Thursday, May 15, 2014

Baby Shower Anxiety

Over the last week or so we have received a few emails from fellow readers all on the same topic: baby showers. Some have expressed anxiety over shopping for a baby gift after their own miscarriage, and some have found it difficult to imagine sitting next to a heavily pregnant friend "oohing" and "ahhing" over burp cloths and breast pumps. I feel your pain. Since my first miscarriage four years ago I have been invited to my fair share of baby showers, baptisms and "meet the baby" parties. Before I met Kira I went to all of them (even if the end result was me hysterically crying in the back of a cab, shoving pacifier shaped cookies in my mouth). I remember the dread I felt after receiving numerous baby shower invitations, which somehow always arrived after my own pregnancy loss. One day I mentioned to Kira I had a friend's shower to attend, and I was feeling particularly anxious about it. I remember exactly what happened next.  She looked me in the eye and confidently said, "Don't go! Give yourself permission to not go!" I looked at her as if she was some sort of heretic. Of course I had to go! It was so-and-so's shower; I couldn't NOT go. So I kept RSVP'ing "Yes", put on a happy face and showed up. But after I experienced an 18 week miscarriage everything changed. I couldn't keep up the facade any longer and let's face it; it would have been a thinly veiled attempt that everyone would have seen right through.  I realized Kira was on to something, I didn't have to go. More than that my true friends would not only understand, but wouldn't want me to experience any more emotional discomfort or sadness than I already experienced. So I started to RSVP "No" with a kind note and then I would send a baby blanket. FYI: I have found these gifts to be pretty benign in the emotional heart strings department. Baby blankets aren't adorable little booties. They aren't sweet little outfits from Crewcuts. Catch my drift? Baby blankets- that's where it's at. Better yet, have a friend send it for you.
I'm sure some people rolled their eyes and found my absence to be "melodramatic". But for the first time in my life I didn't care.  I started making decisions based on what felt best for me, not on what I "should" do and what was "expected".
The takeaway here? Listen to yourself. If the idea of playing "celebrity baby name" games and passing around baby food processors make you want to put a hot poker in your eye, stay home. But if you do choose to go, at least snag a few cookies on your way out the door. Those might come in handy.

- Jennifer

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