Baby Shower Blues

February 22, 2018

The day before I delivered my preemie at 29 weeks, via emergency c-section, I was at work, feeling exhausted and uncomfortably swollen. I also had nagging headache that would only get progressively worse throughout the next 24 hours. However, despite my increasing physical discomfort, I was joking with my co-workers over the story they were telling me about the last person they planned a baby shower for. Apparently, that mom had the nerve to have the baby before the shower. Imagine that! We all laughed and laughed.

They quickly assured me that there was no way that would happen this time since my shower was scheduled that very weekend. It was intended to be a dual shower for me and another co-worker whose baby was due a month before mine. Nice and early, they said.

Only the next day, I did not show up for work. I was being rushed by ambulance to the hospital with severe preeclampsia. And no one was laughing anymore.

Missing out on your baby shower can be just one of the many disappointments you experience when you deliver your baby prematurely. Yet, not everyone has to miss out on it completely. Some families had a baby shower while the baby was still in the NICU. Others waited until baby was home safe and out of isolation.

In my case, I did not want a shower. Looking back, I now realize just how angry and resentful I was. The last thing I had wanted was to be around anyone other than my preemie and my husband. I do regret not having a shower, even if it meant having it months after my preemie was born. Still, everyone is different and if you do, or don’t, want one, don’t hesitate to speak up. Or if you’re a friend or family member of someone who has a baby in the NICU, please ask the mom if she wants a shower. But don’t be disappointed if she doesn’t want one. The most important thing you can do for her is to celebrate the birth of her child, regardless of the circumstances.

I was actually invited to a baby shower while my son was still in the NICU. Their hope was to give me “a break.” The last thing I needed to be doing was taking a break to celebrate the impending birth of a baby who was due practically the same day my son had been. On the outside, I politely declined, but on the inside, I was a mess of emotions. My anger and resentment would not go away. At the time, I thought the woman who invited me was being so insensitive, when really she just wanted me to know I would be missed.

Dreading baby showers can be something many, if not most, NICU moms experience. Even years after their preemie was born. I avoided baby showers like the plague for a long while. Usually I was able to get out of going because of my son. The couple of showers I have been invited to since he came home from the NICU were either around the time he was getting his surgeries or he was sick.

baby shower, NICU, prematurity, grief

However, four years later, I was invited to yet another baby shower, and this time, it was for my sister-in-law. She and my brother are expecting their first baby. When I first got there, again, I was a mess of emotions. But this time I was determined to not let the anger and resentment win. This baby is my nephew. I took a deep breath and let it go. And for the first time since having my preemie, I was able to enjoy a baby shower once again.

Even if you never get showered with gifts, know you are showered with so much love. The day after I had my son, as I lay devastated in that hospital bed, not being to visit or hold him for an excruciatingly long 36 hours, I received a text message from a co-worker just letting me know that they all spent the day of my shower together praying for my son and I. That meant more to me than all the gifts and diaper cakes in the world!