Baby showers are the last place any woman who has been through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infertility issues wants to be for a while. In fact, depending on the stage of grief, going to a baby shower can be a huge emotional trigger that most women in this situation try to avoid.
Five months after my pregnancy ended, I was expected to be at a baby shower three and a half hours away. It was for my older sister, who was pregnant with her second child. We were three weeks apart in our pregnancies, before mine ended spontaneously. That shower was torturous and sent me back into a spiral of grief. It was too soon for me to be amongst baby things and my heart was still extremely bitter. I knew I should’ve listened to my gut, but I was more worried about how it would look if I didn’t go than how I would be affected. That’s just me though, always putting others’ needs before my own no matter the circumstances. My parents have always instilled the phrase “do the right thing no matter what,” into my sister and I, even if it meant putting yourself in harm’s way. That day felt like a nightmare. Every comment complaining about pregnancy, kids, or the snide remarks insinuating the difference between those with children and those without punctured my heart like a needle to a balloon. I could not hold it in any longer. I ran outside in tears and hugged the grass so tight on that hot summer day. It was as if I thought the ground would hold me back and cure my pain. My heart broke all over again and I shivered with pain like I have never felt.
Two months after that, more baby showers in my family were on the horizon. This time though, my aunt reached out to me first before sending an invite to my cousin’s shower. She let me know that it is okay to feel like I need to sit that one out. That was one of the kindest and most respectful gestures anyone has sent my way since our awful tragedy of loss. Deep down, I just didn’t think I could handle another baby shower, as the last one set me back tremendously in my grief. Honestly, I was extremely afraid to put myself in that situation again. It was nice to know that someone understood and cared enough about me to give me the option of not coming. I’ll never be able to thank my aunt enough for that sweet conversation that has touched my heart over and over again. What she didn’t realize is that she gave me strength through her sincere gesture. No one judged me for not going to that baby shower and that was just what I needed on my path of healing.
A few months later, I volunteered to host a baby shower for a military spouse friend. It would be four months later on so I had plenty of time to digest it all. This friend of mine didn’t have any family nearby and this was her first child. She was the first pregnant person I had been around after losing my son that didn’t bother me. I thought doing this good deed for her would also be therapeutic in some way for me. It would force me over my fear of all things baby, and allow me to feel happiness as well as joy for another woman’s pregnancy. That was something I had struggled with since having a miscarriage. My heart had been bitter for what felt like an eternity. I had to unfollow many pregnant friends and family members on Facebook, but not my friend. Somehow, her pregnancy didn’t bother me. Maybe it was because she didn’t flaunt it all over the place, or that she felt like the little sister I never had. Whatever the reason, I was okay with it. I was able to be by her side during her entire pregnancy and watch with admiration as her baby bump grew.
Three weeks before the baby shower, I finally started picking up decorations and feverishly looking through Pinterest to see how I could make this event special for my friend. As I began to get a plan together and pick up things here and there, I began to feel something I had been missing for a while, excitement and joy. I began to feel less focused on my own brokenness and more excited that someone else has their moment to shine and a pregnancy that has thrived.
The baby shower was a huge success. For the first time, in a year, I did not feel despair. The food, the activities, and the decorations were as perfect as I could make them. The guests were all so sweet and my friend, the new mom to be, beamed with joy the entire day. Watching her glow, smile, and enjoy her moment gave me joy and happiness. The guests in attendance were not all mothers either, so I did not feel awkward for once. Staying busy and hosting the shower gave me a chance to avoid those awkward mommy, labor, and childbirth conversations that make someone like me feel out of place. There was even someone there, who was in a similar situation as me. I know she must have put her brave face on that day too. We had both made it through something we feared and found hope again in the process.
© Strength 4 Spouses, 2018.