Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Tale of Two Baby Showers

Saturday I had two baby showers to attend. Both began at 3pm. Both were for good friends, thrown by good friends, near my home. I had no excuses - I was baby-shower bound.

The truth is, I don't attend baby showers. I just don't. After my hysterectomy, I decided that baby showers were too hard for me. I would bring a gift to the mother at another time, and love on the babies and take photos and be proud auntie and babysit and bring hand-me-downs and every other thing that one does when a friend has a baby. But I don't do showers. Being around pregnancy makes me sad and it is just so damn hard, still. I thought it would get better with time - but it hasn't. Until recently, I couldn't bring myself to even touch a pregnant belly. But slowly, over the past year or so, I have gotten better. Stronger. And I wanted to go to these baby showers and try to break through all of the nonsense and anxiety swimming around in my head.

And so here I was, committed to attending two of them. On the same day. At the same time.

I headed off to the first one full of trepidation. It was going to be a low key affair, women only, cupcakes and tea and champagne and lace table clothes and quiet music and children playing outside in the orchard. But first, I had to get strawberries. I walked in through the automatic doors of our small market, and marched purposefully to the strawberry shelf in the cooler, which is always loaded with strawberries from the farm down the road.
It was empty
I froze.

How could they be completely out of strawberries? THIS IS NOT GOOD.

So I got back in the car and talked to myself for a few minutes, with the kids eyeing me nervously because they both know how I am about pregnancy in general and baby showers in particular and I think they were kind of waiting for the emotional breakdown to kick in like usual.

I gripped the steering wheel with white knuckles. "Okay, so no strawberries. We just won't bring them."

"We are going to a party without bringing any FOOD?" Lucy said incredulously from the backseat.

"I don't know what to do." I stared out the windshield and tried to think. "Okay, we'll go to the party and I'll see what they need and then I'll run back out and buy it. I don't know what else to do." I was dangerously close to crying. This was not good. I could feel the anxiety building and I was starting to feel short of breath and I gripped the steering wheel more tightly.

Panic Attack. Xanax time.

We drove to the shower in silence. When we arrived, the hostess assured me that she did NOT need strawberries, and indeed she had things well in hand. Her house was spotless and filled with light, and she was setting out a tray of cupcakes topped with puffs of pastel frostings and pearls. The Xanax was kicking in nicely. I opened a bottle of champagne and wrote little signs out to identify all of the different juices and teas on the counter.

Instead of playing the usual baby shower games, the women talked quietly and colored in paper birds that were being hung from a branch to make a mobile. They wrote little notes of love and support for the mom-to-be to put in a baby book. They sat on the deck in the sunshine enjoying the incredible view and a colorful buffet of food the guests had prepared, made with wholesome organic ingredients. There was a tapestry on the floor and cushions all around it and there would be some sort of blessing ceremony later. We sipped champagne, poured glasses of honey chamomile tea and mango nectar, and took turns hugging the expectant mom who beamed and welcomed everyone while music played quietly in the background.

It was beautiful and elegant and I could have basked in the gorgeousness of it all, put the entire thing on Pinterest and called it a day.

But I had another shower to attend.

As soon as they started gathering for the blessing, I gave the kids the nod and we headed off. Listening to women talk earnestly about how beautiful and empowering pregnancy is might have pushed my already tenuous emotional state into a free fall. Better to hit it and quit it than to start bawling during someone's heartfelt offering.

The second shower was themed: Pin up Girls and Hot Rods. It was being thrown by the roller girls and costumes were strongly encouraged, natch. We rolled up to find our friends under a tent on a wide lawn in a gentle mist. The honoree was grinning ear to ear, taking pictures of everyone, decked out in an incredible dress that one of the hostesses had made for her - complete with accessories. The crowd was raucous and addressed via megaphone - there were suits and stogies, petticoats and stilettos.muscle tees and Doc Martins. There was a table set out with a wide array of foods that people were setting on with gusto - fried chicken, chili and rice, spam musubi, chips, dips, cake.... pretty much every craving was covered. I threw down my crockpot of BBQ meatballs and went inside for a jello shot. I discovered an enormous tureen filled with mojitos, and a blender for margaritas - they had run out of vodka, but that's a risk you take when you arrive 2 hours late to a party. I got busy filling baby bottles with Bud Light Lime, and took them outside to watch the first contest - to see who could drain their baby bottle first. There were other games, with clothespins and stories, and people laughing hysterically and running around inside cardboard muscle cars. After a while, It was time for the pinata.

The pinata in the shape of a pregnant woman.

As I stood in the rain and watched my kids beat the hell out of that thing with a cardboard tube, I had two thoughts:
I am so glad they aren't using a bat, because that would be creepy
Man, these were really different baby showers

The bottom line is, of course, that I survived both of them. And that the two mothers-to-be were surrounded by friends and love and laughter, and that their parties were a reflection of the amazing people that they are, and the incredible friends that they have - which is all that really matters. Well, that and always bringing an extra handle of vodka to a derby party. Live and Learn.