No more baby (shower) blues
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.