they’d fall too hard for her because of how good looking she is. Both are gag worthy to me, but at least the booty call is straight forward. Who wants an essay long message about how the sender is already emotionally attached before ever actually meeting….? I already wanted to puke in my mouth when I heard that pathetic story.

I really have no idea what I’d do if I were single again and dating. I barely knew what to do with myself when it came to dating the few blocks of time in my life when I was “single.” My general distaste for men and their idiocies would likely render me single for the rest of my life. But hey, that’s probably better than being with some selfish guy who just wants a mommy substitute to do everything for him.

Gestational diabetes

One of my friends is due to give birth to her first child in August. She’s a doctor, so she’s very well aware of all the diagnostic tests that are done during the pre-natal period. Unfortunately, she failed one of her tests that screen for gestational diabetes (GDM), and while she is currently waiting for a follow-up test to dig into how severe the condition is for her, she’s had to completely cut out any desserts or candy, sweet drinks (including juice), and reduce her intake of any refined grain or wheat products (so, no white rice, no white bread, only whole grain/whole wheat everything).

It wasn’t my diagnosis, but this just made me so sad. All of my comfort foods are unfortunately…. refined products. Chinese bao. Rice noodles. Pho. ICE CREAM. Chocolate chip cookies. Even the purer products, like grass jelly and doufu fa/tofu pudding, are all SWEETENED by sugar syrups. I realize that gestational diabetes is a temporary diagnosis until you give birth, but during pregnancy, they already give you a whole laundry list of things you aren’t supposed to touch, so it feels even more restrictive and anger-inducing to hear that they’re just going to add even MORE to that long list if you get GDM.

Everyone always loves to talk about the joys and excitement around pregnancy. That’s because it’s easy and comfortable to discuss that; it’s simple. It doesn’t offend or hurt anyone. But no one wants to openly discuss the ugly parts of pregnancy: the high chance of miscarriage due to things completely out of a woman’s control; all the unattractive symptoms, like excessive bloating and gas, breast pain/enlargement, round ligament pain (pain/tension that is ongoing in your lower abdomen), constant urination; all the fear and anxiety around what you will do if you lose your pregnancy; all the fear and anxiety around when you’re even supposed to share when you’re expecting; all the things you’re restricted from doing and eating; all the emotional ups and downs.

As a society, we’ve basically put women in a dog house and forced them into that small box for nine months. We’re told to suffer in silence and keep any of our pains or anxieties to ourselves. I thought we were supposed to be getting more progressive??

Thankful for friends lost

I’m not sure why, but while I was thinking about Mariah Carey and how listening to her music reminds me of my brother, I remembered an old friend of mine who had followed this blog I wrote quite intently in the aftermath of Ed’s death. He was long-winded, surly, oftentimes depressed, and extremely cynical. We knew each other from high school, and though we were close then and remained in touch afterwards, I realized around the time of Ed’s passing that he really was the kind of person I should no longer be in touch with. He added no value to my life, I never felt better or happier after seeing him or having contact with him, and he had absolutely nothing to offer me. Instead, he only sucked me dry of energy and any potential optimism that I had. When he moved to New York to start his lucrative career as a lawyer, he even claimed to be so debt that he couldn’t afford to buy bedding. So I actually loaned him MY OWN bedding, down to my comforter and my comforter cover, so that he could have something comfortable to sleep in.

After reading months and months of my reflections of Ed, he randomly messaged me and said, “Don’t you think you are being a little obsessive about your brother?”

I stopped dead in my tracks. This man is truly the biggest piece of shit I’ve ever called a friend, I thought. My brother jumped off the fucking Golden Gate Bridge after decades of suffering from depression and borderline schizophrenia that he had no control over, and this loser who can’t even afford his own bedsheets has the nerve to tell me that I am “obsessive”?

In that moment, I actually felt sorry for him, even though he was completely undeserving of any energy of mine at all. In that moment, I felt pity for him, knowing that he’d never be able to experience the level of pain I felt losing Ed because he’d never love another person the way that I loved my brother. He would never know the depth of feeling, the amount of empathy that was required to understand how I felt for even a split second.

Years later, he reached out on Facebook Messenger, of all places, to ask me how I handled my brother’s “affairs” after he passed. He said he was sorry to ask (he wasn’t; he was just being selfish and only reaching out when he needed something), but his father had died suddenly, and he needed advice. I had none to offer. I wished him well and expressed my condolences. That was the last I heard from him.

Some people find value at keeping friendships for life. I find value at keeping friendships that actually fuel me and contribute something to my inner happiness and peace, people who actually want to give to me and don’t just expect me to constantly give to them. He did none of those things. Thank god we are no longer connected.

When your dreams are in sync with your friends’

I guess that dream I had of my friend giving birth was telling. She actually gave birth yesterday afternoon after nearly 40 hours in labor. And when I shared this dream, she actually responded back with photos post birth. And our mutual friend responded that she had a similar dream where our friend told her to come meet her at the hospital because she was going into labor, and she wanted some support.

Oftentimes, as you get older, you start realizing that the friends you made when you were in school are not necessarily the kinds of people who, if you met as an adult, you’d actively choose to be close friends with. Your life outlooks change, your priorities change, and in general, they’re not going to be in line with your childhood friends’ for many reasons. But regardless of that, your childhood friends still serve a purpose. They are still part of the foundation of who you are, even if it wasn’t the same as two decades ago when you first met. And you realize that more and more when eerie events like this happen: when your dreams predict the future, or even odder, when you and your friends are all having similarly themed dreams about the future as each other.

That, in itself, is definitely a sign of deep friendship.

Togetherness in these times

Tonight, I had a Zoom video chat with some friends in California, Georgia, and Kansas. It was a fun night, bantering about politics, COVID-19, our respective at-home situations, and life in general, and it was so comical because it wasn’t like we were talking about anything particularly significant or meaningful, but it was still enjoyable nonetheless. These are the types of conversations and interactions you get when you hang out with friends in person or stop by a colleague’s desk at the office that we can’t really get anymore since we’re all sheltering in place.

The definition of “togetherness” has changed in these times. Once upon a time, it was normal to hug or kiss a friend in greeting, Now, we’re not supposed to see any of our friends unless we live with them. After the sheltering in place has ended, will we still greet each other with hugs or kisses? Will that be considered acceptable? What will weddings and funerals look like shortly after shelter in place ends? Will the banquet tables need to be spaced out so that there’s six feet of space between each guest, or will the funeral rows require that every two seats, people could sit? Weddings have been cancelled and postponed, but when setting a new date, how do we know all this will be over by then? It’s never really going to be “over,” right, since we have so little tangible data about who has been infected, how possible it is to get reinfected, or how long the virus can stay dormant in our bodies without us even knowing it?

The only togetherness we can have now is via video and phone. Everything else is just distant.

Why we are the way we are

My friend visiting from out of town and I were wandering through the Columbus Circle Holiday Market this evening, discussing our relationships with our significant others and our parents and families. After seeing my apartment, she was talking about how neat and disciplined I was given it was probably how my parents raised me and she wished her parents had given her more chores so that she was as neat, organized, and disciplined.

It was weird to hear this from my friend, who is 33 going on 34 in a couple weeks. As adults, we really should be taking responsibility for our own actions. Yes, parents do help shape who we become, but there comes a time when we really need to take ownership of our lives and how we choose to live them and stop blaming our parents. We need to grow up and move on. I told her she can choose to be neat and tidy if she chose to. She said it was too hard, and she was used to things the way they were. So in other words, she’s allowing lack of action to take over her life. This was when I had to change the subject because there was no use in continuing this conversation.

Luckily for me, in the friendships I’ve made as an adult, I never have to have these types of conversations.

Dinner with your friend and her mom

Chris and I met up with my friend visiting from out of town and her mom tonight. As I expected, it ended up being a lot of her mom and I catching up and asking about what the other has been up to since the last time we spoke. Her mom was someone I talked to a lot one on one growing up. Sometimes, her mom would drive me home, and then we’d sit in her car for about an hour just chatting about all kinds of random topics. Then, I used to wish my mom was as cool as her mom. As I got older, I realized that it probably was best that my mom wasn’t “as cool” and instead actually acted like a mom to me instead of like a friend. It was always a sore point with my friend then.

It was good to see her and to see how she’s doing, but in some way, the dinner made me a little sad. She seemed very happy for me and what I’ve done with my life, but I wonder if she ever thinks back to how she parented my friend and her little brother and has any regrets. They still operate more like friends today than like parent-child; even at the end of the meal, my friend told her that she’d let her know how much money she owed her. That was just weird to me.