Monday, June 1, 2009

The Shower

Yesterday I attended my first baby shower since Lucy died, replete with no less than four pregnant attendees.

It was okay.

It was more than okay, actually. It was lovely. Initially, I thought I would just go and help set up, because I do very much love the star of the shower and wanted to be part of her day. She is my sister's sister-in-law. She was also part of our short-lived but mighty book club. We are both the only aunts in my nephews' and niece's lives. I am grateful actually at how much I love her and her mother. They, along with my twin sister, created a safe environment, knowing I had lost Lucy, knowing I realized Lucy wasn't moving at a baby shower, knowing that in my position they maybe couldn't attend a shower, to come and go without grudge. If I couldn't manage, I could leave safely at any time. But I didn't leave. Maybe it was all I needed--an acknowledgment that that day was going to be hard. An acknowledgment that I am grieving. An acknowledgment that I could be jealous, that I miss my girl. An acknowledgment that I wanted to dress my girl in the same outfits being oooed and aahed over and couldn't.

In the first few minutes of the official start of the shower, an aunt came in. She said hello, as I stood next to my mom doctoring some punch. She made small talk, asked me how many children I had. "Two daughters." I kept my face officially buried in the punch, without contaminating it, not making eye contact.
"How old?" Had she really not heard my story through the family grapevine?
"My oldest is two..." and my mother interrupted.
"Her youngest was stillborn in December." And I kept working, and ignored the rest of the conversation, which involved my mom showing her her necklace with all her grandchildren's names, including Lucia's. I thought then, "Oh, I cannot handle this shit. I will not last long with these questions." I poured another apricot nectar into the punch bowl. I couldn't find my sister, as she was greeting people in the door. Partially, I wanted my sister to quietly whisper my story to every person walking in the door; and partially, I wanted noone to know. I couldn't bear the idea of pitying looks my way through all the parts of the shower. But instead of finding KellyAnn, I grabbed some coffee, sat in the corner, buffered by my mother, and ate chocolate covered strawberries. It was a good position to be in. The observer in the corner. Sometimes I summoned George Page's PBS Nature documentary voice, "The elusive, yet beautiful, first time mother delicately opens the packages brought by her family to welcome her new offspring. The group of women instinctively coos over another pink onesie, verbally acknowledging the preciousness of the newborn."

Occasionally, my sister would come over and say something hilarious, as she is wont to do, or bring me another strawberry, and go back to the hosting. Not one more person asked me how many children I have, or what I did. I assume some knew my story, others just too wrapped up shower. But that was more than okay. There are some days you just want to be an anonymous positive force, a smiling person bestowing blessings. I had thoughts, random fleeting thoughts, that I think all babylost mamas have. Will everything be okay for everyone? I was partially terrified for everyone and comforted to think my story is not the normal ending. I was also horrified by my thoughts as my eyes rested on the beautiful roundness of the bellies in the room. I dared not dwell on these thoughts, or I will cry at the possibility of any of these women experiencing the type of sadness I have. I am not normal.

How I long to be normal.

Not simply once, but throughout the day, my sister's mother-in-law and sister-in-law looked at me with tears in their eyes and said, "Thank you for being here." And well, that meant the world to me. It made me feel wanted there, even though I could have come to represent something scary. A few months ago, my own mother, when I was telling her about my anxiety about attending, said something to the effect, "They probably don't even want you there, talking about babyloss."

Still, my mother stuck close to me yesterday, and I am incredibly appreciative of that. When we talked later that night, she admitted that at some points she had gotten pretty choked up. I hadn't noticed (ah, the narcissism of grief!), but I didn't get choked up, surprisingly. I just have an overall air of sadness and unsure energy. I notice it in a room full of people jabbering away and making small talk. The babymama cried when she opened my gift. I painted her a picture for her nursery, and also got her some things from her list. Even though I didn't want to cry, I was okay with others crying. It is a joy, and tears of joy to me, are more beautiful than smiles.

As I drove home, I put in the Gipsy Kings, rolled the windows down on the Outback, and thought about a weekend trip I once made to Puerto Penasco in Mexico. I was happy then. I felt contented then. Driving through rural Northern Mexico without a care. I had left my many many anxieties back at my home in Tucson, and headed to the beach. I remember thinking on that ride, with the hot desert wind on my face as the beautiful gypsy guitar music blared, that I was happy to be in my twenties, and maybe in love, and maybe facing the hardest trials of my life at the time, but it was okay. I could do it. I could get through anything; I was so cocky and brave. There was something of that feeling yesterday. I blared the same music, and thought about how my obligations and anxieties about this day were over. I felt liberated, a bit brave, a bit lighter. I can go to another shower someday, maybe a more intimidating shower. Maybe a shower where I can dance with a full-bellied woman to some gypsy guitar and cry tears of joy.

Baila baila baila me
Este rumba a ta gitana
Que yo siempre cantare


  1. I am sobbing as I read your post. And I can't tell how much of it is because I am so proud of you and how much of it is feeling sorry for myself. And missing the days when I felt so brave.

    How much longer until I can be normal? When can I be brave again?

  2. So very proud of you, Angie. What grace. Much love.

  3. yes, grace....grace is the perfect description. you are the bravest person i know. you speak your truth. ugly, beautiful and in between. and i am so lucky to share your dna.....

  4. What a huge step. You should be proud of yourself. I am glad that the day was "better than okay" after you got through some awkward moments.


  5. "Thank you for being here." Thank you for being here.

    So moved.

  6. I am continually amazed at the similarities so many of us in babyloss land experience.. I'm going to my 'first' shower this Sunday.. I'm afraid of the small talk, the people (and I know NO one but the guest of honor!)asking how many children I have.. oohing over my obvious pregnant belly - assuming that I WILL have a baby at the end of it all, and a playmate for my friends baby, just a couple months apart in age, they'll be! How exciting, How fun!!! Except I knew 10 different friends and relatives that had babies last year, they all took theirs home, I didn't. They were supposed to be Dresden's playmates - they're not. I also feel sad looking at other peoples pregnant bellies, esp. ones who don't know my story.. I feel like they have no idea how horribly wrong it could go, I feel sad that they may be the next 1 out of 100 women to experience such a horrifying loss.. but who would want to think about that during such a wonderful time in life? I know I didn't.

  7. beautiful and brave angie. i am also so proud of you. i definitely can't go to any baby showers and i am inspired by your courage.

    i love the image of you driving to the gypsy kings, feeling that braveness, you have gotten through things before and you will again.

    i too have that internal dilemma of wanting everyone to know my story and wanting no one to know it. wanting to be normal again.

    thank you for continuing to inspire me, in all of your truth and courage


  8. You're incredible Angie. I haven't been to a baby shower since my own last June. And I can say with some certainty, I don't think I will ever go to another one again. Thankfully I haven't been invited to any since I lost Hope. I think I would have thrown up on the invites. You're brave, and you're an inspiration. Thank you for being here indeed.

  9. oh, Angie... what grace indeed. You have a beautiful soul.
    lately I have been thinking of finding a Flamenco teacher, thinking it would be a good outlet.
    *hugs* to you.

  10. I am proud of you for being so brave!

  11. wow angie, i'm really amazed and impressed with you. i don't feel normal either, and i don't ever envision myself attending a baby shower again.

  12. wow- you did great - and sounds like you have greats support.

    You healed at that shower.

  13. I second everyone else, proud, and you being so brace. I am also about to do some art for one of my friends new arrival. I did not however attend her shower and was so grateful that she was so understanding.
    I'm so glad you pushed yourself and attained a sense of liberation. I'm a little envious.
    I am grateful for you Angie.
    With Love,

  14. You most certainly handled the shower with the utmost grace. You never cease to amaze me and I hope you amaze yourself.


  15. Wow, you are an amazing woman.

    And it sounds like you have a very supportive family. I love that your mom showed off her necklace, counted Lucia among her grandchildren.


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