I have never in my life seen so many pregnant women. Ever since my baby fever began, two years ago, I have seen more pregnant bellies than I have in the whole rest of my life. It really is absurd. Obviously it’s not that there are truly more pregnant ladies, it’s just that I notice them now. Just like when I was looking at buying a Nissan and suddenly they were everywhere. There are, however, truthfully more pregnant women and newborns at my church than ever before. Most of my life I attended a church that was mostly older people, not a whole lot of babies. Now I’m at a church where most people are around my age and a bit younger. This means a bunch of young Christian married couples. If you’re not familiar with this demographic, they tent to start families young. I’m literally surrounded by babies and bellies.
What’s worse than being surrounded by baby bumps? Being at a baby shower…multiple baby showers. So many baby showers! I’ve been invited to three this month alone! Some of these women I don’t even know! But because the church has my email address I get sent invites to every one.
I know full well that I am not obligated to attend any of these. But getting multiple invites and then reminders of those invites in my email every day kinda sucks. I’m being consistently reminded of my flat, very empty belly. There has been only one of these that I genuinely thought I should go to, but I was at the end of my cycle and just knew there was no baby this time either, I just could not bear it.
I have been frequenting baby forums and blogs and read somewhere that it’s perfectly acceptable to not attend a shower while you’re trying to conceive. I got on Amazon and ordered a couple of baby books to be delivered the day of the shower and went to my husbands softball game instead. Bonus: all the other pregnant wives who were normally at the games were at the baby shower. I got to actually enjoy the game without having to listen to baby talk the whole time!
Each month I get my period it gets harder. I start to question if I’ll ever have a baby, and we’re only on our fifth try. I’m dreading the next pregnancy announcement and praying it won’t be someone I’m close to. A few weeks ago I was nearly faced with just that. We have a group of pretty close friends that includes several couples. One of the husbands announced that they had “exciting news” and they would tell us all when we got together at our apartment the following week. Husband and I went home assuming right away that they were pregnant. I skipped the get together that week and sat at a coffee shop while everyone met at my apartment, Husband made some excuse for me. I skipped because with where I was emotionally at that time, I would have dissolved into tears had I stayed to hear her baby news. I would not have been able to be happy for her, and she truly deserved for her friends to be happy and supportive. It would have been torture for me. Turns out, their exciting news was completely non-baby-related. I’m relieved.
I’m realizing more and more that I don’t need to make decisions based on other peoples expectations, or expectations I place on myself. I am learning to take better care of myself and not feel guilty about it. At least I’m trying. This journey is a true emotional roller-coaster, if you’re not careful it can take you from your mountain top and pull you into a horrible pit and leave you there. There is so much talk about taking good care of your body. Eat well, don’t smoke, don’t drink, take prenatal vitamins, see your doctor, stay active. But there seems to be considerably less talk about taking care of yourself emotionally, even less about how to do that. There’s always the one-liner about not stressing, with a tag that says get a hobby. Really? Get a hobby? That’s all you have to offer me?
Here’s my advice from someone with admittedly very little experience: Take care of yourself emotionally and don’t feel guilty for it. Take a mental health day if you need to, do whatever it is that makes you happy. Don’t make yourself go to baby showers. On the days when you feel the worst, let yourself cry, let yourself be disappointed, and again, don’t feel guilty for it. Find a friend or a forum online to connect with other women going through the same thing, confide in them, let them affirm you and encourage you. Remember, you are not alone in this, and your time will come. A good friend of mine told me just the other day: “I know that God has a child for you. He has a son or daughter for you. Or both. You WILL kiss chubby cheeks and toes one day….When you feel yourself stress or hurt with disappointment, take a deep breath, give it back to God, and keep going.”
Thank you friend.