In my ebbing and flowing attempts to join the human race and bond with other women, I attended a baby shower I was invited to the other day. Heavens, is there anything worse in the world than a baby shower? We had one pre-Dormouse, but I stipulated to Monica, who hosted it, my rules ahead of time:

  • KingofHearts is somewhat involved in this process too so he must be included in party plans.
  • Absolutely no all-women invite lists.
  • In order to cut down on the constant barrage of pregnancy horror stories women feel the need to tell at every shower, children and families must be invited too - that way women in attendance who would be likely to tell such stories will instead be busy chasing their children around and have no time to describe their 136-stitch episiotomy.
  • There will be no setting chairs in a big circle and staring at each other blankly.
  • I do not want to make people feel like they need to bring presents.
  • No baby games... None. No "Identifying the Stage of Labor Concentration", no "How Many Baby Animals Can You Name Speed Round". End of story.
  • I absolutely, categorically, refuse to wear a hat made of wrapping paper and bows.
  • I also requested "no pink"... which as you can see from the pictures, Monica interpreted as "let's drive NG crazy and make everything pink instead, that'll be funny".

We settled on a big barbecue at a local park. Monica rented the parks and rec. building and did an amazing job of decorating, cooking, hosting, organizing, and any other ing you can think of. No wonder she's a meeting planner. There was plenty of room for kids (both big and small) to play and KingofHearts got to stand near fire and cook hamburgers outside, thereby making all the males in attendance who were concerned about losing points on the Man Scale by simply being AT a baby shower feel more comfortable. There was something for everyone. People we invited from church who are still around talk about how it was the best shower they'd ever been to.

The shower I went to last weekend was all the things I hate. It was for a first time mom who was expecting twins and as I walked in, the first thing I noticed was a ring of empty chairs in the living room, just waiting to be filled by blank stares. Fully half of those in attendance were also pregnant themselves. As the preggos congregated around the snack table, I leaned over to one of the only other non-pregnant women and said, "Aren't you concerned about how many hormones are flowing in this room right now? I am."

"Heh, heh, heh." *polite, unenthusiastic laughter*

So I should have known right away things weren't going to get any better.

I know that having had my own medical horror stories with both of my pregnancies, I'm a little more sensitive to the things that could go wrong in pregnancy and therefore a little more concerned about making comments that might scare especially someone who's a first time mom. I still have a visceral reaction every time I think of the time a doctor told us, after looking at the Dormouse via sonogram, that she appeared to have "voids in her brain" and was not developing normally. After our first experience with our daughter Gillian, who died from a chromosome abnormality, this was not just a passing observation and I was a basket case for a week until a different doctor assured me, "The equipment we're using now is so much more sensitive than it was even three years ago. We are seeing things that look like abnormalities now, but that turn out to be normal development - we just never had equipment good enough to notice it before." Which, frankly, only made me feel a little bit better until Dormouse was born with no neurological disorders.

I've also endured scores of women's judgments about my need to have a c-section in all my future pregnancies after the complications we had with Gillian. A member of my own family berated me one day when I was pregnant with Dormouse for "taking the easy way out" and not making every effort to do a VBAC ('vaginal birth after caesarian' for those of you who don't care to be immersed in the acronym-talk of the Pregnant). As if my Doctor's statement that my "uterus could tear" and I "could bleed to death in regular childbirth" was really more of a suggestion than an order.

I've noticed that most women think they are simply owed a perfect pregnancy and a perfect child and fail to treat birth as the miracle it is. There's so much that CAN go wrong that to me, every normal birth is more of an anomaly than an abnormal one.

So you can understand why, when Twin Lady announced that her doctor had told her she had to schedule a c-section because the babies are both so big and the crowd all tsk-tsked their disappointment and sympathy longer than necessary, I felt the need to stand up for her. Having a c-section is NOT the worst thing that could ever happen in a pregnancy. The most important thing is that it's the best thing for the mother and the baby and call me stupid but if that improves the chance that the baby will be okay, who are we to judge? So I say out loud, "Yeah... but that's good too... I mean, kudos, to all you who did the natural childbirth thing, but I really liked the idea of knowing when to expect it. I wrote the date down on my calendar and scheduled a staff meeting the day before. It was awesome."

That's funny, right?

*crickets, chirp chirp*
*nervous laughter*

I really need to learn to keep my mouth shut.

Things really came to a head when the co-organizer brought out her 'baby games'. The first one was Stages of Labor Concentration (ugh). The second one started out well enough... she had printed pictures of famous celebrities off the internet and posted their pictures on a board. We were to write down for each whether we thought that person was a twin or not. When I saw Liberace and Elvis Presley up there, I raised an eyebrow but assumed it was an oversight. No, no... no... as it turned out, of the 20 celebrities on the board, about three quarters of them were twins. And of those three quarters, more than half of the twin siblings had died in childbirth. So one by one, we go through the list and Party Game Lady announces one after another, "Yes, Ed Sullivan was a twin... his twin was stillborn." "Liberace's brother George died in infancy after being born very small." etc. etc.

Normally I'd be willing to try and let this go because of my belief that aside from Hydrogen, Stupidity is the universe's most common element... But c'mon! Who really thinks THAT is appropriate at a party for a woman who was expecting twins? And the saddest part? Other than Twin Lady, whose eyes got another size bigger each time Party Game Lady announced another dead sibling with a giant smile on her face, I seemed to be the only one who noticed. I hope that Twin Lady was made more comfortable by all the others' confidence, but I'm not even pregnant and I was not.

I suffered through the game, but could not stand it anymore after that and left early, muttering something about another commitment as I made a mad dash for the door, leaving poor Twin Lady there to fend for herself among all the others... sucker! I think next time I'm invited to a shower, I'll just send a gift.