Every time I find out a friend of mine is pregnant, I feel a moment of intense happiness and sheer pain all in the same breath. “Oh my goodness,” I exclaim, the ecstatic feelings winning out. “When are you due?” And then we start gushing together and share in that intimately happy moment of knowing that within the next year, a new human will be in our inner circle and I’ll have a new little one to cuddle on my lap. And then the pain hits: that pain of knowing that I’ll never have that moment. The realization that in six or so months my dear friend is going to want me to go to their baby shower and while I will feel so exceptionally happy for them, there will be a few moments in my car before I walk in where I have to collect myself. Take some deep breaths. Maybe even work through the crying. The truth is, I am SO happy for you and your new little family, but if you could please stop inviting me to your baby showers, that would be such a relief…
I never picture my life like this. When I was younger, a teenager even, I always pictured a huge family. A house on a hill, lace curtains in the kitchen, maybe an old iron stove and six children. I don’t know why six was the magic number, but that’s the number that I had in mind.
And then as I got a little older, it became pretty clear that medical issues were going to make it hard for me to conceive. Then when I finally did become pregnant, a devastating miscarriage left me childless once again. That was so many years ago and I’ve never again seen that magical plus sign show up on a single pregnancy test.
But back to the baby showers, because really, that’s where it all hits home.
Your baby showers are all so beautiful, you should know that. The little duckies, the pink or blue or both balloons everywhere. Baby shower punch, games, all those smiling faces of relatives who can’t wait to show you the perfect little outfit they found for your bundle of happiness. Baby carrots, baby corn, baby this and that – the sheer number of baby-named hor d’oeuvres is overwhelming.
And you. That hugely rounded belly, that glow in your cheeks, the way your eyes sparkle when you start talking about your future baby. It makes me think about what it would have been like for me.
I imagine it like this: I’m at your shower and I’ve got my own little one in my lap. She’s got soft brown hair, droopy eyes, and her breath smells like heaven. I’m stroking that sweet forehead and you’re telling me all about your pregnancy and all the plans you have. “Oh you just wait until she’s here,” I say, pulling my little one even closer. “It gets so much better when she’s actually here.”
Someone wants to come along and hold my baby, but she’s fussy right now. She’s just started teething and, “Sorry, maybe next time,” I say in that mom voice that we all know so well.
We’re all laughing and playing games and at some point she wakes up and is giggly and happy and you and I sit close talking about how our babies are going to grow up together and be best friends.
Only they won’t.
Because my baby dreams never came true.
I know I can adopt. I know I can become a foster mom. At some point in my future I might have a surrogate who carries my baby for me, but for now I have to tell you…sitting in that room surrounded by all those women with all their baby stories…it hurts my heart.
So while I promise to be the best auntie in the world, the best bestie, the best Mary Poppins your child has ever met after he or she is here, please do me the favor of letting me slip out of this one event. It hurts.
And it isn’t fair that it hurts, or that my pain should take away from your happiness, so let’s just not. I’ll bring something fun and quirky for your baby once they are here, but if I don’t show up to your shower know that it isn’t you – it’s me.