Baby Showers and Ventilators

“Oh, you won’t be at her baby shower?” the secretary asked me with a curious expression.

I wanted to scream. Had she not read the company-wide email that my infant son had died shortly after birth? Had she forgotten that everyone in the offices should have known about our son’s severe problems? Had she not remembered that I had been pregnant, gave birth, and buried my son only a few short months before? Had she not realized how her simple question seemed so insincere?

“Um, I can’t do baby showers right now. Will you please make sure she gets this gift?” I softly answered.

I quickly handed over the small gift bag with lotions and a gift card. The only type of gift I could bring myself to buy at that time. I swiftly turned and walked out the department’s door. I was trying to walk bravely. I was trying to not run toward the door.  I was trying to not cry.

It’s nine years, two healthy boys and four of my own baby showers later. I still struggle with baby showers. I still breathe a deep breath before walking into a room full of baby excitement.  I still rehearse in my head the options of what I could say.

Cue the smile. Cue the laughter. Cue the oohs and ahhs. Cue the responses of yes, that is a cute outfit.  I try my hardest to live in the moment of joy, but inside my head I am reminded.

Reminded that any shower plans for our son were quickly halted when we found out about his severe trisomy 13.

Reminded that a trip to plan a baby registry was quickly replaced with a trip to plan end-of-life options with a neonatologist.

Reminded that while others planned baby showers, birthing plans and nursery colors, my husband and I were deciding on feeding tubes, comfort care and ventilators for our unborn son.

Reminded that while others sat at stores with the lady who was about to hand over the scanning device to fill a baby registry, we sat with a doctor who specializes in caring for ill newborns.

Reminded that while others can’t decide between the light blue or the bright green crib set and probably driving some store clerk crazy, we were saying to the neonatologist, “Yes. We want this decision. Wait, no, we want this decision. Oh wait, we don’t know what the best decision is yet.” She was so very patient with us, and we were able to come to concrete decisions.

I will still go to baby showers.  I hope I still get invited to them after this post. I will still take a deep breath before walking into a room full of baby excitement. I will still pick out the cute outfit or impractical necessity on someone’s baby wish list.

But more importantly, I will think back to when we made important decisions for our son. Decisions that went way beyond nursery decor, wipes warmers and baby registries.

I have to admit, the last two sentences surprised me when I wrote them.  I was surprised at how I could go from the emotions of the memory, to the emotions at baby showers, to the realization of the real memory  that connects me to Aidan and baby showers.

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

9 thoughts on “Baby Showers and Ventilators

  1. K says:

    This is beautifully written.
    Your honest feelings were something that, although I have not had your experience, I could truly connect with.
    Your finally sentence was powerful and full of love.

  2. says:

    Your post is an important reminder about how fragile we all are. If we live long enough we all carry “battle scars” of one kind of another, and we all need each other’s tenderness, kindness, and understanding. Thank you for sharing a deep piece of your soul this morning.

  3. says:

    The way in which you’ve shared is powerful and memorable. And a good reminder that at any given time, many of the people around us are struggling in ways we can’t fathom. Your piece brings with it a call to greater sensitivity in so many ways.

  4. pamelahodges says:

    A tender piece, brave and vulnerable. I am reminded of how my words can wound as well as heal.
    Thank you for sharing a memory so deep.

  5. Maria says:

    I remember a PSA piece once that was something like “You just don’t know”…

    You don’t know what someone else is going through. They may act in a way that seems strange to you… but you don’t have any idea what is going on for them, or with them.

    Thanks for sharing this today, Jessica.

  6. Kathleen Gillis says:

    A strong piece, well-written. Thank you for sharing this. Thirteen years ago we had a similar decision to make and to paraphrase Marge Piercy- the absence of our first daughter has gone through me like thread through a needle, everything after has been stitched by its color. It’s not only okay to feel it, it’s real and true and necessary. Baby showers are a muted joy of detached celebration still.

  7. says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It was beautifully written. My heart hurt as I read this and I connected to various aspects of it on a personal level.

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