She was a dear friend. She was an amazing woman. I admired her and loved her very much. And I was absolutely thrilled that she was expecting her first baby.
But as I read the details on her baby shower invitation there was this thing deep down in the pit of my stomach that began to tighten. This thing was dread and it was wrapped around anxiety. It wasn’t a good feeling. In fact, it confused me at first. It was just a baby shower. No big deal. Right? I had to attend. Right? It would be rude if I didn’t. Right?
Despite my heavy hesitation, I did what I thought the nice thing to do was and I RSVP’d “attending.”
What I tried to convince myself was a “no big deal” baby shower turned out to be a very big deal. You see, I had a miscarriage the year before. And even though I had also just had a beautiful, healthy baby a couple months prior, my emotions were still tender and I was still grieving the loss of my first baby. But at the time, I didn’t realize exactly how tender I was.
I walked into the home where the shower was being hosted and the air immediately got thinner. My heartbeat began to race, until I felt my face becoming flushed.
I skittishly looked for the gift table to drop off my gift bag. As I aimlessly wandered the crowded rooms, I walked through a sea of unfamiliar faces as they “oohed and aahed” at all the sweet pink and blue decor and discussed how cute my pregnant friend looked. I became acutely aware of the overwhelming amount of women and how much baby-themed stuff there was.
I was having a panic attack at a baby shower and wanted to run and hide. Or disappear. Or leave. I decided on the latter.
I made up an excuse and just…left.
I bee lined to my car, got in, shut the door, and just sat there—trying to calm down and breathe.
What had just happened??
It took some time to figure out why I ran out that day. I was a year into my healing process after my miscarriage. I even had a healthy baby waiting for me at home with her daddy. So why did I feel this way? Why did this happen?
What I’ve come to realize is that grief is grief. A healthy baby doesn’t fix a loss.
There’s no instant fix or emotional bandaid to cover it with. A healthy baby is an incredible blessing—one that I do not take for granted in the least. I know many of you are struggling and in pain—and you would give anything to have a healthy baby in your arms. So please hear my heart and know that I tenderly say these words. Even though I had a beautiful baby at home, I still had grief and pain to navigate through. A baby shower still triggered that thing inside of me. Being at large parties still made me want to hide myself. It was all still just too much—too much for my hurting, healing heart.
I should have graciously declined that baby shower—that would have been the best decision. My attendance wasn’t beneficial for anyone involved. But I allowed guilt and “logic” make the decision for me and it turned into a jumbled mess of emotions.
Honestly, if I had told my friend how I was feeling about attending a baby shower, she would have understood. But even if she hadn’t truly understood, I still could have said ‘no.’
I wish I could go back in time and share my insight and experience with myself. I would have given myself permission to say no to more than just that one baby shower. I would have validated my feelings and given myself permission to decline parties, dinners and baby showers—for as long as necessary.
Because there were times, it was just too much to handle. All the people. All the noise. All the small talk. All the emotional energy used to put on a happy face.
So now, I share this with you, momma.
Your emotions are valid. Whether you recently lost a baby, or it’s been a month, or it’s been a year or more. Your heart and your healing are what is most important. You are what’s most important.
Give yourself grace when your emotions feel tattered or you feel like you’re hanging on by a thread. Give yourself permission to graciously decline that party or dinner…or that baby shower that is “no big deal.” Because it actually may be a big deal to you.
Heal. Feel. Listen to your heart.
You are loved, momma.