Our baby shower was last weekend. It was hosted by my godmother, sister-in-law, and mom, and we chose to make it co-ed. And it was exquisite. Held in my godmother’s backyard, late on a sunny California afternoon, they had an impeccable spread of upscale Mexican food and sweets, and a bartender serving sangria, margaritas and mocktails. So many of our friends and family came out, including many that traveled in for the weekend to celebrate with us. The day felt so loving, magical, and surreal.
As I tried to take in and savor each moment, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the baby shower I threw for my sister-in-law exactly a year ago. A year ago, when I was still in so much pain, but trying with everything I could to focus on the happiness I felt at the little boy that my family was gaining, and not on the babies I had lost. I wanted desperately to feel joy for my brother and for my parents, and the little steps I took in that direction felt monumental. So many moments I thought I was okay, and tried to convince myself that I was okay. So much pressure that I put on myself to be okay. But looking back now, I can see so clearly how much pain I was in, and how much more I had to go to heal.
At our shower the two little boys who shared the due dates of my two angels, my nephew and my best friend’s son, were together in front of me for the first time. It felt odd to see them together, and although I tried not to think about it, I felt a tug to my heart. The next morning, I woke with my two angel babies on my mind, and in the afterglow of such a beautiful party, I felt a sadness for them. They never had the opportunity to be celebrated in this way.
But, despite those reminders, what really struck me was how much my heart had healed.
At the same time that this pregnancy has been a long road of tangled emotions where I’ve been forced to face past trauma, confront fears, and search for elusive bits of equanimity, it has also been healing. Every day, as I’ve been working through these emotions, I’ve been working on finding peace and closing a chapter. Even where I still struggle, I know I’ve made progress. I still flinch at unexpected pregnancy announcements on Facebook. I still make assumptions that others have had an easier path to a baby than me, and I still let it sting. I still tear up at the word ‘miscarriage’, in any context, whether it’s a personal story, a brief mention in a TV show, or a magazine article. I still hold my breath at every prenatal appointment, as my OB searches for my boy’s heartbeat.
But I’ve also learned how to acknowledge these moments without letting them tear me apart. I can acknowledge the pain, without carrying the pain so deeply. I can see my nephew and my best friend’s son playing together in the yard, let it remind me of my own angel babies and spend a moment reflecting on them, and then smile that my nephew and my best friend and so many others have gathered around to celebrate the baby I will soon get to meet. I can reflect on the shower I threw a year ago, and remember the pain without seeping in the pain. I can feel in these moments how far my heart has come in its journey to mend, and how my identity is shifting. I no longer walk around with a swirling sensation of loss and defectiveness, but rather I feel like someone capable of creating life with a near effortless pregnancy.
Our baby shower felt like such a beautiful expression of love; for my husband and me, for our unborn baby, for the family we are creating. Surrounded by so many of the same people who rallied and supported us during our dark days, they were now there to celebrate our happiness. Days like our baby shower help us bask in the joy, and help us feel that no matter the struggle and the hardships we face, the universe will ultimately be good to us.
And the fight is so worth it.