As most of you know, my beautiful baby girl, may her memory be only for a blessing, died halfway through my pregnancy in May of this year. As many of you know, I have a small group of local women friends who are all moms of young children, though I am the only Jew.
These two facts are important to bear in mind during this post.
For lots of reasons, I am opposed to baby showers. In my case, for instance, had I had a shower just before finding out my baby had died? Or had to come home to a decorated nursery with empty arms? That pain can be avoided in most, but admittedly not all, situations. In a way I was fortunate; except for the memory book of the all too short time with our daughter and the pile of now unused maternity clothes, everything looks pretty much the same. (There are a few exceptions–a painted porch and a garden–but they are not important to this post.)
However, the mom friends I have wanted to have a party to celebrate the fact that there are so many babies being born among our friends. Five moms, me among them, were due between July and October. Now there are four.
Despite wanting to have a party–more a celebration of new life than a baby shower, I was assured–few were willing to volunteer to plan it. Isn’t that the way it always is?
I didn’t want to seem the resentful mom, especially because I never felt resentment toward the other pregnant moms. In fact, I struggled with my own fears for their babies’ safety and safe deliveries. And I worried the moms would not want to be around me because it would remind them that pregnancy is risky and what happened to me could happen to them, too.
So I volunteered to help plan it. Now I am one of only three who are doing nearly all the work for a party early next week and I am conflicted.
I feel sad. The wounds of last May are being tugged at, scratched, irritated, and some I fear are beginning to weep. I was supposed to be pregnant at this party. I was supposed to be expecting my own baby in just over a month. G-d had other plans.
Yet it is hard for me to help plan a party celebrating new life when I so recently lost the new life I’d nurtured. We still hope, b’ezrat HaShem, to get pregnant again. But it is still too soon for that.
I sense my emotions being stuffed away, tucked into a dark corner somewhere until they eventually emerge and cry out in the light of day. My sadness is under the surface but each day I feel ambivalence growing stronger. I am distracted, distant.
I want this party to be over so I don’t have to think about it anymore. I want to simply not go, but that seems so selfish. My loss shouldn’t diminish the joy at those lives that have already been born or, G-d willing, will soon be within our group. My absence would be felt more palpably than my presence.
And still it hurts.