I met the new man of a friend the other night. I knew when she first started seeing him that he wasn’t interested in meeting her friends. I don’t know whether that was an accurate reflection of his feelings, or whether he was a bit shy or nervous. I have a theory, but no evidence to support it, so will keep quiet about it. Anyway, they've been seeing each other for a long time now (over a year), and this was our first opportunity to meet him officially.
It was to be a cosy evening in by the fire, getting to know each other, and catching up with my friend. In general, he was as she had described him, and we got on fine. At least he would engage with us, unlike her ex. But there was an odd moment, one which I chose to ignore at the time, and just get through the evening, but one which I can't fully let go. He raised a discussion – tell me why – about an item he had heard on National Radio about breasts. (Yes, we stopped for the obligatory jokes about men and breasts as we tried to break the ice). He had been surprised to learn that women’s breasts don’t “fully mature” until (note the use of until rather than unless) they have breast-fed, and that breast-feeding reduces the woman’s risk of cancer.
Well, yes. I knew that. A few years ago, as studies came out trumpeting these legitimately important results, I felt more and more marginalised. But I thought I’d come to terms with this. There's nothing I can do about it, so these days I usually just shrug and move on. His choice of subject gave me a twinge though, so I just said I knew that, nodded, looked at my husband, and changed the subject.
I want to think that he was a bit nervous and was trying to find interesting topics of conversation. I want to think that he didn’t think. Because I know if there is one thing my friend will have told him about us, it will be that we don’t have any children. And I strongly suspect she will have added the point that we tried to have children, but couldn’t. But you know, I have this grating feeling that it was deliberate, even pointed. I can’t imagine why, so I’m just going to say that obviously I am a bit paranoid (missing out on breast-feeding a child is one of my great regrets), and obviously I have read far too much into this.
Infertility really screws with your mind, and potentially your friendships, even years later.