The pooch and I strolled past a neighborhood playground today, and a woman with a distinctive look caught my eye. Once I focused and processed, I quickly picked out her husband and son from the sunny-afternoon crowd.
I don't personally know this family — not once in 5 years have I seen them around the 'hood — but they'd made a lasting impression when I encountered them last March in the clinic's lobby. For 40 minutes one day (I was there to discuss starting IVF #2) I listened to the cute rocker-chick woman dissect her stims progress for her hat-and-shades-indoors-wearing, Black.berry-fixated hubby, who sat next to their adorable hat-indoors-wearing, Game.boy-fixated son. She had just 3 follicles developing, 1 way ahead of the others, and they were there to discuss canceling the cycle.
I kept on walking at first, thinking just "Huh. Small world." But then something compelled me to stop and turn around for another peek. (This was an excellent time to have a happy-to-sniff-every-inch-of-the-ground dog along.)
Can you guess what I wanted to know?
In that first moment of reconnaissance, the woman's hands were stuffed into her hoodie's kangaroo pockets, making it difficult to immediately tell whether she was pregnant. The next moment she was applauding her son's jungle-gym prowess, and the answer appeared to be "Not visibly so." I felt disappointed for her and sent a couple of stranger vibes — "Good luck with any future cycles! Or whatever you've got going on!" — across the park.
Well, then I saw the woman's ears perk up. She swiftly marched to the sidelines of the playground . . . toward what the slo-mo scene maker in my head eventually identified as a double stroller. For some reason the real-live babies option hadn't even occurred to me! I spied just long enough to see the mommy scoop up one fussy baby and stroke the second as her men rushed over to help with the cooing.
I was startled, and yes, it gave me quite the where's-mine pang. (This was an excellent time to be wearing sunglasses.) But as I turned away and steered us toward the wide-open beach — my furry kid's playground — I took a deep, cleansing breath and broke a slightly teary, but deep-down genuine, smile.
It felt good to see that "The Big It" had worked for somebody who's using my neighborhood park, walking my neighborhood streets, driving my routes to wherever she needs to go, standing in my check-out lines, living her life where I live mine. And in my world, that . . . has got to be that.