No more baby (shower) blues

Maryland Independent - - Southern Maryland Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

Imade it to my baby shower!

It was never a given. So let’s just say I’m re­lieved. When I was preg­nant with Oliver in 2015, ev­ery­thing was chug­ging along un­til a few weeks be­fore his early birth. As my blood pres­sure con­tin­ued to rise in the third trimester, I was hos­pi­tal­ized for mon­i­tor- ing three days be­fore my baby shower.

The day of the event, my blood pres­sure read­ings had been steady — though still higher than they should have been. I’d al­ready been trans­ferred by am­bu­lance to a large Bal­ti­more hos­pi­tal with a Neona­tal In­ten- sive care sorry team Carefor me, there Unit es­pe­cially seemed (NICU). givento feel MyI kept cry­ing and telling the nurses — and any­body that walked by, re­ally — that my fam­ily and friends were all gath­er­ing right then for a long-planned baby shower . . . at my own house.

On that de­press­ing but beau­ti­ful Satur­day in April, I had lit- tle con­cept of how se­ri­ous my med­i­cal sit­u­a­tion was; it was easy to dwell, in­stead, on what I was miss­ing back at home. The baby shower — like one’s bridal­party, se­nior shower, prom bach­e­lorette— is a rite of pas­sage. A cel­e­bra­tion. I’d at- tended and helped with enough show­ers to look for­ward to hav­ing my own, and I was so ex- cited to eat blue cup­cakes and bask in all the good, girly fun. go.

TheI seemed doc­tors sta­ble. al­most My let blood me pres­sure had not spiked in the two days I’d been in Bal­ti­more, though I had enough of the other symp­toms of preeclamp­sia — preg­nan­cya dan­ger­ous— to com­pli­ca­tion­worry them.of My hus­band was calm and rock-steady, al­ways hold­ing my hand. It was a wait­ing game. In the end, the risks of me go­ing into se­vere preeclamp­sia and hav­ing a seizure or stroke — all real pos­si­bil­i­ties, I’d learn later — were too great. If I had to de­liver two hours away, my baby would not have had ac­cess to the NICU staff and care he would need. It was a bum­mer (a ma­jor one), but we needed to stay in Bal­ti­more. I had to miss the party.

My fam­ily and friends pressed on. Spencer pow­ered up the iPad and we “joined” the show- er via Face­Time. Guests passed me around to say hello. I saw my grand­moth­ers, aunts and cousins, good friends — in­clud­ing one who had flown in from New Mex­ico to sur­prise me. I tried to smile and ig­nore the view of my own swollen face in the cor­ner. It wasn’t great, but it was some­thing.

In that tiny hos­pi­tal room in Bal­ti­more,how far fromI a fi­nally “nor­mal re­al­ized preg­nancy” we’d al­ready veered. I was more afraid than I’ve ever been, and that was my first les­son of par­ent­hood: so lit­tle is in our con­trol, and our best-laid plans are still sub­ject to edit­ing. Soon we’d have a pre­emie, and would nav­i­gate NICU life for a month be­fore our son could come home.

But I didn’t know that yet. That Satur­day, I was just . . . sad. And an­gry. I thought the pre­cau­tions were over­re­ac­tions. I thought that I, in my anx­i­ety, had been rais­ing my blood pres­sure — that the num­bers were high be­cause I could not con­trol my emo­tions, and noth­ing was ac­tu­ally “wrong.” Ev­ery­thing would be fine . . . if I could get my act to­gether.

But that was ridicu­lous, of course. Neg­a­tive think­ing can­not cause preeclamp­sia. I was sick be­cause I was sick — not be­cause of any­thing I’d done or not done, thought or not thought.

Spencer and I slept that night, I guess. It was hard to tell. Some­time around 4 a.m. the next day, I be­gan to feel a burn­ing in my ab­domen hot­ter than a brush fire. I could not get com­fort­able; I was in terri- ble pain. Nurses rushed in and more tests were done. A doc­tor stepped in at day­break.

“You’re go­ing to have your baby to­day,” he said, bring­ing his hands to­gether as though in prayer. Even in my haze, I re­mem­ber the ef­fort he took to in­fuse his voice with op­ti­mism.

Any thoughts of the baby shower evap­o­rated, of course. Un­til I learned I was ex­pect­ing again.

Katie and Mom flew into ac­tion, look­ing at cal­en­dars for var­i­ous times to stage a redo of the event I’d missed with Ol- lie. I felt a lit­tle un­com­fort­able at the idea of a sec­ond shower, but this one was a “sprin­kle” with just with close friends and loved ones. I was ex­cited to (hope­fully) at­tend a pink-tinted soiree for my daugh­ter.

We knew hav­ing an event in early Jan­uary could be com- pli­cated, but were re­luc­tant to wait too long and plan any­thing near the same stage of preg­nan- cy when I’d de­liv­ered Oliver. And with my sis­ter ex­pect­ing her own child in May, we have two show­ers to plan. Tim­ing is tricky.

I had a rou­tine ap­point­ment last week, just check­ing prog- ress with this baby. My doc­tor smiled at my en­thu­si­asm over a com­pletely nor­mal, bor­ing, run-of-the-mill blood pres­sure read­ing on Wed­nes­day. “I’m go­ing to make it to my shower!” I prac­ti­cally shouted.

And I did. Not even the win­try weather and morn­ing snow­fall could keep us from cel­e­brat­ing on Satur­day. Our cousin in Culpeper, Va., con­tacted my sis­ter that morn­ing to make sure it was still on. Kate’s re­sponse? “Come hell or high wa­ter,” she said. “Or snow.”

So there I was, decked out in pink, giv­ing hugs and dust­ing snowflakes off shoul­ders. Though some folks did have to can­cel, we made the best of it and par­tied for three hours. I was so thrilled to have every­one to­gether, and kept look­ing around at min­gling friends and rel­a­tives with de­light. My mother-in-law flew in from New York. My grand­mother brought her sig­na­ture can­dies — a must at any fam­ily gath­er­ing. Katie and Mom did a won­der­ful job, and Spencer and I are so grate­ful for the sup­port.

What­ever hap­pens now? We can han­dle it. The re­lief of hav­ing made it this far — and to my first and last shower — is enough to make even clunky, preg­nant me feel lighter than air.

Now, to pull off Katie’s shower in Fe­bru­ary.

Come snow or high wa­ter.

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