I just attended our quarterly group baby shower in the office. They are group events, not what I understand is the usual American-style rah-rah, just a group of mothers-to-be and already-mothers (fathers are invited too, but don't show up). Understandably, I've never been to one of these before. There was no way I was going while in the midst of infertility, and when I was pregnant with Pob I most definitely didn't want the attention and certainly not the little gift-ette they hand out, not before she was safely in my arms. Instead one of the organisers sent the present to our home after Pob had arrived, which was very kind and much appreciated.
But today I went down for 10 minutes to see one of my mentees who was there with her two month old. It was fine, low key, just a bunch of women chatting. Then they started to give out the gifts. And they tried to give me one. I'm 19 weeks people, this is not the time to give me a fuzzy bunny and a cute little yellow babygro! I've barely told anyone at work, and I'm wearing a lot of black and big baggy jackets, but I guess the rumours get around. I was absolutely horrified, and in a moment of desparation said no, honestly, no thank you, not now, and the poor woman handing out the goody bags backed off, looking a bit confused.
I know we've all written about this multiple times, but it is astonishing to me just how different our worlds are, our worldviews are. Trying to give me a present for the baby at this stage of pregnancy, the fact people tell me we're rushing it by having another so soon. "Oh, I couldn't bring myself to have another one just yet, while he still needs me so much!" said one colleague with a 20-month-old. So I pointed out that having taken 3.5 years to get to the first one, we really didn't have much option but to get going again if we wanted a second at all, and that I felt extraordinarily lucky to be in the position to even contemplate that a second baby may arrive in July. And they all nodded and turned to a conversation about finding out the gender.
In this environment, with women I mostly know, unlike the conversation at the posh hotel a month ago, I felt able to talk at least a little bit about how this kind of event looks from my perspective. In general I think this is the right strategy, although it does result in that moment of awkwardness. But surely you don't have to have been through the not-too-terribly-traumatic experiences that I have had to feel awkward about getting a present for the baby at 19 weeks pregnant? One of our colleagues last year lost a baby at 22 weeks, she spent this year's pregnancy constantly tense and anxious. Many of the women there know about that experience. If you're Jewish, for starters, it's culturally inappropriate. And shouldn't that thought cross people's minds?
I'm both fuming and a bit upset. Not very upset and quite understanding that this all came from a place of wanting to do the right thing. But it wasn't, and I hope it won't now happen to someone else.