I secretly hated baby showers since about 20 minutes into the first one, my ass sinking into the bottomless puffy pastel couch as I filled out a questionnaire about the sex, weight, height and birthday of a human I didn't know and who didn't exist yet, seconds before accidentally kicking over the fuchsia non-alcoholic punch I'd set down on the beige carpet.
"This is a nightmare," I thought, rising to grab paper towels and carpet cleaner, and then realizing I didn't know where they were. "This is it for me. I'm dying."
Everyone watched as the hostess scrubbed, swearing it wasn't a big deal, pink swooshing back and forth under the towels.
My face turned the same color as the punch surely setting into that woman's carpet. "Yep, this is how I die: of discomfort and deep shame, at a baby shower, in this strangling, Mandarin-collared dress, surrounded by unfamiliar women in strangling, Mandarin-collared dresses, filling out the most useless form in the world, covered in pink, non-alcoholic punch."
Surprisingly, I did not die, but rather left three hours later, thanking the hostess, congratulating the mother, vowing never to attend another shower and going on to attend several more over the next decade.
It wasn't the spilling of the punch, of course. I made it to adulthood without experiencing what it was like to be a part of a group of women, or really, how to be one. Sitting in a room full of them, discussing how an occupied uterus can wreak hell on a body (sometimes with Show and Tell) is a setting fraught with emotional landmines for this funky snowflake. I spend a lot of time wondering if I'm "woman-ing" correctly; all-lady gatherings like this tend to confirm my fears.
Still, this knowledge never prevented me from openly proclaiming baby showers suck.
I lost my resolve to suffer stoically at a shower years ago, somewhere between the "Guess the Baby Food" game and a conversation about chapped nipples. "Oh God," I prayed, as someone removed a safety pin from my shirt for having said the word "Baby" at a baby shower. "Have mercy. Please take me before the melted-candy-bars-in-the-diapers part of the day."
But He didn't, so I stood up and unceremoniously announced, "I have to leave now."
That led to my Baby Shower M.O.: show up late with a box of diapers, sit in a single chair by the door, drink only water or white wine, leave early with apologies.
But I finally realized something last week while collecting finishing touches for a baby shower I was co-hostessing: a baby shower is a once-in-a-lifetime event. My friend could have scores of children, but this would be the only time she'd sit at the center of a puffy pastel couch, sipping fuchsia non-alcoholic punch because she can't have the good stuff, and watch her friends stick their noses into Huggies with melted Snickers bars inside.
Anxiety, swollen feet, self-doubt, dandruff, nausea, lethargy and a zillion other things make pregnancy tough. Worrying about miscarriage for three months without being able to talk about it with your friends is lonely and scary. And every time you go to the doctor, which is kind of a lot, they make you take your pants off. My friend deserved a party, and suddenly, spending four hours in a crowded room talking about breast pumps seemed like the least I could do.
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