I am not going to lie; I put on a damn good face at my baby shower. I smiled and laughed and talked about the baby. I rubbed my growing belly and discussed names with all of the guests. I was truly grateful for everything everyone did for us; I was just not in an emotional place to meet them with the joy I knew I was supposed to be feeling.
When I became pregnant with my rainbow baby Gibson, after losing my first son Zennon at 4.5 months pregnant, I imagined my pregnancy would be so incredible, that I would be happy and excited. But in reality, my most dominant emotion for those nine months was anxiety.
Anxiety plagued every midwife appointment, every ultrasound and all of the days in-between. My Baby Shower seemed to spike it more than anything else. I couldn’t understand; wasn’t I supposed to be happy about it? All of my friends and family were going to be there, showering me and baby with gifts; it was supposed to be one of the best days of my life. But I was dreading it.
Terrified to get my hopes up
I wanted so badly to be excited, but there was nothing but fear. Fear that I would get so many beautiful baby things that I would never get to use, like the box filled with baby things for Zennon. I was afraid to get my hopes up, to let down my guard and trust that he would arrive safely. And for whatever reason, participating in a Baby Shower felt like too much: like it was tempting fate just a little more than I could handle.
The shower was an all too real reminder of what I never got to experience with Zennon. While I was so grateful for another baby, it was heart-wrenching to me that we would never get to celebrate like this for Zennon; after all he was just as real and just as special to me as Gibson.
But I tried to ignore the fear and anxiety. I tried to be happy about it. I bought a cute dress to wear. I did my hair. I meditated (to mentally prepare) and then my family picked me up to go. While driving, I remember my palms were sweating, my heart was racing, and I felt nauseous.
After the initial hellos and a couple of games, I began to feel overwhelmed. So, I went to the bathroom and sat on the floor and I cried. I cried because I wanted this baby so badly. I cried because I missed my first son so much. I cried because I knew that no matter how much I wanted this baby nobody could promise he would get here safely. I cried because I was sad and scared and hopeful all at the same time, and tears were the only way I knew to express it.
What I wish they knew
Looking back I wish I had been honest with my guests and allowed them to support me. I wish that I had asked if we could incorporate Zennon in the celebration. I wish I could say that I had only fond memories of that day. And while the decorations were adorable, the gifts were beautiful, and my family and friends were lovely, it was still a hard day. And that is okay.
Now that my rainbow baby is here I am able to see things without the screen of anxiety, and I can acknowledge that it is okay that I cried. It is okay that it was hard. It is okay that I was sad, because navigating through pregnancy after loss is tremendously challenging, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Your babies know that you love them, even if you cry at their baby shower, and even if you never got the chance to have a shower for them.
- How to Host a Meaningful Baby Shower after Loss
- Why fear should not keep you from announcing a baby on the way, even in early pregnancy
- That Time I had a Panic Attack at a Baby Shower
- What the New Mom to a Baby Born after a Loss Needs Her Friends and Loved Ones to Know
- 9 Things I’m not doing during my pregnancy after loss (and that’s okay)