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The Difficulty of Conversation at Baby Showers


Today I went to a baby shower for someone at work who, you guessed it, is about to have a baby very soon. Here’s the thing with baby showers — in the spirit of celebrating the beautiful new life which is about to begin and the beautiful miracle which is about to happen — everyone in attendance talks about their own experiences of bringing new life into the world. This includes, but is not limited to, the craving and consumption of McDonald’s for a week straight, the suffering from complete and absolute nausea the following week, the change in hormones during the different trimesters and the flattening and widening of the feet. A large part of the conversation revolves around the yet-to-be-born’s name, particularly the difficulty of picking said name and the special meaning behind each name in consideration. Shower guests will also be polled on which spelling is favored for each of the potential names — Jennie with an ie or Jenny with a y?

While everyone talks in a flurry with wide, excited eyes, I nervously eat the chips and salsa in front of me. I tune out of the conversation and think: I didn’t know about the feet. I miss the transition into the next topic because I am still in disbelief of the idea of having even wider feet than I already have. Soon, the feelings of surprise turn into a sort of bitterness as I think about my precious pair of wide sized shoes I miraculously found at the old lady shoe store and that I had falsely believed I would be able to fit into and wear for the rest of my life.

When I snap out of it our lunches have all arrived, and just as I’m about to dig in, someone asks the waiter for a diet coke and someone else starts talking about water.

“Did you guys feel it when your water broke?” a water-breaker veteran asks.

This seems to be another favorite topic judging from the myriad of responses offered. One person had their water “trickle,” another felt a pop, a mini-explosion if you will (which sounds a little worrisome, I envisioned a firework exploding) and one thought she had peed the bed.

Quiet for far too long now, I wanted to chip in my two cents. But because I had never had any breakage of water, I offered an insightful question instead, one I hoped would show that I could relate to them, “And, this water, is it like, water? Or is it like pee? Or, no. Maybe it’s like something else all together?”

But of course, as we all know, babies only stay babies for so long before they turn into mini people. For some time after being born, they are easy to please, easy to make laugh and easy to love. But then, upon the realization that cooties might actually be a good thing and right around junior high, something terrible happens to the whole lot of them. And this was what was discussed next.

“I just don’t know what’s wrong with him. I mean yeah, he’s 15 now, but still. These past few weeks he’s just like, ‘I don’t care,’ ‘So?’ ‘Don’t go in my room,’ ‘Leave me alone,’ ‘Don’t touch me,’ ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’ Last night when I asked him to unload the dishwasher he told me he’d do it later and I said ‘I asked you to do it now’ and then he said that his friend was going to call him soon and asked if he couldn’t just do it later? I told him no and made him do it right then, and now he’s still mad at me.”

That reminded me of a time not too long ago in high school when my mom asked me to put away a stack of laundry and I felt that if ever there was an unreasonable request, that had to have been it. It really was the most unreasonable thing because I was right in the middle of watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it wasn’t even on commercial yet, it was right in the middle of a crucial scene, and couldn’t I just do it in a minute?

I almost relayed this story, happy to be able to contribute finally, before I realized I was relating to her son, not her, my colleague, so I sat back, ate some more chips and spent the rest of the shower shoveling in huge mouthfuls of my fish tacos which required long, drawn out moments of chewing silence.

Last modified: January 10, 2019