Wednesday, October 3, 2012

my pregnancy with ember: the baby shower.

If you're not in the mood for reading this, I can sum it up for you.
I gave a little speech. Made everybody cry. There was a group hug. Ember got some really awesome gifts. I cried.

I kid. I kid. There was more than that.

I was nervous before the baby shower!

You're probably going, "Of course you were. You're nervous about everything."

And you would be right. Yeah yeah.
But I was.

The morning of the shower was a little stressful. Neil dropped me off at my parent's house and the plan was that he would go work on a side job he had going, and then show up once the shower was winding down or over to help bring everything out to the house.

I remember him telling me he needed to spend our last $20 on gas.
I remember sort of freaking out because I always freaked out when we literally had no money. I just could never seem to trust in the fact that more would come. Despite the fact that it always did and we were always ok.

So, I felt a little shook up about that before the shower started.
We went over to my aunt's house early. I remember that I needed to eat, but wouldn't stop setting up to do that. We had come over the night before and gotten everything hung up and set out. My feet were a bit swollen then, so I kept getting told to sit down. Neil was begging me that night to take a bath, and just rest. He hated it when I swelled even the tiniest bit.
I'm so terrible at resting!!

I wore a long navy blue maxi dress that was dyed pinkish and white at the bottom. I loved that dress. My aunt bought it for me months before when it was on clearance at a maternity store. It was soft and comfortable. I straightened out my hair, I remember I had it trimmed up and styled the week before. The heat ended up making it do all kinds of funny things by the end of the day, but I felt pretty and happily pregnant.

My baby shower for Ember.


The day of, I slipped away about half an hour or so before the party was supposed to start.
I had a plan, and I needed to sit down and think about what I was going to do.

I really, really, really wanted honor the women who came to my shower. And even more, honor my step mom, my great aunt, my grandmother and Neil's mom. It came to me to do this, about a week before the shower. I needed the shower to feel meaningful. I didn't want it to be about me getting baby gifts. I wanted it to be about me becoming a mother, about welcoming my baby girl and about the journey that was ahead of us. And so, I wanted to make sure to say some things to these women, as well as everyone who attended.

At first, I thought I'd say a couple things to everyone and then hand out cards to the four women, with personal, handwritten notes. Thanking them, telling them I appreciated them, etc. etc.
I had gone to World Market earlier in the week and picked up some soapstone hearts to also give them. I picked out a heart for Ember as well, and I liked this idea of linking them all with these hearts.

But I still had not written my cards or thought of anything to say, that half hour or so before the shower. I'm kind of a master procrastinator like that.
So I snuck back to one of my aunt's bedrooms and tried to write out my cards. I absolutely couldn't do it and I knew where I was headed. I was going to say it all to them. In front of everybody.

So, if I wasn't nervous before, I was really nervous now. But it felt right. It felt like what I need to do.

So I placed the hearts in a bag, and then hoped that I wouldn't completely fumble my way through the whole thing.

The shower went by SO fast. Once it started, there was a lot of greeting people at the door, hugging, talking about Ember, etc.
Everyone fixed themselves a plate and settled in.

I remember, for the first weekend of April it was SO hot. We were out on my aunt's patio and more people came than we expected, so it was a bit cramped. I had been thinking about how nice it would be and how glad I was to be due in the spring. Haha, it was at least in the upper '80s that day, if not  up to 90 degrees!

I was sort of surprised by how many people came. I wasn't sure by the RSVPs who would actually be coming. Everyone is SO busy these days, so it was nice that everyone took the time to come.

My babyshower for Ember
(Me sitting in front of the gift table with my niece.)

While everyone was eating, we asked them to grab a piece of paper and pen, which I had already set out, and write a note to Ember. Could be anything, just a note. Whatever you wanted to say. It was the same paper that I printed the invitations out on.
I would actually not do this again. I loved the idea in theory. Thing is, we didn't have much room for writing, and many people did not do it at all or told me they would do it later and just never found time to. It's ok, I understand. How are you going to write a letter to a child you have yet to meet while you're trying to balance a plate of food and stuff mini carrot cupcakes in your mouth. Next time I probably would just set out one of those photos frames you can sign, or maybe a guest book that everyone could write something in, something more compact and easier.

I adore the letters Ember did receive though, and I'm excited to give them to her one day. 

After everyone ate, we started a couple games. We had a photo game, where you matched the family member to their baby photo. I really liked that game actually.... so maybe add that to my list of "baby shower things I actually like".

Then we moved on to baby jeopardy. That was a bit harder to referee than I imagined it would be. I also realized I have no idea how jeopardy actually works. I should have read the rules on that one a bit better. Ooops.

So after the food and games, it was time to open presents. I figured this was the best time to give my little speech. I am pretty sure I was slightly shaky. I still hadn't eaten, and I am not a fan of speaking in front of groups of people. I was determined to see it through though.

So I had this gift bag, holding my soapstone hearts. I had Toni hold it while I was speaking. I started talking about motherhood, and how I never believed before that I would be a good mother. That I didn't think I should have children. I talked about the things that began to change my mind. About the amazing examples I had before me. I talked about how I was learning that mothering, that parenting, was not perfect. That it couldn't be perfect. But that I was seeing how despite that, you still did the very best you could. I said more, I wish I could remember it all better now. Actually, I don't think I could have even told you what I said right after I said it! It was a blur. I do remember I had many of the women in the room crying.

I'm always making people cry it seems.

I took the bag of hearts and I explained that I had purchased a heart for Ember, and that I had four more hearts to give to four very special women in my life. I started with Toni, then went to Dixie (my aunt), then to my grandmother, and finally to Jan, Neil's mom. Handing them each a heart as I told them why I was grateful to them and appreciated them.

I had specific things to say to each one. To Toni, thanking her for loving me unconditionally, for getting through my teenage years (ha!) and just for being who she was to me. To Dixie, for always trying to keep me positive, reminding me not to get down, and for always being my first phone call. To my grandma, who always lets me vent and talk and accepts every single emotion I have and lets me feel exactly how I need to feel when I need to feel it. And to Jan, for raising the most wonderful man I've ever know, the only man that I ever desired to have children with.

It all ended with even more tears and then a group hug.

My baby shower for Ember.

Hanging out with me is like a therapy session folks.

After this, it was time to open gifts!
Ember got so many amazing presents. My entire little family did really. Nobody actually ever came right out and said this, but I guess most people knew how I felt about an overload of pink, because there really wasn't a ton of outright "girly" stuff. Lots of neutral or natural colored items. Lots of the little items we still needed. So many thoughtful and handmade gifts! Ember received quite a few handmade blankets. Those I love so dearly.

I couldn't get over the awesome gifts actually. I couldn't get over how thoughtful everything was. I felt like Ember really mattered to these women. That I really mattered to these women.

There is one gift, that I have to call out though. I still to this day, get completely overwhelmed by it.
If you're friends with me on facebook, then you'll know during market season, I'm hanging out at the Downtown Lee's Summit Farmer's Market. I've been going there fairly regularly since 2008, and really started getting to know some of our favorite vendors there around 2010.

Karin owns Wolf Creek Family Farm. I was so excited when she told me she would be coming to the shower, mostly because it had been all winter long since I had seen her last and market season hadn't quite started up yet! She and her family have been such kind and amazing people to my family. I remember, in 2010, when I miscarried, I think it was just the week or two before that I had told her and others at market that I was pregnant. I came back after a couple weeks absence and I tentatively told her what happened. When she came around and gave me hugest hug, I was taken aback by it. By her genuine care, by her facebook messages later, by her concern. I have a lot of trouble really believing that I matter to people. I don't think she'll ever actually know how much her kindness has meant to me!

BUT, back to the shower.
Karin gave my family the greatest gift.
She had crocheted an adorable little bunny and a frog bath loofah for Ember. You can see a photo of the bunny right here, it was one of Ember's favorite buddies even when she was tiny.
When I opened and read her card, I was completely speechless.

You have to remember, Neil and I were pretty broke. We had help of course, we had trickles of income here and there, we were not homeless or suffering. But we were very broke and living on bare minimums.

Inside the card, was the gift of an entire season of a CSA share for the 2011 season. Completely ours, no strings attached. We could pick it up every single week, take it home and enjoy it.
I just started to cry.
To be given the gift of good, wholesome, healthy food. Especially when you're struggling to get it every week? It was too much. I couldn't believe it.

I mean, Neil and I were not the only ones going through hard times. Everyone right now is tight on money. Everyone is working hard to keep food on the table. To be given such a gift, ah!

My baby shower for Ember.
(me crying while reading Karin's card.)

What a beautiful day.

Neil showed up just as the last guests were leaving. He helped us clean up and pack up the vehicles with all of Ember's new things.

When we got home, everything was unloaded and I went to our bedroom. It turned out that Neil never went to work on his side job. Instead, he had come home and completely painted our bedroom. The room used to be Neil's sister's room. It was painted a dark maroon with a very black accent wall. Honestly, there was no light in the room and I was wanting so much for it to be clean and light by the time the baby arrived. And there it was, completely white and bright. He'd spent the whole day doing it to surprise me.

I immediately wanted to unpack everything, share it all with Neil and then start setting things up and putting things away. Nesting is a serious business people.

I didn't get very far though, because I was pretty well wiped out. I put my feet up on the couch, ate leftovers from the shower and watched who knows what on TV. Nice way to end the day.

I wish I had the perfect sentence now to wrap this whole post up. I was just so grateful and so completely overwhelmed with everything. I still think about it and it was one of the very best days of my pregnancy. I'm not sure I deserved so much and I don't really feel like I can ever accurately express just how thankful I was!

There are so many times in life, and especially during this pregnancy, where I have a plan. I know what I need, what I want, I have my lists, and I have my ideas. And I'm usually stressed that it won't happen. Or stressed about how I can make it happen.
I almost always end up getting the things I need. It's not ever usually how I pictured it. How I planned it. What I thought it would be.
But it's exactly right for us at the time.
Exactly.

(thanks to the various people who took these photos - and thanks for letting me steal them for this post!!)

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