Have you ever been to a new mom’s baby shower, had her curiously ask what labor and birth was going to be like, listened to other moms share stories of completely normal pregnancies and almost glamorous-sounding births, and just cringed? Yes, baby showers have not always been pleasant events for me.
After my first pregnancy ended at 34 weeks with preeclampsia, an emergency C-section, and a 16-day NICU stay for my tiny 3 lb. 3 oz. baby, I began to doubt all those tales that were told at the baby shower. There was the woman who tried a dozen ways to start labor after her due date came and went. There was the woman who barely made it to the hospital after a short labor. There was the woman who didn’t realize she was pregnant for nearly five months, and then had a full-term eight-pound baby just like magic. I couldn’t relate.
From then on, I became the killjoy of the baby shower. Everyone would go around the room, telling their birth stories and giggling at the funny things the nurses did or commiserating over the botched attempt at an epidural. I kept quiet; there is nothing like a good preemie story to get a new mom excited about having her baby, right?! But inevitably, someone would always ask about my experience and everyone wanted to hear about just what happened.
I told about how I went to a regular checkup, peed in the cup just like every other time, and didn’t pass the test. I told about how I was sent to the hospital without so much as a magazine to read. I told about how I stayed in bed for a few days while baby was constantly monitored. I told about the day that my vision started changing, my blood pressure was through the roof, and my baby started showing signs of distress. I told about how the C-section took less time than the story I just told, and how I got to gaze at my baby for a brief moment before he was whisked away. By this point, the room is usually silent and the new mom has a look of horror.
I end my story with, “You’ll be fine! That won’t happen to you!” because 99 percent of the time it is true. But if it ever happens that a friend of mine joins the Preemie Parent Club, I have a whole lot more stories to tell.