Baby Showers: To Go or Not To Go?

January 7, 2017

By Sanda Rathamone

I was invited to a baby shower months ago - the catch? It was hosted by my husband's sister.
I decided long ago that I would not attend. My husband and I even had an argument about it. The announcement of her pregnancy was just two months after my loss, what more could I say to prove my point?

I was not only hit hard with a stillborn son, but with another pregnancy in the family. Just my luck? It gets worse. My aunts (yes with an 's' as in more than one!)  just had newborn baby boys and cousins (again more than one!) who also had new babies as well. It was like there was a baby boom happening on my side of the family (and I was a part of it).

I sit here and wonder, why not me?

Where is my baby?

To give a little background, my hope for a baby was a long awaited dream. It seemed like forever that I would fall pregnant, hidden tears after every test that came back negative. We never really decided on trying, but never prevented, either. Although, a baby was always a bit of a pipe dream or something to ponder about. We would even go looking through baby aisles for "fun!"

After four years of being together, we had Elijah - only to be taken back so suddenly.

Fast forward, I struggle with finding support within the family.

After the hospital and memorial, it seemed as if everyone just silently disappeared and then started flocking around the new mother. I felt like I was old news, thrown away to the side like wilted newspaper.

I felt like my son didn't matter anymore.

I was just getting "closer" to the in-laws.

I had hoped that my baby was a doorway to finally feeling like family, because our baby was going to be the next grandbaby after years of wondering who was next on his side and the first on my (immediate family) side.

It has been a difficult start through grief, since I live with the in-laws and his sister still half-of-the-time lives here. Every sight of her is a shot, a stab, and a punch to my back. Maybe not from her or intentionally, but I can't help but feel so wounded and taunted by her pregnancy. Why did she deserve a baby and not me? What made me no longer deserving of the family's love and attention in the way that they were giving it to her?

It has taken everything out of me to face her presence, and her belly, and my grief. It's even shocking how I can still function through it all!

And it's not that I didn't support her. 

Her announcement, via family text - excluding me - didn't stop me from texting her best wishes. Supposedly, I wasn't supposed to know "yet." Though, the support I wanted and needed from her was only halfheartedly given, like everyone else's. No one mentioned or moved to comfort me during or after her announcement. It was like I had to ask for it and I wasn't going to do that. It was a repulsive thought that I had to ask for love.

It also didn't help to remember her reaction and the sound of her voice when we were at the hospital. She made this face as if shocked to know that Elijah was in the room with us, wrapped underneath this huge blanket (even though it was a regular sized receiving blanket) in the bassinet. She shivered as if she was haunted by some ghost.

That was one of the reasons why I didn't want Elijah to be in the room with us in the first place. I didn't want to see the possibility of hurtful reactions, whether it was intentional or not. I understood that Elijah was not the usual sight of a baby, but it really didn't help that she couldn't keep her reaction to herself.

And, how was I suppose to be happy for her, when I couldn't even be happy for myself? How was I supposed to celebrate her child, when I couldn't celebrate mine?

All I could think about was how this was supposed to us, not them. We didn't even get to plan a baby shower, moreover, he didn't even want a baby shower for Elijah.

So, why would I have the slightest interest in going to any baby shower?

Instead, I have taken the route to avoid her and anything to do with her pregnancy because my loss was no longer being openly acknowledged. I "unfriended" her on Facebook because the invitation felt like salt to a wound. I no longer wanted to sit there and stare at this invitation and think about how I never got to do the same.

I also didn't look forward to seeing any more of her ultrasounds or future pregnancy or baby photos. Seeing her ultrasound on the announcement was already horrifying, it was like I was in a nightmare - only I wasn't dreaming.

I honestly didn't want to be invited to the baby shower after what happened after the announcement. Many (even my husband) would assume that I was being cruel, while I was only doing what came natural to me: to protect myself and the memory of my son. To make matters worse, my mother wasn't providing any helpful insight on grief and loss, nor any emotional validation.

She told me to pray that his spirit goes to a rich family! How's that for someone who had never asked if I named my baby?

Today was her baby shower and I am glad and relieved that I didn't go. I wasn't ready, I wasn't prepared to face that reality because no one was willing to help me face mine. And, I certainly didn't want to show up painfully hiding the fact that yes, I was jealous, but more than anything, I was hurt.

The baby shower caused me months of anxiety and I hated it. I hated that I couldn't be excited. And I hated that I felt tied to what his family and even my husband would have thought about me. I just couldn't go!

However, I took the biggest stand of all, especially for myself - that despite the judgments or reservations anyone had of me and my decision (which I knew would and did occur) - I had the hopes that my absence showed how much love and support I still needed.

After all, my decision revealed who truly cared for and understood me and who didn't. 

I spent my day trying to do something in honor of Elijah. I wanted to get an honorary tattoo, but ended up resting at home, which was much needed and probably something that Elijah would have wanted me to do anyway.

Maybe things would have been different if the love was there...

Really listen to your heart on this one. Because 1. You do not have to do anything you are not ready to do. 2. You do not need to meet anyone's expectations. And 3. Whatever you do, you'll do it with bravery.

If you happen to get an invitation, just know that it's more than okay to throw it away! It's okay to admit that someone else's baby shower is not your biggest priority and that your heart is. It's okay to take care of yourself.

Also, that if you choose to attend, that I know how hard it was for you. I have read stories about how mothers would go to baby showers and then bawl in the car or once they got home. Because watching someone else live the dream that you have been praying so hard for, the dream that was supposed to be promised to you, is too heart-shattering and unforgettable.

With love,

Must Read:
 Read the full story about Elijah:
Elijah's Story: From Gender Reveal To A Spontaneous Delivery

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