Driving over to my mom's house on Saturday, I was trying to brace myself for disappointment. I was pretty sure that I was about to show up at my surprise baby shower, but the evidence in my favor was weak. Basically, I was putting all my hope on the fact that my mom declined my invitation to go grocery shopping with me Saturday morning. My mom always goes grocery shopping with me on weekends. I knew that I shouldn't be expecting a baby shower. This is, after all, my fourth baby, and not even a new gender. I had maintained my position that I should not be given a shower, despite the fact that I really was hoping that the people I loved would come together to celebrate the little girl about to enter our world.
Thankfully, they ignored my false protests, and when I pulled up with my sister and Sena in front of my parents' house under the gusie of an afternoon thrift store date, I instantly saw my friends' cars, brought together through my sister Claire's doing.
My mom swears that birth rooms are about to undergo a shift, that the men will leave them once again so that the women can come together to take care of each other. I, personally, want Tom there with me as we welcome our children, but I do agree with her that there is something powerful about pregnancy and birth that demands the interconnection of women. Baby showers, for all the corniness they can often entail, seem to hearken that spirit as women tell their tales.
At my first baby shower for Sena, we crowded into my friend Lorien's farmhouse, a bunch of girls still in college or just recently graduated. Not a one of us had ever had a child. We had no idea what I was in store for, all of our limited information gleaned from stories from our own mothers and aunts, or things we had read in sociology text books. My friends all drank and drank from the ubiquitous box of wine. There were no discussions of birth plans or placentas or breastfeeding because none of us had begun to formulate opinions. I stumbled through my labor, delivery, and post-postpartum months without preconceived notions except to do things the way my mother had done them.
As the years mount, so too has our knowledge. Babies and older offspring celebrate with us now. We discuss fluids and membranes with ease and experience. We have opinions about induction and pain medication, vaccines and the introduction of solid foods. I feel so far removed from the twenty year old girl I was sitting on Lorien's rocking chair opening presents that were as beautiful as they were impractical. That girl knew nothing about what was to come and no one could have possibly prepared her. Now my nearly ten year old daughter is here by my side, sharing in my excitement about what comes next.
On Saturday we ate food and made onsies. I opened presents both for her and for me. Alamae received sleepers and a Woody Guthrie album, diapers and colorful booties from Costa Rica. I was gifted a fermentation jar and an oil diffuser, earrings and candles. And it felt like in an instant, it was over, and I was hugging all of these women I love so much as they dispersed back into the great, wide world. The next time I will see many of them, the hard, roundness of my belly will be replaced with squish, my arms will be full of a little cooing girl. This time around, I know exactly what is about to happen to my heart.
Even as I write this, I feel tears brimming, an overwhelming sense of gratitude-- so many people love me and my children. We are fortunate beyond words.