You know, ever since my original pregnant coworker announced her pregnancy, I have been bracing for the possibility of a baby shower at work. I was lucky that somehow there wasn’t a baby shower for my previous pregnant coworker (although I felt that there should have been one). I was wondering if my luck would continue with this pregnancy. I still can’t bring myself to be like my selfless blog friends who celebrate with others by sitting through baby showers smiling and genuinely happy for the future mom. I still can’t do it despite my heart wondering if I could brave through it at times. When I returned from Chicago, the dreaded email came: a baby shower at lunch in a couple of weeks (which is going to be tomorrow). Often times I let my actions be guided by my reaction. My heart skipped a bit and my mind went all sorts of directions. This reaction tells you that I am really not ready to smile through a baby shower. Initially, I was thinking maybe I could force myself to attend. But then the email said that there would be games and gift opening. My heart raced even faster…. then I decided that it is going to be too much for me to take. I had a few choices. I could simply shut myself in my office and not attend, which is unwise and isolating (my office is only steps away from the lunch room). Or I could lie about my whereabouts or even make a medical appointment for that day. But I decided to be honest about it because I am not ashamed of my feelings and experiences. I want to be as true to myself and others as possible. Although my pregnant coworker had no clue about my struggles so talking to her would mean exposing myself, I prayed about it and had a plan. Initially, I was going to chip in for the big gift for her and speak with her privately about why I would not attend her shower. I thought more about it. I felt that it would be more genuine and meaningful if I gave her my own gift from her registry and tell her the reason for my absence. I held my tongue for a few days. I looked up various possible websites and found her registry. The day after my procedure, I had that morning off and purchased a gift at Tar.get for her.
I wrapped it, wrote the card, and brought the gift to work.
On Friday, I knew that she was there already since I saw her pull into the parking lot. I was careful about it; I made sure with one of my coworkers that the baby shower wasn’t going to be a surprise. My coworker reassured me that it wasn’t, since people had been talking about it and the potluck sign-up sheet was still posted on the door of the copy room that morning. I got my morning routine ready. With the gift in my hands, I took a deep breath and approached pregnant coworker’s office. I wanted to do it bright and early in the morning so her office neighbors would not be there to eavesdrop (especially my pregnant supervisor whose office is right next door to hers).
I walked into her office and put the gift in front of her. She had a confused look on her face and asked, “What is this for?” I said, “For your baby shower.” She looked even more confused and said, “My baby shower was a month ago and I am now nine months pregnant.” In that particular moment, I realized that she had no idea about the work baby shower next week! I went, “Uh oh!” and closed her office door because I didn’t want anybody to know that I broke the news to her. (Haha) Then I told her that, Well, there is one for you next week and I thought you knew because the potluck sign-up sheet is there in the copy room. I also confirmed with one coworker before I came in. She said she knew nothing about it but nicely reassured me that it was okay because she probably wouldn’t remember about it next week given her pregnancy brain these days. I sat down and gave her my spiel. This is what I said:
“I just wanted to let you know that I will not be there at your baby shower next week. I have been struggling to try to have a baby in the past few years. It is very difficult for me to sit through a baby shower. So I just want to let you know that I celebrate with you but I won’t be there.”
I was a little choked up when I said the first part (the struggles part) but I pulled myself together. And I made sure that I did not say “I am sorry” because really, there is nothing to apologize for.
She was so gracious. She told me that she understands because her sister-in-law who had trouble conceiving was also the same way. She and I got up and hugged each other, and she kept saying, “You are so sweet.” I told her that I do want to celebrate with her but just not there at the baby shower. We went on to talk about her pregnancy and her last couple of weeks at work. Before I left, we hugged again and she promised to act surprised next week. 🙂
As it turned out, the organizers forgot to remove the potluck sign-up sheet and was forced to disclose to her the plan. So after all, I am not the bad guy. 🙂
I am so glad that nobody is mad or hurt and the talk went so well. It feels so good to be true to myself and my feelings and at the same time being honest and respectful to others.
I think I will have a nice lunch by myself tomorrow. Hopefully the sun will cooperate so I can get some Vitamin D.