For those of you who have never attended such a blessed event, a baby shower is full of happiness, smiles, sugar, little kids running around, baby shower games, and lots of gifts.
Adorable baby clothes and shoes (which are completely useless but oh-so-cute!), strollers, diaper genies, car seats, baby monitors, bottles, books, blankets, etc.
Baby showers are full of pastel colors and cutesy sayings and stuffed animals. They are great.
Except for the single woman in her thirties who fears she will never get married and have her own kids.
Except for the married woman who is struggling with infertility.
Except for the woman who is grieving the loss of a child.
Except for the woman who just had her third miscarriage.
Except for the woman who has a medical condition and doesn't know if she will ever be able to get pregnant.
I am really, really happy for my friend. Over the moon. She struggled with infertility and miscarriage herself and has shared some of that journey with me. So I wanted there to be nothing but happiness for her!
But it was still hard. It was difficult to see all the beautiful little kids and babies who came with their mothers. It was painful to hear them talking about their kids and how after three, it doesn't really make a difference any more. It's hard not to wonder if you will ever be the one who is pregnant.
But you know what? It's okay for me to feel sad. It's okay that going to the shower was hard. It's okay that those mothers were laughing and joking about motherhood and it's okay that it was hard for me to hear. I can share in my friend's joy and happiness and she can share in my fear and pain.
So if you fall into one of those categories listed above, I have two pieces of advice.
If you can handle it, go to the showers. Be with your friends and celebrate with them. It's okay if you cry. It's okay if you feel sad. It's okay if you have to leave the room for a little bit, or if you need your friend to open your gift first so you can leave early, THAT'S OK TOO. But you don't want to miss out on celebrating this moment.
If you can't handle it, then don't go. It is perfectly acceptable to say you can't make it to the shower. Maybe just send a gift or try to visit your friend when she has her baby. If it is simply too much, I'm giving you permission right now to NOT GO. Maybe the pain for you is just too fresh. Or a hundred other reasons why it's just too difficult for you right now. Take care of yourself. Your friends will understand. Just let them know why you can't come.
And if you are the expectant mother or a woman at a shower who has kids - try to be aware if you have these women in your life. Give them a hug or a hand squeeze to let them know you know it's hard. Appreciate that they show up despite the difficulty. Maybe check on them later in the week to see how they are doing. Sit with them at the shower. Let them hold your baby. (Also, the idea of a "Sprinkle" has recently become very popular. A Sprinkle is a shower for a woman who is having a second, third, etc, child. Unless it is for a woman who had her children so far apart that she no longer has all the baby stuff, just don't do them. It's too much, ok?)
We celebrate with those who celebrate and mourn with those who mourn.
I know it's tough. I'm here to hold your hand, take a deep breath, and gather the strength and courage to do life even when it hurts.