Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Baby Shower

This summer, my brother’s girlfriend of thirteen years announced she was pregnant.  It was unplanned, and she had previously said she didn't know if she wanted children.  Dealing with the pregnancy has been a difficult time in her life.   She even found it difficult to say the p-word (pregnant).  She was contemplating only taking two weeks off from her budding professional career postpartum, leaving my brother to take paternity leave.  

The baby would be the first grandchild for my parents, and the first great grandchild for my maternal grandparents.   He will change our previously baby-free family holidays forever.  The announcement was a tough pill to swallow and evoked a lot of “why her and why not me, God?” feelings.  I read the book "Why bad things happen to good people" by Harold Kushner, and it changed my perspective and helped ease some of my pain. 

I try to remember that this is as traumatic of an experience for her right now as she has likely ever been through.  That if I had gotten pregnant when I didn't want to I would have felt similarly.  She is a great person, and I love her.  She has a good heart and she is good to my brother.

She had just learned some of the most private and upsetting details of our infertility journey.  This past spring during an evening canoe ride at the family cottage, I poured my heart out to her about my second miscarriage and a recent breast cancer scare.  During the first miscarriage, she and her mother prayed for us.  It was one of the most caring responses that we experienced. 

Recently, her sister started planning a shower and asked for a date that I would be free to attend.  I live several hours away by car, and felt that it was kind of them to be thoughtful of our travel needs.   I gave a date that I could attend (which was last weekend), and held my breath. 

I wasn’t sure if I would go or not.  In this situation, a last minute excuse would have been very obvious.  The date was set with us in mind, and also because I would be seeing most of the same people the day before at an event.

When I asked one of my biggest IF cheerleaders what to do, she suggested that I not go.  She told me about how she attended her sister’s shower when she was struggling with IF and it resulted in tears at the shower.  

I generally only get later-onset feelings of sadness about these events.  After I’m in the car by myself, or when I’m in the comfort of my own home, the tears come.  Although sometimes I wish I could share my emotions more publicly, but I’m not a public crier.   My debate on whether to attend the shower wasn’t one of whether I could hold myself together there or not.  I knew I could, and for the record, if this were the case, I would have simply chosen not to go.   The choice for me was more about whether what I call the “baby hangover” would be worth it?

I have been to other events, mostly gatherings of friends with their children where if I had I known what the intensity of my feelings would be after the event, I would have chosen not to go.   Tears, and weeks of little tidbits of conversations floating around in my head were torture.

I decided I would go to her shower.  For a few reasons:

1.     Because I wanted to show my support for them. 
2.     She is not annoying about her flaunting her pregnancy.
3.     Because it would have been obvious if I bailed.
4.     I felt like I could get through it without crying.
5.     I was in a relatively good place with our infertility, with no fresh wounds.
6.     I had a plan on how to avoid being traumatized (and hopefully a baby hangover) and worst-case scenario, I had a car to leave anytime I needed to.

My plan to avoid trauma was simple.  Sit as far away from the action as possible.  Sit beside people who would be sensitive to my infertility.  Help with the food and other preparations as much as possible. Pay attention to the baby-related events only when necessary.  Leave at the first opportunity.

Overall, I am glad I went.  I survived and I feel like the baby hangover was very low grade.  I wouldn’t do it for everyone but I’m glad I was able to do it for them.

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