Lately that beast called Facebook has shared with me the memories of Ryan's baby showers. We were very fortunate and showered with love quite a few times. Once by Rich's family and my Toronto-based friends, once by my family and my Sault-based friends. And once by my coworkers. I know sometimes these memories can be nasty triggers when we're knee deep (neck deep, over our heads) in our grief, but they always seem to bring a smile to my face. Reminders of the happy times we spent with Ryan. Before his memory started to carry a bit of heaviness.
Baby showers do seem to be a bit of a trigger for me, though. And though I've been invited to 3 since Ryan died, I still haven't attended one. There's this overwhelming fear and sadness that fills me at the very thought of celebrating a baby not-yet-born. I've been so happy for my friends bringing babies earth-side. I'm even getting good at meeting them, interacting with them, smiling around them. But a shower... even thinking about it now puts this anxiety in my chest.
And here's where it gets really shitty and complicated.
I think it comes largely from a place of jealousy. Which I've said a million times makes me feel so gross. But it's my truth. Not a day goes by in this pregnancy that I'm not afraid this baby is going to die. Another truth. And it hurts my heart that I can't even remember what it's like to NOT feel that way with a baby inside me. Baby showers are all about celebrating a baby and bringing gifts to help mom get ready for when baby comes... And I don't think anyone needs me at their party thinking: "Oh God... but what if it doesn't go the way you all expect it to go?" So I keep that negativity at home, with me and my jealous little heart, feeling whatever kind of protection I feel by avoiding that celebration.
And here's where it gets even shittier and more complicated.
I would go to a shower for a fellow loss-mom without any hesitation. Because she KNOWS. And I would know that any celebration she was having was with a little fear and anxiety and apprehension in her heart too. Baby showers often feel like such a promise -- Here are the clothes we'll dress baby in. Here are the books we'll read to baby. Here are the lotions we'll rub on baby's skin before bed. Here are the diapers in various sizes we'll get to watch baby grow through. But at a loss-mom's shower it would be -- Here are the clothes we hope to dress baby in. The books we hope to read. Lotions and diapers we hope to use. No one receives those gifts and thinks: "If my baby dies, I'll find myself reading these books to him anyway, even though he's not here. I'll steal away to his closet and drawers to imagine him in the outfits. I'll catch myself standing in front of that closet, smelling that baby smell that comes from a pack of diapers, wishing my baby was here." No one except maybe another loss mom. Because that's what we do.
So I can't deal with the unbridled joy of celebration. The assumption of guarantees. The promises. The expectations.
But I can deal with hopefulness.
I can accept a mama's apprehension.
But I would never want to take away a new mom's confidence. Her unwavering faith that everything will be okay. Because no one took away mine when I was a new mom. And the fact is, sometimes, when I'm around other pregnant women, that's how I feel. Like a physical reminder that the worst happens. That they can look at me and think: "Oh God, I hope that doesn't happen to us." And though I can't remember it, I'm sure it was a comfort to not have that kind of reminder, or those worries and fears in my head all the time.
The complications continue when I start to think of my own little one inside me. I would love to celebrate him now. Not a shower. And certainly not with gifts (there's absolutely nothing we need). But how could I expect people to come celebrate my baby when I can't bring myself to celebrate theirs? And how do you even celebrate a little one on the way without a shower or diaper party or whatever? How do you celebrate without fearing you're "jinxing" things?
I'm scared to celebrate and I'm scared to not. And I've hopefully only got about 11 weeks left to figure it out.
The confusion of the PAL journey never ends....