A baby shower might not seem worthy enough of a loss to grieve over, but for me it is.
I know I have much to be grateful for, and a canceled baby shower is not necessarily worth being upset about during these unprecedented times.
Except that it is.
While the world tries to deal with the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, many people have had to cancel joyous milestones and big life events. A baby shower might not seem worthy enough of a loss to grieve over, but for me it is. And your pregnant friend might feel the same.
After the initial shock of the pandemic wore off and I had made the call to cancel my baby shower, a disappointing thought finally set in. I would never get to be properly celebrated for the miraculous and arduous journey my body had been through during my twin pregnancy.
I had thought about rescheduling my baby shower, but my twins are due in June and I might even go early, so it didn't make sense to reschedule the baby shower for May. Besides, nobody knows when this devastating health crisis will be over anyway. I would possibly have to cancel it then, too.
My friends and family suggested we host a "Sip and See" party—where guests stop by to see the baby and sip refreshments—in late summer or early fall. By then, the babies will be here, the pandemic will (hopefully) be over and friends and family can safely meet the babies and visit with me. People would still bring gifts and it would essentially be just like a baby shower.
While a Sip and See is a lovely and kindhearted idea, I wasn't as excited about it as I was for my baby shower. That's because I wasn't throwing a baby shower for the gifts—I had planned it as a celebration of motherhood. A celebration of pregnancy. A celebration of my body, which has been strong enough to grow two babies at the same time.
Because I feel so ready to finally celebrate my body—a body that had disappointed me for 19 months while my husband and I tried to conceive. It was around the time when I felt so ready to give up trying, so ready to accept the fact I'd never be able to get pregnant—that I saw a positive pregnancy test for the first time in my life. And at our first ultrasound, we were blessed with not one but two precious heartbeats.
At 18 weeks, I started to plan my baby shower. It was going to be a celebration of womanhood, I'd decided. A high-tea concept. We'd break out the fine china and antique silverware. There'd be mini cakes and scones, and every woman would feel proud to be there, together, a sisterhood of motherhood. I was excited to wear a dress that showed off my enormous twin bump I'd spent years wishing for. I wanted to celebrate being a woman, being a mom, and yes, I wanted to celebrate me. After all, a woman is only pregnant for the first time once.
After I have my babies, I know the focus will no longer be on me. Don't get me wrong, I want my babies to be loved and welcomed—I can't wait to become a mother. But I also know when babies are born a mother often becomes invisible.
I've heard the stories. I've read the articles. I've seen it with my own eyes. When a woman gives birth, everyone's attention turns to the new bundle of joy. And why shouldn't it? A baby is a beautiful gift of hope—a tiny, helpless being who deserves to be loved, held and doted on.
But so does a mother.
And that's why we shower her with love, attention and gifts before the baby arrives. Now, because of the coronavirus, we can't celebrate our pregnant friend the way we normally do.
So I'm asking you: Please don't forget about your pregnant friend whose shower was canceled because of these strange times.
She still deserves to be celebrated for everything she's been through—the years trying to conceive, maybe the painful shots and surgeries she endured to get pregnant, giving up wine and coffee and sushi for nine months, her swollen feet and aching back. Not to mention her likely new fears of giving birth during a pandemic.
What can you do to celebrate her despite the circumstances? Send cupcakes to her house. Decorate her apartment door with balloons and cards. Let her know you love her. Write her a letter expressing how strong and brave she is during this time. Still buy and send gifts from her registry if you are able to.
Just don't forget about her.
No woman should turn invisible when she becomes a mother. And she certainly shouldn't become invisible before she gives birth, either. She deserves to be celebrated for the life she has created. She deserves to be acknowledged for her sacrifice.
So please, even if you host a Sip and See when this pandemic is all over, please don't focus entirely on the babies and forget about the new mama who stands before you. Because a lot has happened, and she's still standing. Remember to celebrate her when this is all over.